The (Soon-to-be) Prisoners Dilemma

An enterprising sheriff in Franklin county, KY posted the following flyer on Facebook.

drug dealers

The flyer resulted in successful prosecutions and is now being used by other police departments. More at the NYTimes.

Hat tip: Andrea Castillo.


Next step - fill in the address of the neighbor of a senior sheriff's department officer.

It is a just cause, but appealing to thevworst motivations of already debased people makes me sad, nevertheless. When did we become this kind of society?

When we decided that prohibiting someone from consuming a harmless plant is a just cause.

Don't conflate the rest of us with morally corrupt politicians.

Drug consumption hurts the society and must be curbed, but it doesn't mean we must lower ourselves to the level of the people we are fighting.

Drug prohibition hurts the society and must be curbed

Thiago Ribeiro speaking hurts the society and must be curbed.

No, it doesn't. Drug prohibition is just the society defending itself.

Fuck off slaver.

The problem with enforcing victimless crimes is that you cant count on someone reporting a crime. You have to figure out ways to infiltrate the networks that these people form. The end result is your police doing some slimy and Orwellian shit. This is kids stuff compared to what law enforcement does on a regular basis to prevent people from 'harming society'.

How does smoking marijuana hurt society?

It increases the cost of welfare for one. Drug addicted people have a hard time holding a job. Is it more than the cost of enforcement? I don't know but everyone has their favorite stats. Feel free to reply and link to yours.

I would support legalization if I didn't have to pay for the consequences.

It deprives the state of taxes from legitimate substitute goods such as alcohol.

Welfare harms the society and must be curbed.

if we are concerned about the costs to society (or individuals) then yes we should put alcohol and tobacco on the chopping block. i presume keith has no problem with this.

Drug consumption hurts the society and must be curbed, but it doesn’t mean we must lower ourselves to the level of the people we are fighting.

Government does not have he means for doing it. You need to get out there and convince or use some other nonviolent means.

What makes you say it is harmless? i) I see afflicted stoners all the time; they are inebriated, and addicted. (Maybe not in the way crack addicts are addicted, but they rarely go a day without being stoned.) ii) My acquaintances from Uni who were pot smokers had a 50% graduation rate.


I'm a computer programmer who's worked for one of the big 4 tech companies (may be working for two of the four, depending on which offers I receive), and I enjoy light and legal marijuana smoking a couple times a week. It's probable that your compulsive smokers were just low achievers to begin with. I certainly wouldn't blame the drug itself since even though smoking it is fun, I've never felt an overwhelming need, compulsion, or addiction to smoke. Heavy smoking will make you a zombie while you're heavily inebriated, but you've got to be the type of person who wants to be like that all the time in order to be a problem smoker.

As an intelligent person you also probably know it is hard to address the question of societal harm by quoting personal anecdotes.

Unless they back your thesis of course.

Relying to self because reply to Keith is unavailable.

I wasn't replying to someone alleging societal harm, but someone providing anecdotes about personal harm. Thor provided an anecdote, so I traded one of mine with his.

In any case, the data about marijuana dependency states only 9% of users are dependant, so scenarios like mine are far more prevalent than scenarios like Thor's.

Well, I know lots of afflicted alcoholics and relatives or friends of afflicted alcoholics, and it is not pretty and doesn't do much for their wordly prospects

True. Alcohol addiction and abuse is even worse than pot addiction and abuse.

Uni graduation harms the society and must be curbed.

I smoke marijuana a few times a week. I'm also a millionaire with a six figure salary. Who knows what I could have achieved if I didn't take the pot?

"When did we become this kind of society?"

When weren't we this type of society?

Maybe America was always this kind of society.

Fuck off slaver

Be polite. How do you know he's not wrong? Sure, drugs were legal in the 19th century, but they had heinous, civil liberty-encroaching laws like the Comstock Act.

Politeness harms the society and must be curbed.

All curbs must be curbed!

It doesn't seem like an instance of the prisoner's dilemma because the first snitch doesn't avoid any punishment by defecting; if the rival knows who turned him in, he'll certainly retaliate in kind (if only out of spite) and in that case, snitch #1 can't expect any leniency when implicated since his own initial snitching was anonymous and so he won't get any credit for it. It's even worse than that because the rival that was initially implicated WILL get credit for turning in additional dealers, so the advantage is in the opposite direction of the prisoner's dilemma.

Also -- doesn't the program risk making the mutually beneficial relationship between drug dealers and law-enforcement just a little too obvious?

I think you're correct that the new version is not the same as the story told for the standard PD game theory. I don't see that really matters -- and in many ways gets us to the true PD strucutre anyhow: it's an incentive strucutre established by the jailer to get a prisoner locked up. WHich is why I typically don't think PD theory is all that great for many social science alansys for anythinig other than trying to figure out why the "prisoners" have not found/established/or evolved an institutional structure that gets the high payout result. After all, the PD analysis largely puts society as the prisoners and some type of situational incentive strucutre we interact within as the jailer.

