Friday, January 11, 2019

The War on Drugs, and the conundrum of laws versus human nature


My blog post yesterday, 'So much for drugs being a "victimless crime" ', attracted numerous commenters.  Some waxed almost vitriolic about how stupid I and others were being for not understanding that human behavior is a constant, and one can't legislate morality (or words to that effect).  I won't repeat them here, but I invite you to click over to the earlier article and peruse them for yourself.  When you're done, come back here and continue reading.

I suppose commenters there can be divided into two main groups.  The first are those who believe that there is absolute good and absolute evil;  things that are intrinsically right or wrong.  (I fall into this group.)  Drug abuse would fall under the "intrinsically wrong" category.  Therefore, measures to discourage and/or prohibit drug abuse are essentially moral, and exist for the good of society.  (Note that this view does not specify what measures are good or bad, effective or ineffective.  I'll be the first to agree that many of the laws, regulations and measures enacted in the name of the War on Drugs have proved to be very damaging to society, and need to be ended.  Nevertheless, I agree with the need for a legal prohibition on the illegal use of narcotics.)

The second group might be called libertarians, to a greater or lesser extent.  They argue that the abuse of narcotics, or alcohol, or anything else, is inevitable, because some human beings simply roll that way:  therefore, to prohibit it is to defy human nature, and doomed to failure from the start.  Therefore, they argue, there should be no such laws - or, at least, the laws should punish behavior while under the influence, but not the use of the mind-altering substances themselves.  Some argue that to think otherwise is evidence of a belief system, a closed mind, rather than an understanding of reality.

I suspect the real problem is that neither side of this debate is willing to accept that there is no "hundred per cent solution".  Yes, laws on drugs can never succeed in eliminating the problem, human nature being what it is;  but they can reduce the scale and scope of the problem.  I've personally spoken to many drug users (and a few dealers) who were "scared straight" by an encounter with law enforcement, or some other official intervention.  Sure, such encounters don't work for all of the people, all of the time;  but they do work for some of the people, some of the time.  To my mind, that makes them worthwhile.  If the laws are too onerous, or are applied in a way that prejudices society more they should, then we should by all means reform those laws.  (So-called "asset forfeiture" is a prime example, as are no-knock raids where the officers concerned make no effort to avoid injury to innocent persons or damage to innocent people's property).  Those things are bad, and should be stopped.  However, that should not prevent more worthwhile efforts and interventions from proceeding.

Those of us on the more "law and order" side of the spectrum will also have to accept the truth of the libertarian argument that, human nature being what it is, we'll never succeed in eliminating the drug problem by diktat.  Our society is not prepared to accept the level of official violence that would be needed to do so (and people like myself are not prepared to accept it on moral and ethical grounds), so it's a non-starter.  We shouldn't fool ourselves that efforts to prevent or discourage illegal drug use will completely succeed.  On the other hand, I think if we targeted our efforts to tackle areas where intervention has proven to be most effective, we'd improve our success rate overall;  and by curtailing efforts in areas that have proven to be less successful, or more onerous to society, we'd reduce the burden that the War on Drugs has come to represent.

I suspect the Pareto Principle (the so-called "80:20 rule") applies.  Most of our success will be achieved by just a few targeted, highly effective programs.  We need to put our effort behind those programs, and push them hard, because that's where we'll achieve the best results.  The remainder of the programs, needed to achieve the last 20% of success, will probably require much more effort for a far smaller return - and, in doing so, they'll probably affect society negatively to a much greater extent.  Should we not be willing to let go of those elements, and concentrate on what works best?

As for libertarians and those opposed to legislation, what about trying the same approach?  Given the reality of human nature, why not support programs that don't deny it, but seek to channel it into avenues of self-interest and "what's good for me"?  They would include drug education, diversion programs for those who haven't gone too far down the path of addiction to be helped, health care for those still able to benefit from it, and support for law enforcement in tackling the supply side of the problem.  Would it really be anti-libertarian to do that - and, even if it would, is ideological purity worth the cost to society in this case?  Why not be willing to negotiate and compromise on, say, 20% of your principles, if it would achieve 80% success?  If the other side is also willing to do so, wouldn't that be a win all round?

We have to stop talking past each other, acknowledge that each perspective has at least some right on its side, and find common ground.  If we don't, we won't be part of the solution:  we'll be part of the problem.

Peter

56 comments:

Aaron de Bruyn said...

The libertarian solution works well. It's the government's job to protect individual rights. Someone doing crack doesn't violate my rights. Someone high on crack (or not) forcing their way into my home for any reason should be met with dealde force, solving the problem of violating individual rights.

Pat Haney said...

The "lets drop the war on drugs" crowd is missing one huge thing - the scale and the diversity of our lower classes. You can't compare the US to say the Netherlands, which is full of a better educated (more or less) homogeneous population.

And the logic that "they aren't bothering me" falls flat. As Aesop said - Your mom's stroke, your kids asthma has to wait because they are dealing with druggies. He's down in the trenches, not up in academia stroking his chin.

Combine that with the fact that we won't institute the pain and negative consequences that would cause the drug users to self regulate.

And if you are going to use states such as Colorado as shining examples of this policy working, look harder. It's nearly impossible to find people low on the IT food chain to fill jobs. There are no real good examples of long term consequences in the US but I suspect we're going to see a large number of people in these cities, in their 50s-60s, that have zero career built up, no way to pay for their expenses and medical care.

There are no solutions, Only tradeoffs.

Daddy Hawk said...

Peter, after many years of indecision on the subject, I think your argument finally made up my mind. While I am generally a small “l” libertarian minded conservative who has never so much as tried illegal drugs and had no interest or intentions of doing so, I have to say I think you’ve nailed it on the head. We cannot call illegal drug use a victimless crime as it eventually affects us all. Some more directly than others to be sure, but there is a huge cost being paid currently and to be paid in the future to deal with addicts who cannot function and the fallout of their failed lives.

takirks said...

The pity party for drug abusers is how we got here. And, it needs to stop, before the do-gooders piss all of our civil rights away in the name of doing "nice things" for people that are beyond help.

This whole thing needs to be framed the way small-l libertarians look at welfare; you should be able to give all you want to charity, but the minute you start taking money from one set of people to give to others...? No. Just... No.

And, that's precisely what the do-gooders want to do, with regards to drugs. They want to take rights away from us all, because there's an element of society that can't handle having those rights. The bad thing is, once you start down that road, where you say "Well, some people can't handle alcohol, so we're going to make it illegal...", the inevitable follow-on is having to go around and break down doors because someone might be, quelle horror, enjoying a drink of beer responsibly.

