Sunday, February 06, 2011

Supply And Demand

Eric in his post An "effective" war on drugs means war on drugs that are effective! directed me to this Megan McArdle post The Goals and Means of Meth Control where I found the following exchange most amusing:


Here is a paradox that always makes me think about libertarianism:

How many meth-lab operators have degrees in chemistry, or any science, or anything at all?

Running a meth lab is certainly not easy. It's not a get-rich-quick scheme. The risks of a fiery death are high. The risks of a long stretch in prison are high. And, if you use your own product (which I'd have to think many of them do), the risks borne of addiction are high.

Getting the raw materials is a lot of work. Staying under the radar is a lot of work. Selling is dangerous - there is no honor amoungst your clientele.

Yet they do it. Why? Clearly if they are smart enough to do all of these things, they aren't stupid. And clearly if they do all of that work, they're not notably lazy.

It always strikes me as if this is a case where the job is well defined, the risks/rewards are well understood, and there are no significant startup costs.

What would happen if we made opening a pizza parlor that simple - go to Town Hall, pay a small license fee, and off you go. What if, like most of Europe, you could serve beer and wine without a license?

How many meth lab operators would opt to open sub shops, and taverns in their basements, and pizza joints out of their kitchens, etc., if only we'd let them?
Another commenter has an answer:
Rob Lyman in reply to RobM1981

None. They do it to get money to feed their addiction. No rational person would choose running a meth lab at home over fighting the zoning board.
And then a wag shows up:
barryd in reply to Rob Lyman

When you put it that way, I think a lot of people would choose running a meth lab... ;-)
Ain't it the truth. And it shouldn't be.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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