Skip to comments.Rethinking The Drug War (John Stossel Hits Home Run In Argument Against Futile WOD Alert)
Posted on 03/28/2006 10:51:21 PM PST by goldstategop
Getting high can be bad. Putting people in prison for it is worse. And doing the latter doesn't stop the former.
I was once among the majority who believe that drug use must be illegal. But then I noticed that when vice laws conflict with the law of supply and demand, the conflict is ugly, and the law of supply and demand generally wins.
The drug war costs taxpayers about $40 billion. "Up to three quarters of our budget can somehow be traced back to fighting this war on drugs," said Jerry Oliver, then chief of police in Detroit, told me. Yet the drugs are as available as ever.
Oliver was once a big believer in the war. Not anymore. "It's insanity to keep doing the same thing over and over again," he says. "If we did not have this drug war going on, we could spend more time going after robbers and rapists and burglars and murderers. That's what we really should be geared up to do. Clearly we're losing the war on drugs in this country."
No, we're "winning," according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which might get less money if people thought it was losing. Prosecutors hold news conferences announcing the "biggest seizure ever." But what they confiscate makes little difference. We can't even keep drugs out of prisons -- do we really think we can keep them out of all of America?
Even as the drug war fails to reduce the drug supply, many argue that there are still moral reasons to fight the war. "When we fight against drugs, we fight for the souls of our fellow Americans," said President Bush. But the war destroys American souls, too. America locks up a higher percentage of her people than almost any other country. Nearly 4,000 people are arrested every day for mere possession of drugs. That's more people than are arrested for aggravated assault, burglary, vandalism, forcible rape and murder combined.
Authorities say that warns people not to mess with drugs, and that's a critical message to send to America's children. "Protecting the children" has justified many intrusive expansions of government power. Who wants to argue against protecting children?
I have teenage kids. My first instinct is to be glad cocaine and heroin are illegal. It means my kids can't trot down to the local drugstore to buy something that gets them high. Maybe that would deter them.
Or maybe not. The law certainly doesn't prevent them from getting the drugs. Kids say illegal drugs are no harder to get than alcohol.
Perhaps a certain percentage of Americans will use or abuse drugs -- no matter what the law says.
I cannot know. What I do know now, however, are some of the unintended consequences of drug prohibition:
1. More crime. Rarely do people get high and then run out to commit crimes. Most "drug crime" happens because the product is illegal. Since drug sellers can't rely on the police to protect their property, they form gangs and arm themselves. Drug buyers steal to pay the high black market prices. The government says alcohol is as addictive as heroin, but no one is knocking over 7-Elevens to get Budweiser.
2. More terrorism. The profits of the drug trade fund terrorists from Afghanistan to Colombia. Our herbicide-spraying planes teach South American farmers to hate America.
3. Richer criminal gangs. Alcohol prohibition created Al Capone. The gangs drug prohibition is creating are even richer, probably rich enough to buy nuclear weapons. Osama bin Laden was funded partly by drug money.
Government's declaring drugs illegal doesn't mean people can't get them. It just creates a black market, where even nastier things happen. That's why I have come to think that although drug addiction is bad, the drug war is worse.
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie. Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
Correct. Milton Friedman had a brilliant writing illustrating the futility of the War on Drugs. I believed he penned it shortly after Nixon stated the idiotic War on Drugs. All the bad consequences he wrote about have come true. Stossel hits another one out the park.
When middle class parents wailed about junior's 20 year sentence for a joint, those laws changed.
They don't have a problem in Singapore. Guess why?
I enjoy John Stossels' comentaries.
He has a way of looking at both sides of the coin on many social issues.
I've been saying this for some time. Virtually every time I say it here I get flamed...
I think the WOD was Reagan's biggest mistake.
The price has been high in both blood and treasure with little if anything to show for it. One only has to look back at a little history to know what the result would be. Oh well...
They don't have a constitution that protects individual liberty?
Milton Friedman and others who think like him, called exactly how the drug war would turn out. More crime, more prisons, bigger government, less rights for individuals, and drugs as available as ever.
The drug warriors remind of communists. They both imagine a utopian world, if just the state can intervene, with the ends justifying the means.. and oh yes they won't screw up like the last communists did.
none that we are aware of. Besides, our society is so much different; having once been dominated by strong respect for individual rights and the "live free or die motto." You would have to lock up 1/4 the country to make any difference. If the drug war ended tomorrow, I doubt seriously the drug problem would be much worse. I have never done any drugs and if the all drugs were legalized, I would have zero interest in any of it. The plain reality is those who want to do drugs, will find them; those who don't, will not. I have a strong faith in most people to do the right thing. To think they drug use would skyrocket because they are legal is false. Please go back and read some of Friedman's and other great thinkers. Some day the War on Drugs will be ended and years after, people will wonder why we wasted our time.
Here's what I don't get: everyone I know- liberal or conservative- thinks the War on Drugs is a disaster, a waste of time, and a horrible idea that must be put to an end. It's probably the one issue everyone agrees on. My question is this: who are the people that are actually supporting this nonsense? There has to be a pretty sizable group out there somewhere, or else this money wouldn't be wasted every year. From what I can see, most people want this fake war ended.
The blame for that belongs to Nixon.
This has always been my take.
In London we had a operation called Operation Bumble Bee targeting career burglars withing a few months we had cut break ins by 10% and the figure was going down.
Then a newspaper the Evening Standard ran a series of stories about dealers in Soho.
The offshoot was that resources were diverted from BumbleBee and put to use tackling the dealers.
After a man hour intensive five month operation they busted a gang of dealers many were arrested an jailed, withing a week new dealers had taken over.
As a buy product housebreak ins rose again.
thanks for pointing that out. I did not recall the %. If true, then it shows Nixon was wiser on this matter than leaders that followed. The shame is that most people who have drug problems have serious emotional problems that need compassion, not incarceration, to help solve. The Drug Warriors like to imply the drugs cause the problem these people have, when it is their sad state that causes them to fall into the drug dependency. We would have a much more civil society if we treated them with compassion instead of police state actions.
good analogy, spot on. Deserves repeating.
And all those drug buyers and sellers would be model citizens if only the evil government wouldn't ruin their fun by banning drugs. Anybody who would steal to get mind- and body-destroying drugs, and anybody who would buy a gun and form a gang to sell them, is either evil or stupid. Chances are they'd end up criminals anyway.
The government says alcohol is as addictive as heroin, but no one is knocking over 7-Elevens to get Budweiser.
If the government truly says this, then the government is definitely wrong. If alcohol were as addictive as heroin, everybody who drank would be alcoholics. Are there actually people who shoot up heroin and do not end up addicted?
I know many socialists who say the same thing.
Taking drugs, gambling going to prostitutes, you could say that that indicates a weak willed nature, a lack of moral backbone.
We could even go further and mention smokers, drinkers and those with very unhealthy diets.
After all if we are going to look after in fact assume responsibility for others because they are too weak to assume responsibility for there own actions, or hand that responsibility over to the government why stop at just prostitution, gambling and drugs.
There is so much else we can do to regulate people and make a perfect society.
I think most people are still brainwashed by the government on this matter. Second, there are hundreds of thousands of government workers whose career depends on the War on Drugs. Notwithstanding the utter moral imperative to end the war, the government is "addicted" to the War to keep their parasite class employed. Remember, it came out after 911 that many FBI staffs around the country were mostly dedicated to the WOD, not terrorism. It would take a strong visionary leader to end this insane drug war.
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