A Quick Response to Some Conditional Proponents of the War on “Drugs”

by Don Boudreaux on December 14, 2011

in Legal Issues, Other People's Money, Reality Is Not Optional, Seen and Unseen

Already a few commenters on my recent post on the war on drugs peaceful people who use substances prohibited by the state have raised a common, conditional objection to legalizing drugs.  That conditional objection goes like this (in my words): ‘Legalizing drugs might be appropriate, but only under the condition that each person who screws up his life be prevented from foisting upon the rest of us any financial obligation for paying for his or her screw-ups.’

I agree that those who impoverish themselves, or who impoverish themselves and their families, should not expect – and should not receive – financial assistance from government.  But I do not believe that legalization of drugs should depend upon this condition being met.  Here are two of my reasons.

(1) Some people today impoverish themselves and their families by abusing (perfectly legal) alcohol – or (perfectly legal) animal fat.  No doubt, as a result, many of these people receive some quantums of government welfare.  But surely this fact supplies no good argument for returning to alcohol prohibition – or for continuing down the putrid road of making animal fat illicit.

(2) The “drug war” itself is hugely expensive.  (I’m too busy at the moment to find a reliable estimate of the monetary expenses paid by taxpayers – national, state, and local – in the U.S. to fight this ‘war.’)  These expenses include the cost of manning, equipping, and operating all of the nations ‘drug warriors,’ and the costs that the ‘drug war’ adds to the operation of the criminal-justice apparatus, as well as the expenses of caring for the victims of the violence that unleashed by prohibition.  If a sufficient condition for objecting to a policy is that policy’s infliction of unwanted costs on taxpayers, then this condition counsels in favor of legalization at least as strongly as it counsels against legalization.

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Newt Ginrich, Model Republican December 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm

So Don, its okay with you if I drug your 12 year old daughter and f!!k up her life.

I mean, stupid girl, she shouldn’t have taken the 19 tabs of LSD I gave her.

You are a complete ass

PrometheeFeu December 14, 2011 at 7:08 pm

First, legalization of currently illegal substances does not imply allowing minors access to said substances. Second, I am sure Don supervises his daughter (I don’t even know if he has one) and had taught her not to accept 19 tabs of LSD…

Don Boudreaux December 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm

In fact, I have no daughter – but I do have a 14-year-old son. His mother and I raised him to be responsible and sensible. As far as I’m aware, he’s yet to use any illicit – or even licit – substances.

But this fact is beside the point: responsibility for teaching children right and wrong, and instructing them to be sufficiently prudent so that they can have the best prospects for achieving the greatest amount of lifetime happiness and satisfaction, lies with parents. I neither need nor want the state’s “help” in this matter.

PrometheeFeu December 14, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Your child has never used any substances? Is he ethereal? Perhaps he is a being of pure thought… ;-)

More seriously, if currently illicit substances were legalized, would you not find it appropriate for businesses to be pressured (through non-violent private means) into not selling dangerous substances to minors as a general rule? Not everyone is so lucky as to have parents who do a good job of educating you. It seems unfair that you should pay the price for your parents’ failure.

vidyohs December 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm


Can you seriously tell yourself that there is a kid in America above age 3 that has not been exposed to official anti-drug propaganda? Even doped out parents can’t keep kids from seeing and hearing the official anti-drug message.

Not excusing parents by any means, but seriously, can you tell yourself that there is no anti-drug messages for kids on a daily recurring basis?

Of course, the same kids are offered conflicting messages as they grow and see how drug abuse is actually treated in America with such disparity for punishment or pleasure, especially when it is high profile entertainers or sports stars who are caught abusing.

PrometheeFeu December 14, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I was assuming a world in which the government does not spend our money to tell people about the dangers of substance abuse.

Don Boudreaux December 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Touche! I meant “intoxicating substances.”

My son’s monster-like devouring of the likes of pizza, chicken wings, and orange juice is something to behold.

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Good for Thomas! The nanny state will be coming for pizza and chicken wings next in the name of Obamascare.

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Yes, and all because they care. :)

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 12:04 am

It’s unfair that you should pay the price your parents failure.

It’s unfair that you were born into poverty.

It’s unfair you were born without the ability to run as fast as the boy next door.

It’s unfair that the you were born to parents who carry a hereditary

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 12:05 am

A hereditary disorder, disease, etc.,…. or blah blah…. Whine whine…….

Jeff Neal December 15, 2011 at 10:52 am


Someone has to pay the price for failure, no?

And for anyone to say that a child is paying the price for its parents’ failure to raise him has no idea what it means to be a parent. A child who experiences failure (as the word is being used in this context) does not pay the price alone – the parent is paying as well in the form of total misery (you have to be a parent to know how I mean that), otherwise, that parent does not meet the definition of parent. Passing laws that purport to make up for bad parenting end up cushioning the blow for some, sure, but create moral hazard, so to speak, for everyone else by subsidizing bad parenting, so we get more of it.

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I watched ‘Precious’. I know how things happen in the inner city where minorities have been unfairly treated and forced into poverty.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 7:44 pm

And if parents are incompetent at fulfilling their responsiblity to their children, (perhaps because they’re addicted to heroin), whose responsibility are their dependents?

And if those parents, de facto, but not dejure, abdicate their responsibilities towards their children, to what extent does any party have the right to violate the liberty of those parents in securing the interest of their child? If government has no such right, then on what basis can any other party, (friends, relatives, etc.) violate the dominion of the parents?

Or, rather, is it simply right and just for children to be entirely dependent upon the consequences of their parents actions?

vidyohs December 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Have you never heard of culling the gene pool?

Nature has a wonderful way of doing it, and we humans override that system to our peril.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Yes, I’ve heard of culling the gene pool.

Good to know you’re a proponent. But is Don?

PrometheeFeu December 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm


That’s bullshit. We can’t override evolutionary processes because actions we take are an integral part of evolutionary processes.

Ubiquitous December 14, 2011 at 9:24 pm

And if parents are incompetent …

“Incompetent” by whose standard? Yours? The state’s?

GiT December 14, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Yes, ubiquitous, that’s the point. I’m glad you’ve grasped it. Your answer appears to be, ‘on the basis of the parents authority, and no one else’s.’

Well, unfortunately, I don’t think that children are the simple property of their parents, over which they exert unlimited control.
But hey, if you think children are mere objects, to be owned by whoever produces them at their whim, well, hey, good for you.

vidyohs December 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm


I don’t know what world you live in.

“That’s bullshit. We can’t override evolutionary processes because actions we take are an integral part of evolutionary processes.”

Strange, I don’t believe I said a word about evolutionary processes. I don’t quite believe that culling the gene pool in any species is necessarily the same as interfering with or encouraging evolution. Especially as I see evolution depending upon that very culling as a way of ensuring strong, intelligent, and dominant genes survive to breed and spread, while stupid, weak, and defective genes lead to early deaths and elimination of their harmful potential.

And, obviously we do interfere with natural culling of the gene pool of humanity and potentially interfering with our own evolution. All over this nation tonight there will be stoned druggies, who were too stupid to stay way from drugs, who will OD, and great effort and expense financed by public money will go to saving them…..only to see them back again in the future.

You might try turning off your computer and go outside in the real world on a daily basis, turn your brain on, and take a look at what is going on around you.

Dan Phillips December 15, 2011 at 9:07 am

Murray Rothbard wrote a wonderful book entitled “The Ethics of Liberty” in which he discusses your hypothetical at length. I highly recommend it to you.

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm

We already have plenty of laws which will remove a child from a destructive household. We would, I believe, have fewer such households without the war on Drugs, not more.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm


Let’s just be clear. If I can fuck up you son’s life, that’s ok with you.

You see this as my freedom to fuck up his life against your teaching him to be responsible.

If one day, say when he is away from home on a school trip, and his girl friend has kissed him off and he makes a mistake, its ok with you that I fuck him up.

You perfect little ass.

Obama, the Jackasses' Best December 14, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Let’s just be clear. You are a hateful, stupid child that needs a good spanking and your mouth washed out with soap.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 15, 2011 at 12:06 am

Actually, honchos and honchas of CafeHayek, I plagiarized my last post from an early, unpublished play by David Mamet entitled “The Fuck-Up”. The actual scene goes like this:

[Enter DRUG PUSHER, stage right; sits next to MIDDLE-AGED GUY on park bench]

“Let’s just be clear, you fuckwit. If I can fuck up your fuckin’ son’s life, that’s fuckin’ ok with you.”

