Thursday, September 25, 2008

Never Forgive, Never Forget

By L. Neil Smith

via The Libertarian Enterprise

Forty years ago, whenever a guest character on a TV crime drama displayed firearms—or big game trophies—on a back wall of his home or office, you immediately knew who the villain would turn out to be. Apparently, in the pathetically ignorant view of Hollywood and New York writers, who know nothing of reality, gun ownership and hunting were attributes limited to murderers—usually rich ones—and thieves.

Later, individuals sufficiently concerned about the direction that their country was taking to equip themselves for the protection of their homes and families, and make other provisions against a collapse of the economy—or of civilization in general—were invariably vilified by TV's "dominant culture" as poor, illiterate political and religious fanatics, violent wife beaters, child abusers, racists, and neonazis.

Take a look around now, as the price of gas soars, the housing industry crumbles, and the dollar disintegrates, and tell us who was wiser.

Those of us—early libertarians, genuine conservatives, even the rare enlightened liberal—who knew better than this, suffered these propagandistic calumnies in varying degrees of silence (it was the beginning of my career as a columnist), but never forgave, and never forgot.

Sarah Palin is our revenge.

It doesn't matter a bit that I disagree with Palin on an enormous collection of important issues—evolution, abortion, stem cells, homosexuality, domestic partnerships and gay marriage, the place of religion in political life,—I'm not planning on voting for her or her running mate, Mad Jack McCain, anyway. I'm just enjoying—more than I can say—the glorious sight of Democratic hopes and schemes (which I loathe just as much as I do Palin's views on the issues I mentioned) flushed down the toilet of history by a member of the gun culture.


Palin represents a phenomenon that would never have come to pass—she is an individual we never would have heard of—if it weren't for our "betters" who are so ashamed of the word "liberal", which they have irrevocably soiled, that they now call themselves "progressives". They believe they own our lives and have a right to tell us how to live them. Their relentless persecution and punishment of America's Productive Class over the last six or seven decades, especially those who have aspired and labored to become prosperous and self-reliant, is precisely what caused so many of "us" to rally around the values Palin articulates.

Enjoy her, my left-wing socialist friends, she's your creation, entirely.

And in exactly the same way Norman Lear's misguided creation of Archie Bunker generated a cultural icon with exactly the opposite effect Lear intended, or novelist Brian Garfield wrote in Death Wish of a vigilante villain who became America's hero in Charles Bronson's movies, Palin has given new life to things that liberals had hoped to eliminate from a society that is now slipping from their grasp. As a libertarian—an individual who has sworn on everything he holds dear never to initiate physical force against another human being for any reason whatever—even I am enjoying what I agree with Camille Paglia constitutes a spectacular political drama of unquestionably historic proportions.

It's similar to seeing media liberals get all huffed up about the National Rifle Association. I know—and if you're reading this, you probably do, as well—that the NRA, in fact, is a cowardly, craven, compromising organization of BDSM "bottoms"—submissives—who, rather than endure what they imagine will be intolerable treatment by their "tops"—their dominators—are willing to chain and brand and whip themselves on the theory that it doesn't hurt quite as much that way.

Or that it hurts better, somehow.

Starting as early as the 1930s, NRA leadership signed off on—or even wrote—much of the illegal gun law we suffer under today. I'm always a little heartened nevertheless, when I see an NRA sticker on a car or hear the NRA attacked by lefties who don't know its history. The mere presence of those three letters is a constant challenge to those who mistakenly believe they can order our lives better than we can and are driven by a profound psychosis to protect us to death if necessary.

Now if only there were a National Smoker's Association.

But I digress.

And just as the NRA presence can mean one thing to me, in the thick of the struggle, and another to hairsprayheads and Hollywood types, so can the presence—the very existence—of Sarah Palin. Both mean absolutely nothing, philosophically. Both mean absolutely nothing politically. But and Annette Bening (both of whom despise her) to the contrary, culturally, Palin and the NRA mean everything.

The general public and the mainstream media are unaware of what you and I regard as the NRA's many grievous strategic and tactical shortcomings. They understand little of the deep and real differences between the pusillanimous NRA and genuine Second Amendment advocacy. Yet to have them all in an hysterical flap because the girl Republican Vice Presidential nominee is an NRA member, a hunter, an angler, and a hockey mom is a good thing, a wonderful thing, and a delight beyond describing.

