Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The case for still saying "NO!"

To my libertarian friends who insist that violence will end and federal coffers will be filled when drugs are finally legalized, please check out this letter from the current print National Review:

In his September 21 review of Ryan Grim’s book This Is Your Country on Drugs, Kyle Smith says the author "makes a largely persuasive case . . . that law-enforcement efforts don’t much alter the overall supply" of drugs. Well, let’s see. Under traditional economic theory, if you reduce the costs of production and distribution, decrease the barriers to entry in the market, and simplify marketing and sales, prices should drop and consumption should increase. Why is that not true in this case?

One reason, of course, is that drug dealers are criminals — and if drugs were legalized, they would still be criminals. Even setting aside the moral stigma, no legitimate businessman would dare to sell drugs for fear of tort liability. When you consider how much tobacco companies have to pay in damages, and how much more dangerous than tobacco many drugs are, only a complete and utter fool would enter the business openly. A single judgment from a vengeful jury could wipe out a decade of profit.

So the same criminal gangs that currently control the drug trade would continue to do so, only now they would be dodging the process server instead of the constable. They would still use violence to protect their operations from competition (and tax collectors and tort lawyers), and they would still maintain an extralegal existence based on bribery and intimidation. And yet, whether or not they reduced their prices, they would sell more product, because they could do it without hiding from the police.

In other words, by legalizing drugs, you would take a preexisting criminal organization, put it effectively beyond reach of the law, increase its revenues, and decrease its expenses. Why exactly do Smith and Grim think this would be a good idea?

Alfred J. Duncan
Syracuse, N.Y.

That, mes amis, is the best anti-legalization argument I've heard in a long, long time!

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