“I don’t fuckin’ have a son and you got the wrong fuckin’ guy. So fuck off.”

“Oh, a fuckin’ college guy, eh? You sound like a fuckin’ guy what’s been to college. I guess I’ll have to fuckin’ use fancier fuckin’ college vocabulary with you, you fuckin’ perfect little ass!”

“I told you already. You got the wrong fuckin’ guy. Fuck off — or don’t fuck off. I don’t fuckin’ care. Do whatever you want, you fuckin’ jerk. It’s a free country.”

“Do whatever I want? I get it! You see this as MY freedom to fuck up MY life against your teaching ME to be responsible! And since that’s your fuckin’ attitude — SIR — [stands up abruptly] — then I politely say Go Fuck Yourself! How’s THAT for fuckin’ fancy college talk, eh? Go — Fuck — Yourself!”

“Calm down and don’t get so fuckin’ excited! You’ve still got the wrong fuckin’ guy — but if it’s that important to you that I have a son whose life you can fuck up, then so be it: please proceed to fuck up my son’s life: I shall judge you — indeed, sir — [he stands up abruptly] — the entire WORLD shall judge you, on the quality of your fuck-up!”

PUSHER [takes out a perfectly rolled doobie, lights it with a gold-plated lighter, and takes a long toke, exhaling languidly. He offers a drag to the GUY who politely refuses]:
“A thousand fuckin’ pardons! I had you figured wrong. You’re actually fuckin’ OK! [GUY bashfully accepts compliment]. But see here, fuckin’ old boy: let’s say — just as a sort of fuckin’ apodeictically-assumed hypothetical, ad argumentum, as the fuckin’ Scholastics of old used to say — suppose you fuckin’ did have a son!”

“I graciously grant you the fuckin’ hypothetical.”

“Fuckin-A. Now. Fuckin’ suppose. Again — just fuckin’ hypothetically, mind you, that this fuckin’ hypothetical son had a really fuckin’ hot girl-friend.”

GUY [beginning to be exasperated]:
OK already! I fuckin’ grant you whatever fuckin’ hypotheticals you fuckin’ want! Can you fuckin’ get on with it?

PUSHER [taking a very long toke and holding it for about 30 seconds before exhaling, after which he speaks these following lines in between short bursts of coughing]:
“Have some fuckin’ patience, hombre! Now, what the fuck was I saying? Ah, yes! Now I fuckin’ remember: suppose this son of yours had a fuckin’ hot-looking girlfriend, and one day this fuckin’ biotch of a wench decides to kiss him off!”

Ha! No hot-looking hypothetical fuckin’ wench would kiss off a hypothetical son of mine! Already, your fuckin’ apodeictic hypotheticals fuckin’ contradict themselves: can you not, at least, be consistent within the fuckin’ thymological context of the scenario?”

PUSHER [has been toking in one long continuous inhalation during GUY's words. He burns his fingers on the roach and quickly spits it out onto the ground]:
“Fuckin’-thyma-fuckin’-wha? Yeah, whatever. College guys! Anyway, this fuckin’ biotch kisses off your son, and his mind is so fuckin’ blown away by it that he . . . MAKES A FUCKIN’ MISTAKE.”

“What sort of fuckin’ mistake?”

“How do I know? Just — ya’ know — a mistake. He fuckin’ makes a fuckin’ mistake, OK?”

“I fuckin’ heard you, but what sort of mistake are you fuckin’ suggesting?”

“Well — I don’t know — it fuckin’ could be anything. Well . . . [sheepishly] suppose he’s fuckin’ moping around, fuckin’ feeling sorry for himself that his little tart didn’t build a fuckin’ Oriental alter to him in her room and fuckin’ kowtow to it every day . . . so he mosies on up to me in this fuckin’ park and I fuckin’ get him hooked on dime bags of Crash-&-Burn.”

“What the fuckin’ fuck is Crash-& Burn?”

“What fuckin’ difference does it make? This is a fuckin’ hypothetical! The fuckin’ point is this: it’s OK with you that I fuck him up?”

GUY [laughs]:
“What fuckin’ nonsense! I can give you three fuckin’ good reasons why that could fuckin’ never happen. One: I fuckin’ raised him right. Two: he’d never buy anything from a fuckin’ low-life creep like you…”

“And three?”

“And three: I don’t fuckin’ have a son — I told you that already; so the whole thing is fuckin’ moot.”

“You scoundrel! Damn you!”

GUY [waits a beat. then...]:
“Hey — watch your language!”

As you can tell, honchos and honchas of Cafe Hayek, this is Mamet when he was perhaps unduly influenced by a neo-Absurdist aesthetic, but it does show him to be a great master of dialogue.

Obama, the Best Jackass December 15, 2011 at 12:13 am

So you are Irritable Bowel.

SmoledMan December 15, 2011 at 12:47 am

You little tyrant you.

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 9:08 am

Newt…. GOP Best, you represent the progressive liberal well. Full of vitriol, anger, elitism, and vulgarities…. People like you never fail to meet expectations.

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm

You simply have no idea how stupid you sound. Hey Jackass, Any kid who wants drugs can easily get them right now, so how is changing the law to a more rational one going to be any worse?

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I thought it showed him to be overwrought, pretentious, and overrated.

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I have to ask the high school tennis team where to get some good weed. They have better access than I.

SheetWise December 15, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Newt Represents The GOP Best,
Might I suggest David Mamet’s latest work, The Secret Knowledge

Read it and be honest.

SheetWise December 15, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Newt Represents The GOP Best –

I forgot to mention — it’s very good. I just finished it a few days ago. I’d be happy to send you my copy — I’ve ordered new for all my friends. You know, Christmas is coming.

Speedmaster December 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Classy post.

JS December 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Pushing drugs on children would still be illegal. I’ll await your argument on the topic, which pertains to adults.

Don Boudreaux December 14, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Indeed. And drug sellers, in a regime without prohibition, would have far less incentive to push their wares to kids. Seagrams and Coors, for example, don’t hire shaddy characters to sneak onto street corners and into schoolyards to push cocktails and brewskys to 12-year-olds.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 9:33 pm


How many drug dealers have you known in your life. How many hours, days, weeks, months, years have you spent with drug dealers (or criminals of any kind)?

How many people do you know, personally, who want to do nothing more than fuck up someone?

Peter McIlhon December 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Wow, speaking of drug use – ease up buddy. You’re dodging the question. The question is do you think that “drug dealers” would push drugs on children if they were legal (illegal to minors just as alcohol and tobacco are now)? Were speakeasies luring children during prohibition? Nope. In fact, underage use might actually go DOWN if a drug like cannibus was legal. Afterall, it’s harder to get a drug in a store than it is on the street. Don never agreed to your terms of destroying his or any other child’s life, stop your “slings and arrows” technique. It’s disgraceful.

Methinks1776 December 14, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I’ve personally known three. And each of them was infinitely more pleasant than you.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 11:07 pm


1) I represented my first drug dealers in 1975. Have seen hundreds since. My friends have represented thousands. You have no idea what kind of people you are talking about

In a moment that would give drugs to your kid just to fuck them in the ass.

2) If drugs were legal it would only increase the opportunity for children, everyone to gain access.

You as such a greedy doalt, you think it’s always about selling. You don’t realize how many people would give kids a drug just to fuck them up, especially stuff like herion LSD or Meth. Go ask some social worker to introduce you to a 17 year old girl who someone has made into a meth or heroin addict. Meth, one shot, and your hooked for life.

What is disgraceful as assholes like you who have no thought or concern about what people will do to other people who are vulnerable and can be exploited.

You legalize drugs and you are condemning innocent young people to horrors you cannot imagine.

Gil December 15, 2011 at 1:05 am

In other words NRTGB may be trying to ask – do Libertarians thinks it’s wrong for the government to make sure parents aren’t allowing their children to drink and smoke? In other words, if children want to drink and smoke and a parent allows it – should it be illegal or up to the private individuals involved? Some adults in real life do want their children to drink some alcohol – should they be forbidden under threat of coercion from government?

Fred December 15, 2011 at 8:27 am

Meth, one shot, and your hooked for life.

