- War on Drugs, like Prohibition,
- by Richard S. Russell
The Capital Times has editorialized
that "the crack menace is the most serious drug threat this
nation has ever faced."
Well, no. If you want to talk about what drug causes the most
damage, it's clearly alcohol, and we've known that since 1776.
Tobacco runs a strong second.
However, the most serious drug threat is not any chemical at
all -- it's the anti-drug laws themselves.
You'd think we would have learned our lesson during the Prohibition
era. Banning alcohol gave us problems 10 times worse than consuming
it ever did. By driving the production and distribution of alcohol
into the willing hands of the criminal underworld, the U.S. government
- High prices.
- Inconsistent quality (including batches
of bathtub gin that would occasionally blind or kill their consumers.
- Scorn and disrespect for the law (as
- An increase in other forms of crime
as addicts tried to pay for their expensive and illegal habits.
- A leaky border. Bribery and other forms
- Glutting of the courts and prisons
with drinkers who had never done violence to anyone else.
- Massive growth in the drug-enforcement
bureaucracy (which, of course, formed an outspoken constituency
for ever sterner measures).
- A concomitant increase in public spending.
- Continued erosion of the majority's
civil liberties in the name of the Great Experiment's attempts
to foil the drug-abusing minority.
- Abandonment of attempts to educate
or rehabilitate those with alcohol habits.
As I said above, we conducted an experiment
in a War on Drugs back in the Roaring '20s. The purpose of an
experiment is to determine how things work. We should have learned
that the "cure" was worse than the "disease."
But, as George Santayana remarked, those who do not remember
history are condemned to repeat it. The murder rate in 1933,
the last year of Prohibition, was the highest on record until
1992. Shouldn't this be telling us something?
What I search for -- in vain, so it seems -- is a politician
with the guts to point out that the emperor is naked. The War
on Drugs is a bankrupt social policy. But all we get from those
panderers to ignorance and superstition -- Clinton and Dole --
is one-upmanship about who's tougher on drugs than the other.
They make me sick.
The War on Drugs is ruining a once great nation. Let's follow
how we should have handled the war in Vietnam. It's time to declare
victory and get out.