Thursday, March 04, 2010

Persuasion, not prohibition ~ By John Stossel

There are many people that will agree completely with John Stossel's libertarian views. There will also be many that will vehemently disagree with what he writes in this column. I have found that the ones that would disagree the most either have a view point that they are superior to people with "lower morals," or they are progressives that believe the government - (and those that run it) - knows more than people, and thus should control behavior.
In a free country, we consenting adults should be able to do whatever we want with our bodies as long as we don't hurt anyone else. People who don't like what we do have every right to complain about our behavior, to boycott, to picket, to embarrass us. Bless the critics. They make us better people by getting us to think about what's moral. Let them mock and shame. But shaming is one thing – government force is another. Prohibition means we empower the state to send out people with guns to force people to do what the majority says is moral. That's not right.

And it doesn't even work.

By John Stossel

Posted: March 03, 2010 ~ 1:00 am Eastern

© 2010

"It's a free country."

That's a popular saying – and true in many ways. But for a free country, America does ban a lot of things that are perfectly peaceful and consensual. Why is that?

Here are some things you can't do in most states of the union: rent your body to someone for sex, sell your kidney, take recreational drugs. The list goes on. I'll discuss American prohibitions tomorrow night at 8 and 11 p.m. Eastern time (and again on Friday at 10) on my Fox Business program.

The prohibitionists say their rules are necessary for either the public's or the particular individual's own good. I'm skeptical. I think of what Albert Camus said: "The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants." Prohibition is force. I prefer persuasion. Government force has nasty unintended consequences.

I would think that our experience with alcohol prohibition would have taught America a lesson. Nearly everyone agrees it was a disaster. It didn't stop people from drinking, but it created new and vicious strains of organized crime. Drug prohibition does that now.

The prohibitionists claim that today's drugs are far more dangerous than alcohol.

But is that true? Or is much of what you think you know ... wrong?

I believed the Drug Enforcement Administration's claim that drugs like crack and meth routinely addict people on first use.

But Jacob Sullum, who wrote "Saying Yes," says, "If you look at the government's own data about patterns of drug use, it clearly is not true."


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