Who is more evil?
Usama bin Laden or a Colombian drugs baron?
On theoretical grounds alone, I would have said Usama bin Laden, who, we are told, wishes to foist Islamism on you, and, if you do not want his product, he, or his followers, will, given the chance, attempt to kill you. A Colombian drugs baron, on the other hand, is merely engaged in the innocent pursuit of trying to make money by selling you things. If you don't want his product, and don't interfere with his attempts to sell things to people who do, he will leave you alone.
(It is, of course, unfortunate that due to states' attempts to stamp out the trade in narcotics, the means of protecting the production and supply of drugs is more unstable than that for legal goods, and, therefore, the drugs market is much more violent than, say, the chocolate market. However, that problem has an obvious and easy solution. Go and read David Friedman on the economics of drugs and violence.)
Many people like to sneer at theoretical arguments. If you're one of them, then there is also some empirical evidence:
Usama bin Laden tried to buy a massive amount of cocaine, spike it with poison and sell it in the United States, hoping to kill thousands of Americans one year after the Sept. 11 attacks, The Post has learned.
The evil plot failed when the Colombian drug lords bin Laden approached decided it would be bad for their business — and, possibly, for their own health, according to law-enforcement sources familiar with the Drug Enforcement Administration's probe of the aborted transaction.
Like Jacob Lyles, I was also going to remark at how interesting it is that a private business will attempt to control the quality of its product, despite the fact that there is no quality control whatsoever required by the state, indeed, when the state is doing everything it can to prevent a high quality product from reaching its customers. However, it's not quite so clear whether this story provides compelling evidence for this point of view:
Although the drug lords would have reaped millions of dollars in profits by selling the cocaine to bin Laden, they knew that if his plan succeeded it might effectively destroy the market for their coke in America for years, sources said.
But that was only one reason they declined bin Laden's offer.
The other was their fear of retaliation from the U.S. government once its citizens started to die from the drugs, according to sources.
So, it appears that the U.S. goverment might try to control the quality of cocaine after all, or, at least, the drugs barons seem to think they might.
Another thing, just how effective would bin Laden's strategy "to kill thousands of Americans" have been? I think it's pretty unlikely that he could have ensured that the spiked coke would have reached its users simultaneously. Once the first victims had died and the news was out, the next batch of potential victims would be aware of the danger and in a position to take precautions. Could thousands of people really have been caught out by this plan?