The Unholiest of Wars

by Don Boudreaux on November 25, 2011

in Civil Asset Forfeiture, Civil Society, Seen and Unseen, Self-deception

My friend Radley Balko, of the Huffington Post, reveals one of the pernicious consequences of the obnoxious, anti-social, and deeply evil ‘war on drugs.

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{ 73 comments }

Krishnan November 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm

That this is from Chicago, IL, USA and the other stories are also from This City, USA is indeed terrifying. Our own Government is at war against us. The war on drugs has indeed made us less safe and made the police more corrupt – if that is possible.

I imagine – after this story, the Cops may go out and start shooting to kill anyone who complains. How dare do citizens interfere with cops out to make money for themselves.

The correspondent better be careful – the Chicago Cops will gun for him – who knows, some one will put a bullet through his head for daring to write such things.

polypolitical November 25, 2011 at 6:10 pm

@Krishnan: Don’t be ridiculous. The cops in this story (or, should I say the majority of them) are just working stiffs like you and me. They go where they are told and do what they are encouraged to do. The fact is that in an ultra violent city like Chicago (not to mention a CORRUPT city like Chicago) these working stiffs lose almost all compassion for “innocent” victims (lets face it: even Ms Shaver in this story is probably not the innocent victim she portrays herself as!) These normal working people deal with the worst people in society on a daily basis, and for their hard work are called thugs, pigs and many far more vulgar names constantly…and then criticized when they don’t treat even the most violent of those people with kid gloves. “shooting to kill anyone who complains?” Far from it. They might not care about the complaints of the public for the most part, but contrary to what people say, they DON’T like killing people.

nailheadtom November 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm

It’s seems that employment on a police force is a voluntary choice, nobody has to put themselves in a position where they can take advantage of the opportunity to steal from people that aren’t even charged with a crime. All you need to know is that cops NEVER testify against other cops under any circumstances, regardless of the charges. They’re supposed to be trained professionals but there’s no indication of training or professionalism in law enforcement.

vidyohs November 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm

“They might not care about the complaints of the public for the most part, but contrary to what people say, they DON’T like killing people.”

Do questions like this matter to those who have been killed or harmed by out-of-control police, prison guards, Nazi death camp administrators/operators? The question become irrelevant as one draws one’s last breath.

Why do I phrase it that way? Because it is not enough to assuage ones moral deficiency by saying “I was only following orders”. “I was only doing my job”.

The moral duty the moral obligation for each of us is to examine the moral requirements of the job, the position, before we accept or reject it; and, act accordingly.

If we choose the easy way, it is hypocrisy for us to later come back with the above excuses for why we did harm.

polypolitical November 25, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I am not absolving police officers of the “moral duty” they have to decide if they should take that position. I made that choice myself, and got out. You certainly must realize, however, that the 21 year old men and women who become police officers usually do so to serve their community. They realize later on, and some never realize, that so much of what society is asking these officers to do isn’t serving anyone but the politicians and special interests who write the laws. we need to distinguish between LEGAL actions that we philosophically disagree with, but which are legal (forfeiture of property in drug investigations, etc) and ILLEGAL activity (for example, literally stealing property, seizing evidence/property without charges, etc) There is no excuse for the latter. The former is a problem with those who write the laws by and large, not those who are tasked with enforcing them. Most police officers may not agree with certain statutes, but they take an oath to enforce the laws regardless of their personal feelings. For you to compare those who serve to Nazi prison camp guards is disgusting. We have a problem with too many law and over-criminalization of consentual behavior. Those Law Enforcement Officers who break the law should be held accountable without question, but those who are in good faith enforcing a policy that you philosophically disagree with should not be demonized as Nazis.

vidyohs November 26, 2011 at 12:06 am

Oh please for God’s sake, cut the histronics over the Nazi guards, administrators, etc. and grow up. The fact is that I was showing that the “I was only following orders” excuse for horrific criminal behavior has been used by criminals or scum in just about every circumstance going.

Do you get this hysterical when someone uses Stalin , Mao, communists in general as an example………probably not, the driveby media and socialist school system never enculturated you to recognize the parallels, even though when it comes to slaughter of their own people, they were infinitely worse than the Nazis in sheer volume and more alike in method than you’d like to admit..

