Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Decriminalization Fallacy

There has been a push from the libertarians and the left to decriminalize some or all drug use. The arguments made are that it puts non-violent people in prison for long sentences who's only crime was getting high (or facilitating others getting high.). But in reality the REAL reason why these people are pushing for decriminalization is that THEY want to be able to get high without going to prison. Almost to a man, those who argue for decriminalization are closeted drug users themselves. But be that as it may, let us look at WHY the drugs are illegal to begin with.

Illegal drugs are illegal because they are far more addictive than "legal" drugs such as alcohol or tobacco. That is not to say that they are all equally addictive, some are far more addictive than others obviously. Marijuana is much less addictive than say "crack" cocaine, but it is still more addictive than Vodka. Drugs are also very dangerous for young kids and young adults whose brains are still developing, as they can severely disrupt normal brain development, leading to an increase in paranoia and schizophrenia, as well as ADD and impulsive risk seeking behaviors.

But even if one were to make the libertarian argument that drug use harms only the drug user so it should be up to the individual to make that choice, that is again false. Drug users will drive under the influence and kill people and damage property. they will go to work under the influence and make stupid mistakes that either cost their employers a lot of money or get themselves or their co-workers killed. They will have drug addled unprotected sex and bring unwanted children into the world with no means of supporting them. These children will be neglected and abused mentally, physically, and sexually. they will also pass STD's along to their partners or contract them themselves, further draining the welfare state. They will be unemployable so they will be drains on the welfare systems as will their offspring and sexual partners. So arguing they will only be hurting themselves is a lie.

Others make the argument that legalization and regulation to keep it out of the hands of juveniles the way alcohol is sold will increase tax revenue as well as dismantle the drug cartels and their reign of terror on Mexico and Central America. this sounds good in theory but in practice this will not be the case. Some will not want to pay the tax, others will want the drugs but will be unable to buy them because they are too young, or the quack doctor writing the script won't write it for as much as they want, so the black market won't go away. And the attempts to control the black market won't either because the government won't want the competition undermining their newfound tax base. So the drug war won't go away, if anything it will get bloodier because of the added profit pressures.

So we are left with only one justification for legalization that makes any real sense, those calling for it just want to get stoned but don't want to risk going to prison. THAT is the only motivation that makes any kind of logic at all.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ror*, I think I started leaning libertarian the day Obama was elected...I was conservative but the extreme progressivism of "the One" just pushed me further right. I am someone who doesn't use drugs, but can understand the libertarian view that sees the illogic of having "the state" tell me that I don't have the choice.

True libertarians believe one must be accountable for ones actions as well as believing government has no right to interfere with one's life. Without accountability, and I mean full 100% accept the consequences accountability, libertarianism will fail.

If there is no severe consequence for poor decisions, then there is no incentive to make wise decisions. You will get libertarians who choose to do drugs that may result in loss of life or something else as bad, because our current judicial system is set up to rehabilitate many offenses.

Since we don't have the framework to place the burden on the individual for his/her decisions, we end up with government assuming that burden. You hit on that when you mention the welfare state. If everyone was truly responsible for self, we wouldn't need a welfare state. Those who really needed a hand would find help from a concerned neighbor or family and not from the collective state.


March 24, 2011 11:06 AM  
Blogger Chuck Kuecker said...

The genie is out of the box since the first federal drug laws got enacted.

I don't think we can go on this way forever. Sooner or later we will have to face forcing people to grow up and become responsible, or accept an European nanny-state style of cradle to grave governmental control.

If there is ever to be some sort of libertarian society, we will end up accepting the fact that there will be years of unfit persons killing themselves off by acting irresponsibly until their numbers are reduced to a steady background level. Bloody, but unavoidable.

I don't see how legalization of drugs can cause any worse problems than we already have with street wars, SWAT raids, and invasive testing. Now, we've got Chuckie Schumer wanting to ban anyone ever ARRESTED for a drug-related offense from ever owning a gun.

I think we ought to legalize all of it, charge normal sales tax on it, and let Darwin sort it out. The unfit will weed themselves out, and the remainder of us will live free after the blood washes off the streets.

After the shakeout, we should see what was seen at the end of the 19th century - a small number of addicts who were functional in society, and a smaller number of those who could not handle their addiction and needed to be removed from society. The real problem with drugs has always been the prohibitionist mentality, not the drugs themselves or their effects. Getting us out of this mess is going to be really painful, but I can't see any alternative if we are ever to get shed of intrusive government.

March 29, 2011 4:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nixon's war on drugs is abject failure.
Adults are free to consume whatever they wish, so long as they do no harm to others.
End the fiction, end the collateral damage. And no, I have not, do not and have no intent of using the substances at issue.

March 30, 2011 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Federalism: If it doesn't cross state lines leave it to the states to decide, and yes, leave the farce of medical marijuana out of it. And if it is legalized, don't tax the crap out of it, you may as well tax dandilions and then hunt them down and arrest half the people in town for not paying it.

January 25, 2013 7:53 PM  

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