by John Hawkins | July 25, 2002 7:04 am
Libertarian Blinders On Drugs: I agree with Glenn Reynolds 90% of the time but I vehemently disagree with his latest column . He starts out by ripping ludicrously stupid anti-rave laws that are designed to criminalize having bottled water and glow sticks. While I agree with him completely on that, we part company as he goes into the main point of his editorial,
“Unable to endure the continuing evidence of drug-war failure, the drug warriors are lashing out, hoping that the ignorant will be convinced that they’re earning their pay. Congress is playing along because, basically, Congress isn’t up to the job of riding herd on the massive drug-war bureaucracy.
The drug war has been a massive failure: a waste of money, of lives and of time. It’s also been accompanied by extensive inroads on traditional American freedoms: property forfeitures, “no-knock” searches, expanded wiretap authority, and the destruction of financial privacy, to name just a few.”
This whole “wouldn’t we all be better off if we made drugs legal” riff is one of the reasons why Libertarians are part of a marginal third party that will probably stay that way.
“But it’s just trusting people to make their own choices” Libertarians say. “Just think about the laws we’ll be able to take off the books and all the money we’ll save by no longer locking up drug offenders in prison. The government will even be able to make tax money off of selling cheaper, safer drugs. We already have legalized tobacco and alcohol so it’s hypocritical not legalize these other drugs”
There are so many flaws in this sort of reasoning. Alcohol, cigarettes, and illegal drugs already have a tremendous negative impact on our society as it is. How many people die because of drunk driving every year? How many criminals do we have robbing homes to pay for these drugs? How many people are in our prisons right now not because they merely possessed or sold drugs, but because they did something stupid enough to get themselves locked up while they were drunk or high? What percentage of the homeless are hopeless addicts?
Then you have to consider the fact that making drugs legal, cheap, and easier to obtain would cause an explosion in the number of people using them. That means more people committing crimes because they’re stoned out of their gourds, more homeless people, a large jump in healthcare costs, a massive increase in the number of civil lawsuits because of drug related injuries and deaths, and a huge increase in ruined lives.
It also goes without saying that you’re going to see a huge societal impact that may be hard to show tangibly…… lost productivity, higher turnover rates, and a larger percentage of the population that spends all their days and nights stoned somewhere. Furthermore, we’re in a society where we have people suing tobacco companies because they smoked, fast food restaurants because they ate too much, and bars because someone got drunk and then killed someone in their car. So do you really think our legal system is ready for legalized heroin, crack, and crank? Also, how many parents would feel better knowing that their 18 year old kid can go buy cocaine at an ABC store? Is that the life you’d want for your kids? Years spent as a coke or heroin junky until an inevitable overdose leaves your child dead in the back of some nouveau opium-den?
Well most people would strongly prefer that drugs stay criminalized and they’re right. By legalizing drugs we’d just be exchanging one set of problems for another larger and more serious set of problems in different areas.
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