Monday, March 26, 2012


"We are a drug-habit Nation and alcohol is only one of the many kinds that are being used to excess."
-Dr. Harvey Wiley

Drug Addict
When I wrote about the war on drugs last, it was to try to destroy a false argument against outlawing drug use, the "its not working" law, which is irrelevant to legal structure. It sounds impressive until you look at this objection more closely, and then it falls apart as mere sophistry: emotionally appealing but without logical merit.

Peter Hitchens, the brother of Christopher Hitchens, is a journalist and a writer, although less acerbic than his brother was. Like his brother, he's very intelligent and was raised under what was probably the finest education system on earth in the English Public School system. While he's not as frighteningly brilliant as his brother, he's still quite intelligent, learned, and well-traveled for many of the same reasons.

However, a few years back, Peter Hitchens had a change of heart and moved away from the far left his brother flirted with his entire life, and today has a much more conservative perspective. He's written a book The Rage Against God about his life and why he changed and I recommend it highly.

On his blog, Peter Hitchens wrote about various subjects touching on a debate he attended, but one thing he brought up which I'd not considered enough before is this idea:
First I blamed drug-takers for their own actions, and also blamed them, and their hedonistic selfishness, for the disasters which have befallen the narco-states, disasters about which that very good man Ed Vulliamy is rightly incensed, though I don’t share his solutions.
All that violence, all those evil regimes propped up by drug money, all those drug cartels, and all the bad things we associate with drug trafficking and drug use come about because people use drugs. Everyone is swift to condemn the mistakes and cost of fighting the drug trade, everyone points to the war on drugs as a failure and the violence as a result of outlawing drugs but nobody wants to look at the root cause.

Were people not inclined to take drugs there would be none of these negative effects. Do you know why there's no violence, theft, brutality, and no regimes propped up on the Brussels Sprouts trade? Because they taste awful and almost nobody wants to eat them. There's no profit in selling them.

If people didn't use drugs - self destructive and foolish at best - then there'd be no demand, no profit, no drug crime, no drug cartels, no drug violence, and no drug-based narco regimes. The core cause of all of this is people using drugs. Blaming cops for costing a lot trying to stop crime is like blaming the garbage man for how bad your trash can smells because he opens it up. The drug laws aren't the problem. The war on drugs isn't the problem. The law enforcement aren't the problem (although they do have problems in the war on drugs). The drug gangs are a serious problem but they aren't the cause, they are a response to the problem.

Its people using drugs. Don't blame everyone else, junkie. Blame yourself. This is entirely voluntary, nobody is forcing you to use this crap and ruin your life. Nobody needs to start taking cocaine or smoking pot. Nobody has to feed the drug trade, they do so because they choose to.

I know life is hard. I know heroin can make you feel neato for a while. I know you want to escape. Read a book, take a walk, play with your kids, focus on doing your job well. Go to church, whatever. That's what most people do, they don't hide in a crack pipe like a baby and whine at the world. Stop feeding this trade and it goes away. Its all your fault.


Eric said...

You are correct that markets can only be created when there is a demand for a product, but the individuals supplying those markets still have to CHOSE to engage in violence and racketeering, and they are the ones responsible for those decisions.

For any product, it shows responsibility on the consumer's behalf to inquire about the origins and ethics of its production (and you can be sure that some buyers of illegal drugs do ask such questions, especially in regards to marijuana), but ultimately the lion's share of the blame for any immoral act must be layed upon the person who commits it.

And, it's worth noting that much of the violence surrounding the drug trade is either a by-product of the drug dealers' attempts to protect their product in the absence of legal franchise, or a by-product of operating outside the social and ethical confines of civil society. Legalization would help address both of these problems.

Alex VanderWoude said...

I suggest that, notwithstanding your point in this post, we can reach some conclusions about the effectiveness of our society's response to illicit drug use. By pretty much any standard the "War on Drugs" approach is a dismal failure -- if anything, it has exacerbated the problem, much like Prohibition made organized crime much stronger. Of all the things we could have done to reduce the public appetite for recreational pharmaceuticals, that approach was perhaps the worst.

So while I accept your contention that it is demand that drives the market (obviously), we should not use that to white-wash the power-grabs and liberty reductions done in the name of "the chiiiildren".

tim said...

“Because people use drugs“, indeed. That’s it right there, the “root cause” as you say. Forgetting the why’s, let’s agree that since man has inhabited this earth, he has sought out the ability to temporally alter his perception of reality. That’s a undisputed fact. Now just because you may not agree with such behavior it’s still indeed true. One cannot simply ignore or wish away, or suggest they read a book or attend church, to make that behavior go away.

Let us also agree that nothing, absolutely nothing can ever be done about that. Nor should it. Unless you agree the government needs to save us from ourselves in various other examples. From over eating, to base jumping to having a couple of beers. Outlawing everything dangerous to individuals is pure fantasy. And is completely at odds with Conservative values of individual freedom and a less intrusive government.

Drugs are no different than any other economy. There are the consumers - the users, the distributors- the dealers and the manufacturers- the cartels. Like any product the consumer drives the market. People demand product, government makes product illegal and now you have a black market. Demand is not eliminated. Behavior continues. The only thing changed is how the way the product is sold and who controls that.

If people are the “root cause” of the drug trade, than what is the “root cause” of the cartels? Only the demand? That’s simplistic.

Example, what if the government made…let’s say, for the sake of debate…guns illegal. (Couldn’t happen, right?) People would turn to what to get a now illegal gun? That’s right, the black market. Who’s to blame for that scenario, the consumer or the entity that drove that consumer to the only available source for their product?

Everyone knows, including you who seems to concede, that the War on Drugs is a failure. However, I do agree with you when you stated in a earlier post, that laws are meant to punish not necessarily to eliminate behavior. But do we not take at look at something after we’ve failed for so long? Do we keep spending money and go deeper in dept to “stimulate” the economy? Do we continue to spend trillions on entitlements and ignore that it’s bankrupting us? Do we keep proclaiming Islam is a religion of peace and just continue to stack up the bodies?

It’s a complicated issue, more complex than your post or my comments. My position, which use to be legalization, is in fact evolving to something closer to the status quo. But the problem is that drugs are not simply Meth or heroin, evil and destruction no doubt. Who’s to say smoking a joint is any more harmful or dangerous as a couple of beers. Some senator in DC who can’t manage to spend all of our money and thinks healthcare is a right? And what about the most abused drugs currently - prescription drugs. What should we do about those, outlaw them too?


Christopher R Taylor said...

I think the assertion "Let us also agree that nothing, absolutely nothing can ever be done about that. Nor should it." deserves greater defense and support than you give it.

There are more ways to deal with a societal problem than laws from the federal government.