To the marxoid elite, of course, it's positively alarming. The American Productive Class, whose assigned role for the past century has simply been to shut up and fork over, suddenly appears to have had the audacity to talk back to those who mistakenly believed they own it.

Does it really mean anything? Is it something that will last? Only time will tell. A great many pundits opine that Palin, given power, will be coopted by the Beltway and simply melt away as a distinctive entity. I'm not religious myself, and personally see all religions—especially the big, rich, "respectable" ones, as equally crazy. But I know a lot of religious folks, and I am inclined to think that the Beltway, which believes in nothing, is far likelier to be coopted by Palin.

If Bob Barr and Wayne Alan Root hadn't swindled the Libertarian Party away (with the dollar help, I hear, of Richard Viguerie), and Mary Ruwart had received the Presidential nomination she had earned and richly deserved, people would have a genuine alternative—and a female Productive Class candidate—to vote for on Election Day. Of course that was why it was necessary for the Republicans to hijack the party.

Wasn't it?

Never forgive, never forget.

Although I've no idea who I'll vote for in November—most likely I'll cast a blank for President, and you should, too—at the moment I'm content. All those Barnaby Jones and Hawaii Five-O episodes I sat through (not to mention later entries like the X-Files and Numb3rs) that slandered and libeled folks like me have come home to roost.

In the words of Nelson Muntz, "Ha-ha!"

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cosmic 'dark flow' detected across billions of light years

ScienceDaily (Sep. 24, 2008) — Using data from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), scientists have identified an unexpected motion in distant galaxy clusters. The cause, they suggest, is the gravitational attraction of matter that lies beyond the observable universe.

"The clusters show a small but measurable velocity that is independent of the universe's expansion and does not change as distances increase," says lead researcher Alexander Kashlinsky at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "We never expected to find anything like this."

Kashlinsky calls this collective motion a "dark flow" in the vein of more familiar cosmological mysteries: dark energy and dark matter. "The distribution of matter in the observed universe cannot account for this motion," he says.

~ Full article here ~

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is the Obama campaign rolling out the astroturf?

Hope, Change, & Lies: Orchestrated "Grassroots" Smear Campaigns & the People that Run Them

Government Failure

Government Failure
by Sheldon Richman, September 19, 2008 (via the Future of Freedom Foundation)

"Politicians have an obvious interest in portraying the financial meltdown as the result of a government hands-off policy. They can’t very well advocate government controls if government controls are responsible for the debacle we’re now living through. The pundits just don’t understand economics.

But believe it or not, the problems in the financial and housing industries are not a market failure. They are a government failure."

~ Full article here ~

Pro Libertate: The Triumvirate and the Plunderbund

Pro Libertate: The Triumvirate and the Plunderbund

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Paulson bailout proposal

May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the collective crotches of the Bush administration.

This is the draft bailout proposal- which pretty much speaks for itself:
(Note Section 8: Review)

Section 1. Short Title.

This Act may be cited as ____________________.

Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Authority to Purchase.–The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.

(b) Necessary Actions.–The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and

(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.

Sec. 3. Considerations.

In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for–

(1) providing stability or preventing disruption to the financial markets or banking system; and

(2) protecting the taxpayer.

Sec. 4. Reports to Congress.

Within three months of the first exercise of the authority granted in section 2(a), and semiannually thereafter, the Secretary shall report to the Committees on the Budget, Financial Services, and Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committees on the Budget, Finance, and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate with respect to the authorities exercised under this Act and the considerations required by section 3.

Sec. 5. Rights; Management; Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Exercise of Rights.–The Secretary may, at any time, exercise any rights received in connection with mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act.

(b) Management of Mortgage-Related Assets.–The Secretary shall have authority to manage mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio risks therefrom.

(c) Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.–The Secretary may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at prices determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities loans, repurchase transactions or other financial transactions in regard to, any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act.

(d) Application of Sunset to Mortgage-Related Assets.–The authority of the Secretary to hold any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act before the termination date in section 9, or to purchase or fund the purchase of a mortgage-related asset under a commitment entered into before the termination date in section 9, is not subject to the provisions of section 9.

Sec. 6. Maximum Amount of Authorized Purchases.

The Secretary’s authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time

Sec. 7. Funding.

