Just Another Facile Politician

by Don Boudreaux on March 27, 2011

in Crime, Hubris and humility, Politics, Reality Is Not Optional, Seen and Unseen

Here’s a letter to the Boston Globe:

Jeff Jacoby nicely documents Newt Gingrich’s flippancy over U.S. military intervention in Libya (“Gingrich vs. Gingrich,” March 27).  The former House Speaker has a long history of such thoughtlessness cloaked as deep reflection – most notoriously, I believe, is his 1995 proposal to execute drug dealers.

Never mind that drug dealers – like furniture stores, bagel shops, yoga instructors, and all other merchants – sell only to willing buyers; so Mr. Gingrich would execute people for engaging in consenting capitalist acts. Even supporters of the drug war should see that making drug-selling a capital offense carrying the same penalty as murder would remove a major incentive for drug dealers to avoid acts of heinous violence. What incentive, were Mr. Gingrich’s proposal enacted, would a drug dealer have to refrain from murdering anyone he suspects might reveal him to the police?  He can’t be executed twice.

A Gingrichian world in which drug dealing is punished as harshly as murder is a world in which there are no disincentives for drug dealers also to become murderers.  That the former Speaker of the House either missed this fact or ignored it testifies to the true depth of his intellect.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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