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Public Policy

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Abstract

This chapter is divided in two sections, both dealing with public policy from an Austro-libertarian perspective. Section 1 deals with the War on Drugs. Most modern societies prohibit the use of addictive drugs such as cocaine and heroin. We contend this is a mistake. They should all be legalized, forthwith, since their usage constitutes a victimless crime. Moreover, most of the evils associated with drug production, distribution and consumption are due to the War on Drugs itself, and not because of the drugs themselves. The War on Drugs is the modern-day Prohibition. And just as it occurred during that tragic era, including the Mafia, widespread murder, poisoned liquor, etc., the same is being repeated now with drugs. But if the same course of action is taken, the same results are to be expected. The only way to effectively fight Cartels and drug-related tragedies, is to decriminalize drug production, distribution, and consumption. In other words, to end this War.

Section 2 consists in a short essay attempting to show how a truly free society would deal with a pandemic such as COVID-19. Mainly through the functioning of the market as guided by the price system and the incentives promoted by capitalist institutions such as private property rights, free association, and non-aggression.

Keywords

  • Legalization
  • Addiction
  • Victimless crimes
  • Drugs

Vices are not Crimes

Lysander Spooner (2010)

This section of the present chapter is based on our paper Futerman, Alan G., and Block, Walter E. 2021. “The Harmful Addiction to the War on Drugs”. Touro Law Review, Vol. 37: No. 1, Article 3.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Miron and Waldock (2010), at 12.

  2. 2.

    According to the Drug Policy Alliance: “The first anti-opium laws in the 1870s were directed at Chinese immigrants. The first anti-cocaine laws in the early 1900s were directed at black men in the South. The first anti-marijuana laws, in the Midwest and the Southwest in the 1910s and 20s, were directed at Mexican migrants and Mexican Americans.” A Brief History of the Drug War, Drug Poly All., https://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/brief-history-drug-war (last visited July 15, 2020).

  3. 3.

    For the claim that this is indeed true, see Block (1993, 1996, 2016), Block et al. (2003), Cussen and Block (2000), Friedman (1992), Hanke and Walters (2016), Block and Obioha (2012); Szasz (1985); Szasz (1992) (hereinafter Our Right to Drugs); Thornton (1991b); Vance (2012); Whalin and Block (2017).

  4. 4.

    If it has any function at all, to which classical liberalism and minarchism respond in the affirmative. For the view that it does not, see Anderson and Hill (1979), Benson (1989, 1990), Block (2011), Hasnas (1995), Hoppe (2008); Rothbard (1973); Rothbard (1982); Edward P. Stringham, Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice (2007); Tannehill and Tannehill (1970), Tinsley (1999). See also Chap. 6.

  5. 5.

    For an attempt to explain why young Italian men, not blacks, were involved in the illegal trade of booze during Prohibition, and their positions are now to a great degree but not entirely reversed with regard to drugs, see Whalin & Block, supra note 497.

  6. 6.

    See Our Right to Drugs, supra note 497.

  7. 7.

    South of the Rio Grande River, these organizations fight the military of many of those nations almost on an even basis, in terms of power. See Ioan Grillo, How the Sinaloa Cartel Bested the Mexican Army, Time (October 18, 2019, 7:39 PM), https://time.com/5705358/sinaloa-cartel-mexico-culiacan/

  8. 8.

    Just like with any other tax, these are resources driven out of the economic system, and therefore, production, growth, and capital formation are decreased, thus generating a negative impact on incomes, wages, savings, and investments.

  9. 9.

    See Alisha Haridasani Gupta, Why Aren’t We all Talking About Breonna Taylor? N.Y. Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/us/breonna-taylor-black-lives-matter-women.html (Oct. 30, 2020); see also Black Lives Matter, Happy Birthday, Breonna (June 5, 2020), https://blacklivesmatter.com/happy-birthday-breonna/; see also Anna North & Fabiola Cineas, The Police Shooting Death of Breonna Taylor, Explained, VOX, https://www.vox.com/2020/5/13/21257457/breonna-taylor-louisville-shooting-ahmaud-arbery-justiceforbreonna (July 13, 2020, 12:36 PM).

  10. 10.

    Gupta, supra note 505; North & Cineas, supra note 505.

  11. 11.

    Sam Levin, Movement to Defund Police Gains ‘Unprecedented’ Support Across US, Guardian (June 4, 2020, 6:00 PM), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/04/defund-the-police-us-george-floyd-budgets.

    Limited government libertarians are ambivalent about this. On the one hand, the police are absolutely necessary to prevent mayhem, shootings, rapes, etc. On the other hand, they contribute to the mayhem they are supposedly created to reduce by pursuing victimless criminals such as drug dealers and users. Naturally, if the latter also engage in other crimes (such as Cartels, which are truly evil organizations), involving victims, that is another issue altogether. But that is not our point.

  12. 12.

    Many of them grow like weeds, need little care, etc., and would be very cheap if legal.

  13. 13.

    Terrorist organizations are often involved in the drug business because of its big profits that help to finance their operations. See, for instance, John Fernandez, The DEA’s Targeting of Hezbollah’s Global Criminal Support Network, Wash. Inst. (Jan. 10, 2020), https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/deas-targeting-hezbollahs-global-criminal-support-network

  14. 14.

    Although only consumption was legalized in Portugal. Glenn Greenwald, Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies, Cato Inst., April 2, 2009.

  15. 15.

    Id.

  16. 16.

    Eating too much chocolate and ice cream is also harmful; it leads to obesity. It is no longer possible to limit ourselves to theoretical reductio ad absurdum. When he was mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomberg actually prohibited the sale of soft drinks greater than sixteen ounces. See Rachel Weiner, The New York City Soda Ban Explained, Wash. Post. (Mar. 11, 2013, 5:19 PM), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2013/03/11/the-new-york-city-soda-ban-explained/; see also Here He Goes Again: Bloomberg Set To Ban All Sugary Drinks Over 16 Ounces, CBS (May 30, 2012, 11:59 PM), https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/05/30/here-he-goes-again-bloomberg-set-to-ban-all-sugary-drinks-over-16-ounces/; see also Sondra Clark, Michael Bloomberg’s Ban on Soda: Where Will the Regulation Stop?, My Heritage, https://www.myheritage.org/news/michael-bloombergs-ban-on-soda-where-will-the-regulation-stop/ (last visited Jan. 27, 2021).

  17. 17.

    Ann Fordham, The war on drugs is built on racism. It’s time to decolonise drug policies, INTERNATIONAL DRUG POLICY CONSORTIUM (June 26, 2020), https://idpc.net/blog/2020/06/the-war-on-drugs-is-built-on-racism-it-s-time-to-decolonise-drug-policies. See also Desmond Manderson, Symbolism and racism in drug history and policy, 18 DRUG AND ALCOHOL REVIEW 179–186 (1999).

  18. 18.

    We write in mid-2021.

  19. 19.

    According to some libertarian authors, this may be controversial, given caveat emptor, but that would be the legal regime under which they would likely have to operate.

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Futerman, A.G., Block, W.E. (2021). Public Policy. In: The Austro-Libertarian Point of View. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-4691-1_8

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