Sorry, do-gooders; you can't have my rights because Bob, over there...? He's a dumbass, a living testament to modern civilization's inability to cleanse the gene pool of the unfit and maladapted. Let him go. You can't fix him, and in your inept and misguided attempts to do so, you're turning a once-free nation into a fucking police state the likes of which would make Stalin proud.

What's the quote, about how the most vicious tyrant is the one who's convinced he's acting for your benefit...? Yeah; that's the root of the problem here. Once the bliss-ninnies and do-gooders like Peter get their teeth into a problem, it's all over with for the rest of us, because they'll do anything, justify any tyranny in the name of getting their little endorphin hit by "doing good". Never mind the side-effects; the bliss-ninny just wants that sweet, sweet hit of moral superiority that they get from "helping others", never mind that they're helping our free society into the grave of history. They've been doing it now for over a century, despite the ample evidence around them that it doesn't actually, y'know... Work.

Likely, they're going to keep doubling down on this crap until every two-bit cocaine grower in South America has a hacienda the size of Akron, Ohio.

Frankly, I'm done with all of you. Just stop. Let 'em die off--We'll all be the better for it, once the die-off is over. I'd go so far as to encourage it, even.

takirks said...

Hear that, folks? Pat Haney wants you to be farm animals, 'cos you can't responsibly human.

That's what you're asking for, Pat. Farm animals--You want to deny agency to other human beings, because they're doing things you don't want them to do. And, those things are none of your damn business.

The problem exists because well-meaning idiots wanted to protect people from the consequences of bad decisions they might have made. In order to do that, though...? You need a police state with powers over the lives of everyone else, and the sad fact is, that authoritarian BS is just as addictive as anything else, maybe more. Power over others is as much a drug as anything sold by a drug dealer, because it creates that sugar-high rush as you dominate the "other" you're taking power over. Endorphins, baby--They're not just for dopers. You control-freaks get off on them as much as the stoners do, and to my mind, you're ten times more dangerous. A stoner isn't going to lobby the legislature to create laws that mean my loved ones can't get painkillers they might need, in the name of "doing good". Do-gooders pull that crap every single waking moment, in the name of getting their power-tripping high.

Old NFO said...

I find it ironic that people 'ignore' words from people in the trenches dealing with the druggies every day. Aesop being but one example of that. And nobody wants to face the FACTS when drugged up idiots do something stupid and kill someone else, because it didn't 'directly' affect them.

I have had a druggie try to kill me, and believe me, I DO NOT like drug abusers. I didn't kill him, but he did go to prison, which is probably a good thing for me...

Aesop said...

The libertarian solution works well.
Go to San Francisco.
Tell the class how that approach is working on the homeless.


"The pity party for drug abusers is how we got here. And, it needs to stop, before the do-gooders piss all of our civil rights away in the name of doing "nice things" for people that are beyond help."
Takirks,
what you fail to recognize is that you are the pity party do-gooder here, trying to foist the exact same "turn them loose on society" approach used with the crazy homeless, and now applying it to drug addicts.
It's the exact same argument!
Suffering cats, man, stand up, and it'll smack you in the face like a wet cod.

Nobody's taking your right to use heroin and crack away, because you don't have one. (If you think otherwise, show your work and explain where, precisely, that right may be located and demonstrated. That should be good.)

In truth, you've been caught projecting your own rationale onto everyone else. You're trying to "save" everyone from the evils of government, by turning them over to the "freedom" of drug addicts and drug dealers running rampant in society.
"Better three million Pablo Escobars opening Amazon-DrugMart than one guy getting a traffic ticket for an ounce of weed."

Let's put that cunning plan to a vote (or, you can attempt to show the moral calculus where that idea is more moral than enforcing a small subset of laws against a small subset of screw-ups, but that would require effort, and intellectual honesty...).

And no points to pointing to draconian overreach in the past as the inevitable and only way to go about things. You don't get to use the TSA as the reason we shouldn't search people boarding airplanes.
The TSA is argument against the TSA, and jackbooted thuuggery under color of "cracking down on drugs" is just jack-booted thuggery.

You can get rid of the thuggery, and still fight drugs, just as you can throw out the bathwater without throwing the baby out with it.

tweell said...

Lets turn that around, takirks. I saw a recent article about a six year old asking for help because her father OD'd and died. This is A-OK in your book, now what about that child? Are you going to take that traumatized youngster in? How about that times 10 or more, given that legal drug use = more drug use? Have you seen the difference in the Netherlands before/after (some) drug legalization?

Next, what about children getting hooked? Are you okay with that too, takirks? Pedos love addicted children. They are much easier to control, much less likely to tell. Pedos normally won't deal with drug dealers, they know what will happen to them if found out, but if heroin and such were legal?!

So, takirks, given you claim we're wanting everyone to be farm animals, are you looking to make the US takirk's Pedo Paradise? If not, dial down the rhetoric and start thinking about actual compromise like our host is saying.

kurt9 said...

Peter,

I get where you and aesop are coming from about the war on drugs. I am even sympathetic to it. However, I contest aesop's claim that there are no "false positives" in the war on drugs. I have a close friend who was actually the victim of a "false positive", in that he was the target of a "no knock" SWAT raid. The reason is that, like myself, is a DIY medical guy. That is, he compounds his own meds in order to treat medical conditions that he had that the conventional health care system cannot solved. Somehow, a pharmacist where he bought meds at got it in his mind that my friend was making control substances and called the cops on him. This, in turn, resulted in the "no knock" raid. My friend did eventually get his laboratory equipment back once it was established that he was not making illicit substances. However, the issue is valid.

This brings up the larger issue of supplements. The FDA has tried a couple of time to push the DEA into classifying vitamin supplements as controlled substances. The DEA has, so far, had the common sense to resist this foolishness. However, the fact that prohibition exists is, in and of itself, a POTENTIAL risk to both those of us who use supplements as well as those of us who self-experiment with new medical treatments such as senolytics.

One point I'm driving at is that the most fundamental cause of all medical problems is the aging process itself. The FDA and AMA, for ideological reasons, have chosen to refuse to consider aging itself as a treatable disease. For this reason, as well as the horrendously long and expensive FDA approval process for new therapies, has made it necessary for those of us pursuing life extension to operate on our own (e.g. DIY biology and DIY medicine). My concern is that a stepped up war on drugs has the POTENTIAL (I do not say it will) to spill over into a government sanctioned attack on life extension. As you know well, any power that is given to a government is difficult to take back. I would prefer to eliminate even this potential of this happening.

