Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Something is badly wrong here...

Something is badly wrong here ... in America, I mean.  If you've been paying attention, you already know that America has the highest (by far) incarceration rate of any first-world country.  The chart at right shows the total state and federal prison population since 1925.  Note the clear inflection point in the early '70s, just as the “War on Drugs” was launched.

Leave aside for a moment all the moral arguments about drug use.  Ask yourself these questions instead:
Is it worth it?  That is, do the benefits of the War on Drugs (assuming you can even identify any) outweigh even the direct costs (roughly $10B/year, and 1.5M people in prison)?  The benefit that most people presume – reduced drug use – is rather obviously not a benefit that is actually obtained.  America has one of the highest rates of drug use of any first-world country.

Would legalizing drug use be worse than the War on Drugs?  The experience of other countries suggests – strongly – that our society would be better off treating the direct consequences of drug use, rather than outlawing it.  This is actually identical to how we treat alcohol use today, and few would argue that our society was better off with Prohibition.
If you know me, then you know I'm not a supporter of drug use in general.  I am, however, a rabid supporter of liberty, and the criminalization of drug use (and the consequent War on Drugs) is one of the most flagrant abuses of liberty America has ever perpetrated upon its citizens...

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