reboot the republic daily August 18, 2010

Video: Thomas Sowell on Intellectuals and Society (2009)

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 04:01 PM PDT

The War on Drugs Has Been a Whopper of a Failure

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 03:00 PM PDT

From Liberty For All

America’s futile effort to arrest its way out of our drug problems has cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion since 1970, and it drains $69 billion a year — every year — from our treasury. It funds terrorists and clogs the court system, yet our kids report that it can be easier for them to buy illegal drugs than beer or cigarettes.

As a child growing up in Wichita, I learned to spot a failure when I saw one. And this one’s a whopper.

Our government pours billions of dollars into poisoning crops in other counties, turning dirt-poor farmers into mortal enemies, and risking our soldiers against highly armed, ruthless drug gangs. And what did the CIA recently admit? After our latest $4 billion eradication effort in Afghanistan, the heroin-producing poppy trade is the largest ever recorded.

Another $4 billion wasted to eradicate coca plants in Colombia has resulted in an increase in coca, and that trade has now been joined by Colombian entrepreneurs who produce opium poppies.

What exactly are we getting for our trillion tax dollars? A good feeling?

But you know who really feels good about our war on drugs? The drug cartels. And the terrorists.

But just as happened to Al Capone and his smuggling buddies when Prohibition ended, the drug lords and terrorists would be out of business without this “war.”

How has our war on drugs affected traditional police work? We solve a much lower percentage of our nation’s homicide cases today than we did in the 1950s, despite more police per capita, better training and technical equipment. How many serious violent crimes go unresolved because police are busy chasing marijuana users?

The war on drugs doesn’t make us any safer. The war on drugs doesn’t prevent drug abuse. The war on drugs costs a fortune. And the war on drugs and its huge profits encourage corruption at all levels of law enforcement.

The good news is that there are workable alternatives. When the Swiss did a 10-year experiment, treating heroin addicts by giving them heroin up to three times a day, everything changed. There was a 60 percent drop in property and violent crime, overdose deaths disappeared, AIDS and hepatitis declined to the lowest rates in Europe, addiction rates went down as addicts stabilized their lives enough to kick their habit, and the rate of projected cases of new heroin users fell by a staggering 82 percent.

By treating heroin addiction as a medical problem, instead of a sign of bad moral character, officials were able to tame Switzerland’s drug problem and gut the drug dealers, as we had always dreamed — just like that.

I represent Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an international group of law officers who are sworn opponents of drug abuse. We know a system of legalized regulation of drugs is more efficient and ethical than one of prohibition.

Originally published at the LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) blog January 25, 2007.


Related posts:

  1. It’s Time To Legalize Drugs
  2. Some Random Thoughts About the War On Drugs
  3. “A Drug War Carol” Exposes True History of the War on Drugs

What Handouts To Cut

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 11:11 AM PDT


By Walter E. Williams

Because of failure to heed the limitations of the U.S. Constitution, which has produced runaway federal spending, our nation sits on the precipice of disaster. Former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Erskine Bowles, White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, co-chairmen of President Obama’s debt and deficit commission, in a Washington Post article “Obama’s Debt Commission Warns of Fiscal ‘Cancer’” (July 12, 2010) said that “(A)t present, federal revenue is fully consumed by three programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The rest of the federal government, including fighting two wars, homeland security, education, art, culture, you name it, veterans — the whole rest of the discretionary budget is being financed by China and other countries.”

The commission added the current budget trend is a disaster “that will destroy the country from within” unless checked by tough action in Washington. The tough action required is spending cuts in programs, including the so-called nondiscretionary, eating most of the federal revenues.

According to the Census, around 80 percent of Americans 65 and older own their own homes compared to 43 percent under 35. Twenty-three million households, or 37 percent of all homeowners, own their homes free and clear, and most of these are seniors aged 65 and older. According to the Federal Reserve Board’s 2007 “Survey of Consumer Finances,” the median net worth of people 65 and over is $232,000, those under 35 years have a net worth of $12,000 and for those 35-44, it’s $87,000.

For good reason, older people have accumulated more wealth than younger people; the primary reason is that they’ve had more time to do it. There is no logical case that can be made for using the tax system to force Americans with less wealth to subsidize those with more wealth. But it’s not clear who is subsidizing whom. Consider an elderly widow, say 70 years old, with a modest retirement income of $18,000 living in a $300,000 house that’s fully paid for. She might receive local property tax forgiveness, medical and prescription drug subsidies and other federal, state and local subsidies based upon her age and income.

When subsidies are provided for this lady, whom are we truly benefiting? It’s not the lady but her heirs. Conceivably, the lady could make a deal with a financial institution to pay her property taxes, allow her to live in the house for the rest of her life and give her a lump sum cash settlement so that she can live without the handouts. Upon her death, the house becomes the property of the financial institution, not her heirs. Giving the widow handouts allows her to bequeath to her heirs her assets, a $300,000 house. If her children want to inherit the house, they, rather than taxpayers, ought to take care of their mother.

We can start getting the federal spending under control by ending subsidies to people with high net worth that can be ready turned into cash such as a home or business. While seniors might say that they support reduced government spending, they, like other handout recipients, believe they have a right, through government, to live at the expense of others. What’s more, they have considerable clout — they vote in large numbers. Only 50 percent of young people vote, but up to 70 percent of seniors vote.

Political guts have always been in short supply and politicians fear senior retaliation at the polls. Moreover, it’s a practical matter for seniors and politicians. The true economic calamity won’t hit the country until 2030 or 2040. By that time, both today’s politicians and seniors will be dead so why should they make sacrifices now to prevent an economic calamity decades off into the future? Seniors might protest my cynicism but they can easily prove me wrong by waging an effective campaign to end handouts based on superannuation.


Related posts:

  1. The Handouts Just Keep Coming
  2. Ron Paul Casts Sole ‘No’ Vote on Oil Spill Subpoena Power
  3. Budget Chief Contradicts Obama on Medicare Costs

Video: Walter E. Williams – The Issue is Private Property

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 08:10 AM PDT