Opinions - Libertarian vs. Liberal perpectives on drug legalization.

Discussion in 'Drug Policy Reform & Narco Politics' started by Riconoen {UGC}, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. Riconoen {UGC}

    Riconoen {UGC} Newbie

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    This is a little chestnut I found with a google search and found interesting. (sorry for the paragraphs it didn't paste well to the forum software it seems)

    To most observers of the drug policy debates, all drug legalizers are alike. The reality,
    however, is that legalizers come in two distinct flavors. Most legalizers are liberals, and their
    views on drug policy are consistent with liberal views on other issues. A minority of legalizers
    are libertarians, however, and their views on drug policy reflect libertarian perspectives on policy
    generally. There is ample overlap in the views espoused by these two camps. But there are also
    substantial differences in their views on legalization and related matters.
    In this piece I compare the liberal and libertarian views on drug legalization. Most
    advocacy on behalf of legalization comes from liberal supporters of this policy, so most persons
    familiar with the issue have been exposed mainly to this perspective. My goal here is to outline
    the libertarian defense of drug legalization and explain how it differs from the more usual
    approach.
    The discussion does not suggest that the libertarian defense is —better“ or —more correct“
    than the liberal perspective; instead, it clarifies the implicit assumptions underlying both views.
    In addition, the analysis suggests that some aspects of the libertarian perspective can make
    legalization appealing to a segment of the population that finds the liberal defense unpersuasive;
    thus, incorporating components of the libertarian perspective potentially strengthens the case for
    legalization.
    In presenting this analysis, I have oversimplified both liberal and libertarian views on
    legalization. There is enormous diversity within both camps, so many of the generalizations
    offered here are —unfair.“ But I believe the characterizations presented capture the essential
    elements in the two perspectives and thus allow easy discussion of the differences.


    Overview
    The fundamental tenet of the libertarian perspective on drug legalization is that
    individuals, not governments, should decide who consumes drugs. This stems in part from the
    libertarian assumption that most individuals make reasonable choices about drug use. It also
    reflects the libertarian view that, even when individuals make bad decisions about drug use,
    government attempts to —improve“ these decisions create more problems than they solve.
    Thus, libertarians accept that some drug use seems irrational and self-destructive, but
    they believe prohibition creates far more harm than drug use itself. Moreover, they do not think
    reducing drug use is an appropriate goal for government policy except in situations where such
    use has direct and substantial costs to innocent third parties. In both these senses, the libertarian
    view on drug policy is consistent with the libertarian attitude toward prohibitions generally.
    The liberal view on drug legalization stems from somewhat different considerations.
    Liberals do not generally trust individuals to make reasonable choices about drug use, and they
    think government should adopt policies that attempt to discourage drug use. But liberal
    legalizers do not like using police power to achieve this goal, especially when that power is
    directed at drug users as opposed to drug sellers. Thus, although liberal legalizers want
    government to reduce the harms from drug abuse, they prefer approaches other than prohibition.
    The liberal view on legalization reflects an assessment of the relative harms of drug use
    versus drug prohibition, and in that sense is similar to the libertarian calculus. But liberals put
    less weight on consumer sovereignty, and they are not as fundamentally suspicious of
    government prohibitions as are libertarians. Thus, for commodities viewed as substantially
    harmful (e.g., tobacco), liberals are willing to consider prohibition, but for commodities viewed
    as relatively benign (e.g., marijuana), they find prohibition excessive.
    Liberals and libertarians are in close agreement on the fact that prohibition has many
    undesired consequences. These include the infringements on civil liberties that are an inevitable
    consequence of attempts to sanction victimless crimes; the corruption and violence fostered in