BTW, have you tried experimenting with the various senolytics for your back pain?

Rick T said...

Part of the drug problem is we subsidize it with all the assistance programs.... My brother was on a felony jury in central CA and the whole family's MO was to work only enough to buy food and spend the monthly assistance checks on drugs and ammunition...

Cut off government assistance to drug users and the problem resolves itself.

I started down this path by asking what changed since ~1900? We have had addictive drugs for a long, long time but the problem was never has widely destructive as it is today, and the biggest thing I thought was the ability to live without working at all.

Borepatch said...

I don't believe that people are perfectible, full stop. This applies to individual citizens as well as the people who are in government.

The difference is that what individuals do, while maybe wrong or destructive, is private action. What people who work for the Government do is public action.

The question is what (if any) balance can we have between damaging private vs. damaging public behavior. Me, I'm very skeptical that government can actually reduce the private damage very much, and I'm entirely convinced that public damage will increase year after year.

BC said...

Peter,

On your post yesterday you said narcotic pain killers were a evil in and of themselves, you also said they worked for your chronic pain and you were now taking larger doses of less effective products to try to get similar relief because your doctor would no longer prescribe those more effective drugs to you.

Since you say these drugs are evil and you used these drugs until your doctor would no longer provide them, should you be locked up or in rehab?

Perhaps we should also ban all medical use of narcotic pain relief drugs if they are the evil you claim.

Not being a smart ass, serious question.

If on the other hand, the abuse of the drugs in question is the actual problem; why the divide here and elsewhere in the gun community for those that say "guns don't cause crime, I've even used them to defend my life" compared to those that say "drugs don't cause crime, they allowed surgery to happen that saved my life."

People here are making the same argument to ban drugs as the Brady bunch uses to try to ban guns. Changing the target of the ban doesn't change the fact that misuse and abuse of *thing* is a problem, the *thing* itself isn't the problem. We punish clowns that shoot up town, we should punish clowns that get high and hurt people too. You got lit and killed somebody? Well since you were high that isn't an accident anymore, it's first degree murder.
------------------
My post yesterday about the choice between blowing up kids or kids seeing their folks overdose isn't hyperbole. In my day to day life, I face greater risk from over-powered cops than I do druggies. MOST people face that same risk, look at your daily interactions. I see 5-7 police officers every day just driving to and from work, only takes one of them on a power trip to ruin my life even when I have done nothing wrong (I don't have any drugs or anything else illegal) all thanks to the war on drugs and loss of civil rights.

Aaron de Bruyn said...

> The pity party for drug abusers is how we got here. And, it needs to stop, before the do-gooders piss all of our civil rights away in the name of doing "nice things" for people that are beyond help.

I'm sorry...which one of your civil rights gets 'pissed away' if some random dude under an overpass decided to smoke weed or do cocaine? I can name tons of *rights* that get trampled on in the never-ending war on drugs.

> > The libertarian solution works well.
> Go to San Francisco.

Ha! Typical response. "If you don't like $x, move!"

I'm sorry, when did standing up for individual rights get met with "move" by Republicans or conservatives? I'd expect that kind of mentality from Democrats. "If you don't want universal healthcare, then move to the Congo!"

Lots of people drive. Some of those drivers get in wrecks, others don't. Just because some do, doesn't mean we need to ban cars. Same argument with guns. And drugs. And speech. And religion. Stop violating individual rights because you've made up some causal boogeyman to make yourself feel better about it.

Will said...

+1 to Aaron.

Peter seems to be starting to think about it, but Aesop, not so much. Listen, when you sound and act like the Democrats who want to control/ban everything, you are doing it WRONG. That sort of thinking is how we ended up in this godforsaken condition here in the US.

Aesop is all "my god, the drug problem I have to deal with at work is terrible. We should think about doing it harder!

I've got family in the medical profession. Physician, couple nurses, another sister that used to work with a Stanford medical researcher, since retired. Oh, wait, I'm down to one nurse, as the other just died from her drug addiction to nicotine.
Got a nephew who took up tobacco a couple years ago, to help him control his ADD/ADHD. Getting access to ADD meds got to be too much of a problem for him, due to doctors getting gunshy of the DEA. I have the same problem. Due to a Medical Misadventure(TM), I now need the meds, but also can't afford the private psych bills, since regular MD's don't write them anymore. Kaiser has figured out how to keep it from happening on their dime, so I'm screwed.

Aesop seems to think the rest of us out here are living in a vacuum regarding the problems associated with drug use. Let's see, I've been in the hospital twice now after encountering out of control druggies. Permanently maimed by one of them, both times I came very very close to dying. Our out-of-control governments would not do a thing differently today, even after decades of screwing up our rights. They have no interest in fixing the drug problem, it is a source of power to them. That needs to be removed, not enhanced!

Shell said...

I will agree with this much, Peter: Education is key.

Will said...


I don't recall where I found this, but it shows how out of control Mexico is, due to the drug cartels. I sent it to the Dr's family, and they decided that they are not vacationing in that country again. They were in Cancun in April.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz6t2FEablA

Aaron de Bruyn said...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_Mexico

Perhaps strict gun control (violating individual rights) leads to criminals and governments being able to easily violate other rights.

Larry said...

I'm not going to convince anyone here, least of all Aesop the Terminally Abrasive, nor Peter. But the so-called "War on Drugs" has been a complete fucking failure. Not only has it completely failed to reduce the flow of drugs (pot is both cheaper and stronger than it was almost 40 years ago), but it's contributed mightily to the corruption of law enforcement. Before the Prohibition of alcohol, organized crime, per se, barely existed. For the last 30 30-40 years, all (some) drug prohibition has accomplished is to save a relative bare handful of people not willing to risk their comfortable life on a possible arrest in exchange for providing price supports for drug cartels. How did their distribution networks get so good? Because the profits were so high. What made the profits so high? Umm, the prohibition itself. D'uh. Supply and demand ,and all that other shit conservatives claim to believe in.

Let the goddamned druggies die after being saved by Narcan once. Fuck'em! They made their choice and sending them to treatment is worthless. You can only reform if you want to be reformed, and few people are reformed by threats. That's a fool's errand. Fuck'em! Once saved, that's that. Afterwards, it's on them, even if it's the same damned night! Peter might disagree, but considering he fell for the RCC when anyone clued in should've known better, well...

