Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 509, March 8, 2009

"A bust has become a panic and is
well on its way to becoming a rout."

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The War on the Border
by L. Neil Smith

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Staggering under the crushing burden of two shooting wars in the Middle East, America now finds herself increasingly involved in a third deadly conflict, this one directly south of her border with Mexico. Nearly eight thousand individuals—goodguys (however you define the term), badguys, innocent bystanders—have been killed so far.

Reportedly, this third war, although it is said to have begun as a struggle over turf between Mexican drug gangs, is being waged between those gangs and the Mexican government, which stupidly stuck its nose in when the intelligent strategy would have been to simply police the sidelines, in order to minimize potential casualties among uninvolved non-combatants, and let as many violent gangsters kill each other as possible.

Now I suppose you will anticipate who, according to politicians and the press, the great villain is, in all of this. That's correct, the good old U.S.A. Two reasons are offered for this. (There may be others, but although I fancy myself as sort of a political profiler, I get headaches trying to "think" like a socialist for too long at a time.)

The first reason is that, supposedly, Americans are the biggest drug consumers on the planet. There may be some truth in this: it becomes more and more difficult, every day, to live inside the mess that the Democrats and Republicans have fashioned for us. Chemicals do help, indeed; I prefer tequila, another run-for-the-border import. The Ragnorak del Sud is over territory in Mexican states that butt up directly against California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, making it relatively easy to smuggle drugs into this country over (or under) the border.

More recently, it develops that the second reason that the United States is to blame for this war in Mexico between uniformed thugs and non-uniformed thugs, is that we Americans have all these guns, see? And left to themselves, whenever the damned evil contrivances aren't spontaneously murdering family members up here, they take it in mind to crawl over the border all by themselves and wind up in the vile hands of poor, innocent gangsters whom they seduce into pulling their triggers.

Never mind that there are no respectable facts that support this contention or anything even remotely like it. Mexican authorities support it because it makes them look minutely less incompetent and corrupt than everybody on the planet knows they are. To American politicians it's nothing more than another socialist lie constructed to justify the eventual seizure of every semiautomatic across the country—the very weapons best suited to fulfill the role intended by the authors of the Second Amendment: keeping the government in line.

For what it's worth, I have never known a time in which Mexicans, who, by long tradition, have even less respect for their government and its wishes than we do for our own, have ever suffered any lack of guns. Even if the Obamanistas' claims were true, what about ordinary Mexicans who simply wish to defend themselves and their families and keep them from becoming "collateral damage"? Don't they deserve decent tools?

However the most important fact continues totally unmentioned in what meager coverage the "embedded media" (anybody want to guess precisely where they're embedded?) are giving this nasty little war: it could be ended, next week, with little more than the stroke of a pen.

I'll repeat that for the McCain-Obama voters among my readers: the drug war along the Mexican border could be ended with the stroke of a pen.

With the stroke of a pen.

Remember that the commodities at the heart of this conflict are nothing more than agricultural products, harvested from poppies, coca bushes, and hemp plants. The only thing that makes heroin, cocaine, and marijuana worth fighting, killing, or even dying over is that their value within the market system has been artificially inflated by governments.

Thanks to government, each stage in the production, processing, transportation, distribution, sales, possession, and eventual consumption of drugs is attended by a severe risk of being beaten up, kidnapped, or killed, by government employees, or by the industry's competition.

Increased risks, thanks to government, invariably mean increased prices. Loss of product to confiscation or hijacking alone increases the street value of whatever product remains available. That's why it's so damned stupid to listen to the drug police brag about the way that their actions have raised the street value of drugs. All these self-congratulators have accomplished, in fact, is to increase the incentive for other entrepreneurial risk-takers to come take up the slack.

Outlaw coffee, and it would cost a hundred dollars a cup. On the other hand, make drugs as legal as sugar or salt and they'd be worth only pennies per "serving", removing most of the incentive to produce, process, transport, or sell them. Synthetic drugs would be unable to compete with the natural product. Gangs and governments alike would find themselves fighting over stuff worth one percent of what it is now.

Naturally, it would require an act of Congress (literally) to make a cure permanent, but an Executive Order would do the job quickly and neatly:

For the duration of the emergency represented by the violent and deadly shooting war along the American border with Mexico, all drug prohibition within the United States and its territories is hereby terminated.

There will be resistance. This is a government, after all, willing to poison individuals who drink untaxed alcohol. It is a government willing to shoot down a commercial airliner in the hands of hijackers, killing hundreds of innocent passengers, rather than allow them to carry the means of preventing that hijacking in the first place. It is a government willing to see a woman raped in an alley and strangled with her own pantyhose, rather than see that woman with a gun in her hand.

Likewise, there is a whole drug prohibition industry employing thousands. What would these he-men do without their automatic weapons, bullet-proof clothing, shiny jackboots, Nazi helmets, and goggles? There are a dozen bureaucrats for each man in the field. Add to that a legion of corrupt cops, prosecutors, and judges who would be out of pocket.

In addition, of course, politicians loathe solved problems because solved problems offer no opportunity for them to acquire more power and wealth. Solved problems threaten a politician's job security, by causing constituents to begin to wonder what the hell they need him for.

Many observers believe that drug prohibition began as sop, from corrupt politicians, to gangsters, to compensate them for the 1932 relegalization of alcohol. Deprived of their main source of income, drug gangs will likely resort to prostitution—which could be legalized out from under them—and so-called "express kidnappings", easily preventable by removing every vestige of gun control from our culture.

Robert LeFevre used to tell students that government is a disease masquerading as its own cure. Never was that more true than with this drug war on our border. I'm grateful to my new friend Bill Buppert for pointing out—in his recent article "The Evil That Men Do: Willful Submission To Illegitimate Authority" on*—that what we have here is a problem, the Mexican drug war, originally caused by government drug prohibition, that the government is now threatening to "solve" by imposing yet another prohibition, on our sport-utility rifles.

And what will the unintended consequences of that be?

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, or at


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