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Michelangelo Posted: Sat, Oct 8 2011 1:26 AM

I am writing some flyers for my local college libertarian club; I don't suppose any of you could give me feedback? They're meant to be quick 'bites' so they obviously lack much substance, but I'm a bit worried they might be too short. At the same time I'm a bit worried they might be too many words to keep the attention of the average college student. Please and thank you.

 

A Libertarian Case for Decriminalizing Drugs

 

The decriminalization of drugs may be opposed due to the tendency of drug users to commit crimes; but let us consider this objection carefully. The reason many otherwise law abiding citizens conduct criminal activities is because they are unable to adequately fund their habit. In principle it is little different from a man stealing bread because he is unable to afford it. The drug user does have one crucial difference from his counterpart; laws have been put into force to increase the cost of their habits. This is especially the case where certain drugs have been outlawed altogether and the user is forced into purchasing them at a substantial premium – and usually for subpar product. In the absence of these laws the drug user would be able to adequately meet the costs of his habit without needing to resort to criminal activity.

This is not to say that there would not still be criminals who would conduct theft to purchase drugs – or indeed criminals who would directly steal drugs. Similarly though there are thieves who steal jewelry, automobiles, and grocery candy amongst other things. If one objects to the decriminalization of drugs because this specific subset of thieves prevails, they must also logically propose the prohibition of jewelry, automobiles, grocery candy, and anything else that thieves might have a taste for.

Drugs may also be object to on moral grounds. Here too though we must be careful on what the objection is. While one may personally object to drug use, they should avoid calling for its prohibition lest they set the principle that the state has the right to enforce certain lifestyles on the citizenry. A conservative may wish that church attendance was mandatory to increase the spiritual health of the nation, but surely would object to the state making attendance of a garage metal concert mandatory. A liberal may wish that the state closed down Fox News because they disagree with the cultural influence it had, but they would be taken back if the state used its regulations to shut down their favorite news outlet on similar grounds. The only way to be consistent is thus to reject using the state to enforce a lifestyle choice. In so far then that usage of a given drugs does not harm others then no regulation should exist to discourage it; and most certainly none to prohibit it.

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I like it so far.  Some other points you could add:

1. The huge cost of the current enforcement despite the fact that it doesn't work as intended (it does not stamp out drug use and has huge other costs).  If these people and resources were not put towards the drug war, they could be employed for productive ends.

2. The fact that drugs are controlled by violent gangs is a result of the prohibition.  There is no violence like this in other industries, nor was there before prohibition.

3. Compare to prohibition of alcohol in the 20s.  The trade was controlled by gangsters.  People drank more and more potent doses due to greater difficulties of procurement.  There were actually more bars in Manhattan during prohibition than before prohibition.

4. Note that until the early 20th century, any drug could be bought and sold freely, yet here was no societal problem with drugs.

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Wheylous replied on Sun, Oct 9 2011 12:59 PM

I think the flier is really good. I do not think that adding the suggestions above would enhance the quality much and would instead divert attention. In fact, I have added the OP as one of my favorites, because it makes the case for decriminalization quite clearly.

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It doesn't feel proper to leave out how drug prohibition has lead to the disasters of the War on Mexico Drugs though or its past failure in the prohibition era.

4. Note that until the early 20th century, any drug could be bought and sold freely, yet here was no societal problem with drugs.

I want to include this, but I can see being called out to explain it or having the rest of the flyer disregarded by relation.

For example; We have a large chinese population on my campus and I feel they might bring up the problems with opium. Would it be too much of a stretch to write a brief flyer on the Opium War and have collegial students properly understand? Or would I be overestimating their attention spans? Wait - I got it. What about a flyer discussing the history of coca cola and its usage of cocaine for medicinal purposes? Would that be enough to explain away how drugs can openly be used in society without harm but relate to collegail students without disregarding them?

By chance, I don't suppose any of you have ever tried writing flyers? I recall a forum member mused about making door hangers explaining short pieces of economics for the general public, but I don't know if they ever finished their proposal.

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Thoughts?

Free Market Environmentalism

Libertarians are usually depicted as having a poor record when it comes to the environment. How is it possible after all to support the free market and the green movement after all? They are mutually exclusive to one another. That is the common strawman at least.

 

In truth the libertarian cares for the environment just as much as the self proclaimed Green, and, unlike the latter, they base their proposals for protecting the environment in such a way as to avoid the need to revert to primitivism.

 

Take for example the case of the panda. With the exception of a few pandas given by the PRC in the early part of the 20th century, all pandas are owned by the People’s Republic of China. All pandas that have left the PRC since are only on loan and all baby pandas born from them are owned by the PRC as well. Although not the cause for the creatures being endangered, this circumstance does little aide to help the pandas.

 

If it were possible to privately own a panda, as a libertarian might proposed, then poachers would cease to become a problem over night. A living panda after all is far more valuable than a dead one and a poacher would thus go out of their way to ensure their safety. Indeed, if private ownership of the panda were allowed then the former poacher would be encouraged not only to avoid fatal capturing of the creature, but to actively seek methods to breed them to ensure they had a continued supply to sell. This would be little different in principle to how dog breeders work.

 

Currently though no such incentive exists. Only a few years ago poachers and would-be owners of the panda would be killed by the PRC. Even now they face stiff imprisonment. Since they cannot profit from caring for a living panda they take the rational second choice. Needless to say, none of us want to see that do we? –And we wouldn’t have to if pandas were privately owned.

 

To put the example in short:

 

If you had a panda, wouldn’t you go out of your way to protect it and make sure it was well cared for? If you answer yes, then you might be a libertarian.

 

If you answer no, then let our prayers be to any pets you might own.

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Wheylous replied on Sun, Oct 23 2011 7:44 AM

Sorry I didn't bring this up earlier, but

4. Note that until the early 20th century, any drug could be bought and sold freely, yet here was no societal problem with drugs.

What about the Opium War?

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I was referring to the USA.  As for the conditions in China, it is interesting that the prohibition of madak (mixed tobacco and opium) led to a greater use of pure opium:

"Fueled in part by the 1729 ban on madak, which at first effectively exempted pure opium as a potentially medicinal product, the smoking of pure opium became more popular in the eighteenth century."

What were you asking exactly?

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Wheylous replied on Sun, Oct 23 2011 8:43 AM

Ah, you're saying that the prohibition caused the problem in the first place (or at least made it into such a big problem)?

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Wheylous replied on Sun, Oct 23 2011 8:52 AM

About the new flier - generally good, though it has a few of grammar mistakes. My only note is that I would have used the black rhino example.

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Not only prohibition.  China was a hell-hole.  If I were some Chinese peasant I'd probably want to use the opium den too.

Of course, I cannot tell you the extent to which it was a 'societal problem', if that's what you were originally asking.  Apparently 27% of the male population of China were 'regular users' by 1906.  It was very rare in all other countries.

"From 1880 to the beginning of the Communist era, Britain attempted to discourage the use of opium in China, but this effectively promoted the use of morphine, heroin, and cocaine, further exacerbating the problem of addiction."

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