Monday, April 24, 2006

Stanley Crouch (and many others) on Legalizing Drugs

Via Booker Rising...this column by Stanley Crouch:

The three most important reasons to call a ceasefire in the insane "war" we've been fighting for decades are the reduction of crime, the expansion of the tax base and the contribution to the economy.

Whether or not anyone likes it, recreational drug use has become part of American social life - and it is that use, not addiction, that fuels the trade. If addicts alone were spending money on drugs, the problem could have been licked or dramatically reduced long ago.

As for the reduction of crime, we are constantly getting benumbing reports that tell us how many inner city young men drop out of school to sell drugs, naively looking for a fast way to make big money. Such young men are the drones of the business. If we ended the illicit nature of the trade, the drones would either stay in school or surprise us and find a legal line of work.

The real economic winners in the drug business these days are the high-level dealers and traders. When it comes to them, America is being played for a chump in exactly the way we were during Prohibition. That's when the Mafia gathered all the capital it needed to become a formidable national criminal organization because public demand for drinking was greater than fear of the consequences of drinking.

If we ended today's version of Prohibition and legalized drugs, we could stop the murderous drug wars and pull billions of dollars out of the shadow world. Taxes could be levied and public rehabilitation centers supported.

The king is standing there in his underwear and nobody wants to say it. You think it's just the brothers into that stuff? They are just the ones speaking candidly about the problem. What kind of rock are you living under? Don't you read the papers?

Check out this article.

First came the poor man, barely 17 years old – too young to buy beer or vote, but an adult under the Texas penal code. He took part in a $2 stickup in which no one got hurt. He pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and was put on 10 years of probation.

He broke the rules once, by smoking marijuana. A Dallas judge responded in the harshest possible way: He replaced the original sentence with a life term in prison.

There Tyrone Brown sits today, 16 years later, tattooed and angry and pondering self-destruction. "I've tried suicide a few times," he writes. "What am I to make of a life filled with failure, including failing to end my life?"

I have grown up in the South. I understand the dynamics of "dry counties." Simple. Two influential forces didn't want (and in many cases still don't) drinks by the glass to be allowed in their jurisdiction. One group is bootleggers who would lose business if it becomes easier to drink legally. The other is well-intended Christians who see drinking as a sin, and legalization of drinking as a contribution to sinful behavior.

There are enough self-righteous but well-intentioned people of faith to support a "War on Drugs." I know a lot of them. And I love them despite their position. (That's one great advantage to being Christian. Your brothers and sisters will forgive you again and again until you change from your wicked ways and see it their way.) I haven't figured out what other force might favor perpetrating this clearly lost cause, but at the international level there must be some equivalent to the local bootlegger.

The issue is on the Libertarian radar.

Don't believe me. Do your own Google Search. It's not all one way or another. Plenty of good people don't see it my way. But more are coming to the same conclusion as time passes. If you think this is a no-brainer, think again. Do some homework. Then if you want to argue laws are essential to grace, go ahead. But leave me out of it. I decided long ago that internal controls are always more durable than external controls. And in the case of drugs we are well past the training-wheels stage.

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