Family Values and the ‘War on Drugs’

by Don Boudreaux on February 3, 2012

in Civil Society, Dinner Table Economics, Law, Myths and Fallacies, Reality Is Not Optional, Regulation, Seen and Unseen

Here’s a letter to Washington, DC’s, WTOP Radio:

During today’s 11am hour you interviewed a Nevada GOP official who listed “strong enforcement of drug laws” as a “family value.”

His claim is questionable.  Consider this observation by Pepperdine University Professor James Q. Wilson, a noted conservative and explicit proponent of the ‘war on drugs’: “Prohibiting the sale of certain commodities provides economic opportunities in which young males have a comparative advantage, and this in turn leads to the emergence of a warrior culture that underinvests in family life.  Economic activity is separated from family maintenance and organized around capital that can be seized by predation.”*

Regardless of any other demerits or merits of the ‘war on drugs,’ the case that waging that war promotes family values is more flimsy than drug warriors suppose it to be.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

* James Q. Wilson, The Moral Sense (New York: Free Press, 1993), p. 175.


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