Funny, because I tried the stuff and didn’t like it.
I’ve tried crack, powder, meth, and even heroin. The only one I really liked was powder, but it interferes too much with sleep so after trying it a few times I decided it wasn’t for me.

This notion that trying a drug once turns you into an addict is a lie. And a pretty big one. I guess that’s why so many believe it.

mcwop December 15, 2011 at 8:36 am

It happens now despite drugs being illegal. Come to Baltimore and I will show you a massive illegal heroin market. We have tens of thousands of addicts, despite heroin being illegal. I’d rather give those people treatment, or clean drugs. There may still be users, but there will be less drug violence, fewer addicts in prison, and far fewer health problems from dirty needles/drugs.

Ken Royall December 16, 2011 at 2:56 am

Actually the opposite is true. The illegal sellers would prey on children because the “legitimate” sellers would control the market for those who can buy drugs legally. You seem to believe the illegal drug sellers are going to give up and become model citizens.

Companies who sell pharmaceuticals get sued for the adverse affects of their products all the time, despite the fact they can also save lives. How long do you think it would be before those selling crack cocaine legally would be sued out of business by some opportunistic lawyers? I predict about 2 weeks or so.

You are also forgetting that alcohol is legal and the government has built a cottage industry around dealing with the use of it. I am against prohibition of booze but lets not kid ourselves that legalizing something alleviates all crime connected with it. DUI’s alone are a huge issue. Underage drinking is another.

How about people that commit other crimes in order to pay for their drug habit? Do you believe all of that would go away? It wouldn’t. Knowing our government the taxes would be so steep on legal drugs street pushers could undersell the government sanctioned outlets. Again, more crime.

You should read the studies from the areas in Europe that have legalized drugs, the results are not at all what you are portraying. Drug use is up and some areas have become ghettos, attracting all of the wrong kinds of people. The residents in these areas hate it.

Your ideas are very naive. Pot might be decriminalized at some point, beyond that there is no political support to legalize drugs like crystal meth. Drug use destroys lives and entire families. There are MAJOR externalities. Legitimizing drugs by making them legal would be an enormous mistake.

carlsoane December 16, 2011 at 3:13 am

Which European studies are you referring to?

Ken Royall December 16, 2011 at 3:33 am


Read the “Recent Developments” section. Seems the locals in the drug infested areas are not happy.

Gil December 15, 2011 at 1:01 am

Why? There are place where children can legally drink alchol provided by their parents and the debate’s still out as to whether it starts or prevents alcoholism in adulthood.

Ken Royall December 16, 2011 at 3:43 am

And it would still occur, hence there would still be crime related to drug sales.

Sam Grove December 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Stupid comment.

You know minors have special restrictions and protections from the likes of you. For instance, you may drink and share, give alcohol to other adults, but may not legally include minors in such activity.

YOU are the ass.

Sam Grove December 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm

(For the model republican.)

Greg Webb December 14, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Sam, that’s no model anything. That’s Irritable Bowel.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 9:28 pm

And by what principle, and to what extent, do you allow for the regulation of children, as well as the ultimately arbitrary basis for distinguishing children from adults, without importing in a principle by which the state could exert authority over those who share the same qualities as children with make them objects of regulation, and without interfering with the supposed rights parents have over the dominion and control of their children?

Which is to say, how do you admit that the government can regulate the care and conduct of children without implicitly either A. treating children as the mere property of their parents or B. granting authority to violate the rights of parents with respect to control over their children out of a generalized paternalistic duty to steward children at the expense of the rights and interests of others (specifically, their parents)?

Because the consequence of A is to give rational grounds for treating human persons as objects, and the consequence of B is to give third parties coercive authority over the actions of others.

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Your rather philosophical question is not Germaine to this issue. The basis by which we either support or do not support the state’s involvement in children is a moot point.

The fact is that the state already does concern itself and the state also does a lot of really foolish and contradictory things in pursuit of the war on drugs.

What libertarians are saying is that we can try another approach and perhaps obtain better results.

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

No ‘I’ in ‘germane’….. Damn spell check!!

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Sam Grove

Your the ass. The difference between drugs and alcohol is night and day.

What do you know about Meth, for example. Have you ever seen how powerful and addictive it is, one hit.

Do you know anything about how much more addictive it is than alcohol?

Sam Grove December 14, 2011 at 11:55 pm

The point isn’t about addictiveness, and since both can be addictive, I doubt the difference is “night and day”.

IAC, the most addictive drug is likely nicotine, even heroin addicts have found it harder to give up nicotine than tobacco.

One hit? Maybe you’re talking about crack.

The U.S. Air Force gave methamphetamines to pilots.

Obama, the Jackasses' Best December 15, 2011 at 12:02 am

Aww, the poor stupid jackass is addicted to methamphetamine. Well, now we know why she is so stupid and hateful.

SmoledMan December 15, 2011 at 12:48 am

The kids that take that first hit of meth – good thing it weeds them out of the gene pool!

Hal December 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

By this logic you should also claim that Don is okay with you getting a 12 year old girl drunk.

A Primal Guy December 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm

The animal fat comment is completely off base! The truth is that people who eat animal fat in a diet balanced with vegetables are way better off than their counterparts eating according to the government issued food pyramid. Carbs and Sugar are the culprits that lead to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure which in turn causes these people to be dependent upon medical welfare so they can afford their big-pharma/government prescribed medications. Please don’t continue to be a puppet of the government pushing the “animal fat makes you fat” propaganda! Please educate yourself http://www.marksdailyapple.com

Jon Murphy December 14, 2011 at 7:29 pm

“The truth is that people who eat animal fat in a diet balanced with vegetables are way better off than their counterparts eating according to the government issued food pyramid.”

That was Don’t point, man.

Dances with Wolves December 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm

And, animal fat is yummy! I learned this from my dancing partners.

James N December 14, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Yes, you clearly need an education in the area of context. Go back and read Don’s comments.

Brian December 15, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Don’s post says that some people impoverish themselves and their families by consuming animal fat, but that doesn’t mean animal fat should be illegal. To the contrary, individuals and their families are far more impoverished with the consumption of trans-fats, sugar, grains, and other substances our bodies haven’t evolved to process efficiently. This doesn’t mean trans-fats, sugar, grains, etc. should be illegal, but would have illustrated his point far better than animal fats. Animal fats are a healthy alternative to those other things, and we’re actually better off when we consume them.

W.E. Heasley December 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm

“That conditional objection goes like this (in my words): ‘Legalizing drugs might be appropriate, but only under the condition that each person who screws up his life be prevented from foisting upon the rest of us any financial obligation for paying for his or her screw-ups.’ “ – Don Boudreaux

Apparently Milton Friedman is not alone regarding folks advancing conditional objections regarding broken models i.e. Barking Cats.

“The column evoked letters from a number of persons in pharmaceutical work offering tales of woe to confirm my allegation that the FDA was indeed “Frustrating Drug Advancement,” as I titled the column. But most also said something like, “In contrast to your opinion, I do not believe that the FDA should be abolished, but I do believe that its power should be” changed in such and such a way – to quote from a typical letter”. – Milton Friedman, 02/19/1973 from the essay Barking Cats.

The entire essay appear in the link below:


Roger Thornhill December 14, 2011 at 7:24 pm

“be prevented”

This is both revealing and disingenuous.

Revealing, as it shows the knee-jerk authoritarianism of the proposers. Control, control and more control.

Disingenuous, as it is quite obvious that any attempts to “prevent” will either be ineffective or, of effective, so draconian as to be “unacceptable” to those who want such prevention. Not, as they protest, because it is ineffective or objectionable TO THEM (for they most probably LIKE this kind of thing don’t you know), rather because to accept the measures would then result in drug legalisation.

Such prohibitionists cannot be satisfied without total submission to their will. Earth and water…

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Experience, especially the experience of totalitarian nations trying to control substances, indicate that all such attempts would be draconian AND ineffective.

Rob December 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm

The point that gets me also has to do with children, though it is not the objection Newt raised. Don’s position amounts to punishing children for the sins of their parents. It means one’s lot in life is nothing more than the random chance you are born to a drug user or to someone more responsible. I cannot get over this nagging problem with doctrinaire Libertarianism. Yes it is cliche, but what about the children? Do you completely reject any and all measures to improve equality of opportunity or only those that are state-imposed?

