War on Drugs Redux

Discussion in 'The Study' started by Nomad, Jun 3, 2010.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Master Black Belt

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    Interesting article:

    A few of the relevant sections:
    I happen to agree with many of these sentiments; what we've been doing hasn't been working, and is a problem we could throw endless amounts of money at (meanwhile taking it away from areas that need it desperately, like our failing school system) without seeing any major effects. Our prisons are filled to bursting with loads of people convicted of minor drug-related crimes while violent criminals and sex-offenders get reduced sentences in many cases to balance the books.

    The approaches in Portugal, the Netherlands, and to a lesser extent, Canada in decriminalizing simple possession and instead considering it a health issue seem to be having a positive effect overall, and certainly bear a closer look.
     
  2. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Let's try it from another perspective...

    Take your argument, and substitute 'child prostitution' for 'illegal drugs'.

    Astronomical profits generated by it being illegal? Yep.
    Organized crime and violence? Yep.
    Law enforcement unable to stem the tide? Yep.
    What we've been doing not working? Yep.
    Takes away from enforcement in other areas? Yep.

    So perhaps child prostitution, kiddie pr0n and the like should all be legalized?

    What you're using for logic is a "we cannot win, so let's give in" approach. We may not be able to win, or there may be other ways to win that we have not yet discovered. But in any case, legalization because we can't seem to stop people doing it seems to me to be a poor reason.

    People just keep cheating on their taxes. They keep speeding. They keep not pulling over for fire trucks and not stopping for school buses. Let's just make it all legal.

    As it happens, I make use of a similar argument in favor of changing our immigration laws; but with one twist. My argument is not that we should change the immigration laws because we can't enforce them (which is true, I believe) but that we should change the laws because securing our borders is a higher priority which should override the illegal immigration problem. The drug-legalization movement could also use this argument, except that far fewer drug dealers cross the border than illegal migrant workers. In fact, one of my reasons for favoring immigration reform is so that we *can* catch drug smugglers crossing the border more easily.

    I won't get into my personal feelings about drugs, I've expressed them before.
     
  3. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    Drug use is a victimless crime, unlike child prostitution.
     
  4. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    Until someone commits a crime to support their habit. Call me cynical, I don't see junkies getting up to find a job just because their habit is legal now.
     
  5. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    Make the habit legal, and make it affordable. In the case of "junkies," make it a public health issue, and they get prescriptions for nice, cheap legal heroin.

    They might even get covered by Medicaid, just like methadone.

    No need for excessive money, no need for crime-ever heard of a wino pulling a burglary for a bottle of Thunderbird? :lfao:
     
  6. chaos1551

    chaos1551 Blue Belt

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    How about we substitute 'jaywalking' for 'illegal drugs'?

    It's all about which crime is worse. Who decides which is worse? It's under debate. Semantics won't help us.

    I think we can win the drug war through decriminalization. Sure helped curb alcohol related crime after the prohibition.
     
  7. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    They're not going to make it affordable, they're going to tax the **** out of it just like they do with alcohol and cigarettes. Unless you propose to subsidize their addiction?

    ...oh. I see. There's really nothing that you wouldn't mind spending other people's money on, is there?

    Actually, I have. Worked at a Stab-n-Grab out of high school. Got robbed several times, usually by people running out the door with a bottle of T-Bird, Wild Irish Rose or (ew) Boone's Farm in each hand. One time our assistant manager investigated a noise in the cooler and discovered a guy huddled under all his coats, shivering and drinking. Apparently he snuck in while she was replacing the syrup canister in the soda fountain. :rofl:
     
  8. tellner

    tellner Senior Master

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    Cory, people commit crimes to buy hemp because it's illegal. The only reason the price is higher than gold is the prohibition. Why do you think it's called "weed".

    Bill,
    Your analogy is false.Child prostitution involves the enslavement and exploitation of children who can neither give consent nor leave their servitude. Allowing adults to smoke hemp involves no such coercion or loss of personal freedom.

    You could say the same thing about legal beer with a lot more justification. Hemp was made illegal for two reasons. Hearst feared his Weyerhauser investments and needed a moral panic to sell papers. A lot of Prohibition cops were in danger of being forced to find honest work.

