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Friday, March 16, 2012

Why I Am A Libertarian, Part II: It's Not Just For Potheads Anymore

“I want a World War Two style victory plan – a decisive, all out cataclysmic effort to break the back of the drug culture.” - Newt Gingrich, 1998
Gingrich has also come out in favor of Singapore-style anti-drug laws that allow police to compel a person to submit to urine tests, on the spot, without a warrant or reasonable cause. Gingrich also sponsored H.R. 441 which set the punishment for smuggling "100 dosage units" of any illicit drug over a border into the United States as death. The death penalty for engaging in commerce. Gingrich may be a "Conservative" but he is certainly not a supporter of free-will.

Back in October I wrote extensively about the War on Drugs (The Reality-Based Libertarian View On The War On Drugs - October 5, 2011) so I'm not going re-hash the entire column, but here are some salient points to reconsider:
  • In 2010 the Federal Government spent $15,000,000,000 on the War on Drugs
  • From 1980 to 1999 over 126,000 people were sent to prison for "possession" -type offenses. In New York State alone
During the course of my life I have seen the havoc drugs, alcohol, and tobacco have wreaked on people I was fond of. If, in 2012, you are unaware of the potential harm awaiting you when you use drugs, alcohol or tobacco, no law in the world is going to stop you from using. The argument that addiction is a disease doesn't wash with me either: Playing Russian Roulette with a pistol can have grave consequences on the operation of your head, which is why you probably don't play Russian Roulette -- because you know what you're getting into when you start playing.

Fortunately for our federal, state and local governments, millions of people play Russian Roulette with their health everyday. The producers, wholesalers, retailers, and end-users of these dangerous substances all cash-in on our destructive habits, while our government waits at the end of the line to collect obscene amounts of money from those destructive habits. Yet, without a hint of hypocrisy, our government throws tens of thousands of people in prison (not jail - prison) for using substances that are equally as harmful as the substances the government makes money from. The culture of the United States is Marlboro and Budweiser, not White Widow and Big Bud. Users of the former are good citizens. Users of the latter go to prison.

Meanwhile, government prohibition has spawned a black market of incredible proportions. People make truckloads of  money selling drugs to people who are willing to take the risk for whatever personal reasons they may have. Violence is the natural by-product of a black market, so by default, our war on drugs has also helped increase the level of violence in our society. Whether you like it or not, the drug trade will flourish and no amount of legislation or money will stop it. Local police departments have been militarized beyond the needs of the community to wage the war on drugs on our own citizens, and we've all been conditioned to think this is the way things need to be. The map on this page shows the history of botched paramilitary police raids across the country in pursuit of the war on drugs. Cato Institute.

The government taxes mainstream corporate products and attempts to eradicate products that have not yet been corporatized -- yet both categories cause damage to the people who use them. Making "illegal" drugs legal is not going to result in the ruination of generations of young people, and in fact, a lot of young people who make the stupid mistakes of youth might be spared the ruined lives that come from the horrors of spending time in prisons with actual bad people. You know what happens when a dopey kid winds up in jail with murderers and other hard-core criminals? I'll give you a hint: The hardcore criminals don't become dopey kids.

We have allowed our government to pursue the destruction of countless lives in an effort to save people from destroying their lives. When citizens willingly accept the illogical pursuits of their government without understanding that government has no discretion when it comes to further failures of logic, society as a whole loses.

This is not about pot, it's about the fact that once a government begins to reach into your conscience, morality, and privacy, it does not know when to stop reaching. Is there a drug problem culturally in the United States today? Of course there is. The human and fiscal costs of abuse of oxycodone and methamphetamine, to name just two, are incalculable. However, in spite of all the money we are spending and all the lives we are destroying through the government's attempt to save people's lives, the war on drugs has become a monumental waste of blood and treasure.

Blindly throwing money and resources at a problem we haven't been able to solve in forty years, with no exit strategy, is just stupid. As a libertarian, the basis of my politics lie in the following:
  • Not everyone will choose to live as I have chosen to live
  • Governments do not solve problems without causing other problems
  • Government does not make my moral choices for me
These three tenets underscore the libertarian belief that relying on government to solve our problems is folly.

Tomorrow: Trust Me, the Ku Klux Klan Were Not Libertarians

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