Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to Make Money Selling Drugs

HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS         C                    
USA  (100 mi)  2012  d:  Matthew Cooke

Eventually feeling like little more than a libertarian fantasy, where the film has the snarky tone of reality TV where they’re constantly “selling” something, playing fast and loose with the facts, which are in no way even a factor in this film, so pretty much anything sounding “on message” passes for reality, even if it’s blatantly untrue, such as the allegation that  90% of the inmates in prison are there due to alcohol-related crimes, where a quick fact check, Crime and Alcohol - Alcoholism -, reveals it’s actually less than half that, closer to 40%.  But not to worry, reality TV is mythically inaccurate as well, so this simply meets the “anything goes” test, where the entire film is largely a propaganda campaign to legalize drugs, as the moral of the story, from the film’s point of view, is Americans should have the freedom to do what they please without the government infringing upon that right.  The argument is made that alcohol and cigarettes are responsible for more deaths than drugs, yet the government instead pours money into the drug wars, filling the prisons with drug-related offenders, where Americans are just 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we comprise nearly 25 percent of the world’s prison population, almost exclusively black and Latino, as those are the targeted neighborhoods for making arrests, many receiving stiffer sentences than murderers.  One of the worse cases was a black mother of two children who left the city of New York looking for a better life due to living in such a dangerous neighborhood and moved with relatives in the Midwest, who happened to be selling drugs out of their home, which ended up getting the mother arrested and sentenced to 27 years in prison, even though she had nothing to do with drugs.  The severity of the sentencing matches the politicians decree to get tough on drugs, but it in no way matches the non-violent, uninvolvement of the accused, who posed no threat to anyone, yet must languish away inside a prison somewhere while her children grow up without her.       
The film is more of a bait and switch style, reeling in the viewer’s interest by suggesting anyone, even children, can make money selling drugs, witness the many young parentless teenagers who, having no other options due to no fault of their own, are suddenly thrust into the situation, always surprised at how many regular customers they can count on for selling drugs, outlining how to carry out each stage of the operation from local street vendor to running a drug cartel, where there are plenty of people willing to testify how easy it can be, as the first half of the film is an overly sensationalist owner’s manual guide that offers a get rich quick scheme to interested viewers.  But of course, while they’re reeling off information on how easy it is, they’re ignoring all moral concerns, figuring anyone who’s interested in the drug game would have to be criminally enterprising, ignoring any and all consequences in the event you do get caught, not to mention the effect this would have on your family.  Instead the mantra for making money, “It’s so easy even a child can do it,” is presented much like the high pressure techniques used for selling timeshares in Boca.  While it’s presented in a slickly packaged, overly satirical manner up front, literally making a mockery of the lucrative nature of the drug business, where no educational diploma is needed and the profits can even outweigh the potential jail terms if caught, as the money will be waiting for you when you get out afterwards, the tongue-in-cheek manner is a veiled cover for the real reason the film is being made, shifting gears midway through as the focus shifts to who’s really profiting, as it’s not the guy down the street who inevitably gets arrested, but cops, DEA agents, lawyers, judges, and prison guards, where the United States government is awash with billions of dollars of anti-drug enforcement money sent to various law enforcement agencies across the land, expected to reach $19 billion by 2014, where local police departments suddenly have money to upgrade their equipment, buy more sophisticated, high-powered weapons, add military vehicles as part of their standard operations, even aircraft, and then the government keeps feeding these budgets so long as statistics can verify substantial drug arrests have been made.      

All of this feeds the idea that you can arrest your way out of the drug problem, filling the prisons with mostly non-white offenders, where by 2011, 48% of all federal inmates were there for drug crimes, while only 8% were for violent crimes.  And while whites and blacks have virtually identical rates of drug use, blacks are ten times more likely to get arrested for pot, where the racial disparity is worse with crack cocaine, where blacks comprise over 80% of federal crack cocaine defendants, while whites are less than 7%.  While there are many more whites both buying and selling drugs in America, blacks are 4 times more likely to get arrested, where 90% of those convicted of drug charges are blacks or Latino, where more than 80% are for low level possession, where at least a half a million individuals are serving time for minor drug offenses, more than ten times the number in 1980, where in 1981 the government spent $1.5 million on the drug wars, while in 2012 the number was $25 billion.  While much of these fast and furious statistics have a way of overwhelming the viewer, as they continue to be spewed out throughout the film, better documentation is presented in Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow The New Jim Crow - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, suggesting the War on Drugs is largely a tool for enforcing legalized racial discrimination, creating a prison-state apartheid policy that is largely invisible to the middle class, as a majority of young black men in large American cities are warehoused in prisons, labeled felons, often trapped in a second class status of American citizen with most of their rights stripped from them.  While Alexander views the behavior as racial injustice, this film has no sense of racial outrage, but only uses the numbers as they help favorably make their case for legalizing drugs, viewed as similar to cigarettes and the once prohibited alcohol, both of which pose a greater danger to society, worse than all the illegal drugs put together.  To demonstrate the absurdity of how out of control the drug policy has become, the police are viewed as little more than the Keystone Cops, where there is such a rush to arrest people that wrong-address break-ins occur on average at least twice weekly by overeager, trigger happy SWAT teams that break doors down in the middle of the night for suspected non-violent drug crimes, where innocent people are also shot on a regular basis during these often horrific confrontations, as these are, after all, imperfect, often insufficiently trained humans conducting these operations.  The film suggests this is like an unstoppable train racing dangerously down the tracks at our own peril, where we’ve spent billions of dollars transforming police departments into armed anti-terror squads that *will* come visit us in the middle of the night.  

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