    The crime, the high prices, the ruined lives are all because of law enforcement and particularly the mindless, counter-productive idiocy of the "War" on drugs. Portugal has decreased drug use by mandating treatment and completely decriminalizing use. Prohibition undeniably increased alcohol use in the US. c.f. The Poisoner's Handbook for the most recent account of the story.
     
  9. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    No, let's address mine first. Why not legalize child prostitution or kiddie pr0n? The argument is the same; legalize it because we can't enforce the laws we have against it, it creates criminal enterprises, violence results, etc.

    It's not about which crime is worse, and it's not about semantics. It's about laws, which are expressions of popular will. Laws are illegal drugs are not there because 'drugs are bad' but because people want them to be illegal. Same for child prostitution, etc. It's about what we as a people want, not the relative badness of them.

    That's the same argument; it will cut crime if we just legalize it. Sure, and there won't be much of a problem with murder if we give out prizes for it; since it won't be a crime anymore we can declare victory.

    Yes, the ending of Prohibition ended the problem with illegal booze-smuggling. The second part of that statement is that it expressed the will of the people, who were very much against Prohibition at that time, enough so to pass an amendment to the Constitution nullifying the one that made it illegal in the first place.

    Drugs? No such public support for legalization, especially of the harder drugs. We've seen broad-based support for the legalization of 'medical marijuana', but that seems to be about as far as it goes. Few want crack, coke, or heroin legalized. That's a vital part of the reason why we should not simply legalize it because it's hard to enforce.
     
  10. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Nope, my analogy is fine. I am not comparing RESULTS or DAMAGE or RELATIVE MORAL MERITS of the two. I am comparing apples with apples. The argument given is that drugs should be legalized BECAUSE the laws cannot be enforced - period. If that argument is valid, then so are ALL laws which are difficult or impossible to enforce.

    Therefore, if you accept that difficulty of enforcement is a valid reason to abandon a law, you must logically support child prostitution and kiddie pr0n, etc. If you reject the notion that difficulty of enforcement is a valid reason to legalize, then you're with me - the argument is invalid.

    Nope. Beer is something the people want and specifically made legal after making it illegal. Not so with smack, coke, crack, or kiddie pr0n.

    Doesn't matter. It's illegal because the people continue to want it to be illegal. In places where that is no longer true, the people are taking steps to legalize it for various purposes.

    And that is NOT the argument that was given. The argument was that drugs should be legalized because the laws against them cannot be enforced.

    Portugal is free to do as they wish. So are the people of the USA. So far, they reject the notion of legalizing most currently-illegal drugs. That's the only reason necessary for them to remain illegal. Not being able to enforce the laws is not a valid reason to legalize them.
     
  11. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    The type of crime doesn't really enter into it. I compare only the statements made by the O/P in this case: "I happen to agree with many of these sentiments; what we've been doing hasn't been working, and is a problem we could throw endless amounts of money at (meanwhile taking it away from areas that need it desperately, like our failing school system) without seeing any major effects. Our prisons are filled to bursting with loads of people convicted of minor drug-related crimes while violent criminals and sex-offenders get reduced sentences in many cases to balance the books."

    The argument is common, but clearly flawed. Let me break it down:


    • It begins with an assertion that laws against X are widely ignored.
    • It asserts that organized criminal activity exists precisely because X is a crime.
    • It appeals to an economic point of view by pointing out the cost of keeping prisoners imprisoned, and the fact that the prisons are overcrowded already.
    • It appeals to the law-and-order point of view by pointing out that when police officers are tasked with enforcing this particular law, they are taken away from other duties, which involve protecting citizens against violent crime.
    This is nothing more than an equation. If true, then I can crank in any value for X and the equation must still be true. If it is not true for any value of X, then it is not true at all.

    Getting to your assertion, that drug use is harmless, I answer that it doesn't matter one whit. If crack builds strong bones 12 ways, and the people want it to be illegal, then that is a good enough reason for it to remain so and for the laws against it to be enforced.

    Our nation is not built on laws because they are morally good or bad or damaging or healthy (although we seem to be moving that way in some areas). Our laws may have such a component, but that is not why they remain laws. They are built upon a framework that begins with existing common law, adds to it the Constitution and Amendments, and then the laws expressed by the People by the proxy of our elected representatives. If we decide, en masse, that hang-gliding is a very bad thing and must be outlawed, then the relative harmlessness of hang-gliding has *@-all to do with it.
     