    foreign countries by U.S. attempts to enforce prohibition; the increased frequency of overdoses
    and accidental poisonings that results from the poor quality control in black markets; the
    increased property crime that results from elevated drug prices; and the violence that results
    because participants in black markets settle disagreements with guns rather than lawyers.
    Liberal and libertarian legalizers agree, therefore, that the arrest and prosecution of drug
    users is ill-advised and that current enforcement of prohibition against drug suppliers is excessive.
    On the question of whether drug should be outright legalized, however, and on a broad range of
    other drug policy issues, they disagree considerably. In the remainder of this piece, I outline the
    main areas of disagreement.
    Legalization or Decriminalization
    Perhaps the most fundamental difference between libertarian and liberal legalizers is that
    libertarians favor outright legalization, while liberals prefer decriminalization or other partial
    measures. Under full legalization, the production, distribution, sale and possession of drugs are
    all legal; the law treats drugs like any other commodity. Under decriminalization, the possession
    of drugs is not subject to criminal sanctions, but penalties against production, distribution and sale
    remain in place. Thus, drugs are not legal commodities.
    This liberal preference for decriminalization derives from several sources. Liberals
    regard freedoms practiced by individuals as more important than freedoms practiced by
    businesses; thus, they defend the right to consume drugs more ardently than the right to sell
    drugs. Liberals also regard the pursuit of profits with skepticism, which makes them more
    hostile toward drug sellers than toward drug users. And focus on decriminalization is consistent
    with the liberal view that the main negative of prohibition is its adverse treatment of drug users.
    Many liberal legalizers do advocate more than just decriminalizing possession. The
    specific proposals, however, involve substantial government control over the production,
    distribution and sale of drugs.
    Some proposals, for example, permit the sale of drugs only
    through government-owned stores, as occurs for liquor in certain places. Other proposals require
    consumers to have special government IDs in order to buy drugs. Still other proposals retain
    much of the current legal regime while allowing freer distribution of drugs through medical
    channels, as in the British system of narcotic maintenance, or via clinics, as in methadone
    maintenance.
    Libertarians regard the decriminalization approach as odd. They note that for every
    buyer there must be a seller, so it makes little sense to criminalize one side of the market but not
    the other. And libertarians have no objection to the vigorous pursuit of profits, so long as this
    occurs within the law.
    Even more importantly, libertarians emphasize that decriminalization does little to reduce
    prohibition-generated ills other than those directly related to the adverse legal treatment of drug
    users. Decriminalization maintains the illegal status of production, distribution and sale of drugs,
    so the industry still operates underground. This means the negatives side effects of prohibition
    (crime, corruption, infringements on civil liberties, poor quality control, wealth transfers to
    criminals, disruption of other countries) all continue under decriminalization. The only benefit
    of decriminalization relative to prohibition is that drug users face limited legal penalties from
    drug use.
    Liberals might respond to this perspective by suggesting that several European countries
    have minimized the harms from drugs and drug prohibition by decriminalizing without legalizing.
    This conclusion is unwarranted, however, because it confounds the prohibition of drugs with the
    degree to which prohibition is enforced. Countries that have decriminalized are, by and large,
    countries with minimal enforcement of their drug laws generally, including those directed at the
    supply side. This low level of enforcement mitigates the effects of prohibition on crime,
    corruption, and other prohibition-generated ills, even though drugs are still prohibited.
    Thus, libertarians advocate outright legalization rather than decriminalization, although
    they agree that decriminalization is preferable to current practice. They also agree that expanded medical provision of drugs, or the supply of drugs via government stores, diminishes many
    prohibition-induced ills by bringing some or all of the drug market above ground. Libertarians
    nevertheless regard these partial approaches as less desirable than full legalization.
    Legalization of Marijuana Only versus Legalization of All Drugs
    A second important difference between liberal and libertarian positions on legalization is
    whether to legalize all drugs or just marijuana.
    For libertarians, the answer is all drugs. Libertarians view individuals as competent to
    make reasonable decisions about commodities that have modest risks, such as marijuana, and
    about commodities that have more serious risks, such as cocaine or heroin. They view the evils
    of prohibition as arising from the nature of prohibition itself, independent of the qualities of the
    product being prohibited.
    For many liberals, the answer is to legalize marijuana only. Since liberals are not
    convinced individuals make reasonable decisions on their own, their views on which drugs to
    legalize reflect their views on which drugs are relatively benign and which drugs are relatively
    harmful. Most observers regard marijuana as far less dangerous than cocaine, heroin, or other
    illegal drugs, which means liberals see legalization as obvious for marijuana but less compelling
    with respect to other drugs.
    The libertarian versus liberal perspective on addiction leads to the same conclusion about
    legalizing marijuana versus legalizing other drugs. By all reasonable accounts, marijuana is far
    less addictive than cocaine, heroin, and other prohibited drugs. To liberals, this is an important
    factor in determining the appropriate legal status, since liberals view addiction as a disease that
    invalidates users‘ ability to make rational choices about drug consumption.
    Libertarians do not accept this perspective. They agree that some commodities are
    reasonably characterized as habit-forming, but they do not regard addiction as a problem per se.


