Many young people fall victim to the trap that is drug dealing. They enter at low positions in the hope of one day making the big salaries that the top individuals make. The glamour that they envision being associated with drug dealing often blinds them from the cruel realities that go along with the job.
In this chapter, we learn of the other side of drug dealing, the less glamorous side, and see how it relates to a modern day business. They show the different hierarchical levels and explain that as you go down the hierarchical ladder, the incomes starts to decrease. The “foot soldiers”, as they’re called, are the ones doing most of the dirty work, ensuring that the drugs are being sold. The low pay and the economic situation that surrounds them, causes these drug dealers to live with their moms for most of their lives. Below are some statistics from the text that help to illustrate the author’s central thesis of the chapter.
1) Glamour of being a drug dealer – (Page 99) “At $8,500 per month, J.T’s annual salary was about $100,000” Many young kids hear about salaries like this being made by drug dealers, so they are naturally attracted to it. What they don’t know, is that the process leading up to being a top guy involves low wage and very high risk.
2) Actual income of Officers and foot soldiers – (Page 100) “So J.T. paid his employees $9,500, a combined monthly salary that was only $1000 more than his own salary… the foot soldiers earned just $3.30 an hour, less than the minimum wage,” This statistic builds off the previous one. The head drug dealer makes a large sum of money, while his workers make a fraction of it. This is even more shocking when you consider the foot soldiers are the ones selling most of the drugs.
3) Risk involved with being a foot soldier – (Page 101) “A 1-in-4 chance of being killed!” Not only do you get paid less than minimum wage, you are literally putting your life on the line every time you decide to deal drugs on the street. This shows that many foot soldiers will die before even coming close to achieving the status of even an officer.
4) Contributing economic conditions – (Page 102) ““Fifty-six percent of the neighborhood’s children lived below the poverty line… Fewer than 5 percent of the neighborhood’s adults had a college degree; barely one in three adult men worked at all. The neighborhood’s median income was about $15,000 a year, well less than half the U.S average” These young people are exposed to an environment that doesn’t promote growth or development. This statistic shows that many people were born into families that aren’t wealthy and that don’t appear to be pursuing a way out of their economic situation. They don’t know of any other lifestyles other than the ones inside their neighborhoods, and the most prominent of these lifestyles is perceived to be drug dealing.