Making a living: post-Taliban entrepreneur shows how opium makes money, proving the wonders of the free market.
"The White House has joined the Super Bowl advertising blitz, paying more than $3 million to warn during Sunday's game that buying drugs could fund terrorists."
-- CNN, Feb. 1, 2002
Months ago, when it still meant something, the eXile unveiled its patriotic crusade to get America's flagwaving junkies to switch from imported heroin to good old American Oxycodone, cutting off the Taliban's major source of funding. Now that the Taliban no longer exists, the Bush braintrust, that august gathering of some of the finest minds in the Missouri Baptist Synod, has just spent three million dollars for Super Bowl ads making the same point. As always, the bastards will stop at nothing to copy the eXile's every move.
But Rev. Ashcroft's minions have, as usual, messed it all up. They can't even copy us competently. Because they forgot one little thing: the Taliban is already destroyed, you morons! Back when the eXile started its campaign, depriving the Taliban of income made at least a satiric sort of sense. Now that the Taliban is reduced to shreds of black turban scattered on the rocks of Central Asia, going cold turkey for America's sake makes no damn sense at all, earnest or satiric. Any money you spend on heroin now will go directly to classic free-market entrepreneurs -- because a drug dealer is the nearest thing to a classic capitalist in this fallen world of ours. If Adam Smith, that third-rate provincial philosophe, were transported to our era, the only people he'd want to embrace would be the chain of brave, lonely drug dealers connecting a lonely office worker in Houston to a hardworking peasant in Ghazni.
If they actually believed in the things they claim to value, the republicans should be encouraging us to buy more Afghan opium. What better way to let private volunteers fund the big Afghan rescue project? Instead of forcing grudging taxpayers to hand over their income to the Feds, who would then scatter it wastefully over the Afghan landscape, let private donors purchase something they really (really!) want: opiates. And by doing so, they could -- if the free market were allowed to operate in the way Smith imagined -- turn Afghanistan from the poorest to one of the richest countries in the world in a few years.
Look at it from the classic Adam-Smith model: there is a commodity, opium, for which there is huge, constant, worldwide demand -- a demand concentrated in the richest countries, where people are willing to pay literally any price for it. However, because of inexplicable tribal taboos operating in most of the countries on the planet, only one country, Afghanistan, is willing to produce this commodity on a large and open scale. If this situation were allowed to prevail for five years, Afghanistan would become like Arrakis, only source of the Spice in Dune. In other words, it would become the center of the universe.
Nobody would even need to buy Super Bowl ads to promote the product. But imagine what commercials they could make if they wanted to! It would be easy enough to make the Taliban the anti-free-enterprise bad guys in these commercials, because until Sept. 11, the Feds were telling everyone who'd listen that the Taliban were doing a great job of burning poppy fields and killing drug-users. With their insane Puritanical bent, the Talibs were in fact the natural allies of the anti-pleasure conspiracy in the US. They'd make great villains in a pro-entrepreneurship, pro-drug commercial.
Picture it: after the first quarter of the Super Bowl, the screen goes black and silent for a moment. We hear the sound of harsh male voices, gunshots, a woman screaming, the terrified wailing of a child. Then, suddenly, we see an image which will be burned on all our retinas for life: a dusty brown child standing in a devastated field, with black-turbaned Taliban Puritans hacking away at the family's opium poppies, piling the plants in mounds which are then set afire. As the horrified child stares, we see its mother begging the soldiers to spare her husband. But to no avail; a burst from a Kalashnikov tears the farmer apart. Now the Talibs pour gasoline on the mounds of poppy-plants, and with a whoosh of flame, the survivors watch their one source of income destroyed.