Josh S November 26, 2011 at 1:13 am

You still managed to invoke the Nazis in only around the third or fourth comment on this article.

vidyohs November 26, 2011 at 9:46 am

So what? Are you two part of the group of people who stupidly believe that certain knowledge about behavior of people past, should be walled off and never spoken of, no lessons learned, no lessons to be repeated?

And the looney left calls itself the intellectual?

Thanks for helping me make my points, guys. You couldn’t have done better if I had written your script, but then again considering the knee jerk stupidity you respond with maybe I did.

Josh S November 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Why do you assume everyone who criticizes your tactic of immediately resorting to comparing local law enforcement to the Nazis is part of the left? If you want people to take you seriously, don’t make Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc your arguments of first resort.

Dan J November 26, 2011 at 3:48 pm

The holocaust didn’t happen……… Just the propaganda of Jews to further infest the holy lands.

I expect this to arise soon.

vidyohs November 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm

“If you want people to take you seriously, don’t make Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc your arguments of first resort.”

Ummm, dainty twit:

“killed or harmed by out-of-control police, prison guards, Nazi death camp administrators/operators? “

I think if you look closely I believe you will see the Nazi death camp reference was third choice, not first. But it really doesn’t matter to me at all whether you take me or my opinion there seriously.

What matters is that the excuse used by any of the three references that, “we were only following orders” is an excuse that should never be allowed to be used to avoid punishment. All those as well as you and I have a moral obligation to not harm another except in self defense. I was old enough to be aware of the Nuremberg trials after WWII, and to be suitably impressed by that principle that “following orders is no excuse”, that impression became a conviction that I hold to this day. And, my point is that I hear and read that excuse being used by individual SWAT team officers as well as their chain of command, while our courts seem to be allowing it to stand……and I am personally pissed.

I use, and will use, Nazi references to make my points because they are so extreme, if you are so much of a pantywaist that to read the word nazi causes you problems, then don’t read what vidyohs writes. You’ll be the loser for it, not me.

That conviction I mentioned is also why I have so much hatred for our looney left in this nation, because they use the same excuse phrased differently. What I hear and read from the looney left is “Oh we are stealing from you, not for ourselves, but for the people”.

Krishnan November 25, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Re: polypolitical. Really.

Ah yes, Ms Shaver is perhaps not innocent.
The cops are working stiffs
Cops deal with terrible people.
So? SO?

You are MISSING the point. When a WAR is declared on people (as it is with the WAR on Drugs) – things like this are bound to happen – Give people the incentive to make money by threatening others, and they will do it – Cops OR criminals. Yea, yea – perhaps statistically cops may be less likely to do it – BUT IT IT WORSE – because they USE Governmental overwhelming force/power to do what they do.

That Cops do this is despicable. That criminals are criminals is something we know and so we have “cops” – when consensual activity is called a “crime” then all hell WILL break lose as it seems to have so many times.

It IS time we ask as to why we are terrorizing our own people with our own force/money/power. Give cops the power to hurt, terrorize – they will.

And no, I do not believe that these cops do not like killing people – Give them enough incentive – “There are 5 million dollars here, go get them” – and you will see bullets flying – no matter who is standing where.

polypolitical November 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Well, like I just posted in reply to another poster, the PROBLEM is the overcriminalization of consentual behavior. Not the people who in good faith are applying those laws. law breakers both inside and outside the system should be dealt with, but it is MORE important that the system needs to change. I have been there and lived this. These cops (outside of a few special units dedicated to drug interdiction and vice/narcotics squads) are largely consumed with doing other things on a day to day basis: responding to calls, the vast majority of which have nothing to do with drugs (at least on the surface…all the violent crime and property crime caused by prohibition is a different matter of course) When they DO make a drug arrest, they follow dozens of types of procedures, which includes seizing property and other things, much of which is handled by detectives on those narcotics squads usually in a city police department with thousands of officers, those directly involved with this activity that you are citing, may amount to a hundred individuals. Indeed, contrary to what it seems like, they do NOT spend most of their time looking for people with a few grams of pot so they can raid their homes and seize all their property. These things DO occur at times. But I guarantee you that most of it is not as clean cut as this article makes it sound, nor are the officers involved as evil as you seem to think all cops are.

nailheadtom November 25, 2011 at 7:57 pm

If you were a power-mad sociopath that enjoyed firearms, fast cars and intimidating people that couldn’t effectively respond would you become an economist or a policeman?

brotio November 25, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Well, firearms and fast cars are fun. :D

Yergit_abrav November 25, 2011 at 11:36 pm

What, what? You equating legal and illegal with right and wrong… That’s not a good starting point for making a convincing argument.

