Sunday, November 12, 2006

Attention Prohibitionists

I touched on this in my previous post but, over the last few days, I've been thinking a lot about the defeat of the marijuana legalization initiatives in Tuesday's elections. I asked prohibitionists what horrors they would expect to ensue should marijuana become legal. But I can't let it go at that. The more I think about these votes, the angrier I get.

There are many issues that pass the "both sides" test with me -- meaning, I can genuinely see and appreciate both sides of the issue. Though I may not agree with the other side's opinion, I can at least respect it. Issues such as abortion and the death penalty are colored in enough shades of gray to at least make the debate worthwhile. But the issue of drug prohibition and all the misery wrought by the War on Drugs? Sorry, don't get it.

Prohibition is a failure in every way imaginable: nonviolent, harmless people imprisoned, individual rights trampled, militarization of law enforcement, resources wasted, and no discernible benefits: hundreds of billions shoveled at the "problem," and yet interdiction efforts have failed to curtail the drug supply. Nor has demand for drugs been curbed despite the rather clever device of portraying Rachel Leigh Cook bashing the holy shit out of a kitchen.

And so I'd really like to know what went through the minds of the 1,313,617 people in Colorado, Nevada, and South Dakota who voted to keep marijuana prohibition alive. I have some serious questions for the prohibitionists:

1. Why do you expect drug prohibition to work out any differently from this nation's failed experiment in alcohol prohibition? What do you see as the material differences?

2. What benefits are realized by continuing to imprison nonviolent drug offenders?

3. What sea change in enforcement strategy do you anticipate that will lead to "success" where previous efforts have failed?

4. What evidence of prohibition's "effectiveness" leads you to believe the policy ought to be continued?

5. If legalization of marijuana ought not be pursued now, then when? How much longer must the War on Drugs go on before victory or defeat can be acknowledged?

6. How many more people must be imprisoned to make prohibition a "success"? How many more billions of dollars poured into enforcement of drug laws?

7. Given that nearly 80 million Americans admit to having tried marijuana, and that society continues to function despite this, why continue the policy? What's the point?

I could probably think of a million more questions since I'll be angry about this for a long time. What a golden opportunity wasted! Voters had the power to change the course of this nation's despicable drug policy, but no. What a disgrace.

Anyway, I'm interested to hear some answers to my questions. I promise to be civil to anyone willing to discuss his/her vote (or contrary position on the issue).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yeah, But Democracy Still Sucks

On the one hand, I share some of Lew Rockwell's glee over the voters' stern rebuke of the dictator Bush and his wars. But let's not pretend the election results represent the dawning of a new age of enlightened anti-statism. Have you seen the results of the ballot measures? Economic idiocy prevailed with the overwhelming approval of all six state referendums on raising the minimum wage. Each of the three measures designed to liberalize marijuana prohibition was soundly defeated. Five of the six measures to ban same-sex marriage were passed, as if this issue is a political matter to be decided by a majority of voters, rather than something to be worked out and compromised upon by free people away from state interference. And so on.

So here we have the natural consequences of democracy: when issues are put to a vote of the people, nothing matters but the will of the mob majority -- not economic law, not individual rights, not even common sense. And so marijuana prohibition will continue unabated, despite the horrific results and abject failure of the government's War on Drugs.

[A serious question for the prohibitionists: if drugs were legalized tomorrow, what horrors do you think would ensue that would make prohibition (despite the obvious failure and blowback) seem preferable by comparison? I'm asking in all seriousness.]

So yeah, if the 2006 mid-term elections can be viewed as a referendum on the merits of Republican dominion, I'm pleased that the people seem to have humbled the imperious Bush. But let's not get all mushy about the wonders of democracy or the "wisdom of the people" or some other civics class bullshit. The mob may have tossed out the last group of bums, but rest assured that the assholes who take their place will be no kinder to the prospects for liberty. With elections, the only certainty is that no matter which party prevails, it is the state that wins.