Wednesday, May 06, 2009

ZAPing the drug war

It seems the fiscal and human costs of the War on Drug Users are finally starting to ease themselves into the public debate. Consider this column by a fellow named Bernd Debusmann, a Reuters columnist.
Are the 305 million people living in the United States the most evil in the world? Is this the reason why the U.S., with 5 percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners and an incarceration rate five times as high as the rest of the world?

Or is it a matter of a criminal justice system that has gone dramatically wrong, swamping the prison system with drug offenders?
One would think drug legalization would have occurred to The Powers That Be as a good thing some time ago. A sedated, contented populace is easier to manipulate, after all. (Just look at our Ritalin-infested schools.) Instead billions of dollars and thousands of lives have been wasted on violent intervention and incarceration over the year.

The problem has always been that giving individuals the power to decide for themselves how to treat their bodies runs counter to the instincts of the average politico. And the average individual figures he/she can be responsible but is not so sure about the neighbors, or "those people" down there in the inner city or out there in the sticks.

But that's the tradeoff: If you want the freedom to live your life as a responsible adult, you have to concede that freedom to other individuals, to deal with their own triumphs and mistakes on their own terms.

It's the Zero Aggression Principle in action: As L. Neil Smith puts it so succinctly, "A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever; nor will a libertarian advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else." If you wish to be free, you must be willing to respect others' freedom.

Would ending the drug war create a nation of zombies? In TPTB's fondest dreams. More likely there would be abuse and sad stories, just as ending alcohol Prohibition has led to drunken morons getting behind the wheel or committing other stupid and deadly acts. But the vast majority of responsible adults don't abuse alcohol — and it's been a long while since any alcohol distributor gunned down a police officer or a rival distributor.

Personally, I get all the sedation I need from a couple of beers a night and the idiot box. But other people like different substances and different preoccupations. More power to them — and I mean that literally.



Anonymous sunni said...

I saw that essay too, and wanted to comment on it ... but you've done such a good job, I don't need to. Tusen takk!

1:19 PM  

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