Sex, Drugs and Illegal Immigrant Labor!

The folks at the Guardian Unlimited published this interesting little article on America’s shadow market of drugs, porn and illegal labor: With pot and porn outstripping corn, America’s black economy is flying high.

Despite laws that punish marijuana cultivation more strictly than murder in some states, Americans spend more on illegal drugs than on cigarettes. And despite official disapproval of pornography, the US leads the world in export of explicit sex videos, according to Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market by Eric Schlosser.

Although the official American economy has been suffering a downturn, the shadow economy is enjoying unprecedented levels of success, much in the way that the prohibition period fueled the illegal markets in the 30s. Schlosser found that three specific industries accounted for a major portion of this boom.

Marijuana is cited as being the fastest growing market in farming (if you’ll pardon the obvious pun) for the last three decades. The porn industry counting not just video sales, but also live sex acts, the internet and cable television is estimated to take in around $10 billion a year, roughly on par with Hollywood. Currently the United States leads the world in porn with about 211 new films being produced each week and there are more girls lined up to break into the biz than the industry can currently handle.

Oh, and the illegal immigrant workers? There’s about a million or so working on American farms with another 7 million working in other menial jobs and paid in cash under the table.

Schlosser believes that the shadow economy will continue to thrive as long as marijuana and pornography remain illicit.

“A society that can punish a marijuana offender more severely than a murderer is caught in the grip of a deep psychosis,” he concludes. “Black markets will always be with us. But they will recede in importance when the public morality is consistent with our private one. The underground is a good measure of the progress and the health of nations. When much is wrong, much needs to be hidden.”

I would tend to agree. Forbidden fruit can be hard to resist.

Eric Schlosser is an Atlantic Monthly correspondent.

4 thoughts on “Sex, Drugs and Illegal Immigrant Labor!

  1. Oooh, and have you read all the stuff about how Canada is probably going to legalize marijuana?

    The right-hand to the US Drug Czar is promising retaliation.

  2. I would agree with that as well. A good example of how far removed our leaders/policies are from the regular joes! Actually it boggles the mind; our government doesn’t even represent the majority of us.

  3. To follow up on Rori’s comment I recently read and article in I believe the Guardian that quoted Canada’s outgoing PM Cretin’ when asked what his response was to the American govt outcry to the distinct possibility of Canada decriminalizing marijuana, “I think I’ll go home and smoke a joint” Oh Canada!! I sometimes wish we had such pragmatic and sane pols!! As far as immigation and drugs are concerned, hell the immigrants are helping to bring lots of the drugs into the country, and Bush wants to give out guest worker visas like they are candy. Smart move GW. I believe that drugs just like alcohol during prohibition will always be here because when you can get 30,000 dollars for a kilo of uncut coke or 1,600 lb wholesale for good high mid pot then there will always be desperate or lazy people lined up to fill the existing demand. I say legalize it and tax the shit out of it Mexico and Columbia are at least two countries and societies that would thank us.
    We live in capitaist society as long as there is a market the dope will come in.

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