L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 301, December 19, 2004
Happy Ngu Year!
Exclusive to TLE
Please turn off "Traffic" before reading this. While you are at it, turn off "Law and Order". You probably hear a lot about the War on Drugs. You watch many movies about the noble drug warriors. They bust drug dealers, destroy their product, and generally kick rear end.š These are really war movies, if you think of it. You used to see many films about WWII, Korea, Vietnam... Well, these are War on Drugs war movies. Today, I am going to show you the unedited footage: the Drug War they don't show you on CNN, BBCor Fox News to that matter. Get any children away from the screen; grab your Valium (if they didn't ban it while you weren't looking), and start watching.
The first scene is in a prison. Hundreds and hundreds men and women in orange jumpsuits file by. Who have these people hurt? Nobody. You probably don't know that but over 1,500,000 people are arrested each year for drug offensesnot for hurting anyone, but for owning, using or selling an illegal substance of some descriptionmore than double the amount of those arrested for violent crime. The prison population is broken down in a similar fashion, Think of it for a momentthere's more people behind bars for what is essentially a victimless crime than for attacking, robbing or killing their fellow man. Look at those people as they file on. And think: why should they be in prison? Do you drink? Only coffee, you say? Well, officially, caffeine's ability to cause dependency is far more potent then that of marijuana and alcohol is far more potent than both. Do you see that guy with the long hair and the tattoos over there? He is serving time for growing marijuana and smoking it with his friendsmanufacturing and distributing. Asset forfeiture, zero tolerance, and minimal sentencing did wonders on him, his family, and his future life. When he gets out, he will be a convicted felon. He will not be able to, say, buy a gun to defend himselfš - even though some people who drink can do so. He won't be able to be a teacher, and maybe even voteeven if he never touches a joint. And he probably doesn't have any house anymoredid I say asset forfeiture?
Let us come to the bank now. The helpful clerks will tell us that just in one year, 750 million dollars were seized in America. The authority to do this comes from the War on Drugs. You tell me that not all the people who had their money seized are drug suspects. Maybe. We will never know80% of them were never charged with any crime whatsoever. While we are at it: illegal drug abuse costs America 97.66 billion per year. Sixty percent is due to drug-related law enforcement and 3% due to victims of drug-related crime (which is as much a consequence of the Drug Wars as bootlegger violence was a consequence of the Prohibition). Therefore, the cost of fighting the Drug Wars is 61.52 billion per year.
Speak of fighting; the next stop is the morgue. Annually, about 10,000 people get killed in America. According to some, about two thirds of that numbers are casualties of the Drug War: dealers fighting each other, victims of people addicted to drugs who kill because that's the only way to fund their diseasebecause what do you think the War does to drug prices? NYC, Detroit, Washington DC... need I continue? And the battle rages on. In Thailand, Columbia, Mexico, Afghanistan government soldiers massacre protestors, drug users and marijuana farmers alike. Only in 2003, thousands of people were killed in the Drug Warand nobody cared. Nobody noticed. In some cases the US government and its European allies trained, aided and armed the murderers.
Now, let us shift locations. Now it is Tel-Aviv, Israel. A new war is waged on the streets today, and it is not that of terrorismthe crime families are fighting for the markets, with innocents often caught in the crossfireand the police are helpless. They admit it freely. What do they suggest? Give the cops more money and access to the military's elite unitsbreak down some doors, shoot some drug dealers, haul the survivors off to Abu-Kabir Prison. Somehow, nobody wonders at how the units are supposed to be doing their real jobstopping terrorists. (Obviously, terrorists run their own drug operations and profit from the rising drug prices.) While we are in the shooting and imprisoning deal, why not ban the "Green Leaf" Party from running for office? Can't have them pushing for drug reform, now can we? (The current Israeli Police Chief actually suggested this during the last elections).
Similar scenes are now seen in Russia, where police officers haul off old ladies who supplement their pension (or absence of it) by growing hemp. The poor ladies have survived Stalin and Brezhnevonly to be imprisoned by Russia's supposedly liberal regime. Terrorist gangs kidnap and torture people in Chechnyafinanced by drug money. Corrupt cops imprison people on false drug and gun charges to extort bribes. They seize "drug dealers'" property in order to re-sell it and pocket the money. And, of course, the murder rate is worse than ever.
Finally, what is the sense to employ even one police officer on victimless crimes like marijuana growing, ecstasy possession and so forth, when scumbags like Usama bin-Laden are out there?š
The politicians, of course, care little. They found themselves an enemythe "drug trade". The "drug trade" together with the newer "War on Terror" is used to excuse laxer search procedure, increased police powers, no-knock warrants, gun control lawsyou name it, they've got it. Didn't Bush Mk. I try and paint "assault weapons" as "drug dealers' weapons of choice"? And wasn't the excuse used to procure the helicopters and armored vehicles used against the Branch Davidians a supposed "met amphetamine lab"? And don't you dare oppose that, heretic! You don't want your children to be snorting coke, do you? (I don't want my children to be watching porn movies at age 10, either. Does this somehow magically endow me with the moral right to send combat helicopters to Heffner's mansion? Yeah, I thought so too).
Any law is in part violencenote the use of the word "force" in "enforce". Let's say you had a neighbor who grew marijuanawould it be fine for you to use force against him? It wouldn't, right? So why is it fine for you to hire other people (the DEA) to do it? Now, get this: all of the above and morethe enhanced murder rate, the increased prison population, the reduction in personal liberties and the killings of people by drug cops at home and abroadis paid for by your tax money .