Don Boudreaux December 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Rob: Do you believe that the status quo situation, filled with violence, as well as with still-plenty of drugs – and drugs for which market forces are unable to exert any substantial quality-control pressures – the current situation in which drugs are being pushed to children (in ways that alcohol today is not) – is protecting kids from harm, as well as from the sins of their parents?

And don’t forget about those children whose lose their parents not only to violence, but also to imprisonment. How are kids helped by having, say, their father – whose only offense is selling cocaine to a willing buyer – imprisoned for years? Does this consequence of the “drug war” not harm children significantly?

Ken Royall December 16, 2011 at 3:11 am

Don, as a person who has witnessed lives being destroyed by drugs, even within my own family, I can tell you that the illegality of them IS useful in getting people off of them. When someone is destroying themselves, sometimes the threat of legal sanctions is the only thing that convinces them to get help.

I would rather see a kid who has to deal with a parent spending 30 days in the can with court enforced treatment thereafter than one standing over a casket. I have seen both first hand so I speak from experience. I suggest you talk to some people that are dealing with the consequences of drug abuse. Your arguments are theoretical, not based on real world conditions.

vidyohs December 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Why do you feel the artificial compulsion to be concerned about the actions of others who do nothing to harm you or those you take responsibility for?

You’re misguided in your concern for who is punishing whom. If my neighbor ODs and dies, leaving two kids who can’t support themselves, is it me punishing those kids, or did the Dad punish them through his self centered stupidity?

How can you come up with a scenario where I am the punisher? If you can’t come up with a scenario that makes me the neighbor responsible, then how can you come up with a scenario that involves making someone in Seattle responsible for those kids. You think because he occupies turf in an area that is generalized by a generic name shared by many millions of us?

It is the height of stupidity to create a system of laws that punish people for what they may do, while never showing any evidence that they have actually done one damn thing.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Perhaps because people can incur and hold obligations, and as such duties and responsibilities, without having done ‘one damn thing’ other than existing.

Like, for example, the obligation to respect the property rights of others.

vikingvista December 14, 2011 at 9:39 pm

“people can incur and hold obligations, and as such duties and responsibilities, without having done ‘one damn thing’ other than existing”

Only if they so choose. You have no obligation that you did not agree to. Repercussions, perhaps. Demands or expectations of others, maybe. But not obligations. Not ever. If you disagree with it, it violates your moral code. If it violates your moral code, it cannot be your moral obligation.

So merely existing isn’t sufficient to acquire obligations. One must also make a judgement and a choice.

GiT December 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Ah, great, so if I judge and choose to act as if I did not have an absolute obligation to respect the property rights of others, then that’s fine, and for anyone to tell me that I have a moral obligation to respect their property rights absolutely, would be a violation of my own personal sovereignty in determining what duties and responsibilities I have. Good to know.

vikingvista December 15, 2011 at 2:23 am

“if I judge and choose to act as if I did not have an absolute obligation…”

You don’t. There is no such thing. “Absolute obligation” is nonsense. You might as well tell someone that they should behave in a particular way (to your liking, of course, since that’s what all this nonsense about absolute obligation is all about) because gringot fronkong wraspno quonton. It has exactly the same substance. It is the absence of any reason. It is mere stipulation.

“…to respect the property rights of others, then that’s fine”

Realizing the obvious reality that you don’t have any absolute obligations doesn’t imply any kind of action. But if for whatever reason you choose not to respect other people’s property rights–that is, if you choose to initiate action against others–your judgement of what counts as “fine” for the achievement of your goals, is seriously impaired.

But go ahead and give it a try and tell me how it works out for you. It will not only prove that there is no such restraint as “absolute obligation”, but it will show you that it isn’t “absolute obligation” that gets in your way, but rather a knuckle sandwich. Then maybe you’ll drop this absolute obligation nonsense, and start instead acting rationally.

Not that you or anyone else on the Left needs a reason for violating people’s rights–which is their modus operandi. But there is a smart way, and then there is a way that wins you a trip to the dentist.

“for anyone to tell me that I have a moral obligation to respect their property rights absolutely, would be a violation of my own personal sovereignty”

Nothing anybody can tell you would be a violation of anyone’s sovereignty since you can simply choose to not listen to them.

Indoctrinating someone with the idea that he MUST do something, whether because of gringot fronkong or absolute obligation or some other meaningless word salad, is nothing more than you trying to control him to your own ends. And it works on some of the thoughtless, to be sure, particularly if you indoctrinate them early and often. One way to release a person from that manipulation is simply to get him to ask himself where this “absolute obligation” comes from, who came up with it, and who benefits from him acting against his own judgement.

In some cases, like “duty to serve” for instance, this bit of deprogramming can save your life. In other case, like “duty to pay your taxes”, it is the first step of a long journey to end the neurosis of enriching those who hate what you most value.

“in determining what duties and responsibilities I have.”

That’s easy, since you voluntarily, knowingly, and without duress accepted each and every one.

GiT December 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Very nice, Viking, you’ve just provided a justification for the Welfare State.

I’m glad we agree.

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Then why don’t you respect people’s property rights?

GiT December 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm

First, you have no idea what I do or don’t do.

Second, the example is to demonstrate that you believe in what you yourself deny existing. Property rights are an example of obligations others incur without doing anything. There are other, potentially competing and countervailing obligations of the same sort that could supervene upon an obligation to respect property rights.

GiT December 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm

That should be the duty to respect other’s property rights, not property rights themselves (though, presumably, for those who believe in self-ownership, self-ownership is a property right one gets not by virtue of what one does but by virtue of what one is)

JS December 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Doctrinaire libertarianism is against compulsory measures pertaining to the category of vice. There are no “measures” that aren’t state imposed. We already have laws for crimes. We took centuries to get the church off our backs, now many want to replace it with the state.

vikingvista December 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm

“doctrinaire Libertarianism”

Isn’t that an oxymoron?

GiT December 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm

No, it’s just redundant.

vikingvista December 15, 2011 at 2:26 am

Then apparently, in your mind, so is “coercing non-coercion”.

Fred December 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Not giving is taking.
Not taking is giving.
Inaction is violence.
Tolerance is shown through intolerance.
Inclusiveness is shown through exclusion.

The liberal “mind” is full of doublethink.

GiT December 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm

If you have something to give, other than your own body, you generally only have it by having took.

If you do not exercise a privilege to take, you leave that privilege open to others.

Tolerance, unless it is to the point of nihilistic suicide, always requires intolerance of some degree of intolerance towards others (like, for example, intolerance of those whose intolerance leads them to physically hurt others).

Inclusiveness, like tolerance, can only be maintained by, at the limit, excluding those who would forcibly exclude others.

The conservative “mind” is full of stupid, incoherent, malformed conclusions and an utter inattention to the details and consequences of beliefs.

John Alcorn December 14, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Don Boudreaux: “(I’m too busy at the moment to find a reliable estimate of the monetary expenses paid by taxpayers – national, state, and local – in the U.S. to fight this ‘war.’)”

A good place to start is Jeffrey A. Miron and Katherine Waldock, “The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition” (Cato Institute paper, 2010).

Wilbur December 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Don: Here’s my justification for the war on drugs. I hate druggies, and I don’t really care how much it costs to hunt them down and lock them up. May every glassy-eyed, potato chip-scarfing pot smoker rot in hell. Or failing that, in a cold jail cell.

And if you think I’m trolling, you have another think coming. You and I are about the same age, I believe. Illicit drugs cut through our generation like a scythe, turning millions of potentially productive people into total losers. And I have no problem removing all such losers from society. Lock the bastards up, I say. And throw away the bloody key.

JS December 14, 2011 at 8:40 pm

And people before you hated alcohol. Good for you.

Government is the device we use to enforce our opinions on others.

Obama, the Best Jackass December 15, 2011 at 12:11 am

“Government is the device we use to enforce our opinions on others.”

Not “we.” Just the haters. Those who hate drug users. Those who hate wealthy people. Those who hate the Jews. Those who hate black people. Those who hate wants all powerful government to inflict their punishment on the people they hate.

Adam December 14, 2011 at 8:40 pm

“And if you think I’m trolling, you have another think [sic] coming.”

Fine, I’ll take the bait (screw it, I’m in a bad mood). You use the exact same logic as an extremest Muslim would use to justify the destruction of the Twin Towers.

Congratulations, you found common ground, you should be very proud.