For the purpose of the authorities granted in this Act, and for the costs of administering those authorities, the Secretary may use the proceeds of the sale of any securities issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, and the purposes for which securities may be issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, are extended to include actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses. Any funds expended for actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses, shall be deemed appropriated at the time of such expenditure.

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Sec. 9. Termination of Authority.

The authorities under this Act, with the exception of authorities granted in sections 2(b)(5), 5 and 7, shall terminate two years from the date of enactment of this Act.

Sec. 10. Increase in Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.

Subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $11,315,000,000,000.

Sec. 11. Credit Reform.

The costs of purchases of mortgage-related assets made under section 2(a) of this Act shall be determined as provided under the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, as applicable.

Sec. 12. Definitions.

For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) Mortgage-Related Assets.–The term “mortgage-related assets” means residential or commercial mortgages and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008.

(2) Secretary.–The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Treasury.

(3) United States.–The term “United States” means the States, territories, and possessions of the United States and the District of Columbia.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Click, Clickity-click

From The Libertarian Enterprise:

L. Neil Smith

I don't think many people realize it any more—many of those who do are inclined to lie about it and attempt to cover it up—but the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights, were written not just to protect us from the would-be kings and dictators in government, but to protect us, as well, from democracy.

On both sides of the Federalist-Antifederalist split, most of the Founding Fathers expressed hatred and fear of the notion of "absolute democracy" in which the highest law was "vox populi, vox dei" ("The voice of the people is the voice of God."), an ancient proverb that novelist Robert A. Heinlein, an unusually astute observer of history and human nature, translated as "How the hell did we get into this mess?"

The rights that the Founders chose to enumerate were meant never to be decreed, legislated, adjudicated—or voted—away. They had been placed (or at least the Founders believed) beyond the reach of politicians, bureaucrats, and the people, themselves. While they were inclined to celebrate the mind and spirit of the individual human being, the Founders knew that our species doesn't play particularly well in groups, and that the collective intelligence of a mob is that of its brightest member—divided by the number of people in the group.

So how did we get from a society in which individuals were free, and the Bill of Rights was unassailable, to a society in which nothing is allowable unless you have begged specifically for the government's permission?

There are many answers to that question—my first novel, The Probability Broach, for example, is primarily about the unfortunate influence that the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion had on American history—but my purpose here is to consider the role of two more fundamental phenomena: an irrational obsession to make the whole world "safe" for idiots, and an insatiable desire to extract big bucks from deep pockets.

The single action cartridge revolver (relax, I'm not actually changing the subject, here) is a comparatively simple contrivance, although it does require that you meet it halfway in some respects. For example, although the original 1873 Colt "Peacemaker"—and its many imitators—has six chambers for cartridges bored into its cylinder, it is only safe to load five, leaving one chamber empty so that an accidental blow to the hammer (as when you drop it, or the stirrup falls onto it from your saddlehorn when you're tightening the cinch) can't unintentionally discharge the firearm straight into your leg.

For more than a hundred years, that was the drill, and everybody understood it. It's even mentioned in movies like The Shootist, when John Wayne explains it to a young man—Ron Howard—he's teaching to shoot. All you have to do is count cartridges as you slide them, one by one, through the opened loading gate, into the cylinder. Stop when you get to five. Make sure the chamber you leave empty is the one that's just forward of the hammer, and that the cylinder is indexed—locked in place—before you close the loading gate. As impossibly complicated as it is to try to write—maybe impossibly complicated to read, as well—it's extremely simple in practice. There's even an alternative technique, involving skipping the second chamber that you roll past, but I don't care for it, and I'm not going to go into it here.

Believe me, it's much simpler than driving a car with a manual transmission.

For all of that trouble, you get four extremely soul-satisfying clicks whenever you cock the weapon, a soul-satisfaction that's frustratingly hard to describe, easy to experience, and impossible to forget. You used to be able to hear it in the opening moments of Gunsmoke.

It's the very sound of the Old West, come to life.

Click, clickity-click.

All of that changed in 1973, however, the hundredth anniversary of Colt's first cartridge revolver, when Sturm, Ruger and Company, an outfit that had been succesfully manufacturing single actions in many ways superior to the Colt for 20 years, introduced what I have always referred to as their "Ralph Nader Safety Revolver", a gun designed, in essence, by liability lawyers, for idiots who can't count to five and stop.