Ameet November 26, 2011 at 10:30 am

Tell that to the people who were pepper sprayed while protesting, peacefully. I didn’t agree with their cause, but the police brutality there was uncalled for.

Our police forces seem to be becoming increasingly militarized, losing the notion of keeping the peace.

And doesn’t it seem odd to you that in the raid profiled, it took two hours before the police bothered to say they had a warrant, and that Ms Shaver was never able to see the warrant to see the a priori probable cause (even though the property at the time was resided in by her)?

Power tends to corrupt. Incentives skew behavior. And the agents executing the incentives unthinkingly are blameworthy.

Josh S November 26, 2011 at 1:15 am

Do you know any cops? I have one in my family, and went to high school with another. Neither of them like killing people, and the former was a designated marksman in Iraq and actually has killed a number of people.

Jon Murphy November 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm

This War on Drugs has got be be closing in on the longest war in US history (declared or not). And how many people have died? How many more will die? How many lives does it take? It’s shameful.

EG November 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Nothing like anecdotal evidence from a “hot chick” to make a point. The usual “crack” research from our friends at CATO.

Overall I don’t disagree with the case for legalization of drugs. Not at all. I do often disagree with these terribly unconvincing and poor arguments made by those who put forth the case. These are serious arguments which require serious evidence from serious people…not Radley Balko who thinks that we shouldn’t arrest people for drunk driving.

Krishnan November 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm

This is man bites dog story. Anytime overwhelming, legal force is used to harass citizens, it is a crime. It is irrelevant what kind of character the person profiled is.

Unless this story is a total fabrication, it is a disgrace to our ideas of what law and order should be. It is frightening. I am far, far more scared of people legally allowed to fire guns (cops), maim people (“in the name of the law”) and create terror (“open this door or else”) than those that are not (i.e.criminals)

polypolitical November 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm

well, you must not live in a high crime area. I’m not a total apologist for law enforcement–they have plenty of bad actors. But if you are more scared of cops than of criminals, I would guess you might be someone who has something to fear from them?

Krishnan November 25, 2011 at 7:46 pm

When Government decides to go after me, I cannot do anything. If criminals decide to come after me, I can (try) and appeal to law enforcement. THAT is the difference.

When law enforcement becomes terrorists (even in a miniscule number of cases) it is frightening.

Obviously, you disagree.

EG November 25, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Are you perhaps unaware of how the law works in the US? If the gov comes after you, you cannot do anything? Really?

brotio November 25, 2011 at 9:36 pm

If the gov comes after you, you cannot do anything?

Ask Randy Weaver and David Koresh.

EG November 25, 2011 at 9:58 pm

“Ask Randy Weaver and David Koresh”

Yeah. And the KKK too. Ron Paul 2012!!

Jesus H. Christ.

Hal November 26, 2011 at 1:24 am

Randy Weaver committed no crime. He was accused of possessing an illegally shortened for which no evidence has ever been produced. To answer this accusation, the authorities gave him the wrong date for a hearing. Having been given the wrong date, Randy missed the hearing. For this heinous crime, his son was gunned down and his wife was sniped while holding an infant.

David Koresh’s crime was legally possessing firearms for which he had permits. As for the allegations of child abuse and statutory rape, they fall apart once it becomes evident that the child abuse accusations were brought by ex-members with reason to lie. And in Texas a person 14 years or older can get married and have sex with parental consent. All accusations of statutory rape were of people 14 years or older and all having parental consent. For committing these terrible acts of lawfulness, the ATF launched a full scale assault on a private residence resulting in the deaths of dozens, including the women and children the authorities claimed to be trying to protect.

