It’s the Law


Interesting commentary by James E. Miller, editor-in-chief of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada. It connects recent current events in a logical narrative and offers a plausable explanation for the apparant wind-down of the war on (some) drugs.


With today’s nation-state, the monopoly on law enforcement has eroded the traditional notion of justice. Certainly various levels of government still prosecute those who commit malum in se wrongs. But the granting of sole discretion over societal function to the state has brought about a litany of prohibitions on otherwise harmless actions. The most widespread and destructive example of this gross perversion of law has been the American drug war. In major metropolitan areas, large numbers of users of substances designated harmful to public tranquility are fined, detained, and imprisoned. The very act of ingesting mentally-altering narcotics constitutes no harm absent the self-imposed kind. The outlawing of drug use superimposes control of the individual, and makes him beholden to the political class. As Will Grigg posits, the malum prohibitum on narcotics is a subset of human slavery as the premise denies complete self-ownership.

In an act of supposed moral revelation, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced the federal government would begin relaxing indictments of low-level, nonviolent possessors of drugs. In a speech before the sleazebag of litigating opportunists known as the American Bar Association, the nation’s top mob enforcer declared “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason.” The mandatory minimum sentencing laws passed by Congress will simply go ignored.

The gullible reader might assume the odious basis for the war on drugs may finally be visible to the heavily armed buffoons who raid private homes and the sloth-resembling chief law enforcer, but that would be a naive supposition. The wind down has little to do with morality and everything to do with cost. Imprisoning thousands of junkies takes a great deal of resources. With a corpulent debt financing military adventurism and welfare pocket-padding, Holder and the rest of the federal government racket are feeling the squeeze.

The very same penalty relaxation occurred at the height of the Great Depression. While Franklin Roosevelt busied himself with turning American business into a quasi-fascist state, he was intelligent enough to recognize the civil demolition wrought by alcohol prohibition. As the black market for booze paved the way for organized crime during the roaring 1920s, the stock market crash left state and local governments hamstrung by a lack of tax revenue. If action was not taken, thousands of wealth-sucking bureaucrats would be thrown to the streets. So the Democratic Party endorsed making America wet again, while nominating the craze-minded Roosevelt in 1932. After the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, excise taxes were levied on wine and spirits. As economists Mark Thornton and Chetley Weise document, the resulting tax receipts staved off what would have been shriveling bankruptcy.

Rarely does the state cede authority when it comes to corralling the citizenry. The only barrier that stands between government domineering is always the cost of its behemoth, sluggish operation. The relaxation of penalties for drug ingestion is demonstrative of this rule. At the same time, it is a mockery of the concept of reasoned law. If using narcotics were truly an affront to the natural order, there would be no leniency. The immoral act would be opposed root and branch, similar to rape or murder. Current legal prohibitions on various forms of opiates are not grounded in justice but are merely a form of societal control. In the classic bootleggers and baptists sense, these restrictions enrich those who profit from sale, distribution, and incarceration while satisfying the warped psyche of taskmaster puritans.
To read the complete essay, visit the Ludwig von Mises link or the repost at

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