Aesop seems to think we might possibly go full-on totalitarian like Singapore and others to stop drugs he doesn't like. Perhaps he would've approved of executions of moonshiners in the 1920s? If not, why not? Alcoholism is STILL a bigger scourge than anything else!

Glen Filthie said...

That’s where you fall flat on your face Larry.

What you and the childish libertarians fail to get is that you aren’t the only players on this game board. In the real world, there are the close relatives to the libertarians - the liberals. The other thing you aren’t getting is that the druggies and turdies are part of THEIR demographic power base... not yours. The users are just another powerful pawn in the liberal/welfare complex and the libs will exploit them to raid your finances to buy their votes. I’ve said this before: Aesop and the ERT guys are bitching because they have to waste time and resources on those idiots - and they ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait till he and his peers are getting laid off because there’s no room in municipal budgets for them... but plenty of room for safe injection sites complete with a supervisory medical staff on hand. This is where the liberals want to go with this... so yes, your rights ARE going to be violated by enabling and promoting drug use. It’ll serve you right too.

Gawd, libertarians are such retards. My rights aren’t violated one iota because some idiot can’t legally smoke pot, either. Sheesh.

Aesop said...

@Aaron:

1) No one told you to move to Frisco.
I said go there, and report on actual ground reality.
Not "Lump it and relocate there permanently, because your rights mean nada to me". Not ever.
Hard to read when you're too busy using your feelz, I take it?
Now answer the riposte to your clever argument that you tried to duck with hurt feelings and indignation.
How is the libertarian approach to the crazy homeless working in San Francisco? Or L.A.? Or Portland? Or San Diego?
If so, why?
If not, why not?


2) And if you're going to try apples-to-oranges comparisons between tools and machines like guns and cars, and trying to pack heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and all the rest into your handy portmanteau right alongside them, you only have to do one thing to be intellectually honest:
Describe for us all the benefits and actual utility that each one of those things provides.
Start anywhere.

I can do that for guns and cars, so I'll stipulate you don't need to go there.
Now do it for Crack. Meth. Heroin.
Since it's as you say, that should be child's play.
Have at it.
Take as long as you need.

We can get into how many people use all those drugs responsibly, as they clearly do for cars and guns, after you complete the first part of the question.

Or, we can accept your further silence on that easy task as tacit acknowledgement that you were trying to compare apples to oranges, the suggestion is ridiculous, and you concede that point as nonsense.

Your move.

3) And you'd like to drag speech and religion into this as well?
Fair enough.
There's a Bill of Rights in the Constitution.
It covers speech, religion, and even guns.
I seem to have missed the right to take crack in there. (Perhaps it's next to the rights to abortion and sodomy.)
I recognize that, even at the time, the argument against a Bill of Rights was that some damnfool would thereby falsely conclude that only those rights existed, and I neither that damnfool, nor would suggest anything so blatantly wrong.

But if drugs are exactly like cars and guns and speech and religion, exactly as you stated, it shouldn't be that hard to undo all drug laws on Constitutional grounds.
Help a guy out, and make the case for your legal right to bring those into the country, and consume them, without any limit.
Or, if you cannot do that, tell us whether and where any limits might exist.

Because seriously, even SCOTUS figured out a hundred years and more ago, your right to free speech doesn't include "fighting words", or yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

So where's the line, besides "non-existent"?
You should be able to do this in your sleep; you've got the Internet, and a nation of 1M lawyers.

Aesop said...

@Larry
1) You've got nothing.
The Slap Fight on Drugs isn't working, granted.
That's why something we're never done isn't working.

There's never been a "War" On Drugs. The suggestion there is or ever was one is a mythological beast, like the unicorn.
Prove me wrong: show me the Pentagon unit histories and name the formations involved and maybe the unclassified BDA strike photos.

I can do that for the Revolutionary War.
The Barbary Pirate Affairs.
The War of 1812.
The Texas War of Independence.
The Mexican-American War.
The Spanish-American War.
The Boxer Rebellion.
The Mexican Punitive Expedition.
The First World War.
The Banana Wars.
The Second World War.
The Korean War.
The Suez Crisis.
The Lebanon Crisis.
The Dominican Republic Crisis.
The Vietnam War.
The Invasion of Grenada.
The Lebanon Crisis of 1983-4.
The Invasion of Panama.
The Battle of Mogadischu.
The Gulf War.
The Balkan Crisis.
OIF.
OEF.
And any number of smaller incidents.
Wars to any definition of such.

And you've got...?

Yeah. Thought so.
Thanks for playing.

2) The criminal mobs were flourishing back to the middle of the 19th century, when everything was legal. Alcohol prohibition merely game them something smaller, easier to make and sell, and more widely acceptable than prostitutes, gambling, protection, etc.
You could look it up.

3) You pooh-pooh Singapore's prohibition because it works.
Well-played.

4) You argue for leaving people to die in the streets after one strike. I argued for LWOPing them at worst after three incidents.
But I'm the harsh and unrealistic "full-on totalitarian" in this discussion???
Stop it, please, my sides are hurting!
And what happens to the ones who don't take drugs that kill them, but thusly impaired, they manage to kill and harm others?
"Too bad?" "Who could possibly have predicted...?"
And screw the innocent victims by the literal horde, right?
Your comparatively compassionate and sensible suggestions are pure genius.

Aesop said...

@kurt9

Where, precisely, did I ever state that there were "no false positives" in the "War On Drugs"?

I'm pretty sure that answer would be never, and nowhere, but I'm open to you posting a link to it if I did, and recanting any such heartily.

False positives is why this absolutely needs to be a judicial problem, with checks and balances by Everyman, in the form at least of a jury of your peers, and the usual recourse to appeals, and not making this something decided by a tired ER doc or groggy pair of paramedics at 3AM, with the finality of lethal injection, and no appeals.

Otherwise we may as well just argue for the police to simply shoot them in the head at the side of the road on arrest(because the police never make mistakes, right?), or putting bounties on drug addicts and dealers, like other vermin (because vendetta and feud was such a better system than law and order; just ask the Hatfields and McCoys, let alone consulting the example of the Montagues and Capulets).

Otherwise, if it turns out you're wrong about what I said, take your straw man and be off with him. I need no help from others to put words into my mouth.

And if you're possibly just mistaken, feel free to own up to that, and we can move forward from there.

Larry said...

@Aesop: Sure there were gangs in the 19th Century, but they were small-time outfits compared to what came as a result of Prohibition. There aren't any good answers, but for damned sure I don't want to live in an authoritarian police state like Singapore. If you do, go there. Simple, easy-peasy. Anyone who thinks that government given such broad powers ("for our own good", of course) will limit itself to just that is, umm, exceedingly naive.

