In his song Changes, Tupac Shakur said, “Instead of a war on poverty, they got a war on drugs so the police can bother me.” That powerful line has always stuck with me.

I believe we, the people of in society, can end poverty whenever we decide to end it. However, we generally rely on a government that underfunds poverty alleviation programs. Instead of putting it towards ending poverty, we let the government put our tax-dollars towards waging a needless war on drugs.

Estimates generally say that the “war on drugs” costs the United States government $50 billion per year. Worse yet, prohibition hands the lucrative drug market over to violent criminals, thus funding and increasing violent crime, which has a lot of unmeasured socioeconomic costs.

Just like with the alcohol prohibition, drug prohibition does not seem to decrease usage, but instead it costs a lot of money while increasing violent crime and corruption. Drugs may cause problems in society on their own, but I firmly believe drug prohibition makes matters much worse.

I would much prefer if drugs were legalized and the money spent on the “war on drugs” was put towards poverty alleviation. Better yet, the money could be given back to the tax-payers in the form of working-class tax-cuts, which I believe would also help reduce poverty.

In addition to saving the money spent on the needlessly devastating war on drugs, the government could tax drugs. In theory, I do not like any taxes, but I would much prefer taxing drug usage than income paid for labor. And I would much prefer taxing drugs than criminalizing them. Taxing drugs could bring in hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue. Again, the government could put that money towards poverty alleviation programs or income tax cuts.

Instead of wasting so much money throwing non-violent pot smokers in jail, imagine if we put all that money and extra tax-dollars into poverty alleviation programs. For example, imagine how much education that funding could provide to poor kids.

What do you think about the relationship between poverty and the war on drugs? Post your comments in this thread at the World Hunger and Poverty Forums.

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Children suffering from Poverty