The police responsible for the carnage in Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho should be prosecuted for murder. Neither Randy Weaver, nor David Koresh posed a threat to anyone, except those who came after them violently with guns.

Any civilian acting in the same circumstances and in the same manner as the FBI, ATF, and Marshals would be charged with murder. If the circumstances are such that a civilian would be charged with murder, then police and law enforcement should be charged with murder as well. Simply having a badge doesn’t mean you are exempt from the law.

Krishnan November 25, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Re: EG about how the “Law” works in the US.

I know the “prosecutors” have “discretion” – so, they can go after Gibson Guitar for example and ignore others who actually blatantly violate several laws. I know there are so many laws that just about everyone breaks about three of them every day? (Silverglate?). Yea, there are so many laws because it allows the people in power to keep the power – threaten any enemy with the “full force” of the law – “Surrender” or else.

I am well aware of what Elliot Spitzer did – how he ruined, blackmailed people – and every case he trumpeted was reversed on appeal – yea, it cost them businesses, money – those that were sued were ruined – so what if they won later.

We have a problem with the legal system – if we can find something illegal in everything anyone does, there is a problem.

EG November 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Gibson Guitar can sue the US government, or whatever agency went after it.

EG November 25, 2011 at 8:41 pm

I’ll be the first to say this story sounds like total made-up BS intended to get an emotional response. Total BS.

And I say this as a person who has had to deal with cops on 2 occasions of personal assaults, once on myself and once on someone living with me. On both occasions, the only complaint I could have made about the cops was that they were just took too darn long of my time being thorough.

Judging from my experiences of how cops also deal with drugs, I’d say the article is far from this world. I mean…seriously, we are expected to believe THIS: “So police officers stop people who look “suspicious,” frisk them, ask them to empty their pockets, then arrest them if they pull out a joint or a small amount of marijuana.”. I’ll call BS on that one. And of course, since his claim is backed up by…nothing…my claim is just as good. In fact, my claim is much better since I lived in NYC for several years and even I knew where half of the drug-dealing houses were in my neighborhood. So did the cops, and they did nothing. My ex-girlfriend had been arrested for pot 3 times (all 3 times for crimes in which pot was only a secondary charge)…and the worst she ever got was to go to a detox center (where they had easier access to pot than anywhere else).

What do the legalization crowd hope to achieve with such blatantly anti-police fabricated stories? Are they interested in convincing others, or in preaching to the choir? (at least CATO hasn’t yet made the argument that pot makes you…smarter. Although, its not too late)

rmv November 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Are you calling BS on the notion that the NYPD will stop and frisk someone for being suspicious?
Or, are you calling BS on them asking people to empty their pockets and then arresting them for having marijuana in public view?(Entrapment)

Josh S November 26, 2011 at 1:21 am

BS on the claim that this is a common occurrence that’s led to hundreds of thousands of arrests.

Cops aren’t all the sociopaths you want to believe they are. While you consider yourself enlightened for wanting to decriminalize drugs, the fact is most Americans are raised to believe they are this terrible menace that must be met with overwhelming force in order to not completely destroy the fabric of civilization. Like it or not, it’s something most people believe, which is why lots of people support the War on Drugs, so singling out cops as particularly sociopathic for responding to the incentives our government creates (like rewarding underreporting violent crime and aggressively going after narcotics offenses) is not really productive.

I doubt you’d be much different if you hadn’t run into libertarian literature and had gone to the police academy at age 21.

rmv November 26, 2011 at 2:29 am

Josh S,

Slow down, you’re going to hyperventilate. I was asking someone else to clarify a statement they’d made.
Nothing I asked could be construed as calling cops sociopaths.

I was asking about which part he disagreed with, because if he was arguing that cops do not stop and frisk citizens on the streets of NYC, then he would be incorrect. NYC has a stop and frisk policy. NYC cops can, if they have reasonable suspicion(to me, a very nebulous thing), stop anyone on the street and frisk them.
The NYC website even has an FAQ where one of the questions is about stop and frisk. (They call it “Stop, Question, and Frisk”)
By their own data, hundreds of thousands of people are stopped and frisked every year. Tens of thousands are arrested every year from these encounters.

