« Why Marijuana Should be Decriminalized- Becker | Main | End the Cuban Embargo—Posner »

02/23/2014

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jack

Ha! The limiting factor for MJ might be "what's left after the "smartphone" addiction costs are covered.

Cellphones Are Eating the Family Budget

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390444083304578018731890309450

Or any one or combo of these?


13 Ways Americans Throw Away Money
JILL KRASNY Pierre LaScott

Blame the government or blame the economy, but Americans should also blame themselves for their declining net worth.
We waste a whole lot of money. Seriously, over half a trillion dollars each year—and that's just for areas with available data.

So what counts as a waste of money? We included fines, bad investments like lottery tickets, and unhealthy consumption items like cigarettes and alcohol. We're not telling you how to live your life—but we are identifying costs that everyone should consider cutting.

Click here to see the biggest money wasters >
***Please note: We have corrected an grievous miscalculation of credit card interest payments.


$6 billion in unused gift cards each year
$6 billion in unused gift cards each year
Flickr / smcgee
$41 billion in gift cards went unused from 2005 to 2011, worth $6 billion a year, according to TowerGroup. Most of these are considered lost or discarded.

But don't ditch those unused gift cards just yet—you might be able to turn them into cold, hard cash.

Last year, deals site CouponSherpa launched a movement called Gift Card Exchange Day, during which consumers could sell their unwanted or slightly used gift cards for cash.

On the marketplace, people post an ad for their card in the hopes that a gift card reseller will buy it. "On average you could pocket between 75 and 92 percent of the value of your original gift," reports BI's Mandi Woodruff.

$7 billion in ATM fees each year
$7 billion in ATM fees each year
AP Images
Americans pay through the nose at the ATM, according to Bankrate.

What's more, these penalties are higher than ever right now.

The only way to ditch them may be dumping your big bank for a credit union. Not only do some credit unions reimburse you for ATM fees, some will even pay you for using their card.

$12 billion in traffic tickets each year
$12 billion in traffic tickets each year
Grahamtastic/Flickr
Drive too fast? Park in the wrong spot? You are spoon feeding money to the government and the insurance companies.

The National Motorists Association estimates that Americans spend 7.5 to 15 billion dollars on traffic tickets, assuming 25 to 50 million traffic tickets, costing an average of $150 with an insurance surcharges for half of them costing around $300. (We averaged the range in this estimate.)

$29 billion on candy each year
$29 billion on candy each year
Victoria Castañeda/Flickr
Most candy has negative nutritional value. We're going to go ahead and call it a waste of money.

How much? US confectionery sales totaled $29 billion in 2010, with 60 percent spent on chocolate.

$31 billion on lottery tickets each year


Americans spent $59 billion on lottery tickets in 2010. Most of them did not get rich. The average lottery ticket pays 47 cents on the dollar, meaning that Americans wasted around $41 billion.

$44 billion on tobacco each year
$44 billion on tobacco each year

Americans burned $44 billion on tobacco, according to the BLS.

It's become such a problem that low-income New Yorkers are spending a quarter of their annual salary on cigarettes.

And we're not counting the indirect health costs, which are covered in a later slide.

But help may be on the way. Researchers like Dr. Ronald Crystal of Weill Cornell Medical Center are developing vaccines that could provide immunity to nicotine and even cocaine. It's a one-time shot that could help stop addiction.

$50 billion on alcohol each year
$50 billion on alcohol each year
Flickr / John Niedermeyer
Americans spent $50 billion getting drunk, according to the BLS.

One might argue that booze isn't a waste of money, but, well, we're not convinced.

Again we're not counting indirect costs related to drinking.

$49 billion on credit card interest each year
$49 billion on credit card interest each year
NickCotter

We calculated this figure based on a Gallup survey showing that the average cardholder had an unpaid balance of $2,210 at the end of the month. Throw in an average APR of 12.75% for 174 million cardholders, and you get total annual interest payments of $49 billion.

You seriously need to stop wasting money on credit card interest and end the debt cycle for good.

$69 billion at the casinos each year
$69 billion at the casinos each year
Wikimedia Commons
Casinos earned gross revenue of $125 billion in 2010.

