SOMEONE in the U.S. Marines has remembered his...

salmagundi

January 05, 1993

SOMEONE in the U.S. Marines has remembered his introductory economics course: the law of supply and demand. If food is worth killing over in Somalia because it is scarce, he reasoned, why not flood the market? That would drive down the value of food supplies, and the warlords would no longer have any incentive to fight over it.

The Marines have not yet had the chance to test this theory: still too much unprotected territory and too little food in Somalia. When they do, it will doubtless prove not to be quite that simple. But it may help.

If it does, perhaps some lawmakers around here will pay heed. What else is causing bloodshed because it can't be bought at the neighborhood store? asks our resident drawer of parallels. The parallel between narcotics on Baltimore's streets and food in Somalia can be carried too far. Most police would say any comparison between them is carrying a parallel too far.

But, insists our drawer of parallels, there is food for thought here. The law of supply and demand applies as much to Baltimore's streets as it does to Somalian food supplies or the price of oranges after a frost in Florida. Addicts who could get at least some drugs legally would not have to deal with the hoodlums who are murdering record numbers of people, not to mention those who die from the poison itself. Again, it's not that simple. But it might help.

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