  12. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    In my case, Bill, it has nothing to do with enforcement.

    It has everything to do with believing that the government has no business controlling what people can put in their bodies, and those substances-most of them-should be legal.

    Once, of course, it was illegal for my wife and I to be married in many states of this country-now that's no longer the law-was it because it was "unenforcable" (it was) or simply because it was wrong?

    That the enforcement of this particular set of laws costs so much money, and is so completely unsuccesful is only another reason to do make them legal-along with the revenues from taxes others have alluded to, but make no mistake, drug laws should be repealed and/or reformed because they're wrong.

    Of course, that won't happen-there's far too much money in imprisoning people, rehab, and property seizures for that ever to come to pass.
     
  13. zDom

    zDom Senior Master

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    No, drug use remains a victimless crime regardless of what a few do to obtain those drugs.

    It is ridiculous to legislate against something because SOME might commit other crimes to "support their habit."

    Address the criminal acts.

    Some people steal or embezzle to buy big screen TVs. Should we make it a crime to view big screen television?
     
  14. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    That is the libertarian approach. I tend to agree. However, before it gets to your mouth, it has to come from somewhere. If you grow it or produce it yourself for your own use, I have a hard time arguing against you. But that's a far cry from legalizing currently-illegal drugs. The importation, the commerce, the production; these are all aspects of life in a society that society *does* have control over, unless one professes less a libertarian viewpoint than an anarchist one.

    Ah, the Rand Paul trap. It was neither one, of course. It is no longer the law because such laws were violations of basic civil liberties. Enforcement didn't enter into it; nor did the morality of it.

    Neither the cost nor the relative moral aspects of the law have anything to do with why such laws should remain in force. The desire of a society for such things to remain illegal (so long as no one's civil liberties are violated, the core of our legal system) is sufficient reason. In fact, it's the *only* reason that can be given. Courts debate no moral questions, nor the costs of enforcement, when determining a law's Constitutionality.

    The will of the people notwithstanding, eh?
     
  15. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    So what? The idea that a crime should not be a crime because there is no victim is ludicrous. In the USA, we hold that laws which pass Constitutional muster and are specific are valid. How harmless the activity banned is does not enter into it.

    It is quite sufficient, on the other hand, to legislate against something because the citizens wish it to be illegal.

    Address the will of the people.

    California has banned certain big-screen TV's because of their use of electricity, I read recently. A victimless crime, don't you think? Surely Californians have no right to run their state as they see fit, so long as the behavior hurts no one?

    Communities form governments so that they can create societies that reflect their values, their desires, their goals. If they don't want crack, coke, or heroin on their streets, then they have every right to ban it.
     
  16. zDom

    zDom Senior Master

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    Protecting individuals and minorities from the tyranny of the majority/tyranny of the masses (or, "the violence of majority faction," as it is called in Federalist 10) is an important piece of the foundation of this nation and others that profess to be free societies.

    Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, brother.
     
  17. zDom

    zDom Senior Master

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    We'll see in November with the California initiative.

    It seems to me that your Reefer Madness-inspired intolerant view of recreational drug use is on its way out, Bill.

    November will tell us if that is going to be sooner or later.
     
  18. chaos1551

    chaos1551 Blue Belt

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    Bill, prohibition of drugs fits the definition of backfire regulation. The law arguably makes things much worse than not having the law. It's up for debate, much like the backfire regulation of firearms. So, yes, abolishing the drug prohibition very well could be considered a win against the war on drugs, not just because it's difficult to enforce, but more because the benefits of not having the prohibition outweigh the benefits of having it. I doubt one could say the same of child porn or murder laws.
     
  19. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    And, Californians being Californians, they'll immediately call for a ban for smoking it pretty much anywhere. [​IMG]
     
  20. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Well, we're back here again. Most US states have provisions for direct democracy in the form of plebiscites; regardless of whether one likes them or one does not. They are legal and they represent the law as directly expressed by the people.

    However, I did say 'by proxy' by which I meant to encompass in a few words the basic idea that the people express their will through their elected representatives and the legislative process.

    Life, liberty, and all that jazz is very important, which is why laws have to meet the standards of our core document, the Constitution. If they do, then that's that.123
     

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