Wilbur December 14, 2011 at 9:25 pm

When you learn to do a web search and find that the expression is “another think coming”, I hope you will feel as stupid as that [sic] makes you look.

That said, I’m glad you brought up the comparison with radical Muslims. Just so you know the level of opposition you’re up against, if you want to keep blowing doobies.

Adam December 15, 2011 at 8:38 am

@Trollin-along-Wilbur: “Just so you know the level of opposition you’re up against”

By ‘opposition’ I assume you are referring to yourself. So, you are willing to let many innocent people die in order to further your completely irrational moral beliefs. Understood. You are not alone in this world.

Barbie Wilbur December 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Freedom is hard. Let’s go shopping.

Obama, the Best Jackass December 15, 2011 at 12:18 am


Sam Grove December 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Wilbur filled with hatred,
Why don’t you pick up some guns and go around shooting all those people you hate?

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 12:14 am

Under proposed legislation Sam, you could be held indefinitely and Cafe Hayek could be shut down permanently with Don and Russ tried as accomplices.

Ken M December 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm

It’s interesting how this topic causes so many people to revert to dogmatic positions supported primarily by emotions. How about a little basic economics. If drugs were legalized, why would anybody risk legal repercussions from selling drugs to children? After all, the potential profits would be minuscule. Without people actively seeking to recruit (i.e., addict) new customers, the number of “glassy-eyed, potato chip-scarfing” pot or crack or meth users would shrink significantly. Drugs cut through our generation and subsequent ones for one simple reason: because the holy war on drugs made it obscenely profitable for it to do so.

South Street December 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I don’t believe so. Kids are not supposed to drink or smoke (tabacco), either. They do plenty of both.

jjoxman December 14, 2011 at 9:07 pm

But they therefore procure these substances illegally. So making drugs legal, like smokes and alcohol are, won’t change that the chilluns’ behavior.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm

two or three wrongs make a right

that is the best explanation I have ever seen of libertardian thinking

Peter McIlhon December 14, 2011 at 9:51 pm

It would be easier for a 12 year old to get pot from a dealer in a city park than it would in a licenced establishment where it is sold legally to those of age.

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 12:18 am

Legalized drugs would ‘kill’ the black market business destroying inner-city crime syndicate using drugs as their vice to maintain power. They would move on to a greater role in prostitution.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would declare the legislation as depriving minorities and having a disparate impact.

Ken M December 15, 2011 at 9:46 am

A total inability (or unwillingness) to distinguish between things I don’t’ like and things that the government can deal with effectively.

The best explanation of statist “thinking” I’ve seen lately.

The fact that I don’t like drugs or a plethora of other societal problems doesn’t delude me into believing that some law or government program can therefore improve the situation. There was undoubtedly too much alcoholism before 1921. Do you really think prohibition made things better? Why then do you cling to the fantasy that the holy war on drugs is making the world a better place today? I know for certainty that it’s doing wonders for the drug cartels, corrupt police and judges, and a few other groups, but all of that comes at the expense of a thousand other parts of society. But, the statists’ answer is simply do double-down on a losing hand.

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Prohibition was enacted by an activist woman’s group of but a few thousand……. Their voices were louder……. And sheeple followed thru……. But, NASCAR fans can thank ‘em for the assist in the creation of high speed racing…….and the many dead from the crime syndicates created.

Gil December 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

In the good ol’ days you could buy heroin and cocaine medicines for children.

Greg Webb December 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

Yep, which doctors prescribed regularly.

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm

His point is that the problem is reduced because there is little or no profit in pushing these substances to minors. In the first place, they have less buying power than adults, in the second place if there were a legal market for adults the prices for these substances would be diminished, then you would be foolish to risk an illegal market for a very small profit.

William Bruce December 14, 2011 at 9:27 pm

It is all for the children. Without the stern eye of regulation, we would have to contend with this:


Gil December 15, 2011 at 1:11 am

Why should there be legal restrictions selling to children? That’s prohibition too and maintains a black market for minors.

William Bruce December 15, 2011 at 1:57 am

What about the black market for (legally unenforceable) contract killings?

Gil December 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

Murders are usually unpreventable as most victims personally knew their perpetrator.

jjoxman December 14, 2011 at 9:11 pm

A chief problem with those who are against the legalization of drugs is that many assume drug consumption would increase if it was legal. But why? Why do people do drugs?

What we do know, from experiences with sin taxes and straight up prohibition, is that you cannot legislate away peoples’ desires. They’ll still make bathtub gin, or homemade crank … actually, I think crank is all homemade, but that’s neither here nor there.

Drugs are legal = end of war on drugs. Think of the benefits! Not just domestically, but in Mexico and Columbia and elsewhere. So much waste can be saved. And, by not focusing on drug crimes, the police will be free to focus on genuine crimes against people.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 9:50 pm


we have a good example of a prohibition that proves you dead wrong: guns

they are legal and that has only increased their availability and use.

we have tens of thousands of needless deaths each year because of guns. because of how our society developed there is little we can do but learn the horrible lessons and apply the wisdom elsewhere.

Legalize drugs and you will see drugs in the hands of children immediately. They will come from parents, siblings, peer pressure, mistakes, coercion, the list is endless.

The War on Drugs is harsh, but all the people in jail are there voluntarily. Not one of them had to buy or sell drugs. Knowing the penalties, why do you think they acted as they did?

Peter McIlhon December 14, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Awesome argument. So let’s make everything that can hurt other people illegal. So I assume you are for prohibition of alcohol again? Great! Because the gin running business was full of classy and peaceful people! Nobody got hurt, and no illegal gangs were formed in order to sell the product (at an enormous price) to other people and law enforcement officals! I’m sure this war will end soon, it’s been 40 years. I mean, it has to right? Don nor anyone else is celebrating drug use, they are simply recognizing the fact that the cure is worse than the disease.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 11:20 pm

not that you would have noticed, but we have found a pretty good way to regulate alcohol by having stiff penalties on drunk driving. We have cut down a lot on public consumption.

I get really tired of asshole arguments like yours. People who are unable to draw distinctions or who misstate positions are pathetic.

I didn’t say make alcohol illegal. I didn’t say that we couldn’t more wisely manage other parts of the WOD. What I said was that legalizing the sale of drugs was out because such will result in more drugs being used by children.

Now you think its ok from someone to addict a 17 year old girl to meth so that can sell her for sex. I don’t and I don’t want to make that easier, in any way.

jjoxman December 15, 2011 at 12:15 am

I live in an area with some of the stiffest penalties for drinking & driving. Still get plenty of boozers & cruisers.

“I get really tired of asshole arguments like yours”

what a coincidence!

Obama, the Best Jackass December 15, 2011 at 12:21 am

“People who are unable to draw distinctions or who misstate positions are pathetic.”

Now, that is irony!

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 12:29 am

Ha! Sin taxes on alcohol have had nary an impact on reducing consumption. Drunk driving laws ? According to the CDC 147 million times people got behind the wheel after drinking in 2009. Traffic deaths are down over the last 15yrs…… But god luck proving what the reasoning is. Socially, it is less acceptable? Enforcement? Fear of incarceration? Better evasion?

Peter McIlhon December 15, 2011 at 12:30 am

We’ve cut down on public consumption? When was the last time you visited or lived on a college campus? Some drugs are horribly destructive to society, like meth and crack. I think those drugs deserve different treatment. Honestly, I’m not sure what that is, but our governments handling of it isn’t working.

I’m not really sure why you think I love the idea of addicting 17 year olds (or younger I assume) to meth and then sell her to sex. I don’t want to make it easier either. I think meth is an exception drug. I think most people focus the war on drugs to cannibus and cocaine.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 15, 2011 at 8:31 am

You write, “I’m not really sure why you think I love the idea of addicting 17 year olds (or younger I assume) to meth and then sell her to sex. I don’t want to make it easier either. I think meth is an exception drug. I think most people focus the war on drugs to cannibus and cocaine.”

It is real simple

When one can readily see the consequences of what one proposes, then they own those consequences. If you are for “legalizing” drugs then you are for addicting 17 year olds (or younger I assume) to meth and then sell her to sex.

The WOD is a mess, but the solution is not to give it up but to address the problems.

For example, no one here talks about why people use drugs, about addiction, about how the DEA and state and local police work (which could be dramatically reformed), because doing such is hard work and libertarians are lazy. They want to walk away from all of life’s challenges.

