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Here’s a clip from the opening salvo in a Letter-to-the-Editor battle over at the Wall Street Journal:
But the drug war also figures in the equation. Nobel economist Douglas North taught us the importance of institutions in development economics. Yet prohibition and the war on drugs are fueling a criminal underworld that handily crushes nascent democratic institutions in countries that we keep expecting to develop. Is it reasonable to blame Mexico for what enormously well-funded organized-crime operations are doing to its political, judicial and law enforcement bodies when we know that Al Capone’s power during alcohol prohibition accomplished much the same in the U.S.? These are realities of the market, of supply and demand and prices under prohibition that no amount of wishing or moralizing can change.
To which former LP presidential candidate David Bergland replied:
1) The price of the illegal commodity is higher than it would be in a legal, competitive, market. High black-market prices encourage low-level crime. Unlike alcohol and tobacco users, illegal drug users commit crimes to raise the funds to buy their high-price drugs. 2) Peaceful drug users, by definition, become criminals, ruining the lives of those prosecuted and thus stigmatized. 3) High black-market drug profits attract the most ruthless and violent criminals to the business. Alcohol prohibition created organized crime. Today’s drug prohibition keeps it going. 4) The illegal drug market corrupts the criminal justice system as cops, courts and prison guards find it hard to resist getting in on the high returns. 5) Law enforcement becomes more expensive for the taxpayer and is misdirected away from violent crime. 6) The products in illegal markets are of lower quality and more likely to contain impurities than they would be if legal, thus endangering consumers. No “truth in labeling” here. 7) Unnecessary illness and death result. Users spending money on high-priced drugs ignore their health. They share needles, spreading AIDS and other diseases. Cancer and MS sufferers are deprived of pain-relieving marijuana. 8) Competition in the illegal drug market is based on violence, not peaceful competition under the rule of law. Thousands of murders every year occur as a result. 9) The War on Drugs is a war on civil liberties. Your property may be seized without trial on a mere allegation that it was used in a drug deal. 10) The Drug War is racist. Although minorities use drugs at about the same rate as whites, they make up a greatly disproportionate percentage of those prosecuted and convicted.
as well as Drug War Field Marshall Mark Souder (R – IN), on the same page:
Mary O’Grady argues that we will never eradicate drug use. One wonders what other vices Ms. O’Grady proposes we surrender to. Child abuse? Spousal abuse? Rape? We may never eradicate any of these crimes either, but that doesn’t mean that we simply give up on them.
Not coincidentally, by the way, all of those crimes, and many others, are frequently linked to drug and alcohol abuse. It’s a tired old canard that drug abuse is a victimless crime.
Furthermore, where is the evidence that legalizing and taxing a substance causes organized crime to disappear? It sure didn’t after Prohibition — criminals just no longer focused on alcohol. Unless everything is legalized, including cocaine and heroin, of course the thugs would merely move to the more potent substances. Where does it end?
Souder answered his own question, but is too stupid to realize it. My message to Souder is that we may never eradicate all morons in office, but we shouldn’t give up on booting his thug ass from that particular congressional seat..