A Point Worth Repeating

by Don Boudreaux on January 27, 2015

in Nanny State, Seen and Unseen

One of the most frequently encountered arguments in support of the so-called “war on drugs” is that a society whose government doesn’t actively discourage the use of many or most intoxicating and debilitating substances will inevitably become coarse (perhaps even downright uncivilized) and filled with all manner of distasteful activities and frightening scenarios that threaten the security, property, persons, and peace of mind of citizens.  Yet what can be more uncivilized, frightening, threatening, and ugly than a government addicted to intruding in this and many other noxious ways into people’s lives – all in the name of protecting people from having themselves and their neighbors get high in ways that government officials have divined are unacceptable?

Even if, contrary to fact, the government could succeed at ‘winning’ the ‘war on drugs’ – and even if you believe that government has a moral duty to protect people from themselves if doing so is worth the price by some reckoning – is the actual price paid today to fight this ‘war’ really sufficiently low to justify the alleged gains?

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