THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 206, January 13, 2003
"... PRAEPARET BELLUM"
From Kevin M. Crady's note in TLE 205:
Walt Disney bought 40,000 adjacent acres in densely populated central Florida for Disney World without using any right of eminent domain, public or private.
Disney used several different agents to disguise their identity and purpose, accumulating the blocks of land via a combination of outright purchase and options to purchase. They had, of course, a major advantage: they didn't need a particular 40K acres, just a block in that general area. Thus, alternatives, and no one individual could completely stop the project, although I recall that they paid some very high prices (for the time) for the last properties.
Very few bridges, roads, dams, ... have to go in exactly one place. Options to purchase, with alternative sites, allow social pressure to assist economic forces. One person generally won't or can't entirely obstruct progress.
OTOH, there are times this could be a good outcome: environmental groups could use their ownership of one square inch of land in the middle of the proposed lake to stop construction of the dam.
Lew Glendenning [firstname.lastname@example.org]
re: Transportation companies in a Libertarian society
Why couldn't the transportation companies just fly things over the property in airplanes, hot-air balloons or airships? The property owner might object to airplanes on account of noise, but hot-air ballons and airships would be pretty quiet. The people in L. Neil Smith's Probability Broach travel in airships.
Susan Wells [Swftl@aol.com]
Well Joel beat me to it. I have been playing with an article for about a year, about how I don't like being in bed with those who my personal beliefs have forced me to bed with.
I may be the most hawkish libertarian in the world. It doesn't take much for me to think the country should go to war. (tourist gets robbed in France delete France) But war against Iraq is wrong, Suadi yes, Iraq no.
But damn, there must be millions of libertarians, and conservatives who would be speaking out louder against this war if it weren't for the automatic allies that we want nothing to do with. I can now know how Churchill felt when he had to make a treaty with Stalin.
Like many others I only speak out when I have time to make my position fully clear for fear of being lumped with the communist/socialist/leftist/Democrats. And yes I know that the Republicans are in reality communist party B, but the mainstream projection is opposite that understanding.
I don't know what will be the final place that I'll come down. Hard time to live up to libertarian ideals. I guess most of [TLE] readers are in somewhat the same place. I don't have the answers just the hard questions.
S. Douglas Heard [email@example.com]
re: Debate about ZAP (or NAP) and the definition of a libertarian
I've witnessed much debate on TLE about the zero-aggression principle and the definition of a libertarian. The debate seems to assume that some form the ZAP is the "correct" or "proper" definition of a libertarian. Richard Hammer, in his essay A Theory for Libertarianism, does an end-run around the ZAP and proposes this belief as the core value of libertarianism: "Every human need can find satisfactory fulfillment through voluntary means."
He explains each of the major terms: need, satisfactory fulfillment, voluntary. The result is a one-page, common-sense, effective explanation of the core value of libertarianism.
We could argue that his statement and the ZAP say essentially the same thing. However, I think the ZAP's wording gives many readers the first impression that it's nothing more than another condemnation of physical violence. Only after the reader gives much thought to what is meant by "force" does the reader realize that the ZAP also applies to involuntary taxation, involuntary regulation, and so on.
Hammer's statement is not so easily misread as just another condemnation of physical force. It encourages the reader to consider, what is a "need?" Just what is "satisfactory fulfillment?" And what kinds of "voluntary means" would fulfill one's need for law enforcement, roadways, etc.? I encourage you all to read his essay. It's short and much more eloquent than my letter here.
Bill Rice [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Friends, allies, fellow-travellers,
Over much of the past year I have mentioned to many of you that I've been working on a "large project" that has been consuming copious amounts of time and energy. Well, the project is finally finished and on the 12th Day of Christmas (Epiphany) the payoff is here!
Announcing: A Drug War Carol, the online graphic novella!
From a story concept and some copious research by longtime libertarian activist Susan Wells, I scripted and led a small team of artists (myself, Lloyd W. Meek, and the enigmatic "~3~") to create a visual re-telling of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, with some major -- ah -- revisions: Scrooge is Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Mary Jane Cratchet is a medical cannabis patient, and Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Harry Anslinger, the original "drug czar." And wait till you see the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future!
Please read, and enjoy, and most importantly, remember.
