The War on Drugs is a War on Freedom


by Norman Horn
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The War on Drugs is a War on Freedom

http://mises.org/store/Assets/ProductImages/B1035.jpgBook review of The War on Drugs is a War on Freedom by Laurence Vance. Vance Publications, 2012. Orlando, FL. $9.95 at Amazon.com. Cross-posted from LibertarianChristians.com.

To many newcomers to libertarian ideas – especially Christians – it is not always perfectly clear why libertarians oppose the War on Drugs so strenuously. Some Christians even think that the only reason libertarians oppose government prohibition is so that they can get high legally. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply put, we despise government prohibition because it is a power no government should have. Moreover, the War on Drugs is an incredible example of precisely how a government usurps liberty, destroys lives, and consolidates power unto itself. This short book by Dr. Laurence Vance, writer at LCC, LewRockwell.com, Mises.org, and the Future of Freedom Foundation, explains in great detail why everyone should oppose the War on Drugs .

Vance begins the introduction by giving his purpose in collecting these essays into book form:

This is not a book about the benefits of drugs; this is a book about the benefits of freedom. I neither use illegal drugs nor recommend their use to anyone else. I am even skeptical about the health benefits of most legal drugs.

So why this book? Because I believe in freedom. I believe in individual liberty, private property, personal responsibility, a free market, a free society, and a government as absolutely limited as possible.

The book then contains 19 essays, written over the past 4 years, that tackle the War on Drugs from a variety of angles. A few common themes resonate throughout the book:

1. The War on Drugs is unconstitutional. You would think that “conservatives” who support the United States Constitution would readily admit when the Federal government has overstepped its bounds, but such is rarely the case. Still, the Feds do not follow their own rules, and we should point this out whenever possible. Substance prohibition has never been constitutional.

2. The War on Drugs is a total failure. It has clogged the judicial system and incarcerated completely innocent people, instigated worldwide violence, corrupted law enforcement, eroded civil liberties, and destroyed financial privacy. Additionally, it hasn’t even been able to prevent drugs from getting into prisons much less the general population. By any standard of “helping” anyone, the War on Drugs has completely failed. To me, those in jail for possession of illegal drugs – assuming they have not committed a violent act – are prisoners of war and deserve to be liberated immediately.

3. Drug abuse is a health issue, not a legal issue. If you oppose government intrusion into health care, then there is no reason at all to support the War on Drugs. It is not the government’s business to dictate health issues to you.

4. The War on Drugs is a war on the ideals of liberty and a free society. Actions that are not aggressive in nature have no business being prohibited by government. Vices are not crimes, and it is not the purpose of government to monitor the behavior of citizens like a nanny! The War on Drugs is a perfect example of why government intrusion into people’s lives does nothing but harm. In order to ward off “vices” like illicit drugs, the government must continuously undermine liberty.

Vance even has an essay for why Christians should oppose the War on Drugs. Yes, Christians are free to consider drug abuse a great evil, but such evil should not be compounded by a drug war that is an even greater evil. Vance argues that Christians are both inconsistent and immoral for calling upon the state to punish non-crimes:

It is not the purpose of Christianity to use force or the threat of force to keep people from sinning. Christians who are quick to criticize Islamic countries for prescribing and proscribing all manner of behavior are very inconsistent when the support the same thing [in the United States]. A Christian theocracy is just as unscriptural as an Islamic theocracy.

Now more than ever we Christians ought to expose the War on Drugs for what it is: a War on Freedom. Laurence Vance concisely brings you a wealth of information to educate you on the issues, and I highly recommend this book to any believer anywhere.

Interested in learning more? Check out The War on Drugs is a War on Freedom at Amazon.com.

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5 responses to “The War on Drugs is a War on Freedom

  1. The Constitutional point is very clear. If the Federal govenrment had no power to ban booze (and it did not – which is why the 18th Amendment, since repealed, was passed) it had no power to ban other stuff either. The “Police Power” is not a Federal one (it is reserved for the States).

    The entire project is a Progressive movement power grab – which conservatives have stupidly gone along with. As they did with the Pledge of Alliegiance in the 19th century. The pledge is to “the flag” not to “the Constitution” why is that?

    It is because Edward and Francis Bellamy were “National Socialists” (yes they actually used that term – back in the 19th century) who passionatly hated the limited govenrment principles of the United States Consitution (indeed Edward was the fellow who wrote “Looking Backward” the best selling collectivist novel of the entire 19th century).

    Yet conservatives go along with this stuff (as they go along with most things) because they are too busy (running a business, bringing up a family, engaging in local aid ……) to really study what had been going on.

    It is the same with drugs – drugs bad (agreed), so the Feds are doing something…….

    Yes they are doing something – busy (indirectly) putting billions of Dollars into the hands of organised crime, including into the hands of Marxist terrorist organisations in Latin America.

    Wonderful – really “doing something”. Act first – think later.

  2. Oh but Paul, it is Constitutional. The “general welfare”!!!

    /teasing :)

  3. Besides the war on drugs being a war on illicit drugs there is a problem in the US of an undercover trade in licit drugs such as oxycontin and similar pain killers especially in Florida where there are Doctor Shops specializing in prescribing these “pain killers”. Then of course there is the problem of psychotropic drugs being inflicted on children in our schools often compulsorily. The vaccination question is another zone of authoritarian impulse from the great and the good. The whole drug control process is a shambles on both sides of the legal divide.