    Moreover, they believe those addicted to drugs bear responsibility for their actions, whatever the
    pharmacological properties of drugs. Thus again, they prefer legalization of all drugs.
    Subsidizing Drug Abuse Treatment
    A different issue that separates liberal and libertarian views on drug policy is
    government-funded treatment for drug abuse. The typical liberal view is that government
    expenditure on interdiction should be scaled back or eliminated, with these funds transferred to
    the budget for drug-abuse treatment. The libertarian view is that interdicting drugs and
    subsidizing treatment are, at a minimum, separate issues. Governments can scale back
    interdiction without necessarily increasing treatment budgets, and the question of whether to
    subsidize treatment arises with or without legalization.
    In addition, libertarians doubt that expenditure for drug-abuse treatment is a good
    expenditure of government funds. This perspective again derives from the view that most
    individuals make informed, voluntary decisions to use drugs and that reducing drug use is not an
    appropriate goal for government policy. This is not a criticism of treatment for persons who
    wish to curtail their drug use; rather, it is a view that treatment should be paid for by those
    obtaining the treatment.
    Moreover, libertarians believe government subsidy for drug-abuse treatment has several
    negatives. Perhaps most importantly, subsidizing treatment implicitly accepts the view that drug
    use is wrong; libertarians are agnostic on whether other persons‘ drug use is good or bad so long
    as that use does not substantially harm innocent third parties. A different negative is that
    accepting a government role in subsidizing treatment is the first step down a slippery slope
    toward coercing treatment, which has alarming implications for civil liberties.
    On top of these concerns, libertarians note that treatment is expensive, and there is little
    evidence that subsidized treatment produces long-term reductions in drug use. Plus, the demand for treatment would likely fall substantially under legalization, both because there would be less
    government coercion and because there would be less social pressure to abstain from drug use.
    Thus, whatever the case for subsidy, the appropriate amount would be far smaller under
    legalization.
    The liberal support for government-funded drug-abuse treatment partly reflects the view
    that drug use should be reduced, although by means other than police power. It also reflects the
    view that drug addiction is a treatable disease that is not controllable by individuals.
    Although support for subsidized treatment is widespread among liberal legalizers, this
    view is not uniform. Some liberals advocate legalization because they enjoy drug use and wish
    to do so without being hassled by the law. Many persons in this category view treatment as a
    waste of money that is perpetuated by the puritanical streak in U.S. society.
    And there is considerably more agreement between liberal and libertarian legalizers about
    the value of drug treatment, subsidized or not, in the case of marijuana. Many liberals share the
    libertarian perspective that treatment for marijuana reflects coercion by the state, with few users
    deriving any benefit from such treatment. There is agreement on this point because liberal
    legalizers view marijuana as relatively benign and thus see no point in treatment, regardless of
    who pays.
    The Regulation and Taxation of Legal Drugs
    In addition to disagreement about how far to go in legalizing drugs, liberal and libertarian
    legalizers disagree about the parameters of a legalized regime for drugs, given that one occurs.
    Libertarians would treat legalized drugs like all other goods. Liberal legalizers assume that, even
    if legal, drugs should be subject to substantially more regulation and taxation than applies to most
    other commodities.
    Sin Taxes: Liberal legalizers typically advocate heavy taxes for legalized drugs, as
    currently occurs for alcohol and tobacco. There are two main rationales.