[This is our cover 'toon this issue.]
A response to the response to the responses. ...
Brian Gross has made a few interesting arguments. If I may respond...
Sir, it would appear that the reverse of your arguments apply: How, exactly, does the personal use of drugs financially impact anyone other than the user? That is, unless you count legalized theft(ie; taxes). If an insurance company raises their rates purportedly because of others' drug usage, you're free to find an insurance company that does not cover anything relating to chemical dependency. You're free not to buy insurance if you feel it's not a good value.
Of course, you could take the whole argument to ridiculous extremes, but the fact is, a butterfly breaking wind on the other side of the world will eventually affect you, according to chaos theory. If someone's actions are not having a DIRECT, PROVABLE negative impact on your life, then-frankly--tough. I'd rather be inconvenienced by something that basically equates to random chance than force the world to dance to my tune just because someone, somewhere, might do something that might, through some random combination of circumstances, eventually negatively affect me.
Mr. Gross, if you are FORCED to do ANYTHING, that is not freedom. On that point, you are indisputably correct. We libertarians also call it slavery when one person is forced to support another. However, sir, you are solving the wrong problem. Taxation is theft. Period. Let's stop with the argument about how the robber barons will show us mercy if we just accede to their demands, shall we?
Increased cost for goods and services is A FACT. Costs will increase or decrease according to market value. It is not a matter of force. Things cost what they cost. If the cost of said good or service is, in your eyes, more than the good or service is worth...NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO BUY IT. If you really think that the drug users are driving up your insurance rates too high, start your own insurance company. Or find one that doesn't cover chemical dependency, and then don't do drugs. Don't gamble if you think it's so horrible. Don't have sex, if it disgusts you so much. Sue the living crap out of anyone who pollutes your property. Take charge of your life. True freedom is, indeed, being responsible for your own behavior. Slavery is being responsible for the behavior of others.
OK, let's try to look at the NAP for what it is. What does it say? Basically, it says, "Leave people the hell alone." If your personal morality says that you should not have sex outside of a heterosexual monogamous relationship, not smoke dope, believe in a god, and/or not whistle on a Tuesday, I can find nothing in the NAP that says I have the right to force you to do otherwise. I may have a non-monogamous marriage, give great blowjobs, and believe that religion is for the weak-minded, but that's my business. I'd really like to see a treatise from you as to how abiding by the NAP can "force" anything on anyone.
Hmmm. Organized crime has more or less always existed. They got a big boost due to the prohibition of alcohol. They don't bother with selling alcohol any more. I wonder why?
Let's see-They have distribution networks in place. They can pay FedEx to haul their products. No more paying off judges, lawyers, etc. They will pay their taxes(barf!). Gee, doesn't that sound like R.J. Reynolds, Adolph Coors, Anheuser-Busch, etc, etc? Doesn't that sound like a LEGITIMATE COMPANY? And, though some would consider their products harmful, one that has every right to do business in a free country? They control the supply because it's illegal to trade in poppy and coca and dope seeds. Duh.
For the record, I stopped doing drugs years ago when I realized they were boring. I drink like a fish and smoke like a chimney and fully recognize that if I die from lung cancer or cirrhosis, it's my own damn fault. But I'd like to think I've provided you with some food for thought as well.
John the Bastard [JJTHOMPSON1@attbi.com]
re: Letter from Brian W. Gross
Nobody claims there wouldn't be social costs to drug use, just as there are social costs to any individual choice that affects efficiency, including for example the choice not to work on Sundays for religious reasons. The problem is that with government-provided social services and employment regulations, the choice of paying those social costs is not voluntary. In a free society, I am not obligated to help a drug addict or to employ him (nor to employ the hypothetical Christian above). He will find people who are willing to help him, find a way to work around his addiction, or die. Yes, that death, and his general nonproductivity can be counted as a social cost. But this assumes that one has to "pull one's weight", that one has an obligation to "society" (whatever that is)- in short, that one is a slave to one's neighbors. The ultimate question is: is it my body, or yours? If it's mine, I have the right to choose what goes into it (and accept the consequences). If you have the right to choose what goes into it, then you own it. And Lincoln freed the slaves, they say.
