Skip to comments.The Conservative War on Drug Prohibition
Posted on 05/16/2011 8:25:10 PM PDT by rabscuttle385
Most people cant imagine an America without a minimum wage. Without such wage regulation many believe poverty would run rampant, families would become homeless and children would be starving in the streets. Yet conservatives have rightly recognized that these are moralistic and emotional responses to what is essentially an economic problem. Pointing out the policys failure, National Review founder William F. Buckley wrote: The minimum wage is about as discredited as the Flat Earth Society Yet the very notion of getting rid of it remains something most Americans simply cannot fathom.
Most people cant imagine an America without the War on Drugs. Without federal drug laws many believe substance abuse would be rampant, families would be destroyed and the nations youth would be strung out across our streets. Yet opponents of federal drug laws have rightly recognized that these are moralistic and emotional responses to what is essentially an economic, political, and due to our approach, criminal problem.
In 1995, National Review declared The War on Drugs is Lost. Leading this charge, Buckley broke down the troublesome cost of prohibition: We are speaking of a plague that consumes an estimated $75 billion per year of public money, exacts an estimated $70 billion a year from consumers, is responsible for nearly 50 per cent of the million Americans who are today in jail, occupies an estimated 50 per cent of the trial time of our judiciary, and takes the time of 400,000 policemenyet a plague for which no cure is at hand, nor in prospect.
Much like the minimum wage, virtually all data available on drug prohibition points to the utter ineffectiveness of our policies. The primary difference is that prohibition of drugs has been far more damaging to this country than prohibition of market determined base wage levels. Whether measured in dollars or livesthe War on Drugs continues to be a great and unnecessary tragedy.
It should not be surprising that those most comfortable with the damage caused by the War on Drugs have often belonged to administrations that have wrought the most damage on this country. Denouncing Congressman Ron Pauls opposition to federal drug prohibition, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote this week in the Washington Post: Welcome to Paulsville, where people are free to take soul-destroying substances and debase their bodies to support their personal habits. Added Gerson: In determining who is a major candidate for president, lets begin here It is difficult to be a first-tier candidate while holding second-rate values.
Gerson was addressing the first Republican presidential debate last week, in which the moderators seemed intent on belittling Pauls position on federal drug laws by using the most extreme example of heroin use, similar to how leftwing defenders of the minimum wage might invoke visions of homeless mothers and starving children. Pauls simple yet controversial position is that drugs should be regulated at the state and local level as the Constitution demands, just like alcohol. But Gersons review of Pauls debate performance specifically focused on what the Bush speechwriter found to be a cold and dismissive libertarian attitude toward the very real problem of drug abuse. Gerson is not completely wrong in his criticism. Neither was Buckley, when he highlighted the larger question by addressing the same aspect of this issue as Gerson: Those who suffer from the abuse of drugs have themselves to blame for it. This does not mean that society is absolved from active concern for their plight. It does mean that their plight is subordinate to the plight of those citizens who do not experiment with drugs but whose life, liberty, and property are substantially affected by the illegalization of the drugs sought after by the minority.
Gerson believes Pauls second-rate values on drugs makes him a second-tier candidate despite any polling data or fundraising achievements to the contrary. Gerson should know, as the speechwriter once worked for an electorally successful first-tier candidate. And for the next eight years, through his spending and big government agenda, the once top-tier George W. Bush would proceed to take the GOP brand to unprecedented lows.
If Paulsville is the place for supposedly second-tier ideas like drug legalization, Bushville was the land of consistent discredited status quo insanityin domestic policy, foreign policy, drug policyall served up and made rhetorically palatable to conservative audiences by speechwriters like Gerson. In his later years, Buckley would call the Iraq War a mistake, denounce Bush and support an end to the federal drug warall parts of Pauls unconventional Republican platform. Would a candidate Buckley today be considered second-tier for his views? Would supposedly first-tier candidates like Tim Pawlenty or Rick Santorum be preferable or somehow more genuinely conservative not only in their support for Bush and Obamas policies but in their disagreements with Buckley on those same policies?
