Freedom, Justice and the War on Drugs

True personal freedom means an individual is the owner his or her own body and can do with it as one pleases. The "war on drugs" is a battle which can never be won because individuals will never accept that government has the right to restrict private, individual choices. Illegal drug distribution makes up eight-percent of the worlds economy - a larger industry than automobile manufacture worldwide - while inner cities and entire countries are ripped apart by corruption and violence financed by drug profits.

The solution is to grant individuals the freedom they inherently possess as the owners of their own bodies - to make them responsible for the consequences of their own decisions.

If society made honest information available regarding the pros and cons of using street drugs, rather than flooding the uninformed with biased propaganda which is largely ignored, individuals would be able to make informed choices. 80% of Americans believe marijuana is not a dangerous drug and 75% want to see it decriminalized, yet marijuana is classified as a class one drug along with heroin and meth. When young people try pot and realize it is essentially harmless they immediately recognize they have been lied to. As a result they believe they have also been lied to regarding the dangers of hard drugs that lead to addiction and irrational behavior which destroys lives.

When inner city youth see how current wages for unskilled workers are less than the cost of survival, then compare that with the opportunity to make huge profits by selling drugs, many can see no other way of succeeding in life through legitimate means. Turf wars erupt as gangs try to expand their market share, just as the prohibition on alcohol resulted in similar violence in the 1930s. In other words, our present socioeconomic policies and the war on drugs causes gang violence and poverty.

If street drugs were not illegal prices would fall close to the cost of production, which is practically nothing, and there would no longer be huge profits to finance the violence � which would then cease to exist.

Think about who would experience the most hardship if all street drugs were no longer illegal. It would be the illegal drug cartels controlling 8% of the world's economy. They would be out hundreds of billions of dollars. Do you think they would finance the political campaigns of people wanting to legalize drugs and put them out of business, or self righteous religious moralists who think tens of thousands of drug related murders each year is better than allowing people to have freedom of choice in the pursuit of happiness? CNN reports: "According to figures released on January 11, 2012 by the Mexican government, 12,903 people were killed in drug-related violence in the first nine months of 2011."

That's the toll in just one country in just 9 months. Imagine what that pile of bodies would look like stacked in front of your home. Now at least triple the size of that pile to account for 9 months of drug related murders worldwide. These are real people, like your family and friends are real people. That pile of bodies is a gruesome example of true horror. No one can tell me the war on drugs is a morally correct cause when such ruthless slaughter is the result. Many South American countries are now considering legalizing street drugs because they have concluded it is the only way to end the violence.

Of the two-million people in American prisons nearly half are there on non-violent drug charges, one-sixth for marijuana alone. Due to our drug laws the U.S. has the highest percentage of its population in prison of any industrialized nation. One out of every thirty-seven adults now alive in the U.S. have been, or are, in prison. This does not include those who have only been in local jails. Government refusal to grant individuals true personal freedom causes thousands to be murdered, children to be torn from families, careers to be lost, and personal property acquired over a lifetime of hard work to be confiscated - all in the name of "goodness."

Freedom does not mean "only those behaviors approved by government." Freedom means doing as you please so long as you do not force others to participate in your behavior. There is no other way to define personal freedom in a fair and just society.

There is a push to legalize marijuana in California and a few other places, with growing support to tax the sale of the product in order to generate revenue for failing state budgets. While this may appear to be a step in the right direction, unless the tax is very low it could cause prices to remain high, which would perpetuate the violence associated with illegal drugs. The solution is to decriminalize freedom of choice in the pursuit of happiness and not place a tax on freedom. If the states want to profit from the sale of marijuana they should open state run stores to compete with street vendors. By insuring quality product the states could charge slightly higher prices, but it's tough to make big profits from selling a weed that will grow almost anywhere.

In terms of real crimes, there will always be those who refuse to play by the rules and will treat others unfairly. However, a society that is fair with its people and provides the ability to earn a comfortable living with minimal effort will dramatically reduce crime.

Suicide bombers in the Middle east and child armies in Africa are recruited from impoverished populations where individuals have no opportunity to attain a decent standard of living. Parents in Pakistan often send their children to radical Muslim schools simply because they can not afford to feed them, and these schools then isolate the children from all outside contact in order to convince them to wage a holly war against whoever they are told is the enemy. They are taught to believe that life isn't worth living and dying for their religion will result in a glorious experience in the next world. That's how suicide bombers are created. Such conditioning is not a part of mainstream Muslim teaching, but is an example of what happens when poor people lack the opportunity to live a comfortable life. Poverty is a source of crime everywhere. Economic policies which ignore the real needs of every person to survive with dignity create crime where there would otherwise be none.

In addition to providing basic economic opportunity, crime can be further reduced by educating people regarding the concept of fairness. When people do commit crimes, the intension of putting people in jail should be to remind prisoners of the benefits of cooperation and opportunity as much as to prevent them from harming others. Prison stays should start out short and consist of solitary confinement, structured class time and daily exercise periods alone. Putting like-minded (criminal) people together where they freely associate with others who think the same way is truly stupid. It only serves to reinforce the kind of ideas that got those people into trouble in the first place. Prison times should increase exponentially for each repeat offense, as further incentive to be fair.

When it comes to those who simply refuse to be fair with others after numerous opportunities to learn differently, it would be equally "fair," and much cheaper, to simply kill such people and be done with it. However, it is better for society to pay the financial costs of a lifetime of incarceration than to unjustly kill a single innocent person with capital punishment, and I don't think any of us want to live in a world where our government murders people. Those sentenced to long prison terms should be removed from solitary confinement after the first year and taught skills which can help them survive comfortably when returned to society.

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