The Creator Of <em>The Wire</em> Explains How The ‘War On Drugs’ Is Really A ‘War On The Poor’

The creator of The Wire, David Simon, is one America’s foremost critics of America’s War on Drugs. Speaking to The Guardian last month, Simon dissected our country’s continuing policy of jailing people who get involved in “the one industry that’s left” in the inner cities of America.

“I’m not entirely convinced that it is not intended as a war on the poor,” Simon said. “It may have begun a long time ago as a war on dangerous drugs, but at some point morphed to the point where it’s really about social control. At this point it’s about doing something with the 15 percent of my country that we don’t need anymore for our lost manufacturing base. So there’s a lot of undereducated people the economy has thrown away.”

Like The National Memo‘s David Cay Johnston, Simon believes that the last three decades have been marked by a perversion of the market economy, fueled by government policies.

“I would not have been one of those people gently eulogizing Margaret Thatcher in your country, or Ronald Reagan in mine,”  he said. “I think the last 30-40 years has been a misapprehension of capitalism.”

How will the Drug War end?

Simon doesn’t think the movements to legalize marijuana for recreational use state-by-state are the answer.

“I’m against it,” Simon said at an event in London hosted by The Observer. “The last thing I want to do is rationalize the easiest, the most benign end of this. The whole concept needs to be changed, the debate reframed.

“I want the thing to fall as one complete edifice,” he continued. “If they manage to let a few white middle-class people off the hook, that’s very dangerous. If they can find a way for white kids in middle-class suburbia to get high without them going to jail and getting them to think that what they do is a million miles away from black kids taking crack, that is what politicians would do.”

He thinks the War on Drugs will end the same way alcohol prohibition did: with juries unwilling to convict their fellow citizens for non-violent crimes related to banned substances.

If you enjoyed the interview above, you’ll love this speech Simon gave at the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill in 2011.

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