    One is that drug useimposes negative effects on innocent third parties (e.g., by causing traffic accidents), so
    government policy should discourage use. The other is that many users make irrational decisions
    to consume drugs, so policy should again discourage use by imposing substantial taxes.
    Libertarians are suspicious of using the tax code in this manner. Libertarians do not,
    contrary to some assertions, oppose all taxation. Libertarians are not anarchists, simply persons
    who believe government should be far smaller than it is today.
    But libertarians oppose sin taxation and related tinkering because it is frequently
    manipulated for political reasons. They suggest it is hard to know which goods generate the
    biggest externalities, and given the perspective that individuals should make reasonable decisions
    about drug use or bear the consequences of their actions, libertarians do not endorse policies that
    discourage drug consumption. Plus, libertarians worry that sin taxation can increase to the point
    where it drives the drug market underground, which generates the same negatives as prohibition.
    Libertarians agree that legalization combined with moderate sin taxation is a far better
    approach than prohibition. But their preference is to have drugs taxed at whatever rate applies to
    all other goods.
    Age Restrictions on the Purchase of Legalized Drugs: Liberal legalizers typically
    assume that age restrictions similar to those currently in effect for alcohol and tobacco would
    apply to legalized drugs. They view current age restrictions as beneficial, assuming that these
    both restrict access by minors and send an appropriate message about consuming —adult“ goods.
    Libertarians suspect that age restrictions do more harm than good. They believe minors
    often evade these restrictions, which breeds contempt for the law by the minors who purchase the
    goods and by the merchants who sell them. They also note that legislating minimum purchase
    ages can encourage parents to supervise their children less diligently, under the (oft-mistaken)
    assumption that the law has addressed the problem. Again, libertarians would regard a legalized
    regime with age restrictions as an enormous improvement over total prohibition; and they would not object strongly to mild age restrictions for purchase of drugs. But their first choice would be
    no age restrictions whatsoever.
    Advertising Restrictions on Legalized Drugs: Libertarians would impose few if any
    restrictions on advertising of legalized drugs. In part this reflects respect for the First
    Amendment; in part it reflects the view that advertising does not persuade people to consume
    goods but merely shifts preferences across brands. It also stems from the view that advertising
    can be beneficial: it provides consumers with information about different products, and it gives
    producers a way to attract business when they develop products that have good ratios of benefits
    to risks. Libertarians accept that legalization combined with advertising restrictions is preferable
    to prohibition; but their first choice is to avoid advertising restrictions as well.
    Liberals view consumers as far more impressionable and manipulable than do
    libertarians. They do not think consumers consistently take available information and make
    reasonable choices. Thus, liberal legalizers fear advertising would persuade many persons to
    consume drugs who would not otherwise do so, and they implicitly assume this is undesirable.
    They would therefore ban most or all advertising of legalized drugs, as currently occurs for
    tobacco products.
    Needle Exchange Programs
    Liberals legalizers often suggest that governments should operate needle exchange
    programs that provide clean syringes to drug users in order to reduce the spread of HIV.
    Libertarians do not think this is an appropriate function of government. Rather, they believe drug
    users should determine and accept the risks associated with drug use, and they assume the private
    sector can supply drugs with the degree of risk that consumers demand.
    Although needle exchange programs again raise differences between liberal and
    libertarian legalizers, this disagreement becomes moot under legalization. A critical reason for
    these programs is prohibition-inspired restrictions on the sale of clean needles. Under legalization, such restrictions would soften or disappear, so drug users who wished to purchase
    and use syringes would find them both legal and inexpensive.
    In addition, legalization would produce substantial declines in drug prices. This means
    users would have less incentive to seek the elevated —bang-for-the-buck“ provided by injection.
    No doubt some users would still inject, but a substantial fraction would choose less risky
    consumption methods. And the range of such methods would increase under legalization. For
    example, drugs like heroin might be packaged with inexpensive, disposable syringes that would
    reduce the incidence of shared needles and thus diminish the spread of disease.