Precisely. The problem is that you are being forced to pay for the behavior. This is a different issue than the behavior itself. The behavior is merely an excuse for people control. In a free market one would not have to pay "increased cost for goods and services", because any firm which incurred such costs by hiring addicts would find itself noncompetitive.
Oh, it IS a morality. And under the NAP, those who think that drug addicts should be supported, or shunned, can do so. Under any alleged "morality" which does not take into account the NAP, we can be forced to "help the addict", either by paying the costs of his addiction or by incarcerating him and his suppliers. This is no charity, as you've agreed above.
Marxism is a morality too, and many Americans object to its being imposed on them. The problem is always "the imposed" rather than the morality. Nobody is waving around guns demanding that you abandon your right to disapprove of drug use.
They wouldn't throw it away, any more than a white-market company would suddenly sell off its assets at fire-sale prices. They would just redirect resources to more profitable enterprises. For example, I'm sure the numbers racket still exists, though I've never encountered it. There's a legal numbers racket now, called state lotteries. The Mob version might hang on with promise of better odds. Likewise, the Mob could import drugs. But as a legal business, it's operations would be under the same scrutiny and competitive pressures as any other legal business. And since the purpose of organized crime is, duh, crime, and the large profits it brings, why would they stay involved in a business which is no more profitable than any other kind of agribusiness? I mean, why isn't the Mob giving ADM a run for their money right now?
Say whuh? I can plant poppies in any climate (quite a number) where they will grow. I can't plant oil wells where there is no oil. If the US government can't keep Americans from growing dope in their basements and back yards, how will the Mob do so?
Jeffrey Quick [email@example.com]
I believe you're missing an accurate perception of just how much the cost of the current drug problem is directly due to attempting to enforce prohibition.
The last time I checked (1), an ounce of 90% pure cocaine bought from the refiner in Bolivia costs from $9.00 to $12.00 US. By the time that same ounce gets to an appartment in Chicago where it gets cut before hitting the street, the price is up to $2,700.00! It gets cut at least two for one with an inert look alike, and the price doubles as well so we're looking at a minimum 400% mark up right there. If it gets cooked into the crack form of cocaine, it gets cut again at least two for one. So that HIV+ crack ho is paying at least $21,600 for the rock equivalent of twelve bucks worth of Bolivian flake.
And that's if she's turning tricks and paying cash for the crack. More often she's got a pimp taking the money and paying her off in rocks. In that case, if she isn't bringing in at least four times her upkeep, she's likely to get the shit slapped out of her. So we're talking about twelve bucks worth of plant extract generating around $80,000 worth of criminal activity on the street outside your window, (if you happen to live in that kind of neighborhood). The numbers are even worse if the crack head is doing burglary to support his habit. High "dollar density" goods are scarce in that neighborhood, a fence isn't likely to give him more than five cents on the dollar for stuff like consumer electronics. So we're talking at least $400,000.00 worth of stolen goods to make a Bolivian wholesaler twelve dollars richer. (2)
That's the economics of one ounce of cocaine from one foreign country. Other countries sell coke too. The total volume of 90+% pure that comes into this country in *one* year is measured in TONS! It generates a river of cash that bribes cops, judges and politicians. It causes "turf wars" in our cities, and finances revolutions in foreign countries. All of it would burst like a soap bubble on a blade of grass if total legalization happened tomorrow.
Would we have more drug users if it were legal? Maybe, but not for long. Some kid trying drugs today experiences the short term rush with no understanding of the long term cost. If people choose to kill themselves with cheap plentiful drugs, the process will take months and cost pennies instead of years and cost kilobucks. It would be a much more effective deterrent than, "you might get caught and go to jail". (3)
Of course we'll never see repeal of the drug laws under our present government. The drug interdiction business is a multi-billion dollar industry and not even the wildest optimist thinks less money is being spent on the drugs themselves. Too many people have a financial interest in keeping things just the way they are.
(1)I haven't even associated with anyone involved in the drug trade for more
than twenty years. Recent newspaper articles have put the street price of a 90% pure ounce of
coke as low as $1000. If true, twenty years of expensive interdiction efforts have actually
increased the volume imported sufficient to drive down the wholesale price by over 50%!
