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by Benjamin Marks, Economics.org.au editor-in-chief

The most dangerous thing about taking drugs today is getting caught or sabotaged by government. The alleged solution is worse than the alleged problem.

If government is legally obligated to legislate against dangerous activities, then it is criminally negligent in not banning alcohol, cars and swimming. If it is not legally obligated, but only morally obligated, then its use of force is criminal. The ends do not justify the means. Either way, government is criminal, and should be held accountable as such; to simply change policies does not excuse past crimes. Crime can justifiably be punished proportionately; otherwise stealing a dollar may as well be punishable by death.

There is a huge difference between drug-related crime and drug consumption, dealing or possession: namely, a victim of an unjust act. The supposed victim of drugs is the drug-taker, his friends, family and community. Not all vices are crimes, or victims unjustly treated. The question of crime boils down to: do you own yourself or does someone else? Is drug-taking or suicide a crime because we are government property? Is the person who commits suicide a victim of his suicidal act or a beneficiary? Is a failed suicide an attempted murder?

Many people who take drugs do not intend for it to have the harmful consequences it may have on them. But not all people who take drugs are harmed; many enjoy the benefits it brings despite or without being harmed. There are some things that most definitely do harm people: like the idea that there are no lessons to be learned from Prohibition. Or, for a more materialistic example, the tax office harms those it takes money from; if they do not harm them, then why does the tax office force tax-payers to pay it as if those taxed feel that they would be harmed paying it?

Suppose someone believes that they are the just owners of some land, like the Singaporean government of Singaporean land. If someone appears there with drugs that the Singaporean government makes clear is a violation of their laws and is subject to death, then does that mean the drug-carrier in Singapore can justifiably be killed? No, that would be an overpunishment. His crime is trespass, not drug possession. He could be expelled, but to kill him is an overpunishment. If a neighbour jumps over your fence and smokes a joint, are you justified in killing him? Of course not. Yet that is exactly what the Singaporean, Indonesian and other governments have done. If there was ever a good reason for foreign military intervention by Australia, the murder of its citizens for drug dealing would be it. Dates and locations of when they were going to be killed were public knowledge. In unfavourable contrast, the Australian government was willing to go to Afghanistan and Iraq with confused reasons and without having any good plans or knowing where their supposed targets were.

Drug-related crime is mostly not caused by drug consumption per se; it is caused by wanting to consume a drug which has a higher price because government tries to prevent its ready availability. Also, its scarcity, high price and pressure to hide rather than publicise product to examine its quality means that there is more incentive to mix even more harmful substances in with the drug. Drugs legislated against do not disappear; they remain available, but at higher cost and lower quality. Could government possibly come close to eliminating drugs? This is doubtful. Even governments commonly accepted as totalitarian could not eliminate black-markets and illegal drug use is generally more prevalent in prisons than outside. What makes our government think that they have more effective methods?

It can safely be assumed that government has no hope of eliminating the underground economy. Its failed attempts result in the product being available at higher cost and lower quality. To claim that this basic application of the law of supply and demand is incorrect, is to deny that economics is a science and can be used to justify anything. The supposedly rational and socially conservative supporters of drugs legislation are really unprincipled postmodernist communists and fascists, for they have no scientific or defensible grounds to base their philosophy on and so can have no serious objection to anything.

Legislation against drugs is left-wing and socialistic. Drug legalisation is what free-market advocates should want.

Wanting drugs available without government interference is not the same as wanting drugs available. I want many things to be available without government interference, but I do not want them all. I would go broke otherwise. Legal allowance is different to moral encouragement. To claim otherwise is to say that government morally encourages Economics.org.au, since it has not yet banned it.

Drugs are dangerous, but so is government. Government employees might not take drugs, but erroneous ideas are far more dangerous. Compare the number of deaths of people killed by drugs legislated against and the number of deaths of people killed by government. Those who were victims of government often thought giving government increased control was a good idea, just as those who take drugs at first think taking drugs is a good idea.

It is all strictly analogous with Prohibition and everyone admits that that was a failure. Those who want to legalise drugs, and claim society would be better off for it, are often derided as utopian; but those who want to ban drugs have no success story to go by and only obvious undebatable failures. Who is more utopian?

I am willing to accept that drug-takers and potential drug-takers cannot be trusted, but this is a non-issue when it comes to drug legislation. The question is: Can politicians be trusted? If a politician can be trusted, then he is no politician at all. It is impossible to demonstrate that you trust politicians. I do not deny that some prisoners would do the same thing if they were not imprisoned, but to claim that they consent to the situation because they do not escape or appear to be happy ignores the question of whether they can or that if they do escape, they risk more punishment. Also, they might not have pondered whether escape is possible. There is a huge difference between acquiescence and consent. This is the most important lesson in political science. There is nothing more dangerous than the idea of “tacit consent”. If consent cannot be demonstrated, then it cannot be distinguished from acquiescence or imprisonment and murder cannot be distinguished from suicide. There is no evidence that anyone consents to the government.

Why does government allow pharmacists and psychologists to issue drugs? Is it because some drugs can be useful, even if only as pain relief? Of course. So the only crime of illicit drug-takers is for practicing without a licence. But government should not be allowed to issue licences. Monopolistic licensing systems will tend to be of inferior quality and higher cost than in a competitive environment. This is because they have less competition to contend with and less incentive to improve their standard to outcompete competitors in attracting customers. Again, to deny this is to deny the truth of economic principles. Monopolistic licensing is left-wing and communistic. But we have been through all this before.