Things are going to go horribly wrong once the cops show up at 123 Fake St.

I put down 742 Evergreen Terrace and phone number is 867-5309

What - you didn't use 1060 West Addison Street in Chicago?

Dont put that address in there! My friend Heywood Jablowme lives there.

Isn't he married to Amanda Huggenkiss?

Vandelay Industries is headquartered there.

Attempted murder!? You'll burn one for this! Burn in jail!

Very poor font choice

Why did they use an image of marijuana?
My city is crowded with stores selling it.

Hey, we can't all live in Miami.

At first it looks brilliant. But...

"Snitches get stitches" might be so sacred as dogma that drug dealers won't even snitch on their competition. Talking to cops is typically verboten regardless of who you're talking about. Once you get comfortable talking to cops you might get comfortable ratting out your higher-ups, so that isn't tolerated.

Also, as Incanabulum hinted, even if people get comfortable talking to cops, there will likely be a noise-to-signal ratio so high that it makes the system useless. Keep in mind nothing stops just anybody from filling one of these out and mailing it in, whether or not he's a drug dealer. Teenagers would send these things in just to punk or bully each other.

"“Snitches get stitches” might be so sacred as dogma that drug dealers won’t even snitch on their competition"

Or some dealers might not be amoral, and think that drug dealers don't deserve to be in prison any more than a liquor store owner does.

The actual target of the ads may not actually be the criminals themselves, but the non-criminal population around them who resent them. They should already know the existing means to notify the police of criminal activity, but they may not use it for whatever reason. This flyer - done comically - is a good way to remind them they can inform the police to get drugs and criminals off the street.

Insofar it creates distrust among the criminals themselves, that's just a bonus.

If by non-criminal population you just mean people who aren't drug dealers, then I think they either already feel comfortable talking to cops or they don't. The flyer won't change that. The flyer won't have much of an impact, trust-wise or outreach-wise. Instead it will mostly just get used by kids to prank or bully other kids.

I think you may be onto something with this.
Makes the ad even more clever than I thought.

Snitches get riches.

This might create a prisoners' dilemna, but that assumes that the police are impartial arbiters. We should also consider the potential for the police and drug dealers to fuse together and align their interests. After all, this is basically what happened in Mexico in the 21st century, with different cartels and different sectors of the state fusing together to increase their collective profits.

Their interests are fused already even without corruption or direct coordination -- it's fairly obvious that the '(drug) war is the health of the state (police)' and, on the dealer's side -- the illegality and police enforcement efforts are what makes the business lucrative (without them, pot would be literally dirt cheap -- anybody with a small plot of dirt could grow their own).

Grow your own and lower prices appears to be a fallacy based upon experience (so far) here in Colorado. Most people seem to be too lazy to grow.

Well, yeah, but that's because legal pot is pretty cheap in Colorado (most people are too lazy to brew their own beer, too, because the bite the state takes in taxes is low enough).

Is brewing your own beer cheaper than cheap beer? I doubt it, but don't know. I'm pretty sure growing your own marijuana is a lot cheaper than buying it

That train already left the station a long time ago. DEA and CIA have funded a lot of internal projects using drug money -- that gos back to the 60s for the CIA. The Civial Asset Forfiture program just brought most of the rank and file policing into the fold -- just look at how the Tennessee police let the drugs flow to the east coast markets and then take their cut in the searches for cash on the west bound traffic.

Right and don't forget how George McGovern's 1972 campaign was financed primary from illicit drug sales.

That sounds really interesting - do you have a source?

My source is the same as John's.

Don't forget how Nixon the Quaker would get blackout drunk and make creepy calls late night.

Why isn't this a "markets in everything" post?

This is really nothing new. Cops have depended on competitors snitching out other criminals for a long time. It was very common during prohibition. Worst case scenario: Whitey Bulger.

the enemy of my enemy is my friend

- Kautilya, 4th century B.C.

Apparently, this sheriff has never heard the term "denial of service attack".

I'm pretty amused that people assume the police are stupid enough not to use this to supplement information they already hold, or to verify these against one another. And oh yeah, it'll be DDSd... because that's what happens with police mailboxes at the moment.

This isn't any different from the normal police intel lines which have existed forever, other than being jauntily upfront.

Well, it is Kentucky...

Top story: Prison populations swell with no decrease in drug consumption.

The resemblance between the current scene in the US and that of Vichy France is astonishing. Since the Krauts really only administered the Paris area and the coast, indigenous Frenchmen were able to hose their neighbors with abandon. It didn't end well for many, although some survived to prosper in the post-war era. The US doesn't need an invasion from anywhere, its totalitarians are already in place and functioning.

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