Apparently some of those idiots had gotten lawyers themselves and sued the company, blaming it for the unfortunate results of their own idiocy. Because of the newly-designed ignition system, it was now safe to load all six chambers. Ruger would even convert your dangerous, nasty old five-shooter to a safe and sound six, for free. But a single action revolver is all about the sense of history it invokes. The click, clickity-click was gone forever, and with it, in this writer's opinion, the thrill it had offered—along with any reason not to buy a double action revolver instead, or even better, a semiautomatic pistol.

And so the threat of government action—in this case the fear of civil lawsuits—reshaped American culture after all, in ways that the Founding Fathers didn't want, and couldn't have anticipated, all to protect idiots from themselves, and reward them when their idiocy catches up to them. The operation of an antique style of handgun may seem like a small thing, but it's representative of a much larger phenomenon.

Today, you must apply for an expensive, difficult-to-obtain permit from the government before you are allowed broadcast your ideas to the world.

You must get government permission if you and your fellow beings wish to assemble and march to protest against the same government (how insane is that?) or apparently even meet in private to plan the event.

Otherwise, government's hired thugs will electrocute you, gas you, herd you all together, knock you down, and stomp your head and chest before they drag you off to a barbed wire pen. No, don't look at me like that: every one of these outrages just happened—again—at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. They may do it—and tear your press pass off—even if you've obtained the requisite permission.

You even have to clear your spiritual beliefs with the expert theologians at the IRS before you can officially be said to have a religion.

And, of course, you have to get an okay from the government before you can purchase a gun, and a permit to exercise your right to tote it.

It's what I call "controlled carry".

And that's just the first two amendments

If you should happen to ask them about any of these violations of the Constitution—provided they don't just smash your face and have you hauled off to Guantanamo—the politicians and bureaucrats in charge will explain, faux-patiently, that it's all for your own good, and that safety considerations must always trump the rights of mere individuals.

"We had to destroy the Bill of Rights in order to save it."

So what we have now, apparently, is the political equivalent of Ruger's Ralph Nader safety revolver, a "Safety" Bill of Rights, if you will (or even if you won't), ostensibly intended to protect idiots—meaning you and me and anybody else feeble-minded enough to believe in exercising their individual liberties—from themselves. More to the point, our rights under the Constitution or any other construction don't mean a thing if our betters, our masters, and our owners decide that they represent a danger to them. That's what the Republican power elite was telling us last weekend in Minneapolis. It's the same thing that the Democratic power elite told us the weekend before that, in Denver.

Since even the smartest individuals are almost always idiots in groups, constituting a clear and present danger even to little old ladies with shopping carts, innocent sheep in Wyoming, and wooden Indians outside of cigar stores, it may be there's no way out of the trap that's been set for us. Safety fascism has taken America over permanently.

Or has it?

Lying on the desk beside my keyboard as I write, is a big, fat Glock M20, a 10 millimeter semiautomatic pistol with an absolutely astonishing (to me, anyway) magazine capacity. Many things about this weapon are remarkable, but the pertinent fact is that it doesn't have any kind of manual safety. A gun doesn't need a safety as long as you remember to keep your finger off the trigger until you mean to pull it.

The Glock is a relatively new development, historically speaking, one that flies in the face of every current trend by depending on the user's intelligence for safety. So maybe there's some hope left, after all.

At least for those of us who aren't idiots.

As for the rest of American civilization, maybe it's time for some reeducation. I have a book under development aimed at accomplishing that very thing and am now planning a website to expose and deal with police violence. I'd be happy to tell you all about them, any time you wish.

My old friend and partner Aaron Zelman is making a groundbreaking video for the Internet on the individual right to own and carry weapons. It's an expensive proposition to do it right and he could use help.

Go to

I'm confident there are others hard at work on similar projects. Ron Paul's supporters don't seem to have missed a beat since their candidate stepped down, but appear more active and enthusiastic than ever.

If you don't have a project of your own for the advancement of liberty, and don't plan to start one of your own, then offer your support to those who do. It is of such stuff that true revolutions are made.

Freedom first, safety second—or maybe third.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

War On Drugs: Mukasey Slings the Feces

Excerpted from remarks made by Attorney General Michael Mukasey as he announced the results of "Project Reckoning":

"By spreading dangerous drugs and resorting to brutal violence, international drug cartels pose an extraordinary threat both here and abroad. Too many communities, here and abroad, have been damaged by the drugs and violence associated with these cartels. Too many innocent citizens, and too many law enforcement officers, have died on both sides of the Southwest border, and in cities and towns across this country."

