Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tea Party and the Drug War

In case you missed this article in the latest edition of The National Review here it is.

Tea Party and the Drug War

June 7, 2010 4:00 A.M.

If the tea-party believes in its principles, it must choose the libertarian path on drug prohibition.

Voter dissatisfaction with Republicans and Democrats is at historic levels, and the tea-party movement is hoping to play kingmaker in the November elections. The country’s current breed of discontent is ideal for the tea parties, because economic concerns are foremost, allowing the movement to sidestep the divisions between its libertarian and conservative wings.

As the elections near, however, voters will want to know where the party stands not just on the economy but on social issues. A perfect illustration is drug policy, where conservatives advocate continued prohibition but libertarians argue for legalization. Which way should the tea party lean when this issue arises?

If the party is true to its principles — fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets — it must side with the libertarians.

Fiscal responsibility means limiting government expenditures to programs that can be convincingly said to generate benefits in excess of their costs. This does not rule out programs with large expenditures, or ones whose benefits are difficult to quantify; national defense is guilty on both counts, yet few believe that substantial military expenditure is necessarily irresponsible.

Any significant expenditure, however, should come with a credible claim that it produces a benefit large enough to outweigh both the expenditure itself and any ancillary costs. From this perspective, drug prohibition is not remotely consistent with fiscal responsibility. This policy costs the public purse around $70 billion per year, according to my estimates, yet no evidence suggests that prohibition reduces drug use to a significant degree.

Read the rest

I did note that at a Tea Party gathering in Tuscaloosa a month or so ago one person had a nice sign that simply stated the issue in a nutshell...


Any questions?


sixstring said...

As I recall, the original "Tea Party" was comprised of Ron Paul followers and was synonomous with libertarians. And almost all libertarians oppose the drug war. Now it is popular among some ultra conservatives to call themselves tea party supporters.

The "Drug War" is not really a "liberal" or "conservative" issue in my opinion. There are really no good arguments in its favor. Very smart people from throughout the philosophical political spectrum have argued against the STUPID drug war.
Even Obama, but he has not the courage to stand up for what he once said he belived.

Almoderate said...

Your first paragraph nailed it, sixstring. Unfortunately the early tea parties didn't really garner much attention. Today's tea parties mostly consist of the second bunch, and that's the bunch that's getting the news coverage. What was once a heavy Libertarian movement got hijacked by Republicans who are struggling for a new identity. (It would make you question why they're so damn ashamed to refer to themselves as Republicans.)

I for one don't stop with the drug war as far as the libertarian views are concerned. I also happen to think that prostitution and gambling should be legalized and I heavily support allowing gay marriage and openly gay service in the U.S. military. I am against any federal ban on abortions.

All these are very much libertarian stances on these issues, so gee I wonder where most of these Tea Party folks would stand on these issues. I doubt any of them are even aware of what the word "libertarian" means. These are, after all, the same people who define red-flavor liberalism as "conservative".

Loretta Nall said...

Maybe we should get involved with the tea party and attempt to return it to its roots.

Don said...

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of autonomous Tea Party organizations in the USA. Each one is composed of members of any, all, or no political persuasions. From the beginning of this movement there have been just a few basic issues that seem to be held in common by most of these groups, such as [1] a belief in governing in accordance with the US Constitution as it was written rather than how it has come to be interpreted over the years, [2] a belief in individual liberty, freedom, and responsibility, [3] a desire to have smaller government at all levels, especially the national level, and [4] less taxation so people who work can keep more of the fruit of their labor. The last issue is how tea parties got their name, with TEA standing for “Taxed Enough Already”.

Most tea party groups, at least those I’m familiar with, don’t really get into social issues such as were listed here by Almoderate because they are too divisive, and I haven’t heard of any of them addressing the war on drugs.

Loretta, getting involved in the movement and getting it involved in doing away with the war on drugs might be a good thing to do. There are several tea party groups in Alabama you could join, or you could start a new one.

Don said...

I should have started my comment by saying that there is no such thing as “THE” Tea Party.

sixstring said...

Rand Paul (major tea party figure) has addressed the war on drugs I believe. Doesn't he take the same position as his father?
Although he doesn't seem to have the saavy his dad has.

sixstring said...


You are against Fed ban on abortions. What about state bans?
As with drug use, or gambling, or prostitution, or gay marriage, I believe those decisions should be left to the individual.
Even libertarians are divided on the abortion issue.

Anonymous said...

This one issue is usually how you can tell the true "small-government" proponents from the ones that are completely full of shit.

Well, this and the marriage debate.

Mike Foster said...

Decriminalize - yes

Legalize - no

Loretta Nall said...

Hi Mike,

Can you tell us why you prefer decrim over outright legalization?

Mike Foster said...

Hi Loretta!

To me this is not just about pot. I don't like having to beg, or pay, for the "privilege" of being able to cultivate and consume anything I want in my own back yard :-)

sixstring said...


We need an approach that eliminates the black market. I don't think decrim does that.

Loretta Nall said...

Hi Mike,

I agree that the drug war isn't just about pot. It is about all drugs that are currently illegal under federal law.

However, I do not see how decrim would make it so that you wouldn't have to beg or plead for the privilege of growing something/consume something in your back yard.

Decrim simply means that you will no longer receive a criminal record for getting caught with drugs. But, you will be fined and in the event you cannot pay the fine you will be jailed. Plus, decrim would do nothing to eliminate the black market and in essence drugs and those who grow and sell them would still be criminal acts.

Legalization would mean that anyone of age who wanted to grow/manufacture/consume any substance would be able to do so without interference from the police and government.

In my opinion full legalization is the only thing that will work and the only thing that passes Constitutional muster.

Mike Foster said...

Perhaps I have a simplistic understanding of the word "decriminalize". I am talking about making it neither legal nor illegal - for example, like tomatoes, which I can grow and sell at the local farmer's market. If it is neither legal nor illegal then we can grow it and sell it just like any other commodity we grow in our gardens - and there would be no "black" market. The market itself is not going to go away. It is only "black" because the government controls who gets to serve the market - and that, IMO, is the root of the problem.

IMO legalization should not be considered a libertarian position because it just leads to bigger government and more government involvement in our personal lives. My answer to every political question is less government; more individual freedom; more expectation and demand for individual responsibility.

sixstring said...

See NORML"S site today. Man in Nevada shot by police in home raid.
Nevada has "decriminalized" marijuana.
As NORML says, only legalization will bring and end to the war on marijauna consumers.

Not sure what you mean, but an act is either legal or not. Growing tomatoes is LEGAL as far as I know. But, growing and selling them in the open market is subject to government regulations.

Prohibition has led to far bigger government than legalization ever could.

Less gov't is the answer to EVERY political question? What about oversight of multinational corporations that recklessly cause millions of barrels of oil to spew int the Gulf? Not that the oversight(such as it was) was effective in this case.