We're going to be generous and estimate that 45 percent of this money was returned to gambler's in winnings. That leaves $69 billion money that people willingly gave away.

Warren Buffett says it was while watching people throw away money at a casino that he first realized how easy it would be to get rich.

$76 billion on soda each year
$76 billion on soda each year

The US soda market is worth $76 billion, according to Beverage Digest.

As your mom told you, these drinks provide no nutritional value, and you're better off drinking water.

$146 billion in wasted energy each year
$146 billion in wasted energy each year

That's our calculation based on $443 billion in annual home energy costs, and the claim that consumers could cut energy costs by a third if they followed recommendations from the government-backed Energy Star program.

Energy Star's website has a whole host of suggestions to save you money:

Changing your air filter every three months at the minimum and using a programmable thermostat could save you over $180 a year.
Lowering your water heat thermostat from 140 to 120 degrees can save you more than $400 a year.
Replacing five light bulbs with Energy Star bulbs or fixtures can save you $70 per year, and Americans waste $9 billion on energy inefficient lighting.
You could save $40 a year by only using cold water to wash your clothes and as many as $36 per year by using the right sized pot on your stoves.
In the average home "75% of the electricity used to power home electronics and appliances is consumed while the products are turned off."


$165 billion in wasted food each year
$165 billion in wasted food each year

When you trash food, you throw out money. The habit costs $165 billion nationally, according to the National Resources Defense Council, which means it costs $529 per person.

If you're tempted to toss out old food, then pick up new habits.

Hit up Google to find creative uses for certain foods, offer leftovers to Fido, or plan meals around weekly sales so you don't overbuy.

Another option is to pile up your plate with veggies. They'll help you lose weight, and are often cheaper than the packaged and processed goods at the front of the store.

Who knows how much wasted on bad health?
Who knows how much wasted on bad health?
Flickr/Tobyotter
This is where the indirect costs of smoking, drinking, and eating junk food come in.

Bad health leads to lower productivity, high insurance and health care costs—even if universal health care spreads the cost to other tax payers.

The real problem is that bad health makes people less happy and takes years off one's life.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/biggest-money-wasters-2012-9?op=1#ixzz2uDNHiKd6

Thomas Rekdal

Am I the only one perplexed by these postings? Becker I can follow and more or less agree with, but Posner mystifies me. He says that the "net benefits" favor decriminalization of the drug, but does not think it follows from this that a federal law to that effect would be a good idea. So it is a good idea to enforce federal law against the policy of two states that allow recreational use, and attempt to stop the unstoppable use of the drug? I don't get it. I also have no idea what Jack is talking about.

Neilehat

Even with Guzman out of the picture (hate to say this, but someone's already replaced him and he may yet disappear due to corruption and bribes to various officials. Not too mention, how many acres were under pot cultivation in Wisconsin and these are the acres we know about). It comes down to a simple question of "Product", "Supply" and "Demand". Whether it's "Elastic" or "Inelastic" is immaterial. As we have seen, if a product is criminalized, the "Smugglers" and "Blackmarket" take control. If legitimate, the "Retailers" and "Whitemarket". As for costs, don't forget the Criminolgy costs and the Penology costs that have been incurred by the criminalisation of "the product". As we say in the Chicago area, "Statesville is just another "Charm School" or Institution of "Higher Learning" depending on who you talk to. Remember, the "Drug War" has created a Boom in the Penal, Criminolgy and Enforcement Industries. "Cost and Benefits"?...

jim kirby

I fail to understand the argument for continuing to punish producers and purveyors of marijuana. Like the day-after pill, once we decide that a woman has a right to get it, we should praise, not condemn, anyone who helps her get it.

Terry Bennett

Senior to all of these concerns is freedom, which necessarily includes freedom to engage in questionable behavior (and I speak as a non-participant). The original grounds on which the right to use marijuana was taken away were dubious at best (or should I say doobie-ous?). I do not see where there is anything approaching a compelling state interest to justify putting this limit on our liberty and pursuit of happiness. Even worse, the regime itself has created a whole class of social problems that would not exist had our grandfathers not taken issue with the substance in the 1930's.

