The Church of Kharma Futures

The Rev's views on politics, events,faith, and the world. All content copyright Church of Kharma Future 2007-2015 All rights Reserved

Drugs, The Law and Liberty

Posted by revkharma on May 12, 2009

Over at the Columbia Conservative Examiner, Anthony G. Martin has a thought provoking essay today on the topic of legalization of drugs. His writing has caused me to revisit the issue, and I wish to engage directly some of his thinking.

This is an issue fraught with complexities and dangerous ramifications regardless of which side of the issue you come down on. He endorses the idea of decriminalization. He says, in part:

The war on drugs did not work and it appears to be a major waste of tax dollars and manpower.  Surely we can use this money more wisely.

By decriminalizing non-violent drug offenders and making simple possession a non-issue, we can immediately put the crunch on the vast drug underground, defanging the pushers, the drug cartels, and the drug war lords.

No, this would not solve all of the problems involving drugs, just as repealing Prohibition did not solve all of the problems associated with alcohol. But it would be a start.

He also makes the comparison to alcohol Prohibition in the early twentieth century.  I have still not completely settled my own thinking on this subject, as there are so many ways any choice will  change society and individual lives. In an earlier essay, on Libertarianism and society, I talked briefly about this topic.

I still think the State has no legitimate interest, nor  the right to intrude on the personal behaviour of an individual so long as that behavior has no damaging impact on another, or on society as a whole. The problem here is that as a nation, we have permitted our government to reach so deeply into private behaviour that we have essentially insulated individuals from the consequences of ill conceived behavior. A drug abuser will be provided medical and psychological assistance at the expense of the taxpayers should his own choice damage him. In this way, the very act of individual behavior and choice is a direct cost to those who do not make such a choice.  The proper sphere for such assistance is private charity and/or religious organizations. Thus those who truly wish to help can do so without coercion. Those who feel that someone who makes such a decision should pay for it directly, and suffer the consequences of choices made will not be obligated to subsidize behavior which they have avoided.

Similarly, drug use can be looked at as a neutral legal matter. If society permits unrestricted access to narcotics, an individual can avail himself of whatever substances he  chooses. Should someone, while influenced by such substances, engage in destructive, or criminal behavior then that act should be prosecuted by society. There is still an underlying moral component here. What of the moral impact on the individual who engages in such activity. The woman or man who sells their body for sexual favors may eventually become degraded and suffer psychological or medical consequences. The chronic user of drugs may eventually end up  the classic image of the junkie, passed out in an alley, eventually to die dirty and alone. Should someone not step in and aid them?  If your personal morality deems that essential, then you are within your rights to do so. The difference in a Libertarian society is that the state has no right to coerce the assistance of one individual to aid another. Social ’safety net’ programs which are certainly well intentioned, merely confiscate the rights of society in order to aid one who is seeing the result of individual choices. If the state can not preempt such behavior as drug use or prostitution, neither can it compel other individuals to pay for the consequences of such behavior freely chosen by another.

 

I think this is, yet again, another reason to work for the reduction in size, scope and intrusion of the bloated Leviathan our government has become. By permitting unfettered  intrusion into the sphere of personal behavior we surrender personal sovereignty and empower a controlling government.  As government grows, it will naturally seek additional ways to curtail individual liberty, as expansive government is the natural enemy of personal liberty. By acquiescing to government run social projects, the conservative movement has ceded the field to the liberal expansionists and statists.  Until that field is declared open again, we will not be able to truly determine if libertarian policies are workable. That’s the tough spot in which we find ourselves. Now the question is, how do we , as a society,dig out, and do we really want to?

Several steps are needed, beginning with term limits, and perhaps elimination of political parties which both tend to engender life tenure in office for a select few, at the expense of the citizens who are handed ever increasing bills for a government which keeps power by paying those who will give them votes in exchange for other citizens wealth. The needed changes, and the challenges in bringing them about are topics of interest and thought which I intend to continue exploring.

Keep the Faith

The Rev

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