“Drugs: To Legalize or Not” – WSJ — More Paternalistic Drug War Lies from the WSJ

In the Wall Street Journal article entitled Drug’s: To Legalize or Not,  Bush’s Drug Czar John P. Walters, deliberately lies, tricks and misdirects his readers because he genuinely believes that the reader isn’t smart enough to comprehend the real reasons he wants to keep drugs illegal.   Paternalism makes me feel a little queasy when it comes from naive liberals; it makes me angry when it comes from supposed ‘conservatives’ like Walters.  This anger has compelled me to debunk this brutish essay.

The title, Drug’s: To Legalize or Not, sets off alarms immediately.  Drugs: Yes or No!  Black or White!   Legalization or … not legalization.  Very few people who advocate drug law reform advocate ‘legalization.’  Is alcohol legal?  Only if you’re older than 21.  Are painkillers legal?  Only if you have a prescription.  Reformers advocate decriminalization.  We believe drug use is a mental and physical health issue.  We should give treatment instead of jail time, just like we give alcoholics treatment instead of jail time.  Government should regulate drugs and control the marketplace, not drive it underground.  The more harmful the drug, the more it should be regulated.  The fight to reduce demands should take place in public between within communities and in the media, not in black market places between gang members and police officers.

Walter’s article is filled with lies and misdirections.  I want to point a few of them out.


While there are many “end the drug war” plans, all of them, as even their advocates admit, result in more drug use and addiction.

LIE!  His entire argument is build off this tremendous, bold faced lie.  People who want to decriminalize drugs DO NOT believe consumption will go up.  It’s easy to imagine how decriminalization will lead to more use but history does not support that belief.


What would America look like with twice or three times as many drug users and addicts?

The best way to disguise a lie and make it look like an agreed upon opinion is to made the lie HUGE.  Of course there are no citations.


Americans can’t forget the meth epidemic hitting the heartland earlier this decade. In 2004, 1.4 million people said they had used methamphetamine in the past year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The powerful, long-lasting stimulant began growing rapidly as the make-it-yourself drug, using a precursor in over-the-counter cold medicine.

If drugs were decriminalized there is a good chance meth never would have been invented.  People found a way to mix ‘over-the-counter’ materials to create something that gets people high.  The outcome is a disaster.  People during Prohibition made moonshine, which was more potent and dangerous, because liquor was illegal.  Meth is modern day moonshine.  So was crack.  Drug warrirors often make their greatest victories against the monsters that they themselves had indirectly created.


The violence essential to drug trafficking is meant to be shocking — from the marijuana traffickers who brutally murdered DEA special agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in Mexico in 1985 to the viciousness of rolling heads across a dance floor — calculated to frighten decent citizens and government authorities into silence.

Violence from drug trafficking only exists because drugs must be ‘trafficked.’  How much violence is associated with liquor or pharmaceutical trafficking?  He gets extra points for attributing the violence to ‘marijuana’ traffickers since marijuana is America’s most popular illegal drug and #1 “cash crop.”


Roughly 80% of child abuse and neglect cases are tied to the use and abuse of drugs.

This statistic clearly includes alcohol in the definition of ‘drug.’  Drug warriors  include alcohol in their definition of ‘drugs’ when it suits them.


Legalized access to drugs would increase drug-related suffering dramatically.

Hey kids: repeat this statement 10 times a day!


Today, even highly traditional and regulated societies like Thailand, Malaysia, Iran and Afghanistan are suffering terrible addiction problems — because heroin is addictive and easily accessible.

Tradition?  Regulation? What’s he trying to say here?  He’s subtle (and ingeniously) implying that these societies have great values (traditional!) but are regulated (legalized?) and suffer serious problems.  He’s trying to poison the word ‘regulated.’  Heroin is very illegal in these counties.  After than he reminds us ‘heroin is addictive and easily accessible.’   It’s true!  The sky is blue.  True!  Pharmaceutical companies sell billions of dollars worth of legalized opiates (heroin) in the form of Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, etc.  True!


Although cynics on the left and right assert the drug problem is as big or bigger than ever, it is simply not true. Illegal drug use is still a problem, but by any fair assessment it is a smaller problem. Half as many teens are using drugs than 30 years ago and a quarter fewer than seven years ago, according to the Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study conducted by the University of Michigan under grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cocaine and meth use are less than half what they were at their peak. Even drug offenders are a smaller percentage of the prison population than they were 15 or even seven years ago.

National Institute on Drug Abuse.  Another trustworthy institution funded by the same people that fund the war on drugs.  I don’t know where these numbers came from but they’re wrong or misguided.  America has the world’s highest incarceration rate of 1 in every 100 citizens: more than China or Russia by a long shot.  1 in 9 black males between 20 and 35 are CURRENTLY in jail.


It is the violence focused on the threat of violent takeover by rival criminal groups that is an unfortunate but perhaps necessary first step in restoring the rule of law.

This is the conclusion of a strange explanation of US ‘success’ in Columbia.  Columbia has been a tremendous failure.  In January Newsweek came out with a massive article entitled ‘Columbia’s Failed Drug War.’


