The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Dopey Government

I came across an opinion piece about drug legalization by Charles Lane at the Washington Post the other day. I am teased with such things on a daily basis because I elected to have the Post send me daily updates. I read the ones with interesting, attention-grabbing, headlines. And then I read (and often participate in) the comments which follow the op-ed.

The bulk of most comments in these stories/articles in the Post  (and, of course, the NY Times, the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, et al) are written by liberal minded people. People on the Left, so to speak. That is to be expected. They are often written by people who haven't thought out their positions fully but who tend to parrot trendy terms and ideas (for the fair-minded, this also happens in the more conservative venues but by those on the Right).

Let's take the article referenced above...

I smoked pot beginning in the the late 60's and for many years afterward. I also used a number of other illegal drugs during that period... even dealing them a time or two. I may not be an expert but I believe I have a perspective that many citizens do not. And, of course, I think that perspective is important to the public debate.

Let's look at one comment to the article:

The one thing that is absolutly [SIC] clear is that, while full legalization of all drugs is not a good idea, putting people in prison for using them is also not good. We need to shift focus to harm reduction, the whole idea of illegal drugs whose use can wreck lives and get people sent to prison is idiotic.

People in peru [SIC] have chewed coca leaves for centuries with very few side effects, making drugs illegal leads inexorably to making them stronger and more lethal.

So I don 't think crystal meth should be legal, except of course the drugs taken from it like Adderal if memory serves. But I don't think you should go to prison for using it either, the sentence should always be some form of community service or restitution, things that stand a chance at reforming people instead of discarding them into the prison system.

The above is a fine example of what I call "biased thinking." I took issue, at first, with the statement about people in Peru and coca leaves. This is essentially true, though there were more than just Peruvians chewing those leaves.
And I think the writer meant "social side effects." It was a way for the natives living and working at high altitudes in the Andes to deal with the problems of working efficiently at high altitudes. It was probably encouraged by the "governments" of those peoples in order to keep them happy and productive so they could support those governments (kings, "royal" families, etc.).

But the author of the comment then wanders off into his biased (and wrong) assumption that the prohibition of this substance caused it to become a problem. That's untrue , as history reveals.  What actually happened was that the Europeans discovered the plant when they invaded the New World (the Americas), eventually (after about 250 years) began to examine it and exploit it. Out of that experimentation came Cocaine. And it was legal and remained so for many years... sold over the counter... for its analgesic properties. 

At one time, Cocaine was even used as a treatment for Morphine addiction (Morphine was also legal at the time and used in a wide variety of OTC medications). Heroin was developed later and also used in the treatment of Morphine addiction, ironically. In other words, the stronger versions were developed during the licit periods of these drugs, not during the prohibition of them. Essentially, the prohibitions were a reaction to the problems that arose from the widespread legal use of them.

My problem with legalization of drugs is not the moral one (I have few morals myself), it's logistic. Let's take marijuana, for an example... Virtually anyone can grow their own. I have... many times. It's truly a weed and it will grow just about anywhere. Even in apartments in the winter. All you need do is to protect the plant from extremes of temperature, water it regularly, and trim it from time to time (this last quite an enjoyable and relaxing  endeavor). Since it can be grown easily (and from a seed), you cannot prevent its proliferation and, therefore, you cannot effectively control its production and distribution. And that means taxation will be a problem. Why would I want to pay a high (no pun intended) price from a licensed distributor that would be taxed (heavily, as alcohol is), adding to that cost when I could... with a little patience and minimal effort... grow plenty for my personal use? One plant could easily supply enough for me and a few others and a few plants can be grown in a small space. Sure, it wouldn't be the high-powered stuff you have been hearing about (though I think that is more myth than true and I don't wish, at this time, to reveal how I know that) but it would be adequate for most purposes.

Remember, laws will always be broken. They only function as long as people, in general, obey them. No law, as no system, is perfect... all have flaws which can be exploited.


Steven said...

I don't understand your next to last're saying it's easy to grow weed, so it should remain illegal? Yeah, taxation could be a problem, but criminalization leads to stuff like this (and about half of the other op-eds Balko's posted since moving to the WaPo).

I think brewing your own beer is kind of analogous - some taxes might be lost, but most people are going to be too lazy to do it (growing weed is probably easier, but stoners are probably lazier xD)

If I'm not mistaken people in Washington state and Colorado can grow some limited amount for personal use.

After writing that I actually clicked the linked article and realized it was the Charles Lane piece that Balko responded to recently. Anyway, I'm not arguing...I'm not sure what argument you're making...but if you read Balko (not, in fact, a liberal - anti-drug war, anti-death penalty, pro 2nd A, pro-capitalism etc libertarian) regularly like I have for years, I don't think you could help but be outraged at what the drug war has wrought. Civil asset forfeiture, SWAT and militarized police proliferation, senseless outrages me, at least. I'm not really sure what the point is, either - to keep people from hurting themselves? We don't stop people from doing other stupid things...and we obviously can't stop people from doing drugs, the drug war hasn't lowered usage at all. Seems like a racket to keep police in their slightly used DoD war equipment, keep seizing cash from motorists, and keep brown people in private prisons.

Douglas said...

You misunderstand, I am not opposed to the legalization of pot... I support it, in fact. But a couple of things I think would happen: the price would go up, not down, and the potency would go down. a result of taxation and government regulation. That's just my opinion of course. Think about the potency of moonshine, for example: stronger or weaker than what's available in liquor stores? I bought bottles of Bacardi Rum in Japan, duty free. They were a $1.50 a fifth. In the states they went for $5 plus.

Potheads are not lazy; they are indifferent and lack any semblance of ambition or initiative. This might deter a lot of them from growing their own but the prices might have the opposite effect.

I suspect we'll see for ourselves within maybe 5 years. But I could be wrong.