Remarkably, the best thing one could do about drugs is to improve law enforcement on all other crimes in areas where it takes place. We would be substantially better off using all the DEA money, etc., hiring and training more state and local police and ending all other crime.

In fact the WOD at present is really a testament to the failure of libertarian ideas. Most all serious drug dealing takes place in areas where there is no gov’t operating effectively, showing how quickly unregulated markets fail.

Fred December 15, 2011 at 8:36 am

Do people own their own bodies?
If they do, then who has the right to tell them what they may or may not put into this body of theirs?
If others do have the right to tell people what they may or may not put into their body, then is their body really theirs?
If others can lock a person up in a cage for what they put into their body, who really owns their body?

If you believe in self ownership, then you cannot support the war on drug users.

If you support the war on drug users, then you believe that a person’s body is not owned by their person, but by the State.

Fuck off, slaver.

mcwop December 15, 2011 at 8:41 am

What? The illicit drug market proves that you cannot stop markets where there is a demand for a product. In fact it is a very efficient market given the headwinds.

Gil December 15, 2011 at 11:11 am

Yeah Newt stop being a buzzkill and trying to stop Libertarians from accessing cheap hookers.

jjoxman December 14, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Guns, excellent example. In states where gun rights are more open, there is less gun-related crime. See the research by John Lott.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 11:26 pm


if we had no guns, we would have no gun related crimes, whatsover.

now, we could never get there because we have so many guns, but we have 10 times the number of gun crimes of any other country in the world, all of which is needless.

Gun deaths per 100,000 population (for the year indicated):

Homicide Suicide Other (inc Accident)

USA (2001) 3.98 5.92 0.36
Italy (1997) 0.81 1.1 0.07
Switzerland (1998) 0.50 5.8 0.10
Canada (2002) 0.4 2.0 0.04
Finland (2003) 0.35 4.45 0.10
Australia (2001) 0.24 1.34 0.10
France (2001) 0.21 3.4 0.49
England/Wales (2002) 0.15 0.2 0.03
Scotland (2002) 0.06 0.2 0.02
Japan (2002) 0.02 0.04 0

jjoxman December 15, 2011 at 12:13 am

“If we had no guns, etc.”

And while I’m at it, I’d like a pony.

Btw, Canada, especially mid-west Canada, has a strong gun culture. Maybe there’s another factor at work?

Obama, the Best Jackass December 15, 2011 at 12:17 am

There are definitely other factors to be considered. Irritable Bowel is just being deceitful again. Switzerland requires citizens to keep guns and a low homicide rate.

Peter McIlhon December 15, 2011 at 12:31 am

China has no gun related deaths either. But they have a whole lot of stabbing related deaths.

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 12:31 am

Now let’s see how many deaths via blunt instruments or other weaponry.

Gil December 15, 2011 at 11:13 am

Owning a gun and being legally able to shoot someone dead are two different things. There’s no point to owning a gun if you’ll most likely be doing jail time.

g-dub December 15, 2011 at 12:35 am

Newt boy wrote: The War on Drugs is harsh, but all the people in jail are there voluntarily.

wth? lmao!

William Bruce December 15, 2011 at 2:16 am

I would chortle hysterically on seeing that logic applied to the case of an individual like Socrates, the historical Jesus, or even Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (Incidentally, do I get half of a Godwin point for the last one?)

Seeing as I regularly encounter individuals who assert such things (regarding the “War on Drugs”), the point is salient enough, and not *merely* a feeding of the trolls…

jorod December 14, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Fine, keep the druggies away from heavy machinery and make them sit on a rice paddy all day.

Sam Grove December 14, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I have spoken with reformed drug addicts who support prohibition. They seem unable to see the irony…as if prohibition had prevented them from becoming addicts.

How are addicts helped by turning them into criminals?

vikingvista December 15, 2011 at 2:38 am

They get cleaned up, because there is no access to drugs in prison.

/ sarcasm

Ken Royall December 16, 2011 at 3:19 am

The threat of legal sanctions motivates them to stop. It isn’t hard to figure out. It is called a deterrent. Just like ending up in jail for robbery deters stealing. Complete abolition never occurs but reductions in harmful behavior does.

Sam Grove December 16, 2011 at 6:11 pm

When they are in the throes of addiction, they aren’t motivated by legal sanction, they are motivated by increasing discomfort until they get desperate enough to do something about it.

Turning them into criminals reduces their ability to get a job after they are cleaned, making it more likely they will return to addiction.

Prohibition also motivates sociopathic profit seekers to go into the drug manufacturing and supply business.

We’ve sen it all before.

Kent Lyon December 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm

The DEA, and the entirety of the federal government, has never taken drug interdiction seriously anyway. Back in the 1980′s I had a Colombian drug lord move in next door. I repeatedly called the DEA, asking them to take some action. They wouldn’t give me the time of day and completely ignored my calls. Nothing has changed. Whatever money is spent, whatever rhetoric is trumpeted about a war on drugs, the federal government simply isn’t interested in enforcing drug laws or doing anything about illicit drugs, the occasional seizure of drug shipments notwithstanding. At least if drugs were legalized, the incentive the government apparently has for assisting drug lords to launder billions of dollars, and for illicitly supplying large quantities of high powered arms to drug cartels, would disappear…

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 12:33 am

Could be that elected officials make money on illegal drug trade like they make money on insider trading.

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Some probably do, but most of it is just support by an unthinking public based upon emotionalism. We all know that being seen as “soft on crime” will get a person unelected real quick.

khodge December 15, 2011 at 5:39 am

Drugs present an opportunity for politicians to grand-stand. As is evident from the response to Don’s posts, there is plenty of visceral reaction for the politicians to feed on without actually doing anything.

(It’s also keeping the resident trolls fed.)

nailheadtom December 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Minimum age requirements are curious. How is it possible that on the day of your twenty-first birthday but not before you’re responsible enough to guzzle Budweiser? Why do you have to be 18 to make a check mark beside the words “Barbara Boxer” on a ballot? And 16 to guide a Mustang down the freeway? The constitutional age requirements don’t make much sense, either. Especially when there isn’t any upper limit. There’s all kinds of senators in at least the initial stages of senility that shouldn’t be driving, much less trying to tell me how to live my life. So if somebody is too young to sign a contract for a real estate purchase maybe Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd were too old to vote on some of those Democratic bills.

Gil December 15, 2011 at 1:15 am

Before Prohibition all drugs were available and recommended for children.

vikingvista December 15, 2011 at 2:36 am

I agree entirely. Imagine if all age restrictions were removed. Would there be anecdotes of kids doing weird or dangerous things? Sure, but probably not much more than currently happens. People who know and are interested in voting, and get get to the polls, will vote. People who can afford to buy a car and want to know how to drive, will buy a car. People who can get through boot camp will go to war. And people who wet themselves in public because they can’t hold their liquor learn a valuable lesson at any age.

Economiser December 15, 2011 at 10:36 am

Disagree. A minimum age of consent makes sense in many cases to minimize exploitation. Sex acts, for one. Contracts for property, goods, and labor (e.g., if a 5 year old inherits real property, should a slick talker be able to get him to sign on the dotted line and sell?). Voting — a large family could troop their young kids to the polls and cast a large number of votes, especially in small local elections.

The line is inherently arbitrary but it has to be drawn somewhere. I’m not worried about the 20 year olds drinking but I am worried about the 5 year olds executing deeds for real property.

nailheadtom December 15, 2011 at 11:38 am

Arbitrary lines drawn somewhere are the real problem.

nailheadtom December 15, 2011 at 11:48 am

Why would you be worried about that? If you have a 5 year-old that stands to inherit your wealth, wouldn’t you make some provision to protect those assets for him? The age of consensual sex varies from one culture to another and every member of the culture involved has a pretty good idea of what’s right or wrong without instructions from some politician or guy with a badge, laws are, after all, a distorted reflection of mores. Since voting is basically validation of political corruption, it wouldn’t matter if pregnant mothers were allowed to cast a ballot for their unborn.

Methinks1776 December 15, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Voting — a large family could troop their young kids to the polls and cast a large number of votes, especially in small local elections.

Well, the dead vote, so why not kids? Seriously, though, I thought the reason we don’t let kids vote is for the same reason we don’t let them sign contracts.

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm

The difference is that those few incidents would be played up to infinity by the press and those “heartless” libertarians would be blamed.

