Members of the local news media are upset over the announcement that a convicted murderer was released from the Iowa prison system on parole, and will finish his time living with family in the Kansas City area. The inmate had served seventeen years of a fifty year sentence for the second-degree murder of his girlfriend, back in 1992.
I’m not convinced that caging people is the best way to bring about justice or the most effective crime deterrent. However, it seems apparent that in the absence of the war on drugs and other Prohibitionist policies of the state, murderers might serve their full-time in prison. In 2005 more than one-fourth of all Iowa inmates were serving time for drug or alcohol related offenses.
Anyone concerned with violent criminals being released should consider this data, and ask whether it’s worth jailing non-violent drug offenders in their place.
In this episode of The Lew Rockwell Show from November 28, 2008, economist Mark Thornton explains the roots of the drug war, which began in 1906, with Theodore Roosevelt. It’s an interesting look into the program’s history, as well as the economics of prohibition, which happens to be the title of one of Thornton’s books.
A few interesting points from the interview:
- Before the drug war began heroin was safe enough to administer to babies.
- Consumption of what today are illicit drugs was commonplace. However, addiction and overdosing weren’t a social problem.
- The notorious medicine man — that shady guy who rode into town trying to hock some quack cure-all — came about as a result of intervention in the pharmaceutical industry.
The black market all but destroys the incentives to produce safe products, and encourages producers to provide increasingly potent drugs, which can lead to addiction and overdose.
Synthetic drugs, sometimes referred to as K2 or bath salts, are the latest target in the ever-expanding war on property (drugs). This is because they are supposed to be more dangerous than plant-based drugs, such as weed and cocaine. No doubt they are, but banning these drugs will be just as futile as the decades-long war on natural narcotics.
Had governments not pursued marijuana and cocaine so aggressively, the rise of synthetic drugs likely wouldn’t have occurred, at least not to the extent it has now. Instead of adding more products to the already long list of prohibited substances, state and local governments should decriminalize all drugs. This will allow consumers greater access to the less-dangerous products and, rather than caging addicts, the market can begin treating them.
In the wake of Colorado and Washington (partially) decriminalizing marijuana, four more states will make a run to nullify the Fed’s war on property.
Here’s my take.
And from “5 Greatest Threats to Your Liberty Today,” which I wrote for the Tenth Amendment Center earlier this year, see why the war on drugs is so destructive and must be ended.
All forms of prohibition are wars against property. When the state decides to prohibit the consumption of certain goods, property rights are abridged. This process is also inherently arbitrary; itself a contradiction to the principle of liberty, since it usurps decision making authority from individuals and places it with a third party. How could anyone truly be considered free if someone else assumes the power to determine what they may or may not own? Furthermore, those who accept prohibition must necessarily accept all other forms of social engineering and surrender control of their persons. The great Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, explained this concept thusly:
[O]nce the principle is admitted that it is the duty of government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments. A good case could be made out in favor of the prohibition of alcohol and nicotine. And why limit the government’s benevolent providence to the protection of the individual’s body only? Is not the harm a man can inflict on his mind and soul even more disastrous than any bodily evils? Why not prevent him from reading bad books and seeing bad plays, from looking at bad paintings and statues and from hearing bad music?
The destruction of our freedom is not however limited to the direct effects of the drug war. Some of the more egregious assaults on freedom are visited upon bystanders and others not engaged in the drug industry. Innocent people are routinely caught in the crossfire between rival gangs, falsely arrested, or otherwise have their homes, vehicles, and persons violated by the police.
Civil asset forfeiture has become a widely-used tool in the war on drugs; so much so that rival police agencies often compete – almost to the point of violent confrontation – with one another to be the first to seize property. These laws don’t even require criminal charges, let alone a conviction, to allow cash or other assets to be taken by law enforcement. So it isn’t just non-violent individuals involved in the drug trade who suffer, which is bad enough, but outside parties also lose their property and even their lives.
That’s the title of my latest blog post at the Tenth Amendment Center’s website. Read about the cronyists and rent-seekers in the professional and collegiate sports leagues, and those who’re attempting to stand up to them here.