The so-called "War on Drugs" has been declared many a time by politicians. But you did notice I called it "so-called" in my original comment, didn't you, and then put "War on Drugs" in scare quotes, didn't you? Oh wait. No, you sure as hell didn't. And then thought you were scoring points off me by listing real wars? Snort. You're a laugh riot, Aesop. But that's what politicians since at least Nixon and probably a long time before have called it in all seriousness. You mean politicians were lying? Quelle horreur! What I do know is that what amounts to price supports for the cartels is costing us a lot of tax money while accomplishing not a damned thing on the streets, and paying for a lot of corruption. It has been an effective war on the Bill of Rights, though.

As for those who take drugs and harm others, throw the fucking book at them! D'uh! You do harm to others, you pay the full measure. I've no problem with 'intoxicated in public' laws, no problem with 'driving while intoxicated' laws, etc. An habitual severe druggie or drunkard should have their kids taken from them. If they're not abusive, they're certainly neglectful and that's usually easy to prove in court.

@Glen, I'm no libertarian. But if you don't think you're not affected by the so-called "War on Drugs", try going somewhere carrying a lot of cash and see what happens if you're stopped by the wrong cops. Suffer a debilitating injury with chronic, severe pain and see how unaffected you are by it. You could even be the victim of a wrong address, no-knock dynamic entry and be shot by cops as you confusedly fumble for the gun in your nightstand while not understanding what's happening between the flash bang and the shouting. Oh well, you weren't affected by the so-called "War on Drugs".

Drugs aren't victimless. At the very least they can and often do destroy those who fall to their siren call. And they certainly hurt those close to them that do fall. But the disconnect between alcohol (most definitely a drug and by far the most abused one) and the other drugs is striking. Alcohol is easily made at home. Sh!+, it's even made in prisons. It's arguably the worst.

@Aesop: I'm not totally heartless. Someone whose life has been saved by Narcan once? Don't just leave them on the street. Bring them in to a hospital and notify their loved ones (if it's possible to identify them). If they want to pay for Narcan themselves plus the ER visit, they can do so. Otherwise, let them pass. Hell, I'm willing to give them 3 strikes (though anyone who doesn't get hit by the fucking proverbial clue-bat after the first one is probably a goner, anyways!). Whatever.

Your Singaporean ideal will pay for cancer treatment once, and then if it recurs, it's on you and your family. Otherwise, they'll pay for pain killers as you die. Not sure how that's that much different except that no one chose to get cancer (smokers are a gray area, but maybe tobacco users and vendors should be shot, too, since they cost society so much in treatment when users get cancer, hey?).

Look, there are no easy answers, but a police state isn't one. Period. Full stop.

Pat Haney said...

"That's what you're asking for, Pat. Farm animals--You want to deny agency to other human beings, because they're doing things you don't want them to do. And, those things are none of your damn business."

@takirks you clearly didn't understand what I wrote.

Nor does it seem you understand Peter or Aesop very well.

When I have to sit in an emergency room, in pain, because the staff is dealing with an out of control addict, that's my business.

When I have to deal with crime from drug addled morons stealing packages from my porch, breaking into my car, otherwise stealing my stuff, it's my problem.

When friends of mine have to pay workers (usually mexican) to travel to Colorado to work because the locals can't pass a drug test, or should they get hired, get stoned on the job and have to be fired, that's a problem. More than one, in fact.

Let me clarify - you guys in the "the war is lost, let's surrender. What these fools do to themselves is none of my business" crowd do not understand that there are many millions of people, usually on the lower end of the food chain, that do incredibly stupid and self destructive shit stone-cold-sober.

And you think there'll be no effect on you or anyone else giving them easier access to drugs?

Aesop said...

@Larry

Then we're making progress.
I'm not asking for a police state.
And we're agreed at least that the so-called "War On Drugs" isn't one, nor ever was.
So please, let's anyone stop pointing at it as if it indicates anything except the Keystone Kops, with a federal budget. Exactly like the TSA.

So we come to where the rubber meets the road: why happily let the drugs in that cause the overwhelming bulk of the problem?
Nobody's asking for a crackdown on aspirin, or even just cash, by itself. (The stories of abuses for that crap are legion. They're evidence only that some agencies - a lot of them, actually - have been infested with idiots with badges. usually at the behest of the same @-holes yammering for less drug enforcement. My prescription for that is unemployment, and for the real criminals among them, rather than just the criminally stupid, a nice dose of prison in general population. The merely stupid should just be tagged with felony stupid, and allowed to plead, knowing they'll never legally vote, own a gun, or hold any official office forever with a felony rap sheet. WalMart needs greeters every day, and anyone can flip burgers or serve coffee.)

But make the case for why crack or meth or heroin should induce anyone with two functioning brain cells to look the other way, as if it's doing anything good for anyone by letting it in by the ton on purpose.

You said yourself "You do harm to others, you pay the full measure." That's fine to make you feel better after the fact, but that's after there's a huge problem.
After there are victims.

You tell me, does mollycoddling drunk drivers work, and waiting until they actually maim or kill someone before really laying into them do them - or society at large - any favors?

Somebody who has all, completely on their own, and without anyone breaking down their door to find them - come up on the official radar for drug use has already done all the leg work. And that's probably about 99% of them. you and I should be able to live with not finding the 1% that'll miss. Why not hammer them then, there, because that might give the 5 or 10% you can turn around a wake up call before they become the guy who took out a commuter train parking on the track while wasted?
(cont.)

Aesop said...

(cont.)
Ask Tim Allen if getting busted for cocaine gave him a reason straighten up and do better in life. And ask anyone if they miss the 500 guys in there with him for the same thing if they - or society - miss them, when it turned out they couldn't pull it together.

Nobody's asking for Officer Friendly to sniff out pot door to door, or do cavity searches on you I line to buy groceries. But how about letting him drag in the doofs who're found wasted in public every day, like in the city park with needles still in their arms, and letting the judge throw the book at them, before their personal meltdowns becomes community tragedies?
Whose rights are being violated for doing that?

I'm not after a police state. It's unnecessary, and frankly a silly argument against actual enforcement, unless someone thinks there's no other way to do this without gong there. (In which case, show your work.)

But anybody who thinks making this a consequence-free narco-haven will be cost free is being, umm, incredibly naïve as well.