GiT December 15, 2011 at 3:25 am

But what lesson do we draw from this?

That everyone should have a right to do anything regardless of their competence, or that people should only have certain rights if they are competent to exercise them?

nailheadtom December 15, 2011 at 9:33 am

I was pretty competent at drinking beer when I was 16.

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I agree but you have to draw a line somewhere. I would like to see a three tiered system. At 15 you are an official teenager, and you have a few rights and responsibilities, some of them pursuant to your parent’s permission, (such as driving). you would gain a few rights each year up to the year twenty.

At twenty, you would be a full adult with all rights and responsibilities.

21 in my view is a bit asinine.

Fred December 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Hobbits don’t “come of age” until 33.

I don’t think that’s a half bad idea.

Chucklehead December 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Cannabis products could probably be legalized without much negative effect. There are some drugs, perhaps meth, that may induce a violence that society may legitimately wish to control, and may choose government as the vehicle to control it.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm


Sam Grove December 14, 2011 at 11:58 pm

I don’t think meth induces violence per se, rather, it cranks up the volume, so to speak. Someone with anger issues will anger more easily on speed, but some people are like that with alcohol as well.

Obama, the Jackasses' Best December 15, 2011 at 12:04 am

That’s right. Guess who is on methamphetamine?

Caleb December 15, 2011 at 12:46 am

Just me, or has it gotten really trolly here lately?

Lord JMK December 15, 2011 at 2:58 am

So who says there is no Keynesian multiplier. We are producing them night and day here at the Center for American Progress.

SmoledMan December 15, 2011 at 12:49 am

I say legalize all the hard drugs and let the losers weed themselves out! Sell crack in the local drug store!

Economiser December 15, 2011 at 10:37 am

Hah, weed!

Hal_10000 December 15, 2011 at 1:50 am

Incidentally, with regard to the cost of treating addicts. Chris Christie just expanded New Jersey’s drug courts because treatment has a far lower rate of recidivism and costs a fraction of what prison does.


Peter McIlhon December 15, 2011 at 4:21 am

The U.S. government makes a whole lot of money trafficking illegal drugs in America. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard. I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but if that was true, legalizing drugs like cannibus and cocaine would render government leverage on trafficking obsolete.

Tor Munkov December 15, 2011 at 4:39 am

Swing and a home run. U.S. Intelligence and Military bullies (rogue of course) are believed to have a nearly worldwide monopoly in allowing or stopping the flow of contraban everywhere now unless they get their consideration.

Tor Munkov December 15, 2011 at 4:45 am

The American Way is to produce the whole gamut of things science can arrange chemicals into and make them available to anyone, even eight year olds, as long as they can buy them with their own hard earned money.

There is no compromise available. Either you believe in praxeology or you believe that chemicals are ruling this earth.

Children are things that suckle in the arms of a mother, once they self-ambulate and earn for themselves, they require the same liberty as any other animal to develop properly.

There is no greater evil than the false gods who prevent kids Sapien-hood. As animals in zoos are no longer animals. So to are Homo Domesticus under law and forced bondage no longer human.

Have a heart and consideration for the victims that American youth surely are. A stunted and mutated travesty idiotically surrendered to crony concentration camp counselors.

Consider the achievements of Greece. Slaves, Nudity, Drugs, Sex, nothing was forbidden by the state, but only by unanimous consent within communities. Only yesterday, Menger and Mises rediscovered something common knowledge to all of them, the science of praxeology.

Ken Royall December 16, 2011 at 3:22 am

I take it you don’t have any children? As a father of two who has worked hard to keep his kids away from drugs, I really don’t want to see a heroin store open up at the strip mall down the street. It will never happen, get used to it.

Tor Munkov December 16, 2011 at 6:12 am

Swing and a miss. Actually I do, collectivist drone. I grew up in a high school where well over 50% of the class used marijuana and hash. 70% used tobacco, maybe 10% used cocaine.
Having worked a full time job 3 months of the year since the age of 6, I certainly had plenty of money and parental license to do whatever I wanted with my earnings.
I’ve never even smoked any substance including tobacco ever. In social situations I’ll sometimes order a drink when pressured, but I don’t really imbibe. No one in my family is attracted to manufactured consciousness alteration of any sort, YMMV.
I’ve rented to a few dozen heroin users in my life, and they actually seem to be of above average I.Q. and wealth than the average oddly enough.
In my mind, the idiocy of hard drugs is exactly equivalent to skydiving and bungee jumping idiocy, both of which are perfectly legal.
Freedom takes a lot of work, you are patently lazy and bully-reliant. May your numbers decrease.

Libt December 15, 2011 at 7:34 am

Most people here are only talking about children and drugs. Last time I checked the war on drugs also banned adults from taking them. I suspect the reason the “for the children” argument is used so often is that many people really do see the state as the parent and the citizens as its children. For all the government children here: GROW UP !!!

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm

It is just an over used excuse to continue to try top down liberty-free “solutions” .

Tor Munkov December 16, 2011 at 6:18 am

Yes, it is only zero liberty tolerance which will solve the problems of humanity. No humans, no problems.
Once you win a war on x, which is inanimate, you open the reductio ad absurdum floodgates to x2 through x999999 enemies which logically conclude in self-righteous trenchcoat dystopias of the Wachowski’s The Matrix.

RPLong December 15, 2011 at 8:31 am

I completely agree with Boudreaux here and feel the same way not only about this issue, but also about immigration. Typical objections to immigration often boil down to “those darn immigrants become welfare cases.” That’s not an argument against immigration, it’s an argument against welfare.

Economiser December 15, 2011 at 10:38 am


kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I really do not think they are the same thing at all. Some Americans are indeed opponents of immigration. But a vast majority are like myself.

We like immigration, but support a change in immigration laws so that there are better controls on whom immigrates and to make sure that the flow of immigration is orderly, with no people preying upon immigrants.

That terrorists, criminals, and people with highly communicable disease are not allowed in. And that when people seek citizenship we give preference to those who actually have education and skills that we need rather than some abused “family unification” process.

Reform does not mean opposition.

Methinks1776 December 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Who is “preying” specifically on immigrants and how are they doing this? I’ve heard this claim before and I don’t understand how this preying is achieved.

I’ll give you the communicable disease on public health grounds. But how do you expect a government not competent to discharge its most basic duties to be able to accurately ascertain not only what skills and education “we” need but what will become of an immigrant after he enters the country.

How can government tell which skills are needed? What education is wanted?

A friend of mine was rejected for a an H1-B visa last year because the government drone reviewing his application judged that he was “overqualified” for the position. The applicant is a person who has multiple degrees and experience in the field in which he was being hired as department head. Yet, the drone with no knowledge of my friend’s very specialized work decided that to reject his application. Does this seem like a good way to run an immigration program?

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm

And, the GOVT system can easily be wrought with corruption.

I’ll give you 10k to find fault with the first 100 hundred applicants to get to my friend and approve his Visa.

Methinks1776 December 15, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Don’t you mean IS riddled with corruption? I think there’s no question that this is the only area where government is in danger of reaching its full potential.

kyle8 December 15, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Because our immigration is mostly now not regulated, there are many people who prey upon illegal immigrants, the so called coyotes who they pay to bring them across are who I was referring to.

Here in Texas we have many horror stories of people dying in locked trucks and being shot and robbed in the desert.

We need to be a nation of laws. I understand that as a libertarian we need to be critical of government power, but some government is necessary. I want more immigration, but it must be orderly and controlled.

A nation that will not control it’s own borders, (one of the few legitimate jobs of government) will see a rash of problems and will deserve the chaos it receives.

I know we didn’t do things the same way in the early nineteenth century, but we also didn’t have international terror, international crime cartels, and nuclear weapons.

RPLong December 16, 2011 at 6:00 am

Your whole “prey” scenario is caused by immigration regulations that are too tight. If it were easy to get into the USA, no one would die locked in a truck. It only happens because entering the USA is prohibitively difficult.

I think it’s insane to turn people away at the border if they have a disease, just as I think you shouldn’t be locked out of City Hall if you have AIDS.

Letting people in based on what “skills” they have is remarkably vain, but it is also a good argument against minimum wage laws. You’re not worried about “low-skilled people” (unless you’re a bigot). You’re really worried about droves of unemployed people. This unemployment would evaporate in absence of minimum wage laws and payroll taxes. As Mises pointed out, The ‘natural’ rate of unemployment is a product of the welfare state.

