Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Good Ol' Days of Prohibition

Among most sane, educated people, the misadventure known as prohibition is viewed as an unqualified failure. Right? Well, the DEA begs to differ. They've got a piece up on an agency web site that waxes nostalgic for the constitutional amendement that kept adults from being able to decide for themselves what they wanted to put into their bodies. How can they hold a view that is counter to almost every generally-accepted opinion about prohibition? Well, for one, they narrow the lens that classifies it as a "success" to be so small that you can't help but find some positive results:

"Prohibition did work. Alcohol consumption was reduced by almost 60% and incidents of liver cirrhosis and deaths from this disease dropped dramatically."

This may be very well be true (or perhaps not). But the problem with prohibition (and the main utilitarian (i.e. non-philisophical) problem I have with the current drug war) is not that it doesn't achieve anything, it's that the unintended costs (e.g. bootlegging, increased power to organized crime, deaths from bathtub gin, murders) are far worse than the costs of people drinking (or smoking pot or what have you). Trying to stop people from drinking or doing drugs creates more problems than it solves. Couple that with the fact that I think it's a pretty gross limit on freedom to have the government decide what can go in your own body, and it makes for law that's tough to justify.

Via the Agitator.

1 Comments:

At 11:51 PM, Blogger Jerry Simpson said...

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