Ron's War on Drugs
by Jim Davies, 11/9/2011
This is the last of the series of ZGBlogs that evaluate the "Issues" named on Ron Paul's campaign site, all of which are listed on this sub-index.
The issue of the drug war, however, is not listed by Dr Paul, and that's the problem: IMHO, it certainly should be. I don't say it should replace any of the others - they are all important - but this long-running government interference with personal liberty is so outrageous and so lethal that its omission from his list leaves us wondering why. Is it so critical to avoid offending potential conservative supporters that such a vital principle can be set aside or compromised? - if so, it augurs very badly for what President Paul would do after being elected.
I hear he does deplore the war. Last May in The Failure to Think I noted that the Republican reporter Michael Gerson greeted Dr Paul's campaign announcement by smearing him as the "hooker and heroin candidate" - so he presumably does share the view that no drug should be illegal. Then why not boldly say so? - this is one issue in which, as President, Ron could make a big difference. He might not be able to repeal the laws, nor much influence the State enforcers, but the DEA and FBI and CIA are answerable to him, so he could close down the DEA and fire anyone in other agencies who troubled Americans engaging in the voluntary use of or trading in drugs.
With few exceptions, government people have been adamant that the War must continue. Early this year however Vicente Fox, the former Mexican President who had waged that war with the usual deadly vigor, broke ranks and called for drugs to be legalized, especially in the US. It seems that in retirement, he has had time to think. He must be distressed by the chaos in his country, and has worked out that it's all caused not by drugs but by their prohibition. What has been obvious to libertarians for decades has apparently penetrated the mind of a Government Man. Good for him.
The Mexican chaos is enormously important. I wrote of it here last March, in That Other War, and noted that last year in that country 15,000 people died so that Americans could buy the drugs they wanted - solely because the Feds make that merchandise illegal; as far as I know, nobody died so that Americans could buy Mexican avocado pears, for example. About 50,000 have died in Mexico's drug war in the last decade, and that's ten times more than the number of Americans killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. We hear about the latter daily; when was the last time you heard about the former? - might it mean that some vicious racist in the mainstream media holds Mexican lives far less valuable and important than American ones?
The carnage South of the border is destroying that society. President Fox noted "...the brutal violence that is hurting Mexico. The cost is growing exponentially ... I see important businessmen leaving and going to San Antonio, Houston, Dallas. We are losing in many things: tourism is stagnant, trade on the border, nightclubs, hotels are all stuck. We don't deserve to pay this price." It is already taking the form of a civil war, with government forces (handsomely subsidized by money stolen at gunpoint from you by Uncle Sam) are battling it out with drug dealers. It's only a matter of time before the shooting war crosses the border. Yet the Feds don't care; the more violence, the more readily they can persuade the unthinking US voter that they are urgently needed, to quell it. The option of simply legalizing drugs, so as to decimate their prices and permit the open, peaceful resolution of trade disputes, just doesn't occur to the average graduate of government "education." Yet that is the solution of the free market, and Ron Paul, supposedly, favors that. But he doesn't say so.
Drug-war violence isn't limited to Mexico, nor to actual combatants; there's plenty of collateral damage, as Radley Balko noted last month; his account begins by telling of how Georgia police shot and killed Pastor Ayers while he was ministering to down-and-outs in Stephens County. Nobody was even demoted, let alone hanged for murder. Fully ten years ago Lew Rockwell urged Drug Warriors to "give it up" as a hopeless case, noting that "Veronica Bowers and her 7-month-old adopted daughter Charity are dead. They were killed by military bullets raining in on a small civilian aircraft flying to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Indians of Peru. The CIA and the Peruvian military mistook a plane of missionaries for drug dealers. There were no warning shots." The Warriors paid no heed and again, nobody was hanged. In 2005 Bob Murphy explained why drug prohibition is violent, tracing the links between demand, price and legal disputes. There's really no mystery. The problem is that nobody in government is listening. They simply don't care. They are where they are to enjoy power, and waging war on drugs (it's actually a war on people, and on our freedom) is a great way to get high on that enjoyment. Measured as a way to reduce drug use - its ostensible purpose - it is an insane failure, for in a century of increasing intensity the War has not reduced usage one whit; measured as a way to strut government power and intimidate the population and - perhaps most of all - to furnish a ready excuse to pry into all our financial affairs, it's a spectacular success.
There are therefore few government programs that more urgently need total abolition. Yet freedom-champion Ron Paul doesn't even list it as an "Issue."
Silence implies consent.