If he was arguing that cops don’t entrap citizens, then that’s another matter.

rmv November 26, 2011 at 5:30 am

(Probably Needed) Correction:
It’s almost certainly not true that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers get stopped every year, because most of those stop and frisks happen in certain neighborhoods. So, it’s a smaller population getting stopped constantly.

EG November 26, 2011 at 7:37 pm

The first one. Which covers the second one, too..

rmv November 26, 2011 at 10:02 pm

EG,

How do you figure?

Again, by the NYPD’s own statistics, they engage in ***hundreds of thousands*** of stop and frisks every year, from which ***tens of thousands*** of arrests are made every year.
On their website, on their FAQ, they mention stop and frisk. Not only that, they even cite the state statute that they use as justification for stopping and frisking citizens on the streets.

If your complaint is with the idea that they entrap citizens, that’s fine.
How can you dispute that NYC cops are able to stop and frisk citizens as they see fit?

SaulOhio November 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Where do you get off saying this is “research” from CATO? CATO had nothing to do with this story, as far as I can tell.

EG November 25, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I said “our friends from CATO”, not necessarily implying CATO had anything to do with it. Then again…

Krishnan November 25, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Re: EG – I am not aware of what Balko’s position is on DUI – but this is what happens when the issue of drug legalization comes up – arguments are advanced to say “See? He is crazy because he wants that”

Driving while drunk is not equivalent to someone smoking marijuana or whatever in their room. A drunk driver can kill – so one can try and make the argument as to when it may (may) be OK to stop/detail someone who is clearly a public menace. Yes, a crackhead who is a public menace ought to get the same treatment as one who drives drunk and potentially can kill others.

It is entirely possible for a person to smoke/do whatever in their homes/rooms and have no impact on anyone else – and yet the police can harass, terrorize him/her – So far, the 4th Amendment has withstood challenges – the police cannot (apparently) use high tech to “see through walls” to see drugs inside walls (or homes) (Am I reading that correctly?)

EG November 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Take it easy. You are hyperboleing out of control. 95% of the claims in the article sound like total made-up BS to me.

Krishnan November 25, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Re: Government – Yes, there is nothing I can do.

Oh yea, I can do this/that/whatever – but if GOVERNMENT decides they can go after me, I am dead. They hold all the power.

Yea, you can say – “Well, you are hyperventilating, calm down, government will not do that really and if so, you can call your congressman/whatever” – yea, right.

If Government wants (i.e. some tyrant there) to do some harm, there is precious little (if any) we can do.

Hire a lawyer? Sure – with my money for things I had nothing for? “Dont worry, you will prove your case” – When there was no case? It was harassment?

My point is that even if these are exceptions, the fact that there is an entity/agency/group that has unlimited power to harm, is dangerous – and yes, “they” have abused it.

EG November 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Oh my goodness.

Yergit_abrav November 25, 2011 at 11:39 pm

@EG
With all due respect the asset forfeiture issue and its impact on incentives of police has been well documented by a variety of sources.

EG November 26, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Sure. That’s quite a separate issue.

brotio November 25, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Radley Balko who thinks that we shouldn’t arrest people for drunk driving.

I agree with Balko. If you’re drunk, driving, and cause damage to another – then you should be prosecuted for causing damage to another.

Krishnan November 25, 2011 at 8:26 pm

And if the drunk driver kills, there should be nothing “involuntary” about it and instead of calling it “involuntary manslaughter” (or some such, making it look like, “Oh, is is not his fault”) – call it murder.

EG November 25, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Yes you’re right. Lets also not have stop signs, stop lights, speed limits, licenses, guard rails etc.

Ok, there does happen to be a certain limit to which you can take the “let me do what I want to do” argument. These happen to be practical limits. Its unfortunate that a lot of self-proclaimed “libertarians” can’t see practical limits in their argument. (oh yes, I know. Now I’m going to be attacked as a nanny-state evil statist because, clearly, there is no such thing as degrees but only absolutes. Yes…bring it on!)

brotio November 25, 2011 at 9:30 pm

One doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. Stop signs (and lights) are logical, and useful. But if you run one and don’t cause any damage, there isn’t anything to prosecute. If you make a habit of running them, sooner or later, you’re going to cause damage. Then, there is a cause for prosecution.

