Saturday, January 5, 2013

Economists Say: “End the Drug War!”

Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy are noted economists, both professors at the University of Chicago and both fellows at the Hoover Institution.  In addition, Mr. Becker is the 1992 Nobel Economics prize winner.  In other words, they are both mainstream economists – not fringe lunatics like me.

They argue persuasively for an end to the war on drugs, and for legalization (whether limited or complete) of currently illicit drugs ($WSJ).  Their arguments are the mostly same as mine: the war on drugs hasn't worked at its primary purpose (lowering the rate of use of potentially dangerous drugs), it's enabled a huge criminal enterprise, and the cost (measured any way you'd like, including dollars and the criminalization of private choices) is outrageous.  The only argument of mine that they left out is the moral argument: that government has no right to prevent me from freely choosing to use drugs, so long as in doing so I don't harm anyone else.

Most of those arguing for decriminalization of drugs, unlike me, are primarily motivated by their desire to use these drugs without risking their liberty.  Our politicians know that this group, treated as a demographic, has little impact at the polls and doesn't significantly contribute to political campaigns.  Therefore they get little attention compared with the rest of Americans, who still support the war on drugs by large (though declining) majorities.  So I'm not anticipating change anytime soon, and perhaps not within my own lifetime.  Still, it's nice to see my own position laid out so nicely by mainstream thinkers in a mainstream publication...

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