Government spending related to smoking and the abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs reached $468 billion in 2005, accounting for more than one-tenth of combined federal, state and local expenditures for all purposes, according to a new study."Stunning misallocation of resources". Apparently Mr. Califano hasn't noticed this country starts wars on whims and throws trillions at Wall Street to thank them for almost destroying the world economy. Half a tril because our drugs policy is "Lock 'em up" , our health policy is "The existence of emergency rooms, for when you get really close to death, is equal to comprehensive health care", and our governmental notions of preventative measures is "Ain't that what them European socialists do? No thanks" is a drop in the bucket. And "failure of governments to make investments in the short run"? Maybe you didn't notice during this economic crisis: we have problems acting in the short run.
Most abuse-related spending went toward direct health care costs for lung disease, cirrhosis and overdoses, for example, or for law enforcement expenses including incarceration, according to the report released Thursday by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, a private group at Columbia University. Just over 2 percent of the total went to prevention, treatment and addiction research. The study is the first to calculate abuse-related spending by all three levels of government.
“This is such a stunning misallocation of resources,” said Joseph A. Califano Jr., chairman of the center, referring to the lack of preventive measures. “It’s a commentary on the stigma attached to addictions and the failure of governments to make investments in the short run that would pay enormous dividends to taxpayers over time.”
Beyond resulting in poor health and crime, addictions and substance abuse — especially alcohol — are major underlying factors in other costly social problems like homelessness, domestic violence and child abuse.
But thanks for showing us just what our policies cost us each year. I'm sure it will result in something productive from government. Like more prisons with higher walls and stronger bars, more mandatory minimums, and finding out a better way to tax people well on their way to a cirrhosis and lung cancer filled death/medical bankruptcy. You know, because "treatment" and "preventative measures" sound really gay in a heated primary fight.