Krishnan, I agree.

EG November 25, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Hmm. So they are useful, but if you run them its ok. Buuutt…they are only useful if they are enforced. Otherwise, they are not useful. See the problem?

brotio November 25, 2011 at 10:44 pm

they are only useful if they are enforced.

So, the knowledge that you are liable for damages caused by your running a red light isn’t enough incentive to keep you from running red lights?

brotio November 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Because for me, the notion of possibly killing someone while running a red light, and spending time in prison because of that (or having to spend several thousand dollars repairing some dude’s Vette) carries a lot more weight than the thought that I might get a $50 ticket. Those are also the incentives that keep me from driving drunk.

But we all have our own incentives, I guess.

SaulOhio November 25, 2011 at 7:54 pm

It’s a no-knock raid,
Don’t be afraid
We’ll shoot your dogs,
In front of your kids

Cuz we’re the SWAT
We’re here for your pot,
And all the cash that you got,
We are adrenalin junkies taking orders from the top,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV7u91A3KGQ

Krishnan November 25, 2011 at 8:01 pm

When Rahm Emanuel’s family is threatened, perhaps something may happen (yea, I know … highly unlikely) – but only when someone like that were to experience the terror, can something change

(wait – if it does happen to Emanuel, he will go get a tank and raze the neighborhood, who knows …)

indianajim November 26, 2011 at 8:17 am

Thanks for the link.

steve November 25, 2011 at 10:47 pm

No-knock raids are popular even in our small town. My buddy and I had gone to the range one night. 20 minutes after he got home, his house was hit with a no-knock raid, by mistake. Wrong address. Fortunately for him he was tired and did not clean his guns right away. If the cops busting in had seen him holding weapons the outcome could have been bad. The city did pay for repairs promptly.

Steve

nailheadtom November 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Arizona man roughed up by police in Walmart
By Amanda Lee Myers
Associated Press
Updated: 11/25/2011 02:48:06 PM CST

PHOENIX – Police in the Phoenix suburb of Buckeye are coming under fire for a video posted online Friday that shows a man unconscious on the floor of a Walmart with a bloody face after police said he was caught trying to shoplift.

The video shows 54-year-old Jerald Allen Newman unconscious and covered in blood after a police officer took him to the ground Thursday night.

Officers in the video are shown trying to sop up blood as outraged customers yell expletives and say, “That’s police brutality,” and “He wasn’t doing anything.”

The man’s wife and other witnesses say that Newman was trying to help his young grandson after the boy was trampled by shoppers, and only put a video game in his waistband to free his hands to help the boy.

vance armor November 26, 2011 at 4:17 am

It is amazing (and appalling) how police practices have changed over the past twenty years. All of you “conservative Republicans” who cheered on Supreme Court appointments of the likes of John G. Roberts and Samuel Alito should look in a mirror the next time you see a police beating video where someone who flinches upon being arrested gets his face busted into the sidewalk, or dies from multiple taser shocks. The Fourth Amendment is effectively dead in this country. Oh, yes — on the Hayek website “liberty” means the freedom to price oil futures without a warning letter from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the right to make a video of a police beating is a “phony right” because the police should never have to suffer anyone recording their “heroic” work. Have I understood you “conservative Republicans” correctly? End the police state now! It is getting to the point that the only way to end it is for third parties to make citizens’ arrests of violent cops at the scene and on the spot. Active resistence is necessary at this point. Otherwise, expect more kids at OWS rallies getting pepper sprayed for sitting down after the police command that they disperse for not having a protest “permit” on public property. I thought the only permit a person needed in a traditional time, place, manner forum for protests was the First Amendment of the Constitution. That’s my idea of a “permit.”

Yergit_abrav November 26, 2011 at 7:51 am

Who are these conservative republicans you direct your remarks to? I think you might have the wrong website.

Greg Webb November 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm

“Have I understood you “conservative Republicans” correctly?”

You have misunderstood “conservative Republicans”. You also misunderstood that this blog is frequented by libertarians and classical liberals, not conservatives or Republicans.

