Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

November 29, 2006

The Greatest Threat To Our Rights

by Doug Mataconis

The Bush Administration would have us believe that the greatest threat to our rights comes from al Qaeda and its allies. However, as McQ states in a post at The QandO Blog, the real threat comes not from our enemy in the War on Terror, but from a war being fought much closer to home:

It seems absurd to have to write about something which you feel should be obvious to everyone. The War on Drugs is a war on liberty and that simple truth is demonstrated almost daily on the streets and in homes around our nation.

This isn’t an attempt to say drugs are good or that drugs should be sold to children or that we should happily give over our lives to getting high, anymore than I’d claim alcohol is good, should be sold to children and we should spend our lives getting drunk. Obviously I don’t endorse any of that.

And I’m not interested in the usual and prosaic “so you want our children to have access to drugs?” response. Wake up, will you … they already have access to drugs in quantities and types you can’t imagine. The War on Drugs hasn’t stopped that in the least, nor will it ever. All it has done is drive up the price.

We’ve seen the costs of that war played out before us over the last week as more news comes out about what increasingly looks like the totally unjustified shooting of an elderly woman in Atlanta. In reality, though, it’s a story that has been playing itself out, over and over, again for at least the past thirty years. The more the government tries to crack down on illegal drugs, the further they erode the civil liberties of everyone in the country.

We’ve been having this debate for years now. In 1989, the late Milton Friedman sent an open letter to then Drug Czar Bill Bennett where he said:

“Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore …Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.”

Bennett, of course, didn’t listen back then and we’ve continued to pay the price. How many more innocent elderly women will have to die before things finally change ?

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