And we already have the evidence of multiple other narco-states by which to judge the truth of that, so we don't have to give it a whirl here and wait for the consensus. We can open a newspaper or click on three thousand pictures and stories on the 'net, right now.

Throwing our hands up and pretending it's going to be simpler and less bad all around if we just stop trying is silly, and is using innocent citizens as the chips in that bet.

And if I'm going to have to make a choice between protecting the rights of citizens and preserving the civilization, or giving dopers and drug dealers the benefit of the doubt because of some peoples' feelz, I have no problem whatsoever making that call.

Throw the dope-lovers into the wheels of justice, and let what happens there happen. But get them the h#ll off the streets in the meantime, unless it's ankle-chained, and doing something productive.

If six months drug-free shoveling snow or asphalt doesn't give them a reason to clean up their act, probably nothing else will either. And frankly, if they're going to die, they may as well do it alone, locked in a dark hole, because they missed their chance multiple times, rather than in the park next to the middle school, or coming the wrong way on the road when I'm driving along minding my own business.

kurt9 said...

Where, precisely, did I ever state that there were "no false positives" in the "War On Drugs"?

I'm pretty sure that answer would be never, and nowhere, but I'm open to you posting a link to it if I did, and recanting any such heartily.


It was here in your first posting calling for a ramped up war on drugs on December 31.


Anyone who seriously posits that drug use is or ever can be a victimless crime is living in Fantasyland. The police do not kick down doors on the suspicion that you're minding your own business and getting high while harming no one.

That would require firstly, omniscience on their part just to know you were doing something which, by definition, you're claiming affects no one, and secondly, a degree of maleficence on their part far beyond what we routinely observe (and trust me, they manage to screw the pooch hard and regularly, as we've noted times beyond counting on this blog, but not in that way).

They home in on you because, in 99.98% of situations, you're fucking up egregiously, and doing so in public, which was why somebody/everybody else noticed, and they dropped a dime on you. You were simply too stoned to notice all that.


Unlike most of the guys here, I'm actually sympathetic towards your's and Peter's position on drug prohibition. Drug use creates serious problems. The trouble is how to keep the war on drugs focused exclusively on the drugs and not to allow the resultant police powers to expand into other areas or, allow other regulatory agencies such as FDA to get the same powers for their objectives, which are not reasonable at all. The fundamental problem is that any time you give power to the government for a specific purpose, its use gets expanded and it is nearly impossible to eliminate that power capability.

A good example of this problem was the Patriot Act being used to arrest people for running internet casinos from the Caribbean.

kurt9 said...

BTW, Aesop. I like your blog. Even if I don't agree with you, I like your blog.

Aaron de Bruyn said...

> When I have to sit in an emergency room, in pain, because the staff is dealing with an out of control addict, that's my business.

If we were to un-f*ck our healthcare system by making everyone responsible for their own actions and responsible for their own bills...you would more than likely be able to afford your medical care or pay for a private doctor while the crack-head making bad decisions would not...

These problems have a way of sorting themselves out when Government isn't involved.

Aesop said...

@kurt9
What part of that section, exactly, is you thinking I said there are "no false positives"?

tweell said...

For those noting that the US went through the 19th century without drug laws, well, that's true. It also is a comparison of apples to carrots. The drug of choice then as now was alcohol, but drinking beer was arguably less dangerous than drinking the water in many areas. Opium was available and a problem, but the tincture of opium known as laudanum was the best painkiller around. Marijuana was mainly grown for its' hemp, and had minimal THC content.

Science has bequeathed us a plethora of chemicals to alter our brain chemistry. Laudanum became morphine, codeine, then heroin. Coca leaves have become cocaine and crack. Marijuana has been bred to be much more potent. Many synthetic drugs are available. Big difference!

At the same time, being high or stoned is much more dangerous to all and sundry. The drunk horseman of the 19th century was not a big problem. The stoner behind the wheel is another story.

I see that no pro-drug folks will talk about the children. Not surprising, when you have no answer.

Aaron de Bruyn said...

> The stoner behind the wheel is another story.

There are *already* laws for that tweell. It's called "reckless endangerment". We don't need to create more laws, we need to enforce existing laws where applicable. And yes--if you're drunk or high behind the wheel and you plow in to a minivan full of kids, you should be locked away for life or executed.

MadMcAl said...

Wow, such a even tempered discussion...

As I see it, there are two possible solutions to the drug dilemma.

1. Actually start a war on drugs. Use the military to attack the cartels where they sit. Any dealer or pusher busted gets, if convicted, the needle. Preferably with his own product. Any addict gets forcibly committed to rehabilitation facilities. Use enough ruthlessness and brutality, make the career of a cartel leader measured in weeks, and the war can actually be won.

2. Give up the pretense of fighting drugs. Regularize instead of outlaw them. Tax them. Remove the potential profit of dealing or pushing. Remove the probability of contaminants, and make the dosage easy and clear, such reducing (of course not removing completely) overdoses. And most of all, start a campaign to vilify the drugs, similar to tobacco.
AFAIK (and not being in the medical profession I could be wrong) the variants produced by pharmacorps have much less side effects, courtesy of being purer.

Do I like any of the two options? No, not really, but I think anybody can agree that the current slapstick posse has only one effect on the drug trade. It makes it more profitable.
Otherwise it gives politicians and bureaucrats a nice little cause to exploit.

About the innocent victims, well, unless you are willing to go all out in option 1, they will remain.

Aaron de Bruyn said...

You're missing the third option.

It's NOT THE JOB OF GOVERNMENT to regulate what you do with your freedom if you aren't harming someone.

Option 3: Allow the free-flow of drugs--without taxing the hell out of it like they're trying to do with marijuana, and without regulating the hell out of it like they are trying to do with guns. Let people do what they want, and intervene the moment they start harming other people who are doing what they want.

Aesop said...

Option 3 assumes several things:

That there is any such thing as harm-free drug use.
That the number of innocent victims will remain low when the supply of drugs approaches infinity.
That the costs to society from A and B won't skyrocket as well.
It also makes all of society the guinea pig in that plan.

Option 2 has already been overtaken by events, as it's become blisteringly clear:
Criminals will avoid all laws and taxes, because criminals.
And they'll undercut the prices of legal pot shops, to drive out competition for business, and increase their own market share.

As anyone who read Adam Smith's The Wealth Of Nations could have (and did) predict.

