The Drug War’s Impact on the American Economy
America’s and the world’s appetite for drugs is insatiable. Billions upon billions of dollars have been spent on both the consumption of illicit drugs and fighting the war on drugs.
At first glance as an investor, you probably don’t think this affects you (that is, if you don’t use or sell drugs). But a closer look will reveal the enormous economic impact that the war on drugs has on America. Prepare yourself for some very alarming numbers.
Since 1971, the United States has spent $1,000,000,000,000 on the war on drugs. If you have a hard time reading that enormous number, it’s 1 TRILLION dollars! There are an estimated 500,000 inmates incarcerated for drug related charges. At an annual cost of $25,000 per inmate, that equates to $12.6 billion a year. America spends 58% less money to educate a child than it does to keep an inmate behind bars. The next generation (who will be future consumers) is suffering and is being heavily disadvantaged.
On the consumption side, the numbers are just as incredible. The estimated annual value of the cocaine market is $88 billion. For Heroin, it is $55 billion. The average cocaine addict will spend $25,000 per year to fuel their habit and the average heroin addict will spend $18,000.
These massive sums of money could be spent on much more productive things. The USA has been struggling financially for years now, to the point where a major city like Detroit had to declare bankruptcy. The enormous amount of money that is spent untaxed on drugs is mind boggling, and the large majority of it goes out of the country. Can you imagine if these wasted dollars could be used to fuel its growth or pay back its astronomical debt?
The first step of rehab is to admit there is a problem. Spending over a trillion dollars and incarcerating hundreds of thousands is definitely that. The next step is finding a way to solve it – we’re open to ideas.
Arms Sales: USA vs. Russia (1950-2017)
This intense animation plots data on nearly 70 years of arms sales, to compare the influence of the two superpowers from the Cold War to modern times.
Arms Sales: USA vs. Russia (1950-2017)
Between countless proxy wars and the growing threat of nuclear catastrophe, the Cold War created an unprecedented geopolitical climate.
For nearly half a century, the world’s two biggest superpowers were scrambling to top one another by any means necessary. It was a tension that ignited everything from the space race to sports rivalries, with the impact often spilling over to neighboring nations.
Not only did the U.S. and Soviet Union duke it out in the mother of all arms races – they also extended their influence by selling arms outside of their borders. Interestingly, this latter race continues on until today, almost three decades after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Visualizing Arms Sales
Today’s animation comes from data scientist Will Geary, and it shows the history of international arms sales originating from the U.S. and the Soviet Union (later Russia) from 1950 to 2017.
More specifically, using data from the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, the animation shows the geographic movement of arms from country to country as well as the evolving share of the arms trade held by the respective countries. The video is also pleasantly backed by audio that represents music from each decade, ranging from Buffalo Springfield to The Clash.
Peak Arms Dominance
If you watch the pie chart in the upper left corner of the animation, you’ll see that the early-1960s is the peak of U.S. and Soviet arm dominance – at this point, around the same time as the Cuban Missile Crisis and then the JFK assassination, the two superpowers combined for 80% of global arms sales.
In the 1960s, the biggest customers of U.S. arms were Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan – while the Soviets sent the most weapons to Egypt, Poland, and East Germany.
Fall of the Wall
By the 1980s, the global arms trade started dying down as Soviet leaders like Gorbachev focused on domestic reforms, and eventually perestroika.
Later, the Soviet Union dissolved, and arms sales continued to plunge all the way to 2001:
Since then, arms sales have been ramping up again – and today, they are back at levels last seen before the Berlin Wall came down.
The Modern Era
Who is selling the most arms, according to the last 10 years of data?
Even though the Cold War is now long gone, the U.S. and Russia have kept their legacy of international arms sales going well into the 21st century.
And today, the two nations combine for roughly 60% of arms sales, with top U.S. weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon getting a big slice of that pie.
Which Countries Are Set to Attract the Highest Skilled Workers from Abroad?
The world’s most innovative companies want to get the best talent at any cost. See whether their home countries are helping or hurting their odds.
For the world’s most innovative companies, the stated goal of attracting top talent is not simply an HR mantra – it’s a matter of survival.
Whether we’re talking about a giant like Google that is constantly searching to add world-class engineers or we’re talking about a startup that needs a visionary to shape products of the future, innovative companies require access to high-skilled workers to stay ahead of their competition.
The Global Search for Talent
There’s no doubt that top companies will go out of their way to bring in highly-skilled workers, even if they must look internationally to find the best of the best.
However, part of this recruitment process is not necessarily under their control. The reality is that countries themselves have different policies that affect how easy it is to attract people, educate and develop them, and retain the best workers – and these factors can either empower or undermine talent recruitment efforts.
Today’s infographic comes from KDM Engineering, and it breaks down the top 25 countries in attracting high-skilled workers.
If attracting the best people isn’t hard enough, there is another factor that can complicate things: the best people are sometimes not found locally or even nationally.
For top companies, recruitment is a global game – and it’s partially driven by the policies of governments as well as the quality of life within their countries’ borders.
Top Countries for Attracting High-Skilled Workers
Using data from the United Nations and the Global Talent Competitive Index, here are the top 10 countries that are the best at attracting and retaining highly-skilled workers.
They are ordered by overall rank, but their sub-category ranks are also displayed:
|#3||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||#8||#11||#7||#5||8,543,120|
|#4||🇺🇸 United States||#11||#16||#2||#8||46,627,102|
The subcategory ranks are defined as follows:
- Enable: Status of regulatory and market landscapes in country
- Attract: Ability to attract companies and people with needed competencies
- Grow: Ability to offer high-quality education, apprenticeships, and training
- Retain: Indicates quality of life in country
According to the data, Switzerland (#1) and Singapore (#2) are the two best countries for attaining and keeping high-skilled workers.
While the regulatory environments in both of these countries are well-known by reputation, perhaps what’s more surprising is that Singapore scores the #1 rank in the “Attract” subcategory, while Switzerland is the #1 country for retaining talent based on quality of life.
Another data point that stands out?
The United States has a higher total migrant population (46.6 million) than all of the countries on the top 10 list combined. Not surprisingly, the massive U.S. economy also has a high ranking in the “Grow” category, which represents available opportunities to bring high-skilled workers to the next level through education and training.
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