Economic Freedom November 26, 2011 at 6:27 am

I want to grow marijuana in my backyard because it is a pretty plant. It is illegal to grow this plant. How does that make ANY sense? I can grow plants that would be toxic for me to ingest. Marijuana isn’t toxic in small doses, and has benefits for cancer, glaucoma patients and for people with chronic pain. How dare the government attempt to control my life and prevent me from making sensible choices for myself. The government must be stopped from abusing its citizens.

vikingvista November 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Government can’t exist without abusing citizens. If it ceased abusing citizens, it would cease being a government, and its popular services would face competitive pressures.

kyle8 November 26, 2011 at 7:31 am

I would like to know just how many inflation adjusted dollars have been spent collectively on the War on Poverty, War on Drugs, and War on Terror?

I wonder how large our economy would be right now without those dead losses over the years?

Harold Cockerill November 26, 2011 at 7:47 am

The war on drugs causes more problems than it fixes because of the perverse economic incentives it creates. There’s a large segment of the law enforcement community that is employed because of the anti drug laws. Police, lawyers, judges and prison guards stay employed because the laws are on the books. The government makes money through fines and confiscations and this money is funneled back to the police making the arrests. How could this not affect how they do their jobs?

An even bigger problem I see is what our drug laws are doing to supplier countries such as Mexico. Our attempts at halting the flow of drugs simply drives up the price. The money flowing to the drug cartels is ruining Mexico and the more we try to stop them the bigger profits they make. This doesn’t work and if Mexican society fails we will be responsible.

Yergit_abrav November 26, 2011 at 7:51 am

Will it ever end?

Ken November 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm

The first time their paychecks bounce, it will end.

It won’t end well, but it will end.

vikingvista November 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Every time you wack a mole, those that remain are richer and more violent. The war on drugs doesn’t remove the supply curve, it merely shifts it to left, raising prices and selecting for and enriching those organizations most capable of bribing, smuggling, and terrorizing.

A freer market in drugs would be less violent.

Steven November 26, 2011 at 9:41 am

The police fight with people engaging in what society consider a crime. You don’t like the fact that society considers it to be a crime. So you call the enforcement “obnoxious, anti-social, and deeply evil.” I bet you also deplore people whose main argument about economics devolves to name-calling. I could recommend that you vote out the politicians who enact anti-drug laws, but we all know you think voting is illogical. A bundle of contradictions here.

I might be convinced that anti-drug laws are counter-productive to society, but not by this say-nothing post.

vance armor November 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm

“. . . in what society calls a crime . . . .?” What would Hayek have thought of your use of a transitive verb modifying the word “society?”

kyle8 November 27, 2011 at 8:40 am

Yes we all know that laws are good, not just any low but every law. Damn those stupid civil rights losers who integrated lunch counters!

Nevada Doctor November 26, 2011 at 11:12 am

As a victim of several violent crimes, I can offer my personal post hoc analysis. The police themselves are a violent gang, they’ve long ago shed any vestigal elements of subservience to property owners. When they catch the “assailant” who is 50% the actual perpetrator and 80% some type of actual criminal there is a mob beating that takes 2 to 3 minutes on average.
The problem with this equation as Balko points out, is the 80% who are “criminals” include pregnant pot smokers and elderly deadbeats who are behind in their jaywalking fine payments.
All civilian police forces should be disbanded, and we should start from scratch to find ways to protect the weak from the strong.

vikingvista November 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I can’t count the number of people who have expressed their concerns that some vulnerable group of people would suffer without a violent state apparatus (police, health care, welfare, retirement, etc) to protect them. It seems everyone is concerned about these groups, but no one would lift a finger for them if not forced to. Somehow there is this huge demand to assist such people but no way for a free market to accomplish it.

O the irony.

Greg Webb November 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

The war of drugs is another fake war designed to enhance government power, not diminish drug use. The political elite have determined what is best for you while using many of the drugs they prohibit the rest of us from using.

Greg Webb November 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Good article by Radley Balko. The police are supposed to serve the people. But, like all people, the police, because they are mere fallible human beings, will follow their incentives and forsake principles if their powers are not restricted. This is a good example of why all government must be limited in power and why independent courts are necessary to reign them in if they exceed that power. I think that Balko presents a prima facie case for a class action lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department. I hope Ms. Shaver continues to pursue this matter.

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