Hawkins on the Drug War  

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I've long been a fence-sitter on the so-called "war on drugs". I've been moving to the right on this one though, what with Sage's influence and that of the Constitution itself.

You see, I'm all for doing what can be done to keep people from using these substances. There absolutely SHOULD be a "war on drugs", but should it be fought using laws of questionable constitutionality, or should it be fought by simply encouraging the most influential among us to set a good example and speak out against drug use?

More and more, I'm moving toward those who would advocate the latter. John Hawkins posted recently in defense of the drug war (as it's being fought now), and his post actually persuaded me towards the more libertarian perspactive.

While it is true that making everything legal would free up space in our prisons, as Hawkins points out, the crimes he listed as examples such as murder, robbery, and rape are true violations of the rights of the victims. Drug use is no such thing. He is comparing apples and oranges. Those advocating the status quo in the drug war are going to have to do better than that.

Hawk makes reference to alcohol and tobacco, both legal vices with similar individual effects to their more serious illegal counterparts. He brings up the fact that these items are heavily taxed and that this has not had a serious effect upon their use. Well, duh. He leaves out the fact that the reason these items are taxed has nothing to do with their health effects or social stigma, but with the government's bloodthirsty desire to tax everything in existence to fund their even more harmful socialist programs. Again, those supporting the status quo in the drug war are going to have to do better than that if they want to defend this practice.

He also attacks the position that drugs could be manufactured legally, tax them, and still be able to produce them cheaper than the dealers can. He defends his position by citing all the ridiculous red tape that drug companies have to go through to sell drugs, thereby driving their price up. He makes no effort to debunk the idea that all this red tape is legitimate. Therefore, it could safely be assumed that Hawkins has no problem with all the red tape and taxes that these drug companies face with every drug they produce. Why not do away with the red tape too?

He makes a point that drug use would skyrocket if drugs were made legal, then takes a shot at debunking the "so what" position many libertarian thinkers (including Sage himself) take. I'll actually quote him on this one:

That might be true in a purely capitalistic society, but in the sort of welfare state that we have in this country, the rest of us would end up paying a significant share of the bills of people who don't hold jobs or end up strung out in the hospital without jobs -- and that's even if you forget about the thugs who'd end up robbing our houses to get things to pawn to buy more drugs.
Again, he makes no attempt to address the biggest problem we have in America - the socialist welfare state. Apparently, that's just fine by him. Look, I know it isn't. But John needs to address that problem too if he's going to make a credible defense of this drug war. He then goes on to simply accept other stupid laws of at least questionable constitutionality such as seat belt, helmet, prostitution, and suicide laws.

He closes by trying to address the idea that drugs aren't the only thing that ruin people's lives, and that not all drug users commit crimes as a result. He doesn't really offer a plausible defense but to say that just about everyone knows someone whose life is shit because of drug use.

None of this has persuaded me to agree with the drug war. Socialism has ruined more lives in this country and the rest of the world than drugs ever will. Where's the effort to make that illegal?? Oh yeah. It already is, thanks to guys like Washington and Madison. The government doesn't observe the limits placed upon it by the Constitution. What makes anyone think they'll do the right thing with regard to the drug war, WHATEVER THE RIGHT THING IS????