Buckley wrote: The minimum wage is an accretion of the New Deal that is not defended by any serious economist. The same is now true of the thoroughly discredited War on Drugs, a disastrous policy that given its evident failure should now belong to a distant era. That the more traditionally conservative yet unconventionally Republican Ron Paul now leads on this issue, is as symbolically appropriate as the fact that so many of his fellow Republicans still lazily and reflexively oppose him on it.
Or as the late William F. Buckley once described rightwing resistance on revisiting the War on Drugs: Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great.
The “War on Drugs” fits the classic description of insanity - IT’S NOT WORKING.
And, at some point we have to pass state laws that forbid no-knock home entry unless there is reason to believe there is imminent danger to someone in the house...besides from the local $.10 SWAT team with a b*ner to shoot somebody.
(Reaching for the popcorn)
There’s too much money to be made by sticking to the status quo - organized crime, law enforcement and politicians - all profit from keeping things the way they are.
Today, even more than usual, I don’t have much hope that things will get better here in America. I think the fix is in, both parties seem to be comfortably ensconced in Washington - they don’t want to change anything. They’ve got a good thing going and us stupid rube Tea Party types are trying to mess it up for them.
Maybe it’s the weather, but today I feel bad vibes.
So tell me, how would things be better if all drugs were legalized?
I think there’s a lot of people in jail on drug charges that are not bad people, that don’t pose a risk to society. I think there’s a lot of money spent to do this that, frankly, we can’t afford to spend anymore. I think that the HUGE profit motive and lack of regulation causes very bad people to prey on young and vulnerable people.
I don’t really see anything good that comes out of the current approach - do you?
I can’t think of anybody who abstains from drugs because they are illegal. And, if they legalize them tomorrow, I won’t become a drug crazed addict.
But let me ask you. Do you think there would be NO negative effects if cocaine, heroin, LSD, etc were legal?
Of course I don't. But there comes a point when we are losing more & more of our freedoms every day, it seems - with the reason being that the government has to "protect us from ourselves". Now, they want to tell us how much salt we can eat, what kind of light bulbs we can use, etc.
Where does it stop? I think that people that do things that cause harm to others, should be punished. But I don't think that that it's anyone's business what responsible people do - responsibly. Do you ever watch COPS? There are always going to be stupid, irresponsible people - no matter if their activities are legal or illegal - it doesn't stop the idiots.
I'm tired of living in this nanny state, it's not a Utopia, and it never will be.
The War on Drugs is just another example of a permanent problem: Delusions and follies.
Obama is a citizen.
People cling to these irrational beliefs, despite the absence of any supporting data, out of nothing more than lack of intellectual curiosity or fear of ridicule.
We cannot live in an idealized world, and the question you ask is a silly question a liberal would ask. Implicit in "Leave Afghanistan Now," (for example) is a pretense that the world would simply return to the status quo ante. But of course, it would not. We are in Afghanistan, so now we must compare what's likely to happen with our leaving with what's likely to happen if we stay.
The question asked by actual adults is: "Do you believe the effects of legalizing some or all of these drugs would involve trade-offs more or less beneficial than the current strategy?" We can debate that question. But we cannot debate a question that compares a fantasy world to the real one.
Of course the issue is whether “the effects of legalizing some or all of these drugs would involve trade-offs more or less beneficial than the current strategy?” I did not want to put words into another poster's mouth, or in this case mouse.
I agree totally with the question above. My original post addressed my opinion that those in favor of legalization misjudge the benefits of that idea while dismissing the downside.
I agree with you that many Libertarians are kooks, stoners, or utopians (having, many years ago been one -- Libertarian, that is -- I'll take an oath on the number of crazies in the Party) who seem to have very childish beliefs about the benefits.
If Paul sticks to the Constitutionalists' position that this is not a Federal matter any more than wife-beating (which is now also a Federal Beef) I would have no problem with the position.
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