When Australian drugs smugglers were hung and imprisoned in Singapore and Indonesia many of their countrymen felt sorry for them. These sympathisers, however, should back up their feelings with some theoretical leverage and activism. To them I say: You are in the right. You have the moral high ground. You have the support of many Australians. Stop doing nothing except speaking sweet nothings. Start holding politicians to account, or at least asking the right questions. We don’t want any more opinion surveys or prisoner transfers or empty reporting. A federal election is coming soon, but I would be surprised to see any political party take a principled stand on anything, as the old joke goes, “The only thing a politician stands for is re-election.” In fact, the Australian drug policy and the Singaporean and Indonesian drug polices are based on the same principles; you can’t be consistent and support Australian drug policy without also supporting that of Singapore and Indonesia. No doubt the principles of these and other political questions will be much debated leading up to the election, and Economics.org.au is privileged to be able to contribute to the high level of intellectual debate that Australia has been blessed with.

Perhaps the most impressive example of this is the concern of the worst Australian of the year, both political parties, the media and the so-called think tanks about the mentally ill. Of course, they all seemed to have missed the little matter that there is no such thing as mental illness, as Australia’s Professor Robert Spillane so clearly has expressed here.

(in order of appearance on Economics.org.au)
  1. Acquiescence
  2. Why Sports Fans Should Be Libertarians
  3. Ron Manners’ Heroic Misadventures
  4. Government Schools Teach Fascism Perfectly
  5. Deport Government to Solve Immigration Problem
  6. The Drugs Problem Problem
  7. Self-Defeating Campaigning
  8. Gittinomics: Economics for Gits
  9. Exclusive Ross Gittins Interview on The Happy Economist
  10. Population Puzzle Solved
  11. An Open Letter to the CIS
  12. Principled Foreign Policy Options: Reinvade or Shut Up and Get Out
  13. WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Political Corruption Exposed!
  14. Feedback please: Is this worth doing?
  15. CIS and IPA Defend State Schooling
  16. A Thorough Review Without Spoilers of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  17. Dead Reckoning and Government: A Proposal for Electoral Reform
  18. Quadrant Defends State Schooling
  19. The MPS 2010 Consensus
  20. Slogans for Property Rights Funeral
  21. Government is Impossible: Introduction
  22. Government is Criminal: Part 1
  23. Exclusive John Howard Interview on Lazarus Rising
  24. Response to Senator Cory Bernardi and the IPA
  25. Earn $$$$$ by Justifying Government Against Anarchocapitalism: Survey
  26. Statism is Secrecy: WikiLeaks vs Economics.org.au
  27. One question the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Greens, the CIS, the IPA, Ross Gittins, Ross Garnaut, Ken Henry, Gerard Henderson, John Quiggin, Clive Hamilton, Tim Flannery, Catallaxy Files, Club Troppo, Larvatus Prodeo, Phillip Adams, Robert Manne, Michael Stutchbury, Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt and Dick Smith are scared to answer
  28. Libertarian Philanthropists Should Exploit Tax Evasion Convictions
  29. Ronald Kitching Obituary
  30. The Minarchist Case for Anarchism
  31. Libertarianism in a 300-word rant
  32. Economics.org.au in the news again
  33. Libertarianism In An Executive Summary
  34. The Banking Bubble Blow-by-Blow
  35. WARNING: Libertarianism Is NOT ...
  36. Would Anything Possibly Convince You that You Are Living Under a Protection Racket?
  37. An Open Letter to Dick Smith
  38. Economics.org.au at 42
  39. "My boyfriend calls himself a Marxist and votes Labor, what should I do?"
  40. "He says if I leave him due to politics, I should leave the country too."
  41. No Booboisie at Gülçin’s Galt’s Gulch
  42. "Hey, Mr Anarchocapitalist, show me a society without government"
  43. The Three Epoch-Making Events of the Modern Libertarian Movement
  44. Government is Criminal: Part 2 - Methodological Individualism
  45. Government is Criminal: Part 3 - Subjective Utility
  46. Government is Criminal: Part 4 - Praxeological Synonyms
  47. Government is in a State of Anarchy
  48. Limited Government is Absolute Government
  49. Why the 2012 double Nobel laureate is coming to Sydney
  50. Exclusive Oliver Marc Hartwich Interview on Hans-Hermann Hoppe
  51. A Critique of the Opening Two Sentences of the "About CIS" Page on The Centre for Independent Studies' Website, www.cis.org.au
  52. An invitation for ANDEV members to the Mises Seminar
  53. Sell the ABC to Rupert Murdoch: Lid Blown on ABC Funding Disgrace!
  54. www.inCISe.org.au, The Centre for Independent Studies new blog
  55. The Unconstitutionality of Government in Australia (demonstrated in under 300 words)
  56. The Best Libertarian Film Is ...
  57. Launch Southeast Asian Military Operations to Free Australian Drug Dealers and Consumers
  58. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  59. Hoppe's Inarticulate Australian Critics: The Hon Dr Peter Phelps, Dr Steven Kates and James Paterson
  60. Vice Magazine Westralian Secession Interview
  61. Sideshow to Dr Steven Kates' criticism of the Mises Seminar: Davidson vs Hoppe on Adam Smith
  62. The Best Australian Think Tank Is ...
  63. Announcing a new magazine to rival Time and The Economist
  64. The exciting new Australian Taxpayers' Alliance
  65. Neville Kennard Obituary
  66. Contrarian Conformism
  67. An invitation for Dick Smith, the IPA and other Walter Block fans to the 2nd Australian Mises Seminar
  68. Westralian mining legend Ron Manners of Mannkal belongs in The Property and Freedom Society
  69. What would Bert Kelly think of the Mises Seminar and Walter Block?
  70. Bad news about the Mises Seminar
  71. Gina Rinehart Fan Club gives big to Australian political education
  72. Sam Kennard wins North Sydney by-election by unanimous consent
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