Option 1 has the virtues of
a) having never been tried.
b) offering 0% recidivism for those removed from the gene pool either by LWOP or capital punishment.
c) it requires no necessary police state overreach, nor continuing the stupid excesses of the current nonsense. Focusing on the obvious pubic targets alone would consume the authorities quite sufficiently.
{I'm absolutely fine, BTW, with outlawing all no-knock warrants, all use of SWAT teams for anything other than barricaded suspects shooting it out with uniformed officers, and not seizing anything without full due process. But when a valid warrant finds you in possession of three kilos of heroin and $2M in cash, you can safely assume that the cash, the house, and anything not nailed down is going bye bye forever, with the certainty of the sun coming up in the morning.
And for those drugs you want to legalize for legitimate medicinal purposes, let's do it right, like we do with every other drug: institute full FDA approvals, establish actual certified usage and prescribing guidelines, scientifically establish dosage strengths and purity regs, and obtain a valid Rx, which shall be filled by a licensed and board-certified pharmacist. The Joe's Pot Shack model is just flat stupid, as everyone everywhere is finding out. OTOH, the major pharmaceutical companies would fall all over themselves to get in on a legitimate market. Leaving the door open for smaller enterprises would keep pricing honest, and competition fair.
If you want weed for personal consumption, you're asking to double down on alcohol (which already has negative track record, and bring in a brand new source of smoking-related problems the current castigation of tobacco has been winnowing down. If you foresee that people will just "grow their own"outside the law, you've pretty much answered the question of whether you're in this for legitimate reasons, or just want to get stoned, at which point you - and they - deserve everything that happens afterwards.}
The chief arguments against it are
a) inevitable government error and stupidity, and
b) general soft-hearted and soft-headedness, as some people want to treat drug addicts like pound puppies, and adopt and cuddle them.

May we at least agree that in reference to aircraft and watercraft attempting to enter our air- and sea-space, the USAF, Navy, and USCG should be told to adopt a "weapons-free" policy, and told to obiterate transgressing craft with extreme prejudice, and sink them or shoot them down, in 100% of cases?

1) It will cut down on the drug problem in other countries within the hemisphere without impacting their borders or violating their sovereignty a whit, for which most of them will thank us
2) It's legal under every national and international law ever passed
3) It provides great free training for all military branches
4) It interdicts the current illegal traffic and forces it to try and get past a growing infrastructure designed to funnel everything through legal ports of entry, vastly reducing the problem all around.

Unknown said...

If society and families were stronger, and religion defined our mutual obligations, then drugs being legal would be an easy decision.

But society is fractured. While families have been undermined and atomized. And religion has been evicted from the public square.

Compulsion is anathema to a moral people.
But an immoral society doesn't care for it, either.

Aaron de Bruyn said...

> That there is any such thing as harm-free drug use.

My 60 year-old neighbor did cocaine at one point when she was ~30. She didn't hurt anyone. She didn't damage anyone's property. She apparently did cocaine 3-4 times and decided she didn't like it and quit.

So that point is invalid.


> That the number of innocent victims will remain low when the supply of drugs approaches infinity.

Assuming the government doesn't keep passing stupid laws (like the assault weapons ban), people should be just fine. Crack-head tries to break into your house--shoot 'em. Problem solved. The 'innocent victim' isn't a 'victim' at all. But that's the price of liberty--that security becomes your responsibility, not the governments.

> That the costs to society from A and B won't skyrocket as well.

Why would costs skyrocket? Unless you kept allowing government to do dumb shit like controlling your healthcare and raising property taxes to fund their failed programs (like public education and 'law' enforcement).

> It also makes all of society the guinea pig in that plan.

No, it resets society to the way it was before socialists and statists made us guinea pigs their current experiment.

Larry said...

@Aesop, I wonder at your reading comprehension. What part of DWI laws 'mollycoddle' drunk drivers, pray tell? Sheesh.

Aaron de Bruyn said...

> May we at least agree that in reference to aircraft and watercraft attempting to enter our air- and sea-space, the USAF, Navy, and USCG should be told to adopt a "weapons-free" policy, and told to obiterate transgressing craft with extreme prejudice, and sink them or shoot them down, in 100% of cases?

Oops--just violated the right to life of yet another citizen. Our bad. But it was for teh drugz!!11one1. The drugs might have killed the children!

*facepalm*

Yeah, I disagree that we shouldn't shoot missiles or guns at airplanes or ships coming into country. Sure, stop them with reasonable suspicion and run it through the courts, but there's a reason we're supposed to have three branches of government. There's a reason the Executive isn't supposed to be the judge, jury, and executioner.

Aesop said...

>That there is any such thing as harm-free drug use.

My 60 year-old neighbor did cocaine at one point when she was ~30. She didn't hurt anyone. She didn't damage anyone's property. She apparently did cocaine 3-4 times and decided she didn't like it and quit.

So that point is invalid.


Logic fail, Aaron.
One anecdotal proves nothing. Especially on someone who stopped after 3-4X.
I can give 10,000 contrary examples, going no farther than Lexis-Nexis newspaper stories from last year.
Unless you're now assuming that all drug users will stop forever after 3-4X.
You're new at this, right?



> That the number of innocent victims will remain low when the supply of drugs approaches infinity.

Assuming the government doesn't keep passing stupid laws (like the assault weapons ban), people should be just fine. Crack-head tries to break into your house--shoot 'em. Problem solved. The 'innocent victim' isn't a 'victim' at all. But that's the price of liberty--that security becomes your responsibility, not the governments.

So the children of drug addicts don't exist? Well-played.
And may we now open fire on anyone suspected of DUI? Tres Brilliant!
Or, could it be that those obvious innocent victim examples never even occurred to you?
I'm going further: you started thinking about this yesterday, didn't you?


> That the costs to society from A and B won't skyrocket as well.

Why would costs skyrocket? Unless you kept allowing government to do dumb shit like controlling your healthcare and raising property taxes to fund their failed programs (like public education and 'law' enforcement).

So, you thought law enforcement was done for free?
Prosecutions?
Incarceration?
Medical care?
Revision #3: You haven't thought about this ever, including right now.

(cont.)

Aesop said...

(cont.)
> It also makes all of society the guinea pig in that plan.

No, it resets society to the way it was before socialists and statists made us guinea pigs their current experiment.

No, it only resets the laws to where they were in 1912, when things in US society were so bad they decided to regulate all drugs, and shortly afterwards banned alcohol entirely.

But your nostalgia for a time you've no idea about is heartwarming.


> May we at least agree that in reference to aircraft and watercraft attempting to enter our air- and sea-space, the USAF, Navy, and USCG should be told to adopt a "weapons-free" policy, and told to obiterate transgressing craft with extreme prejudice, and sink them or shoot them down, in 100% of cases?

