L. Neil Smith's
Number 206, January 13, 2003


Drugs {Ahhh!}: A Ballsy Maxi-min Solution
by James J Odle

Special to TLE

"Well ... What would you do about drugs?!!" - something I heard Sean Hannity ask a Libertarian on his radio show.


Anyone who thinks the War on Drugs is a bright idea should read Mike Gray's Drug Crazy: How We Got in this Mess and How We Can Get Out which I reviewed in the May 21, 2001 TLE.

Drug War Addiction: Notes from the Front Lines of America's #1 Policy Disaster, Sheriff Bill Masters.

Chapter: The Drug War Murders: Getting the Drug War You Paid For, The Ballad of Carl Drega, by Vin Suprynowicz.

Also, thoughtful readers should watch the John Stossel ABC special War on Drugs - War on Ourselves which is available from Laissez Faire books.

Readers - feel free to add your own selections.

An Incomplete Understanding

The December 16, 2002 TLE {Number 203} featured a letter from Mr. Brian Gross of which the following is a part:

The Libertarian Party and others have advocated the legalization of drug use. Their argument is activity that harms no one other than one's self should be legal. They also argue that anyone in opposition to this idea is only interested in imposing a moral standard upon everyone else ... The Libertarians also want to discontinue welfare. That would lower more of the costs, except they don't tie the legalization of drug use with the elimination of welfare. They would welcome the legalization of drug usage without tying it to anything else.

For the record any Libertarian who would make the argument that drug use hurts no one but the drug user is being stupid. Of course drug use can - but not necessarily, will - hurt families and impose costs on employers. But these are problems to be worked out within the family and the work environment. We can't solve everybody's personal problems for them. No one can. Furthermore, 'society' has no such obligation.

Returning to drugs, there are problems that are so intractable that asking the government to solve them is like attempting to chop a snake off the head of Medusa. You know, Medusa - Greek mythological character, woman with a head of snakes - chop off one snake, two more snakes grow back in its place? That's what happens with the Drug War. It just makes everything worse.

One of the prime tenets of Libertarian philosophy is that the individual owns his own life. The ultimate test of whether we are free, is if we can do anything with our life that we want. This is the opposite of every other political 'philosophy' on the planet where people are treated to a greater or lesser extent as public property. Even here in the United States. Yes, here in the good ol' US of A, our governments behave as if they 'own' us. That's why they feel no compunction about mandating such things as government schooling, Social Security, etc. Whether we want this garbage or not. Thusly, Libertarians are primarily concerned with relationship between the individual and the government and are pissed off about the loss of fundamental individual and Constitutional Rights that accompany the War on Drugs. Let me put it this way:

Libertarians have no interest in creating a police state for everybody simply because one or two percent of the population might want to do something stupid with their lives.

You see the War on Drugs is fundamentally incompatible with a Bill of Rights respecting government. They're like oil and water. They don't mix. After all, what are the specific methods law enforcement agencies use to fight the Drug War?: 1) Body cavity searches at border crossings when travelers come from countries the government doesn't like; 2) Locking people up for up to three days and force feeding them laxatives until they have their 'movement'; 3) Stealing personal property under 'color of law' using asset forfeiture laws; 4) Drug sniffing dogs crawling all over our vehicles; 5) 'Law enforcement' officers smashing down our doors, trashing our homes, killing our pets and perhaps our loved ones with virtual impunity due to Sovereign Immunity laws; 6) Spying on our e-mails and monitoring our bank transactions on the grounds that we 'might be' engaged in 'trafficking.' You see, the government has imposed regulations that require businesses to report financial transactions involving large sums of money on the grounds that the customer 'might be' involved in money laundering or avoiding taxes. All these activities have received the blessing of our Bill of Rights-disrespecting US Supreme Court.

These are the kinds of activities that transpire in a police state.

If you believe that the Drug War is a bright idea then you think the following are also bright ideas: 1) Drive-by shootings between rival gangs {because criminals can't take their disputes to court}; 2) Economic devastation of inner city neighborhoods {no one invests serious money in high crime areas}; 3) Ruination of inner city schools {gangs take over the schools and terrorize teachers and fellow students}; 4} Crime perpetrated by drugs users to pay for their drugs; 5} Corruption of both law enforcement and the courts as the lure of easy, untraceable money overcomes people's normal, moral sensibilities. Especially if the chances of being caught are low; 6) Gun control laws. The violence between gangs encourages gun control nitwits to push for gun prohibition on the incorrect theory that if we can simply keep guns away from gangs, then gang violence will diminish. We can't accomplish this and it won't; and finally, 6) Using minors as sellers since - if they're caught - they won't spend nearly as much time behind bars as an adult would. These are the unavoidable unintended consequences of the War on Drugs.

