By Francis White
Did you catch this one (and here too) under the radar the other day? It went by and was almost unnoticed, but I saw it and thanks to a friend of mine for shouting this out on social media too. Apparently there’s a new program in Buffalo NY that’s using seized funds from the sale of illegal drugs to finance different things – the latest thing being a program to demolish houses.
“Get money, take money.” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced at a press conference, with law enforcement officials the other day that the city was implementing a new program that’s using funds seized from illegal drug dealers to finance the demolition of houses. On the surface it may seem like a noble effort, but there are so many issues to deal with that it’s difficult to figure out where to begin.
This practice of using illegal drug forfeiture funds to finance operations that should already be a function or budget line in government items, is not a new thing and not unique to Buffalo. They tell me that there are many types of legal and illegal drugs available, anywhere at any given time in this country. “Everybody’s getting high off of something” an old timer used to say to me, and nowhere is this more of an accurate statement than in America, here the illegal drug game is big business.
“In 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—9.4 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug in the past month. This number is up from 8.3 percent in 2002” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Maybe Buffalo was taking a page out of the book of the state of Arizona when public and law enforcement officials were putting this program together. Arizona has some of the toughest, if not the toughest forfeiture laws in the nation. There, law enforcement officials have the power to take your money on as little as a suspicion. You don’t have to be charged with anything to have them take your money away. They can seize cash, cars, and other assets from those suspected of racketeering, and the local governments get to keep a majority of that money. The money is deposited into accounts and local law enforcement and government agencies can use the money seemingly as they wish. This is capitalism at its finest.
The oxford online Dictionary explains capitalism as being “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.” This reinforces my belief that America is the epitome of capitalism because it is ran as a corporation or a business. It has an executive director, a board of directors, liabilities, equity, cash flow, and has stocks and bonds.
Local governments, and the federal government must be getting desperate for cash if they have to count on the money fleeced from illegal drug dealers and suspected illegal drug dealers for cash for operating costs. This means that we’re not handling our business, which means that some of the money we already have that could be allocated for some of the things we need that this seized illegal drug money is now being used to finance, is either not enough, or being misappropriated.
Getting back to Buffalo and the activities of officials here around forfeiture funds, you already know that many of us have better ideas of what to do with this money, or if we should even be engaging in this type of thing at all. In a city like Buffalo I understand the need for a responsible demolition policy, but there are better and more ethical ways to deal with and fund this type of thing. It sends a bad message; it sends the message of a police force, a government, and a judicial system driven largely by profit and not by what’s in the best interest of people. As if it hasn’t already started getting cloudy and beginning to rain, this is a perfect storm for all types of corruption. We’d be best to stop while we’re ahead, or get the rain suits, the sand bags ready, and start boarding up the windows and doors.
Posted on Mon, September 14, 2015
by Francis White