The fascist fuckwit conveniently ignores the fact that it is the prohibitionst policies which he supports that are the root of the problem.
One thing is certain.
The fallout from the War On Drugs is far more destructive to the citizens of this planet than the effects of the drugs themselves.


~ read AG Mukasey's full statement here ~

Op-Ed: The Cornell Daily Sun

Prohibition of Sanity

Straight No Chaser
September 17, 2008 - 12:00am
By Daniel Eichberg

"It’s not what you think. The United States is embroiled in an immoral, racist, and ineffective war, costing taxpayers $69 billion a year with no end in sight. But unlike Iraq, this war is fought in America’s streets and the casualties are American civilians. Without exaggeration, the War on Drugs is this country’s single most destructive public policy failure since slavery.

The War on Drugs is America’s second attempt at the failed policy of prohibition. In 1919, Congress ratified the 18th Amendment, banning the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol. Instead of reducing alcohol consumption and its associated crimes, Prohibition multiplied them exponentially. The abolition of legal booze created an incredible demand that fueled a thriving black market. Increased demand generates increased cost, so gangsters like Al Capone made millions trafficking illegal hooch with huge profit margins. These thugs gunned down rival bootleggers, as well as bystanders caught in the crossfire. Violent alcohol trafficking disappeared only after Prohibition was lifted and bootlegging alcohol became unprofitable."

~ Full article here ~

RE: the 2nd Amendment Enforcement act

via Jim Abrams (AP wire) :
House Votes To Ease DC Gun Restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) —" The pro-gun majority in the House has voted to make it easier for residents of the nation's capital to buy and own firearms.

Democrats who favor gun rights joined Republicans in approving the measure backed by the National Rifle Association. It allows District of Columbia residents to possess semiautomatic handguns and eliminates rules that guns kept at home must be locked up and unloaded.

The House vote comes three months after the Supreme Court ruled that the District's three-decade-old ban on possessing handguns violated Second Amendment rights to bear arms."

How friggin' special. Our republic has descended so far into the sewer that it literally requires an act of Congress to allow the residents of DC the freedom to exercise their supposedly constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms.

What part of "shall not be infringed" is so hard to understand?


BATF lost at least 76 weapons and over 400 laptops

Morons. Why does this agency even exist?


WASHINGTON - The ATF lost 76 weapons and hundreds of laptops over five years, the Justice Department reported Wednesday, blaming carelessness and sloppy record-keeping.

Thirty-five of the missing handguns, rifles, Tasers and other weapons were stolen, as were 50 laptops, the internal audit found. Two of the stolen weapons were used in crimes.

The audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found "inadequate" oversight of weapons and laptops resulted in "significant rates of losses" at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"It is especially troubling that that ATF's rate of loss for weapons was nearly double that of the FBI and DEA, and that ATF did not even know whether most of its lost, stolen, or missing laptop computers contained sensitive or classified information," he added.

~ Full article here ~

Monday, September 15, 2008

A monster fed by ignorance, corruption, and paranoia

Great Op-Ed piece on the insanity of the US War On (some) Drugs in the Irish Independent:

"The US government succeeds in over 90 per cent of its prosecutions, which indicates that the system is a stacked deck. US criminal justice is based on the plea bargain, which is essentially the exchange of immunity or a reduced sentence for inculpatory perjury against targeted people. It is an evil and repulsive system based on intimidation, suborned falsehoods, and impoverishment. Irish, British and Canadian prosecutors using these tactics would be disbarred.

The prosecutors routinely try to freeze assets of targeted people, ex parte, on the basis of affidavits they know to be fraudulent. They did so with me. Few people can afford to go the distance with the Justice Department, and are conducted to their confinement by the Judas Goats of the public defender service, pawns of the prosecutors, understaffed, and paid on the basis of supposed merit by the judges, most of whom are also ex-prosecutors."

~ Full article here ~


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crime and Drug Policy

By Art Carden @ MWC News:Image

The United States imprisons almost one in one hundred American adults—a higher number and percentage of its population than any other country, according to a February 29, 2008 Washington Post article. This has been especially devastating for minorities—as the Post points out, “(o)ne in nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars.” Many of these people remain in a continual pattern of crime. Are we a safer society as a result, or should we re-evaluate our crime policies?

