still, I blame Canada

With pot and porn outstripping corn, America's black economy is flying high

Marijuana, pornography and illegal labour have created a hidden market in the United States which now accounts for as much as 10% of the American economy, according to a study. As a cash crop, marijuana is believed to have outstripped maize, and hardcore porn revenue is equal to Hollywood's domestic box office takings. [...]

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While the nation's largest legal cash crop, maize, produces about $19bn in revenue, "plausible" estimates for the value of marijuana crops reach $25bn. Steve White, a former coordinator for the US drug enforcement administration's cannabis eradication programme, estimates that the drug is now the country's largest cash crop. [...] Some estimates suggest 3 million Americans grow marijuana, although mostly for their own or their friends' use, but between 100,000 and 200,000 are believed to do so for a living. [...]

The annual number of hardcore video rentals in the US has risen from 79m in 1985 to 759m in 2001. Hardcore pornography in the shape of videos, the internet, live sex acts and cable television is now estimated to generate around $10bn, roughly the same amount as Hollywood's US box office receipts. [...]

More than a million illegal farmworkers are estimated to be employed in the US, with the average worker being a 29-year-old from Mexico. The total number of illegal immigrants is estimated at about 8 million and many are being paid cash in a shadow economy. Many live in primitive conditions: a survey in Soledad, in the heart of California's agricultural territory, found that 1,500 of them, one-eighth of the town's official population, were living in garages. There are mutual economic benefits.

"Migrant work in California has long absorbed Mexican surplus labour, while Mexico has in effect paid for the education, health care and retirement of California's farmworkers," writes Schlosser. "Maintaining the current level of poverty among migrant farmworkers saves the average American household around $50 a year."

The advantages to the employer are clear, most notably in LA county, where an estimated 28% of workers are paid in cash.


13 Responses:

  1. atakra says:

    So THAT'S where my money is going to!

  2. it's like you're slowly turning into DEVON.

    i am disturbed, to say the least.

  3. giles says:

    T'aint corn, it's dope. Here, take a few pounds home for the wife!

  4. toastednut says:

    taxation on legalized black market wares and the relief of the us economy?

  5. harryh says:

    Of course the value of black market wares is obviously artificially inflated by the very fact that it is illegal. Legalize marijuana, and the value of the crop would prolly drop ~10x.

    • jwz says:

      Prices need not go down as the cost of production decreases: look at CD pricing. The market has already established what it is willing to pay.

      • harryh says:

        CDs are different then pot. There is only one source for the latest White Stripes CD so they have a limited monopoly on that product.

        Pot is essentially a commodity product, so it's price should conform much closer to its production cost.

  6. darwinx0r says:

    - "plausible" estimates for the value of marijuana crops reach $25bn.
    - Hardcore pornography in the shape of videos, the internet, live sex acts and cable television is now estimated to generate around $10bn
    - not referenced in article, but cocaine is est $50 bn
    - heroin ditto est $50 bn

    25+10+50+50= $135bn

    US GDP (CIA fact book : $10.082 trillion (2001 est.)

    135 billion is : 135,000,000,000
    10 trillion is : 10,000,000,000,000

    135 billion is 1/74th of 10 trillion. Even if we quadruple the estimates for illegal business (to allow for error, illegal labor, etc) we're still nowhere near 10%.

    However, there's a weird wrinkle here :
    1) The cardinal number equal to 10^9.
    2) Chiefly British. The cardinal number equal to 10^12.
    1) The cardinal number equal to 10^12.
    2) Chiefly British. The cardinal number equal to 10^18.

    So, by the english system we have :
    135 billion - 135,000,000,000,000
    10 trillion - 10,000,000,000,000,000,000

    135 (gb) billion goes into 10 (gb) trillion 74074 times.. I'm no math expert, but I think that's a little less than 10%. I notice this article references a book.. I wonder if there's some sort of weird mathematical BS^H^Hformula that the book uses to produce the 10% number.

    In other news, having two different numbers called both "billion" and "trillion" is insanely stupid. I put it up there with an ounce of gold weighing more than an ounce of weed.