I have been amazed at the resistance to even medical legalization, considering we let doctors dispense things like morphine. Now it does seem like the dam has broken, and the millions of people who already use it can now keep doing what they're doing, minus the stress.

What I would like to see is a continued demand for individual responsibility. I have always thought the opium den was a great idea, a place where you can safely go and take an action that will render you unable to control yourself, without risking hurt to anyone else - sort of like a bar where they make you sleep it off before you can leave. Every state has forceful drunk driving laws, a big neon sign telling people, "We don't want you to do this!" Still, every week in court I see lots of DUI's, including lots of repeat offenders. Obviously, the penalties are not enough to dissuade these people from putting my life at risk. I would be fine with legalizing marijuana and other drugs, if the legislature would simultaneously amend the statutes to the effect that a person who drives a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in any amount, has committed an attempted murder, with a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence. If there is actually a fatality, it should be first degree murder - the ingestion was pre-meditated.

Back in the 60's, the flower children used to say, "Do whatever you want to do, be whatever you want to be, just as long as you don't hurt anybody." As moral codes go, it's not at all bad.

B Wilds

In the last decade, due almost solely to the surge in drug-related arrests, U.S. prisons are massively overcrowded and underfunded. The rehabilitation aspect of incarceration is slim to nil. Marijuana constitutes almost half of all drug arrests, and between 1990–2002, marijuana accounted for 82% of the increase in the number of drug arrests. In 2004, approximately 12.7% of state prisoners and 12.4% of Federal prisoners were serving time for a marijuana-related offense. Today more than ever, the fear that President Carter voiced in 1977 that penalties for drugs are doing more damage than drugs themselves rings true. More about the massive cost of our war on drugs in the post below,
http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2013/09/war-on-drugs-is-far-too-costly.html

Ian

Hi! First, I'd likw ro say to Richard Posner that you are a truly amazing mind. You belong on the Supreme Court and in my estimation you are the best judge in the land. However, I disagree with your view on marijuana legalization. My view is that marijuana destroys the subjects brain who uses it and leads to lowered inhabitions leading to a move away from wellness and health. I believe that this question should be framed differently. I think that pragmatically we all agree that imprisoning people for marijuana use hasn't worked. But I also think that we would all agree that people who use marijuana do not maximize their wealth and generally run into many life problems. I think we need to develop a new instituion which besides the prison, hospital, and asylum that historically, along with many additional instituitons, dealt with users before . I think it should be a collaborative effort and we should seriously study the work of the thinkers who have and are and will work on this problem. Yes, legalization solves problems that we are facing. But can we honestly say that we leave these people any better off than if we were to be positive role models and help them maxmize their wealth and learn to labour with it reducing the need for waste.

Eric Rasmusen

The first question to be answered is: Would you rather live in a society with marijuana, or without? That is, would you be happy if a disease suddenly made marijuana go extinct?
I would guess that most people who read blogs, or perhaps even who read, would indeed like that. (The discussion would be interesting, though.)
A second question is: Would a society with marijuana be a better one? Note that even someone who personally likes using marijuana might answer "Yes", just as a burglar might prefer a society without burglary.
Only then can we go on to the question of whether making marijuana illegal is a good idea, given that it limits freedom and that law enforcement is costly but that also its illegality channels criminals into that endeavor rather than, say, extortion.

Eric Rasmusen

It is good that Colorado has legalized marijuana. We will in a few years have more evidence as to whether legalization helps or hurts.

C.Kang

I guess I'm just curious as to how we can accurately understand the externalities of decriminalizing marijuana on a national level. I follow the argument in its comparison of marijuana being no less destructive than alcohol in terms of social cost, but I would be cautious to say that it is less, only because the comparison seemed to pit an abuse of alcohol with the recreational use of marijuana. Don't get me wrong, I believe that alcohol abuse if very serious and is a very underdeveloped externality, but I think it's important to realize that the potential for marijuana abuse can't be overlooked when measuring decriminalization.

I'm reading in the news that Colorado actually is reaping enormous financial benefits from legalizing the drug and yes, I'm sure the state government is probably pretty happy about the revenue from the heavy excise taxes, but what would be Colorado's long term affects in terms of productivity, health, culture, etc. and would it be an accurate model for all the other states?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Become a Fan

March 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31