We can make progress faster when more of us learn that drug use and addiction can not be an expression of individual liberty in a free society. Drug abuse is, by nature and the laws of organic chemistry that govern this disease, incompatible with freedom and civil society. Drug abuse makes human life solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short (a special version of Hobbes’s hell in our own families). In the deepest sense, this is why failure is not an option.

His ultimately conclusion is frightening:  “drug use can not be an expression of individual liberty in a free society.”  If one’s ability to chose what one puts into their own body is not “an expression of individual liberty in a free society” than what is?  What freedom is left? If this author were honest, he’d say that individuals are not rational enough to determine how they medicate themselves so we need government to prevent the creation of a self-medicated culture.  He’d prefer to redefine the concepts of ‘individual liberty’ and ‘free society’ than admit the socialist nature of his perfectly natural paternal instincts.

Welcome to the ‘conservative’ contradiction: half are free market lovers and half are special interest socialists.  The conflict between those two adversarial  political preferences is dangerous.  They’re coalition poisons the concepts of ‘individual liberty’ and ‘free society’.  Conservatives would prefer to commit heresy against our state religion of individual liberty and freedom than admit that they’d prefer a paternalist state than a free one.  This is, in my opinion, the ultimate sin and an act of intellectual treason.  Playing games with the meanings of such important worlds weakens our society’s ability to remain democratic.  This author’s logic will have us all repeating ‘war is peace, freedom is slavery’ in no time.

“Europe Syndrome” – WSJ — A Superior Reason We Don’t Want Europe Syndrome

Europe Syndrome was a fantastic article in the WSJ that reminds me of the best of the conservative intellectual school of thought.  However, like many of  Charles Murray’s predecessors, he let’s his opinions on individuality and family get the better of his logic, rendering his premise fundamentally wrong.  You should still read the article if you’ve got a few minutes because intelligent conservative criticism is rare and consuming it is intellectually rewarding.

This is the paragraph where things go awry:

“When the government takes the trouble out of being a spouse and parent, it doesn’t affect the sources of deep satisfaction for the CEO. Rather, it makes life difficult for the janitor. A man who is holding down a menial job and thereby supporting a wife and children is doing something authentically important with his life. He should take deep satisfaction from that, and be praised by his community for doing so. Think of all the phrases we used to have for it: “He is a man who pulls his own weight.” “He’s a good provider.” If that same man lives under a system that says that the children of the woman he sleeps with will be taken care of whether or not he contributes, then that status goes away.”

First, the author ties social status with life fulfillment, which is questionable.  Then, he says that a man should take deep satisfaction from ‘doing something authentically important with his life’ which he defines in the case of the janitor as ‘supporting a wife and children’.  What if the work a man must do to support his family suppresses the man’s soul?  What if the burden of having to independently finance a family keeps someone from self-actualizing and loving their work?  Shouldn’t we celebrate a system that frees people from menial jobs and wage slavery so that they can self actualize and do what they love to do instead of what the market imposes upon them?  (Sure, the system might raise the cost of janitorial services but there is something to be said about cleaning up one’s own mess.)

What the author should have said is this:

Deep satisfaction comes from doing the right thing for one’s self, family and community.

Doing the right thing for one’s self means, I think by definition, self actualizing — it means profoundly loving your work and having your work profoundly love you.  We should celebrate when efficient technology and societal organization allows people to free him or herself from a menial job so that they can pursue a more fulfilling career.  Instead, Murray laments that the janitor is free to idly and unhappily spent his time doing nothing.  It is our culture’s role to make sure people free from menial labor find a fulfilling vocation.  That’s where the great awakening Murray discusses would come into play.

Doing what’s right for one’s family certainly involves financially supporting them but the American notion that every family lives in it’s own economic bunker is destructive and makes us forget that accumulating currency is not the only way to support one’s family.  Family and community deeply intersect so if a person dedicates their life to supporting their community the community should support that person’s family. Just because the market can’t accurately value participating in the education of children, supporting the sick, assisting the poor and engaging with the democratic processes that keep our communities healthy, free and vigorous does not mean these activities are worthless or that communities can’t value them.  Fully participating in community life might leave someone broke but the value they create makes us all more wealthy.  This truth manifests itself in Eastern cultures where up to 20% of the population lives as monks who avoid market participation by receiving alms from the communities they serve.

What’s being argued here is this: by allowing some people to rely on the financial support of others to survive we will free some people to become deeply involved with making our communities better and stronger.  The East has a vibrant spiritual life because they allow their spiritual members to live outside the influences of the marketplace.  We’ve seen in the West how poorly Spirit and money mix.

America was founded as an experiment and we must continue as one.  We’ve let ourselves stray from the course of freedom and self-sufficiency structured by our founders and fantasized about by our great economists.  We’re stuck in a horrid grey area: inefficient like the European social states without their material equality.  I have little doubt that we could transform into a ‘glossy’ European culture but that is not our destiny: in fact it’s a cop out.  We can acheive European standards, and greatly exceed them, if we invest in our people and aim for the absolutely free state that ‘perfect market’ economics like Milton Friedman describe.

We need a great awakening sparked by reinvestmenting in non-governmental community strength.  Spirituality can only come from freedom and true freedom can only come from spirituality.  That is the role of America in the global story: a small government, a large degree of personal freedom and open minds that synergize eastern and western wisdom and knowledge to create a more expansive world view that the whole world can share.