    Drug-Testing
    Another critical difference between liberal and libertarian perspectives on drug policy
    concerns drug-testing of job applicants and employees. Liberals generally regard such testing
    with suspicion, believing it an inappropriate invasion of privacy conducted by untrustworthy
    firms who hound their employees in the pursuit of profits.
    Libertarians take a more nuanced view. They regard government policies that mandate
    drug-testing as unwarranted intrusions in the marketplace. But they believe private employers
    have the right to use drug-testing if they wish. Some employers might adopt testing because they
    believe drug use reduces productivity; others might adopt testing because they believe it identifies
    responsible employees. In the libertarian view, employers get to make this call, whether or not
    objective evidence substantiates their concerns.
    Implications
    This essay has discussed the differences between liberal and libertarian perspectives on
    drug legalization and related policies.
    The discussion makes clear that liberal and libertarian
    legalizers differ on a huge range of issues; indeed, they agree fully only on the relatively limited questions of whether prohibition should be applied to individual drug users and whether current
    enforcement against suppliers is excessive.
    What are the lessons from considering the libertarian justification for drug legalization?
    In my view, there are two.
    First, examination of the libertarian view helps indicate that some aspects of the drug
    policy debate are logically separable from the question of legalization. The main examples are
    subsidizing treatment and government promotion of, or restrictions on, drug-testing. Whatever
    the merits of these policies, they are logically separate from the issue of legalization versus
    prohibition. This is not to say their effects are the same under the two regimes. But the view
    that prohibition is a bad idea does not mean subsidized treatment is a good idea nor that drug
    testing is a bad idea. These policies require a separate analysis.
    Second, the libertarian perspective provides a defense of legalization that is potentially
    appealing to some citizens who find the liberal defense unpersuasive. In particular, the liberal
    perspective strikes some observers as —indulging“ drug users, via subsidized treatment,
    government-funded needle exchanges, protection from drug tests, and the like. The libertarian
    view suggests instead that people should be free to use drugs, or abuse drugs, if they like, but that
    drug users must bear the consequences. For some persons, this is a more convincing rationale
    than the standard liberal perspective.
    This is not to suggest the libertarian defense of drug legalization is an easy sell. Among
    liberal legalizers, it runs into difficulties because liberals do not accept the key libertarian
    assumption that most drug use is rational. And the libertarian view has difficulty even with
    —soft“ libertarians because, in its pure form, it puts the entire onus for responsible drug use on
    individuals. In particular, most persons other than hard-core libertarians will, at least initially,
    prefer modifications in drug policy that focus on marijuana and incorporate auxiliary regulation
    such as sin taxes, minimum purchase ages, and advertising restrictions.

    Nevertheless, some persons who find drug use distasteful, and who thus regard the liberal
    defense of legalization as too tolerant, might still accept legalization under certain conditions: that
    tax dollars are not spent on subsidized treatment or needle exchanges; that employers are free to
    use drug-testing, if they wish; and that drug users are held accountable for their actions.
    The overall message, then, is that the libertarian defense of legalization has a potentially
    important role to play in the policy debates. This does not mean liberal and libertarian legalizers
    cannot agree on key arguments for legalization. But the analysis here suggests that a modest
    rethinking of the standard defense can broaden the impact of this message.
     
    1. 5/5,
      a very nice post
      Apr 15, 2007
  2. Shiacmkmleer

    Shiacmkmleer Titanium Member

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    Good idea for discussion! I fall on the libertarian side but it wouldn't surprise me if a lot of users here fell on the liberal side. Sadly the road to legalization in the United State will probably have to play to the liberals rather than the freedom lovers. Most Americans have forgotten what true freedom is. I recently read Pikhal the last chapter “lecture at the university” blew my mind. Because he is right we are slowly falling to a totalitarian state.

     
  3. Nacumen

    Nacumen Gold Member

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    While I didn't read all of the article (too long, not enough time), I'm of the libertarian persuasion described it. It would be nice to know where it came from, but well, Riconoen has been banned for a long time now.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2007
  4. Kernacktur

    Kernacktur Silver Member

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    Very nice article. I consider myself very Libertarian, the only LIbertarian things I really disagreed with were the no taxing and no government funded anti-drug programs. If drugs were legalized I think they should have a tax similar to cigarettes. In my area name brand packs are usually between $4.50-$5 after tax. The money could be used for underfunded government services, one of them more often than not being schools. Also I think the government should still have anti-drug programs. I now they're usually completely biased and give false information they do help to keep people dumb enough to believe the garbage off drugs. Just imagine what a "marijuana kills!!!" nay sayer would be like if they were a drug addict. NO GOOD lol. And honestly everyone knows drugs are harmful to your body to some degree some more than others. It wouldn't be a bad idea to prevent drug use, not everyone is responsible. With all this being said I am a heavy drug user but still feels drug laws should be handled in this manner.
    Politics on Drugs Forum FTW!
     