I would like to present some "counterpoints" to Mr. Gross' rebuttal of various respondents to his original post:
I don't think anyone ever claimed there would be NO costs associated with legalizing drugs. But... According to a recent study, gunshot wounds cost the nation about $800 million/year. If even half - and I believe the actual number is probably half-again as high - these wounds are due to drug related activities, there's a saving of $400 million right off the top. In addition, the USA now has a greater proportion of it's citizens incarcerated than any other industrial country - including Russia. A great number of these people are there due to drug "crimes," and thus suck resources out of the economy. Now, add in the approximately $1500/hr of military aircraft drug interdiction use, and however much/hr of Coast Guard ship drug interdiction use, and approximately $150/hr prosecutorial attorney fees, and up to $500/hr defense attorney fees, and $100/hr police costs, and...well, it starts adding up pretty fast. And this doesn't even begin to cost out all the financial institution costs due to required feral banking law reports or costs due to mandated reports by car dealerships, etc. on use of cash, or the costs of maintaining the DEA - all due to the marvelous, never-ending "war on some drugs." (By the way, we do realize all these costs are passed through to the consumers or taxpayers, right???)
Let's not forget "freedom." What valuation can be put on it? I suggest the people on the list remembering how things were in the '50s might think they've been irreparably harmed by the very people who claim to be working "for-your-own-good." (Tried to buy a gun lately? Use cash for a retail item over $2000? Tried to add or subtract more than $5000 from your own bank account? Had your property confiscated because someone else used/sold drugs without your knowledge? Ad infinitum, ad nauseam...but, hey, these are all reasonable, common-sense laws to "prevent crime", nicht war?)
True freedom is being responsible for your own behavior.
And what are the "social implications" inherent in forcing people into some mold that do-gooders have decided is Nirvana? Some, if not most people, are fully functional while under the influence and would be productive members if they weren't forced into criminal status by the "we-know-what's-best-for-you" crowd.
If freedom really is being responsible for your own behavior, I don't have any objections at all to having prospective welfare recipients pee in a bottle to determine their eligibility for same, or for any of the other "services" the various gummints steal money from citizens to support in order to buy votes. That would in turn drive costs down, ref. para. #1 above.
Well, there may be a point here; though I admit to having some difficulty seeing a "leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone" philosophy as an "infliction." As I implied above, if I could have just one wish, it would be that the "we-know-what's-best-for-YOU" crowd would just leave me the hell alone! Go bother some one of your own bent.
Assuming most new users of drugs are teens or pre-teens, it seems fairly evident. The surest way to get anyone in these classes of individuals to do exactly the opposite of your wishes is to tell them "it's illegal" or "you can't because I said so." Now, it's certainly possible that some will not be dissuaded no matter the incentives, but I believe we could all do worse than to take our youngsters down to the local homeless bridge/park/skid row and show them the logical result of not acting in their own best interests. NOTE: I did not say to force them into anything, and I did say their own best interests - to be determined by them. If a (non-welfare eligible) non-functional druggie is their choice, so be it. You did what you could. The only way to control someone's behavior is to convince them they want to behave in that manner. Behavior, in the long term, cannot be forced, unless you're willing to jail them for life or destroy them psychologically.
Uh, well, if you're in competition with everyone else with no built-in advantages, i.e., the willingness to go to jail if caught, isn't that pretty much the definition of "free enterprise?" If drugs were legalized, where, exactly, does "crime" come into the equation? "Organized crime" can only exist where gummint plays the "we-know-what's-best-for-you" card and creates the circumstances wherein crime can flourish. While not an Ayn Rand fanatic, I believe she got this right: "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws." (With the greatest criminal population on the planet [to my knowledge] our gummints certainly seem to be upholding Rand.)
Thank you [to Brian Gross] in turn for your provocation of this discussion! I'm always trying to learn ...
Doug Spittler [firstname.lastname@example.org]
[re: TLE 205]
Why would anyone buy drugs from some violent thug if they were available from a peaceable pharmacist at Walgreens or Osco, probably for a smaller price? Why would anyone want to deal with underworld people if the law didn't make doing so necessary? From whom would a diabetic prefer to get his insulin? Would it be from a vicious thug who'd as soon stab him in the back as look at him, or would it be from a pharmacist at Walgeens with a college degree and no criminal tendencies?
Susan Wells [Swftl@aol.com]