If there is one number that embodies the seemingly intractable challenge of the illegal U.S.-Mexico drug trade, it is $177.26, says the New York Times. That is the retail price of one gram of pure cocaine from your typical local pusher, says the Drug Enforcement Administration. That is 74 percent cheaper than it was 30 years ago.
This number is pretty much all you need to evaluate the Mexican and American governments' “war” to eradicate illegal drugs from U.S. streets. What it says, says Times columnist Eduardo Porter, “is that the struggle on which they have spent billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of lives over the last four decades has failed.” The only dimension along which the war on drugs might be conceived as a success is political. In a Gallup poll, 31 percent of Americans said they thought the government was making much progress dealing with illegal drugs, the lowest share since 1997. Still, fewer people say they worry about drug abuse than 10 years ago. Only 29 percent of Americans think it is an extremely or very serious problem where they live, the lowest share in the last decade.