    1. 3/5,
      great points about tax revenue
      Jan 15, 2012
  5. Iseethefnords

    Iseethefnords Newbie

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    I consider myself very libertarian as well, nice article, too bad it seems you were banned :D.
     
  6. Broshious

    Broshious Silver Member

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    Why on earth should drugs have a "special tax"? Why should I pay for underfunded government services simply because I want to enjoy drugs?
     
  7. Nagognog2

    Nagognog2 Iridium Member

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    Because George Washington started taxing spirits to pay for the Revolutionary War. From there is snowballed.
     
  8. Iseethefnords

    Iseethefnords Newbie

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    From my point of view sin taxes need to be repealed, tax alcohol and cigs like everything else, and if drugs ever get legalized tax them like everything else and no special sin tax becuase "they're still bad even though they're legal".
     
  9. Kernacktur

    Kernacktur Silver Member

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    I think paying alittle extra tax on drugs would be a nice compromise instead of having to go to jail.
     
  10. Broshious

    Broshious Silver Member

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    You said you think they SHOULD. That sounds like you'd want them that way without it being part of a compromise to legalize drugs.
     
  11. Iseethefnords

    Iseethefnords Newbie

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    But why does the special tax go to drugs? why punish people for thier vices?, in my area cigarettes are becoming more and more expensive by the year and now thier is a growing black market in stolen cigs, no bullshit. this is the government not the vatican, tax them like any other good.
     
  12. Broshious

    Broshious Silver Member

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    I wouldn't even call them vices. That implies that they're intrinsically bad when they are far from it. What I may call a vice you may not.
     
  13. Kernacktur

    Kernacktur Silver Member

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    Just think of how much prices would drop after legalization anyways. Unlike most people I actually see the need for taxes. Taxes pay for what the government provides. The small tax could be used to pay for roads, schooling, pensions, etc. How much does a pack of name brand ciggs cost in your area really? Here it's never more than $5 plus tax.
     
  14. Broshious

    Broshious Silver Member

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    Yeah we need taxes, and I believe we already pay them on income as well as non-cigarette purchases. Why tax these items especially? Why not tax everything the same way?
     
  15. Liltony420

    Liltony420 Newbie

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    I don't think the states will ever legalize. Their drug companies seem to control everything. Doctors are constantly caught prescribing unneccessary prescriptions for drug companies they except "rewards" from.
     
    1. 3/5,
      Very, VERY important factor as to why the U.S will never legalize. Big Pharma's lobbying money will set it in stone every time: PERIOD.
      Nov 24, 2015
  16. misskatie

    misskatie Titanium Member

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    I am totally in favour of complete legalization in line with the liberatrian view. For starters because it should be individual responsibility whether someone uses drugs or not but also because the amount of tax revenue that could be generated while still undercutting illegal drug prices would be a great injection of funds at a time when governments are struggling with debts.

    Not to mention improved safety and purity and less crime... its sad that this will probably not happen within my lifetime
     
  17. Mindless

    Mindless Gold Member Donating Member

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    I fall within the libertarian legalisation camp. As stated in the original post of this thread, this reflects my personal convictions about individual choice and freedom. Regulated production and supply of now illicit drugs would save lives, and deny criminal organisations both product and market.

