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Amnesty Intranational

Here’s a letter to the Christian Science Monitor:

To your reader who opposes amnesty for undocumented immigrants – and, indeed, to all who oppose policies to normalize life in America for those immigrants – I ask a question (Letters, May 21): Should President Obama and Sarah Palin be imprisoned?

Both Mr. Obama and Ms. Palin admit to having smoked marijuana in the past.  Smoking marijuana is a criminal offense carrying a punishment of prison time, yet these scofflaws today walk freely amongst us, having violated our laws and paid no penalty for their offense!  And, of course, what’s true for Mr. Obama and Ms. Palin is true for many other famous people, such as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jon Bon Jovi, and Maya Angelou.  More generally, an estimated 70 million Americans, famous and not, have smoked pot, with only a tiny fraction ever being prosecuted and brought to justice for doing so.  The list of such criminals who brashly walk in our midst unpunished for their blatant disregard of our duly enacted laws is very long.

I don’t really propose locking up Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Maya Angelou or anyone else for having used illegal drugs.  But it’s worth pointing out that we in fact routinely grant such people amnesty for their offenses.  Why are poor Hispanics not accorded the same humane treatment for committing “crimes” that are equally as victimless as are the drug-taking “crimes” committed in the past by presidents, governors, celebrated artists, and, quite likely, several of your neighbors and co-workers?

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030


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