Economics 101: taught by an ex-drug dealer (NPR)

by May 10, 2011

To listen to the NPR story, click on the arrow:

Freeway Rick Ross, former drug dealer

“Freeway” Rick Ross is a former Los Angeles drug dealer who has his own website: http://www.freewayrick.com.

I’m used to hearing economists, academics and officials on NPR, explaining what’s happening with the economy. But last week, I heard the voice of “Freeway” Rick Ross, a former L.A. drug dealer, talking about supply and demand for Alex Blumberg’s segment on the economics of illegal drugs. Talk about stepping out of the box!

The segment says:

“First, I asked him about Claim No. 1: Making drugs illegal drives up the price.

Ross told me that he once grossed $3 million in a single day.

‘When I sold drugs, if they’d told me they were going to legalize it, I’d have been mad, because I knew that was going to drive the price down,’ he said.

Claim No. 1: Confirmed.”

Today’s Tip: “If someone has a theory, run it by the person who’s actually doing the thing,” Alex says.

Alex Blumberg, reporter, NPR

Alex Blumberg

Alex says he had spoken with an economist, asking whether making drugs illegal draws money into the drug trade. He decided a drug dealer would be the best person to ask.

“I didn’t want to interview an economist,” he says. “The minute I was talking to the economist, I knew this is what I had to do.”

To find a former drug dealer who’d gone straight, Alex called social service agencies to find people who were helping in ex-offender programs. He searched Google and LexisNexis for “ex-drug dealer.” That’s when he found Ross’ Web page. Ross was a main character in the documentary, American Drug War: The Last White Hope.”

To hear a 30-minute interview with Ross, listen to the “Planet Money” podcast.