With mixed signals at best for a truce in the war on drugs, The Free Agent modestly proposes an interim solution, aimed at minimizing the pathologies innocent bystanders—hereafter referred to as squares—suffer. Until you can do so legally, the FA suggests to pushers of the world, incorporate.
When a drug dealer is arrested, his turf, his market as it were, is put into play. His organization must then defend itself against rivals. Would-be competitors can even use law enforcement to activate an Old West-style land-grab. Not only do these turf wars endanger innocent bystanders, but they are expensive, in money and lives, to drug dealers themselves. As her first foray into management consultation, The FA advises local gangs to consolidate their defenses against outsiders and incorporate drug sales for a jurisdiction. Consider the advantages:
• Anyone wishing to enter the drug trade need only buy shares. All share in the profits.
• Branding—the best consumer protection there is! Back at Hippy Week, a colleague once asked The Free Agent, “Would you try marijuana if it was made by Kraft?” “I might.” Kraft can be sued for negligence, which Drugs-R-Us, couldn’t, but it also has a reputation that’s worth money. There have been many instances of illegal drug branding, as well as illegal drug brand-infringement. (Since there is currently no access to a court system for the resolution of disputes, the consequences of counterfeiting the local drug brand will be of the traditional, extremely unpleasant, sort.)
• Exit and entrance to the market can be executed without, well, executions, simply by selling shares at whatever someone else is willing to pay for them.
• Jobs would be filled by qualification, reducing the many dumb-but-loyal foot soldiers under the current system
• Black marketers would be able to negotiate with the straight world, the squares. Even an uneasy, but peaceful, coexistence, is preferable to open turf warfare. Pathologies that annoy the squares–corner hustling, prostitution, property crime–can all be ameliorated by negotiation, benefiting all sides.
• The corporation plan is an extension of the Five Families division of New York City crime turf. If only the Families had incorporated to maximize their common interests, oh, how many mattresses might have been saved?!
A trading floor could be easily established. The main problem to be overcome is the cash nature of the drug business, especially since banks are required to function as unpaid junior G-men, reporting all “suspicious” deposits. This is a perennial problem in any black market, however, and poses no additional impediment to the informal incorporation.
Like any extra-legal construct, Drugs-R-Us would only be as stable as long as it was perceived to be transparent, fair, and equitable, problems businesses and people in all walks of life have. But if Congress has taught us nothing else, hasn’t it taught us that when power players realize they can reap monopoly profits by conspiracy, rather than wasteful competition, it’s in their best interest to do so? Anyone who’s reached a position of responsibility in the modern drug trade has more business sense than anyone on Capital Hill.