Furthermore, since drugs are readily available - even inside prison walls - despite 80 plus years of prohibition, the War on Drugs can only be described as a colossal, expensive, pointless, rights-sapping failure.

The Goal

The gauntlet has been thrown down. We have been slapped in the face with the glove and challenged to provide a 'solution' to the 'drug' problem. OK. I'll solve your pesky little problem for you - to the extent that it is humanly possible to solve it that is.

Since I'm a Libertarian who believes that every adult has a right to fry his brains with whatever substance he can put his hand to, the goal is to create a social environment that will maximize individual liberty and at the same time minimize the incentives for folks to do drugs.


I do not have 'The Solution' that will solve every pesky problem or scenario that can be dreamed up. Neither does anyone else on the planet. Anyone who says he does is a liar.

Drugs are an unavoidable fact of life. People have been using mind altering substances from the dawn of time and they are not going to stop anytime soon.

Any Libertarian solution to the drug problem must be built around the following philosophical principles: 1) Libertarians recognize the right of the individual to fry his brains; 2} Libertarians do not recognize the right of the drug user to shift the costs of usage on to the taxpayer, employer or anyone else against their will.

The 'Solution'

In a nutshell, a Libertarian solution to the drug problem can be summed up as follows:

Shift all the economic costs - or as many of them as are humanly possible - of drug usage right back onto the drug user.

1. Repeal all drug control laws. This will drop the price of narcotics to free market levels and minimize the incentives for criminal behavior.

2. Repeal all laws that require insurance companies to provide medical coverage to drug users. They do this because of congressional mandates placed on business. No insurance company should be required to cover addicts if they don't want to. In America, contracts are supposed to be between a willing buyer and a willing seller and the only role for government is to see to it that contracts that are willingly entered into are enforced. Otherwise, we have indirect socialism.

3. Prohibit the use of taxpayer funds from purchasing medical services and medicines at hospitals or clinics. Regardless, of ones status in life or health, no one has a right to be an involuntary burden to the taxpayer.

4. Repeal all laws that require employers to treat users as a protected class of 'handicapped' individuals. An employer who doesn't want to surround himself with drug fiends is under no moral obligation to do.

5. Repeal all gun control laws. This will increase the risk of engaging in antisocial criminal behavior to everyone, including drug users, who might be tempted to burglary, or robbery to fund their lifestyles.

6. I do not believe in having swarms of public officials "harassing our people and eating out our substance," micromanaging all of civilian life, but I do believe in penalties for being stupid. Here's how this works. Let's say I'm a judge and Mr. Jones is brought before me after a traffic accident. I ask him, "How did this happen, Mr. Jones?" If he tells me, "I was stoned out of my gourd with booze or heroin, your Honor." Guess what. He just tripled his fine, not to mention restitution costs.

7. Implement some sort of 'Scared Straight' program wherein field trips are taken to view human debris {drug users} struggling to survive. Examples can be made of them as follows, "See that guy over there. He fried his brains with crack-cocaine. He'll be dead in two days, whereupon will go and pick up his poor sorry carcass and haul him off to boot hill! See that lady over there - she fried her brains with LSD. Now she feeds herself with prostitution and dumpster diving." You see, just as we must allow a child to burn themselves playing with matches, we must allow drug users to demonstrate the full consequences of uninhibited drug usage on themselves as an object lesson for the rest of us. And if they die in the streets, well what can I say? Stupidity is its own reward. Think of it as evolution in action.

8. By all means - keep teaching children of the hazards of drug use in the schools and in advertisements. But this time, tell the complete, unvarnished truth. No Reefer Madness nonsense.

Of course, Republicans will never implement this plan because it would take balls. The moment they tried to do so, the Democrats would lambaste them for being uncompassionate and heartless. And so, Republican spines - such as they are - will immediately turn to linguini.

Democrats, of course never feel any guilt expressing compassion with other peoples money. They don't really believe we own our own lives and assets in the first place.

OK. You can all call me a cold blooded, heartless bastard, now.

James J. Odle is a splendid fellow who, unlike the vast majority of so-called 'public servants' has a real job in the private sector performing real work, which a real employer voluntarily pays him to perform. He is also a Life Member of Gun Owners of America.


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Laissez Faire Books

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