Explaining the news via signaling

A sad paragraph of a Rolling Stone piece on the massive failure called War on Drugs:
But after Escobar was killed in 1993 — and after U.S. drug agents began systematically busting up the Colombian cartels — doubt was replaced with hard data. Thanks to new research, U.S. policy-makers knew with increasing certainty what would work and what wouldn't. The tragedy of the War on Drugs is that this knowledge hasn't been heeded. We continue to treat marijuana as a major threat to public health, even though we know it isn't. We continue to lock up generations of teenage drug dealers, even though we know imprisonment does little to reduce the amount of drugs sold on the street. And we continue to spend billions to fight drugs abroad, even though we know that military efforts are an ineffective way to cut the supply of narcotics in America or raise the price.
This makes much more sense if you consider that the drug czar and other Washington politicians are much more interested in signaling that they are fighting drugs in America than actually doing something about the problem. Until signaling theory hits the mainstream, let's keep throwing money into a giant hole.

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