    I'd still welcome liberal decriminalisation, insane as it sounds to me it's still a step in the right direction. Much of the oppression of drug users is applied via the criminal justice system, hopefully decriminalisation would keep most of us out of courts and prisons. As to if we'll ever have either legalisation or decriminalisation in my lifetime, I don't know. We can keep trying to change attitudes and policies in various ways, and we can share our experience on DF. Keep Hope Alive!
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012
  18. Doctor Who

    Doctor Who Silver Member

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    Natural Herbs & Prescription Drugs are Far Safer than "Street Drugs". the Government needs to stop arresting Doctors for doing their job & should decriminalize any Natural substance whatever. Law enforcement has enough to do with stopping major crime groups from importing Drugs that are impure & cut with who knows what! If Doctors were Free to Prescribe what people wanted ( at reasonable prices ) & Natural Plants were left alone, the illegal drug market would slowly lose it's customers ( Who would pay $10 for 50 cents worth of heroin if you could get it at a pharmacy like before 1914? )! Legal Cannabis would provide plenty of "tax" $$$ Too!!!
     
  19. tatittle

    tatittle Silver Member

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    I am too tired to read it all but what I did is well written. My only issue is liberals dont want legalization, they want to manipulate and regulate differently...those regulations are prohibitions by definitions. It is now obvious I am firmly libertarian...as was this country (USA) historically. All the laws started with Progressives in the 1920's and they couldnt truly outlaw drugs until 1970. Before that they just refused to issue tax stamps on certain drugs essentially...hence the IRS enforcing Prohibition.

    re: post below:

    The Vatican PROPOSES things; government IMPOSES things...there is a big difference!

    tatittle added 0 Minutes and 52 Seconds later...

    this is the government not the vatican, tax them like any other good.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
  20. bluenarrative

    bluenarrative Silver Member

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    I looked at the article and I was struck by a statement that demonstrates a fairly egregious misreading of Libertarian philosophy.

    The article states that Libertarians believe that most people, given a choice, will make responsible decisions.

    I know very few Libertarians who would agree with that statement. In fact, the foundation of the Libertarian argument for legalization is a moral and ethical argument. Whether or not a person (or "most people") make good or bad choices is irrelevant. The argument hinges on the government's moral authority to make personal decisions for individuals.

    In fact, modern Libertarianism evolved as an attempt to revive and reclaim the principles of "classic Liberalism," which looks nothing at all like the modern jumble of statist and collectivist notions that are ordinarily referred to as "Liberalism." Modern "Liberalism" is paternalism writ Large. It invariably leads to "Statism"-- the belief that government is a social compact in which "experts" (unelected bureaucrats) should be given authority over people's private lives, in exchange for "better" outcomes.

    Modern Liberalism is an aberrant outgrowth of what 18th century Brits termed "Toryism." Modern Conservatism is an American refinement of what 18th century Brits would have termed "Whiggism."

    The contemporary Libertarian movement is an attempt on the part of some people to reclaim the principles of the Whigs and infuse these ideas into the contemporary Conservative movement.

    Not all Republicans are conservative. Not all Conservatives are anti-statists. The right side of the aisle has more than a few folks who harbor reactionary and statist solutions to perceived problems.
    Nelson Rockefeller was the poster-boy for these folks. And the modern Libertarian movement emerged as a check on the thinking and the power of the "Rockefeller Republican" wing of the party.

    Libertarians (like the Whigs before them) did NOT believe that people have a natural tendency to "do good" or to "make good choices." On the contrary, Libertarians and "classic Conservatives" have predicated their political philosophy on the Judeo-Christian notion that human beings are inherently flawed and selfish. Libertarians and Conservatives agree that it is precisely because human beings are imperfect, self-centered, finite, relatively ignorant, and prone to make really bad choices that statism or Liberalism never really works.

    Modern "Liberals" (and all statists, be they Communists or Fascists) believe that human nature is mutable. They believe that with good social engineering humanity can evolve into some sort of substantially "improved" beings, possessed of enhanced "moral" instincts. This was the Nazi myth of the Volk. And this was the Communist myth of "the new Soviet man."

    Every important treatise on Libertarian and Conservative political philosophy starts off by discussing this radical disagreement. Libertarians and Conservatives firmly believe that human nature is not mutable. In this, they line up exactly with the foundational premises of both Judaism and Christianity.

    In a nutshell, doctrinaire Libertarians do NOT believe that "most people will make responsible choices." They are absolutely sure that just the opposite is the case. But, they firmly believe that the government has no moral authority (or philosophical basis) upon which to interfere with these irresponsible choices.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
    1. 3/5,
      a very well stated argument
      Oct 8, 2015