When I was in college, Johnnie Cochran gave a talk in which he asked whether we are doing a service to the country by building a land of barbed wire and concrete “from sea to shining sea.” There is a psychological and social effect that has been pointed out by Ayn Rand, who argued (astutely) that social control is easier if we create a nation of criminals. Many statutes do not prevent crimes; they create them. Drug laws are a perfect example: drug use infringes on no one’s rights; it is the essence of a “victimless crime.”

Some might respond that there is no such thing as a “victimless crime” because of the effects of drug use on the user’s friends and families. These costs are all too real as the legacy of families torn apart by drug abuse suggests. If we are going to adopt this utilitarian line of reasoning, though, then we have to weigh the costs to families against the social costs created by the unintended consequences of the war on drugs.

The drug war is an integral part of the rapidly growing American prison population. Outlawing marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other drugs created a whole new class of crimes and moved traffic in psychoactive drugs out of the legitimate marketplace and into the black market.

Another one of the unintended consequences of the drug war is the escalating potency of the drugs people use today. The marijuana on the streets today is much more potent than the marijuana that was on the streets thirty and forty years ago. As penalties have changed, so too have the drugs people use. Cocaine became more prevalent after the government cracked down on heroin in the 1970s. The crack epidemic was in part a response to attempts to eradicate cocaine, and the crystal meth epidemic of the last decade has happened in part in response to the war on crack. Criminal penalties give people incentives to pack as much potency into as small a space as possible; therefore, drug dealers have incentives to increase the potency of the drugs they deal.

Yet other examples of the unintended consequence of the drug war are the extremely low quality of the drugs that appear on the street and the violent means that drug dealers use to settle disputes. Someone who buys bad aspirin has legal recourse against the company that sold it to him. Someone who buys bad heroin or bad crack has no such legal recourse, and disputes over quality will be settled violently, if at all. Epidemics of urban crime are among the unintended consequences of the drug war.

It appears that we learned nothing from our experiment with alcohol prohibition in the first part of the twentieth century. When alcohol was outlawed, alcohol production and distribution were taken over by organized criminal syndicates—think Al Capone—and crime skyrocketed.

Prison is not the answer. In a recent set of lectures given on behalf of the Institute for Humane Studies, Georgetown University legal scholar John Hasnas argued in favor of restitution as opposed to incarceration and statutory law. Hasnas argued that people are not necessarily reformed while in prisons and jails. They learn to be better criminals. They attach themselves to larger criminal networks. After some of the horrible experiences of prison—like prison rape, for example—still others are likely to become even more withdrawn and antisocial. The current system isn’t working.

Proponents of law and order might see this as bleeding-heart, soft-on-crime liberalism. I agree that crime should be punished; indeed, a strong legal system is essential for a well-functioning society. To take one example, it has been argued by legal scholar Richard Posner (and I agree) that the penalties for drunken driving are not nearly severe enough. It is quite another matter, however, to argue that our current system is doing what it was meant to do. It is time to re-examine our drug policy.

~ View Original Article ~

Take off the towel.......

Bob Barr: Federal Drug War Rethought

via the Huffington Post:

As both a U.S. Attorney and Member of Congress, I defended drug prohibition. But it has become increasingly clear to me, after much study, that our current strategy has not worked and will not work. The other candidates for president prefer not to address this issue, but ignoring the failure of existing policy exhibits both a poverty of thought and an absence of political courage. The federal government must turn the decision on drug policy back to the states and the citizens themselves.

My change in perspective might shock some people, but leadership requires a willingness to assess evidence and recognize when a strategy is not working. We are paying far too high a price for today's failed policy to continue it simply because it has always been done that way.

It is obvious that, like Prohibition's effort to eradicate alcohol usage, drug prohibition has not succeeded. Despite enormous law enforcement efforts -- including the dedicated service of many thousands of professional men and women -- the government has not halted drug use. Indeed, the problem is worse today than in 1972, when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase "War on Drugs."

Whether we like it or not, tens of millions of Americans have used and will continue to use drugs. Yet in 2005 we spent more than $12 billion on federal drug enforcement efforts. Another $30 billion went to incarcerate non-violent drug offenders.

~ Original article Here ~

Thursday, September 4, 2008