Liberally Conservative on the Drug War
- Thomas Sowell
I was talking to a liberal friend of mine today, regarding a news article last sunday in the LA Times by a former Seattle police chief making the case for legalizing drugs (if you can no longer gain access to the article, leave a comment requesting it, and I'll post it in the comments section). This article was also mentioned by Dennis Prager at the KRLA Townhall Meeting which I attended last Sunday. (Dennis felt that it is ridiculous to say that we are losing the war on drugs, trying to draw a comparative analogy to those who say we are losing the war in Iraq).
My friend was surprised by my position, which leans toward siding with those who wish to legalize drugs- all drugs. This is because she felt the legalization of drugs is a liberal position (and perhaps, libertarian). I think it all depends upon one's perspective on why it should be legalized. For me, as a conservative, the issue is one of practicality and realistic solutions. Like liberal policies such as the war on poverty and the desire to socialize medicine, I see the War on Drugs as doing the same thing: achieving exactly the opposite end to the desired results. We mean well, but the common sense approach makes matters worse (Mona Charen's book is a good read on how liberal policies hurt those they claim to help).
For the record, I absolutely am disgusted and appalled by the drug culture. Everything about recreational drug use turns my stomach. The need to "get high" by "artificial" means, and all the baggage it comes with. This includes alcohol. I accept that many of my friends like their alcohol and drink "responsibly". But secretly, I hate it. I see ABSOLUTELY NOTHING remotely redeeming about alcohol. In so many ways, it poisons our society. Many of our woes seem to involve alcohol. But as the Prohibition Act should have taught us, to ban it does not solve the problem of alcohol use and abuse. If anything, it creates new problems for society, and makes life worse all around. As Norm Stamper points out in the LA Times article, the issue should be a health issue, not a criminal issue.
I have John Stossel's book, Give Me a Break, which is now out in paperback (I got it right away in hardback, because I've always liked his ABC Specials). In it, he has a chapter devoted to the drug war and why it's been such a disaster. We pour so much money into waging it, with little to show for it. If anyone is of a different opinion on this, I'm open to listening to it. Like I said, I hate recreational drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, but think our laws against drug use creates more problems than it solves.
By the way, for anyone who missed John Stossel's Special, "A War on Drugs, A War on Ourselves", you can listen to the audio here; or read the transcript.
I think both liberals and conservatives/libertarians can both be in agreement on this (ie, the legalization of all drugs), even if it might be for different reasons.
Correction: I just realized the mp3 link to the audio doesn't work. Try this one.