Newt Represents The GOP Best December 15, 2011 at 8:40 am

your are absolutely right

the only gov’t service should be carts that go through our neighbor hoods with loud speakers calling for people to throw out their dead.

we have made no progress in the last 2000 years whatsover by taking better care of our children, sick, or elderly

bcm December 15, 2011 at 9:20 am

“we have made no progress in the last 2000 years whatsover by taking better care of our children, sick, or elderly” – I see what you did there. A little sarcastic humor! You’re right, in the past 2000 years we’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve learned how to legislate prosperity, write better laws which prohibit poverty and violence, and appoint the right nameless, faceless unelected beauracrats to care for the sick kids and elderly with money taken from others at gunpoint, and we’re all the better for it!

Gil December 15, 2011 at 11:17 am

No, people should be able to bury, cremate, eat or whatever they want to do with their dead relatives.

Jeff Neal December 15, 2011 at 11:48 am

So, since you and I know that progress has been made since the bring out your dead carts were improved upon, please explain why you think (a) the government is responsible for some significant portion of that progress and (b) why you think freedom is responsible for a significantly smaller portion.

After answering those 2 questions, ponder this one. Is it merely a coincidence that substantially all of the progress that has occurred (progress defined as minimization of human misery and maximization of human comfort — not the elimination of the former and an endless supply of the latter) happened in communities/nations/societies that were inhabited by free men and women. Rephrased, allowing for the fact that there are degrees of freedom, if you graph on a line-chart the degree of freedom on the Y-axis and progress on the X-axis, you will see line sloping upward from left to right, yes? Is that a coincident?

Lastly – Regardless of how you answer those questions (there is ONE true answer, but not sure you are ready to admit the truth) . . . IF you allow that ANY of the progress is attributable to freedom, how are you able to determine with such certainty that more freedom would not have produced and will not in the future produce more progress? And, since you’ll say “I never said that!” I will preemptively say “yes, you did, otherwise why are you for more government in the name of human progress?” More government means less freedom, so unless you are for more government for its own sake (as opposed to being for it b/c you are for progress, as you claim you are) your preference for more government means you have concluded that more freedom will not work.

I disagree and ask that you give the people who agree with me a chance try the pursuit of progress our way. We won’t outlaw your way; you can form whatever association or club you want that can pool its constituents resources to pursue collective progress, you just can’t have the monopoly that a body which writes laws I MUST OBEY would possess. Try it your way without the guns and jails that keep me from trying it my way.

(an edited/improved version of this will appear shortly on http://www.athirdvoice.wordpress.com)

Griff December 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I take exception with your post, specifically, “people today impoverish themselves and their families by abusing…(perfectly legal) animal fat”. First, animal fat is not a culprit (I thought you had read Taubes). Second, the nanny state has in places made certain fats illegal. Otherwise, great post.

Dan J December 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm

But, it’s not their fault. They were born unto parents who did not raise them properly or born into poverty. GOVT must equalize things.

Ken Royall December 16, 2011 at 4:01 am

In a civil society, we all agree there needs to be some limits on freedom. Without those limits, there would be no freedom at all as we would spend all of our time fending off others who would harm us and steal our property.

So, we have rules against assault, murder, theft, etc. Primarily things that impinge on the rights of others. So the question becomes does drug use/abuse belong in that category? Yes, at least in the way it is practiced.

The average drug ABUSER is not a model citizen. Along with his drug habit comes behavior that certainly does impose obligations and impositions on others. He steals to support his habit, he abandons his kids, he drives while impaired and kills someone, he puts his family, friends, employer through hell, these are a few common examples that happen every day.

The Libertarians would say leave him and his kids to die in the street. Realistically, we know that is not going to happen. So, he and his kids will end up in “the system” somewhere and our money is going to be spent dealing with the problem. Let’s not lie to ourselves.

So does the relatively minor imposition of *not* being allowed to use hard drugs outweigh the societal toll of basically promoting the idea through legalization? No. That is why recreational drugs are illegal. There is no real “good” to outweigh the bad, only one bad being traded for another that is worse.

Making heroin, meth, cocaine and PCP available on every street corner is not going to end illegal behavior related to drugs, but it will sure as hell increase the social cost of dealing with them. The war on drugs has failed in the same way the war on murder has failed. We have yet to achieve total abolition and never will. That standard, which is employed often by those advocating legalization, is absurd on its face.

Sam Grove December 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

In my opinion, you are quite mistaken.

Your rational faculty is likely clouded by your emotional responses to the politically induced drug problem.

Ken Royall December 24, 2011 at 4:19 am

Thanks for the unsolicited psychoanalysis but you didn’t really make any rational counterarguments.

Hal December 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm

The average drug ABUSER is not a model citizen.

In other words you are a completely dishonest hack. This is the standard logical fallacy of composition where you focus on a tiny minority of a group (in this case the tiny minority of drug addicts in the huge population of drug users), then dishonestly generalize to the entire population.

The average drug user on the other hand is is a model citizen the same way the average alcohol user is a model citizen: both go to work, both pay their bills, both live peacably with their neighbors, etc.

He steals to support his habit, he abandons his kids, he drives while impaired and kills someone, he puts his family, friends, employer through hell, these are a few common examples that happen every day.

The same is true for an alcoholic, yet I’m sure even a weak thinker like you recognizes the stupidity of alcohol prohibition.

The Libertarians would say leave him and his kids to die in the street.

Yet another dishonest statement. Your claim is that drug use has the potential to ruin someones life, therefore you’re going to pre-emptively ruin their life by incarceration and a criminal record (don’t forget that jail time is government imposed abandonment of their children). The reality is that drug prohibition clearly does far more damage than legalization, the same way that alcohol prohibition clearly did far more damage than legalization. And all in the same ways: corruption, the militarization of police, the errosion of civil rights, the rise of violence (since now no one can peaceably settle difference in a court of law), dangerous and questionable methods creating the substance that do not happen with legal regulated substances, etc.

the relatively minor imposition of *not* being allowed to use hard drugs

The strength of the drug cartels, cartels which could not exist without drug prohibition, could not be considered “minor”. The same can be said of other countries (like Afghanistan and poppy). On the domestic front we have essentially rogue elements of police that are sanctioned by willing fools such as yourself because they are part of “drug enforcement” divisions or agencies. These people routinely and unaccountably trample civil rights and kill people (see Juan Guerena, Rickia Russell, Cheye Calvo, or simply google “botched drug raids” or read The Agitator), all without accountability (none of the police perpetrators who killed Juan, crippled Rickia, or invaded Cheye’s house were prosecuted or even censured).

Making heroin, meth, cocaine and PCP available on every street corner

They are all ready readily available and our society still stands strong.

The war on drugs has failed in the same way the war on murder has failed.

Everyone understands the need to keep murder illegal. However as more and more people see the damage done by drugs, particularly through political, legal, and police corruption, fewer and fewer people think that jailing peaceful adults is pretty stupid, dangerous and incredibly expensive.

That standard, which is employed often by those advocating prohibition, is absurd on its face.

Henri Hein December 24, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Right on, Hal.

Hal December 24, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Edit: However as more and more people see the damage done by drug prohibition,…

Henri Hein December 24, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Your ability to pack fallacies into your paragraphs is impressive. This one stood out:

“Making heroin, meth, cocaine and PCP available on every street corner is not going to end illegal behavior related to drugs, but it will sure as hell increase the social cost of dealing with them”

So you admit that prohibition increases the social cost of drug use, yet you want us to accept this as an argument against legalization?

The best way to decrease the social costs of drug use is to get the drugs back into the pharmacies where you have visibility and some level of control, such as not selling to minors. In other words, legalize.

Tor Munkov December 27, 2011 at 12:15 pm

To a Common Drug Pusher

BE composed—be at ease with me—I am Tor Munkov, liberal and lusty as Nature;
Not till the sun excludes you, do I exclude you;
Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you, and the leaves to rustle for you, do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you.

Young hustler, I appoint with you an appointment—and I charge that you make preparation to barter goods worthy in my mind of exchange,
And I exhort that you be patient and perfect till I consent to transact.

Till then, I decline your offerings with an honest discerning look, that you may better discover an actual unease you might someday allay.

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