I have to admit I’m somewhat fascinated by some of the libertarian’s ideas. I’m not sure I agree with all of them, and I do have questions as just how some of their ideas would be implemented. But it’s tough to fault the philosophy’s constant touchstone of “freedom”.
Recently, I was reading an interview with Newt Gingrich where he spouted the conventional wisdom about “getting tough” with drugs. This was contrasted against Ron Paul’s ideas that the drug war was a “failure” and that legalization of drugs might be a good idea. Many people find this a radical idea. The reality is that prohibition of drugs is a relatively new idea, almost an experiment.
Shortly after the turn of the last century, someone hatched the idea that behavior should be controlled by making certain actions against the law. Criminal law evolved as a means of keeping people from injuring, killing other people or taking their property. All crimes generally had both perpetrators and victims.
There were a few crimes known as “crimes against the crown” where the government, in the person of the monarch, was the “victim”. (Sedition, Treason) Since most (if not all) governments had established religions, there were also religious laws on the books that criminalized activities such as adultery and blasphemy.
We started taking the concept of “sin” and codifying it into criminal statutes. If someone was doing something you didn’t like such as drinking, gambling, drugging, prostitution, or homosexuality, you’d just make it illegal. None of these featured what you might call a clear cut victim, in the classic sense.
Laws of this type have been disasters, by and large, (prohibition being the best example). They don’t really stop the behaviors they are intended to stop, and there’s very little evidence that have any significant effects at all, save for increasing the likelihood of corrupt police forces, creating black markets and therefore huge untaxed profits for drug dealers. To say nothing of drastically increasing the pressures on our already overloaded and ineffective prison system. But somehow they’ve achieved a sort of legitimacy, and for some reason there is a common-sense belief that if something is bad, it should be a crime to do it.
From my point of view, I should have the right to put any substance into my body. If these substances cause me to harm someone else, there are laws to take care of that, and I think that if the police aren’t busy busting pot dispensaries, they’re more likely to apprehend me or stop me from doing so.
The United States will spend over $50,000,000,000 on the Drug War in 2011 alone. I submit that this money could be better spent in a thousand places. Mr. Gingrich, like most people who demagogue the drug issue is that we need to have drug laws to “send a message” to our youth that drug use is bad. Obesity is probably more of an actual threat to today’s youth than drugs. Do we need to outlaw Godfather’s pizza?