    No doubt you will have heard of the latest Columbine, Hungerford, Newtown event of another mass killing which seems to stun the public and exercise the mind of the leftist media into paroxysms of splenic gun control fury, though not a word of comment about what needs to be done, if anything, about the lunatics on the streets with a pharmaceutically induced grudge to grind. Over here, probably similar to the UK, we have nightly exhortations from some drug companies on our TVs to take one or other of their wonderful nostrums for depression etc. often with a sotto voce warning that the drug might inter alia cause suicide. Perhaps the warning should be about homicide as the more general concept of which suicide is merely a subset much like murder or manslaughter!

    The point I am making here is that there is evidence, contentious though it may be, that widespread use of licit drugs of the prescription variety, for suppressing unwelcome behavior in state schools, may well explain the Columbine and New Town school mass killings. There is reason to consider that the “going postal” and mall killings may well be laid at the same door to some extent as well for similar reasons.

    There appears to be an interaction with some of these drugs suppressing the conscience in a manner that may create a chemically induced psychopathic state of mind within some of these apparent lunatics who may well be simply iatrogenic byproducts of the psychotropic drug business. Given that the government and the media are to large extent beneficiaries of the financial largess of the big pharming business there is little open commentary on this issue. Large portions of the nightly TV ads here in the US are from the drug companies to such a proportion that it does affect the commentary about the drugs and the more pernicious side effects that they may have. As I said you will hear that they may cause suicide but what about the more general homicide?

    Consider Googling the topic and you will see much out there on this problem. There is a major conundrum about drug advertising that in part it corrupts the press and media rather than spreads useful information; the lack of liberty in controlling medicines is at root of this issue. Operations such as the FDA are in bed with those they are supposed to police to such an extent that the blend is corruptive for the supposed legal drug trade. To say that the war on drugs is a war on freedom is perhaps putting it mildly; the contagion of governance in this area infects all that is to do with drugs. The latest shooting spree is just another bump in the road; sad to say that is all it will be; we still haven’t fully digested what Columbine was about yet.

    Many years ago I met Dr Peter Breggin MD at the Libertarian International held at the Royal Holloway College and have followed his work over the years. He is the starting point on this subject; his learned work is highly critical of the educational/therapeutic use of these drugs inclusive of their baneful effects on the minds of those who are compelled to take them such as school children. The watch puppies of the lame stream media time and again refuse to discuss this. The Newtown shooting will be examined up hill and down dale but little will be said about the more likely reason it all happened. I was watching one of the leading pop psychiatrist shows where there was much outpouring of emotion and an obvious bewilderment that these massacres keep on “somehow” happening. There is a very likely explanation here but will it be heard? Probably not; am I right? Remember the US has had guns in most homes much like the Swiss for years without mass institutional attacks of the recent kind we are experiencing. Yes America is more dangerous than Switzerland but we are a continent with a very large population the nation hasn’t experienced the supposed crazy attacks on school children to this extent.

    The cartelization of the drug industry and its monopolistic nature coupled with its parasitical relationship with government prevent free flow of information. The lame stream media here in the USA are suffused with leftist elitist hubris whereby anything that is unpopular with the leading lights of our society gets spiked or put on the back pages and this issue is one of those topics of disinterest. Here I am talking about the licit drug trade let alone the cartels that operate the illegal drug trade. The war on drugs is absurd; one would have thought that prohibition over alcohol would have left a lesson for those who govern. Obviously not so let’s just repeat the history! While many die in our wars in the Middle East, significantly more are assassinated and murdered across the Rio Grande in Mexico let alone here in the US of A. There is a real shooting drug war which is spreading into this nation like a plague. The whole issue of drugs and their propagation licit and illicit needs ventilation at length. It will take years to persuade enough people to put a stop to this nonsense. Organizations such as the Libertarian Alliance do sterling work in grinding out this issue which is largely ignored by most.

    In conclusion I believe it needs to be understood that the drug trade both illegal and supposedly legal is a problem and that lack of liberty in the way they are promulgated and misused can have catastrophic effects. Because it is for many counter intuitive for them to see why the drug trade should be legalized; organizations such as the Libertarian Alliance have a real cause to exist and do business for Liberty. This is a topic that needs to be fought for; it will take years to demonstrate the madness of existing policies. The whole shebang is a mess legal or illegal; it is essential to understand that all drugs must be in the pot for policy reform.

  4. Ian – yes of course it is wrong to use words the way the Progressives do, but some blame has to attach to the loose drafting in the first place.

    The “cult of preambles” is a terrible vice when writing legal documents – if one writes a preamble (giving descriptions of powers or the reason or reasons they have been written out) one invites the argument shifting to the preamble. So, for example, instead of looking at the list of specific powers granted in Article One, Section Eight, people (at least people with ill intent) go to the introduction – see the words “common defence and general welfare” (the reason for the specific powers then listed) clip off the words “common defence and” – and then Bob is your parent’s male sibling.

    Similar things are done with other bits of loose drafting in the document – the old rule should apply….

    “If there is not a specific reason why a word (or words) appears in a legal document – then leave it out of that legal document”.

    Of course I am not even going to get started on what has been done to the words “regulate [i.e. make regular] interstate commerce”.

  5. I tend to agree, aand am making similar arguments. – I have created this pledge to share :) http://www.causes.com/actions/1689727