Oops--just violated the right to life of yet another citizen. Our bad. But it was for teh drugz!!11one1. The drugs might have killed the children!

*facepalm*


"Citizen"? Citizen of where?
I'm not absolutely certain, but I'm pretty sure that if you're going to equate Mexicans, Bolivians, and Columbians violating air- and sea-space as "citizens", you're going to have to register yourself with the State Department as a foreign lobbyist.


Yeah, I disagree that we shouldn't shoot missiles or guns at airplanes or ships coming into country. Sure, stop them with reasonable suspicion and run it through the courts, but there's a reason we're supposed to have three branches of government. There's a reason the Executive isn't supposed to be the judge, jury, and executioner.

Fortunately, International Law doesn't comport with your whimsy. Entering any nation's territory, by land, sea, or air, constitutes "reasonable suspicion". Failure to yield at that point makes you a pirate/invader, and if, for example, forcing you to pull over sinks your boat or crashes your plane, sending you straight to Hell, the completely adequate explanation at that point is "Too bad, so sad." You could look it up. This is why Customs can pull anyone, anytime, aside and do anything, including cavity searches, based purely on randomly feeling like it, let alone anything more objectively not right.

But thanks for bringing your feelz to a discussion on facts.
It's illuminating, but not quite in the way you had thought.

Aesop said...

@Larry
"What part of DWI laws 'mollycoddle' drunk drivers, pray tell? Sheesh."

How many times does someone drive drunk before they're caught?
When they're caught, how many times before they face anything like actual jail?
Prison?
How many people who've killed somebody while DUI did it on their very first time so impaired?

The prosecution rests: we mollycoddle drunk drivers, as a policy.

When DUI is prosecuted as felony attempted manslaughter by reckless endangerment, for a first offense, with mandatory six month jail terms, and lifetime suspension of the driving privilege without exception, we can talk.

Put another way:
How many times do you think we should let someone fire off a loaded pistol at the mall while intoxicated/stoned, and let them get away with picking up trash for a few weeks "since no one actually got hurt"?
How about at your kids' school?
Or your place of employment?

We do exactly that with drunk drivers. 24/7/365.
That's mollycoddling them.

I'm going with me having a pretty good grasp on that situation, and my reading comprehension is outstanding.
How about you?

Larry said...

It depends upon the judge and jurisdiction. Some do mollycoddle drunk drivers, others give maximum punishments. So it boils down to your opinion versus other people's opinions. And your opinion is that everyone who isn't as extreme as you is an idiot. Fine. Be that way, but do try not be such a jerk about it. You might actually convince more people.

kurt9 said...


Blogger Aesop said...
@kurt9
What part of that section, exactly, is you thinking I said there are "no false positives"?


It was here where you are claiming essentially no "false positives" on the part of the police:

They home in on you because, in 99.98% of situations, you're fucking up egregiously, and doing so in public, which was why somebody/everybody else noticed, and they dropped a dime on you. You were simply too stoned to notice all that.

It is worth noting that the false raid my friend experienced changed his attitude towards the war on drug from "yes" to "no".

I stand by my other comments with regards to the war on drugs, none of which have been addressed in this forum.

Aaron de Bruyn said...

> Nobody's taking your right to use heroin and crack away, because you don't have one.

All rights derive from property.

Why can't I kill you? When you're born pink and screaming into the world you are a property owner. You own your body.

Understand that, then tell me who gets to decide what to do with your property.

Aesop said...

Larry:
Nothing I gave you "depends on the judge and the jurisdiction". Those are the black-letter laws on the books. They mollycoddle drunks uniformly. If you know the US jurisdiction where they hammer drunk drivers as attempted murderers, kindly share that information. I'm going with "nowhere", but I'm open to evidence that proves it's not a universal. Truth is harsh. I'm a pussycat.

kurt9:
So IOW, I never actually said any such things as "no false positives", and you just wanted to bootstrap that assumption in from an out-of-context extrapolation? So it never happened. That's the difference between 2 times out of 10,000, and no times out of 10,000, right?
And a "war" on drugs doesn't exist.
If you want to call it anything else, you could, and would stand an overwhelming chance of being more correct.
Even if you chose words like "unicorn" or "potato".

Aaron,
"All rights derive from property."
Explain the income tax in light of that.
Explain slavery, and its abolition.
Tell me why I cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater under your theorem, nor suggest to someone they self-fornicate, or that their wife and children are ugly and stupid.
Tell me who North America belongs to.

We are more than meatsuits with price tags.

Capitalism as economics works gloriously.
Capitalism fails horribly (as does communism) as religion, precisely because both assume property is all there is in the world.

Aaron de Bruyn said...

> > "All rights derive from property."
> Explain the income tax in light of that.

Income tax is the government stealing a percentage of your property under the threat of using violence to take what you have by force if you don't "voluntarily" comply.

> Explain slavery, and its abolition.

Slavery is someone using your body against your will usually by threatening violence if you do not comply.

> Tell me why I cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater under your theorem, nor suggest to someone they self-fornicate, or that their wife and children are ugly and stupid.

You absolutely can yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. The government can't stab your brain with an ice pick to remove whatever chunk of grey matter allows you to do that.

You *shouldn't* yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater (if there is no fire) because you could harm everyone in the theater. Some people might be injured scrambling for the exits, others will be deprived of the goods and services they've paid for (i.e. seeing the movie and eating the popcorn), and the theater is out money for having to refund tickets or adjust their schedules because you threw a wrench in things.

But you should absolutely yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater if there's a fire.

> Tell me who North America belongs to.

All rights derive from property. My little 9-acre chunk belongs to me. There are millions (probably even billions) of little chunks of North America that belong to the hundreds of millions of people living here.

> We are more than meatsuits with price tags.

I agree. So why does the government treat us that way?


> Capitalism as economics works gloriously.

Agreed. It appears to be the best system out there. Just don't confuse government and taxes with capitalism.

> Capitalism fails horribly (as does communism) as religion, precisely because both assume property is all there is in the world.

Capitalism definitely shouldn't be worshiped as a religion. But I think you fail to understand the importance of property. Perhaps you should pick up a religious text and read it with an eye towards property rights.

Larry said...

Puh-lease, Aesop. It's your opinion that anything short of attempted murder is "mollycoddlkng" drunk drivers. Most people have a different opinion of what constitutes "mollycoddling", so get off your high horse that your opinion is The One Truth. If you're a pussycat, then you'te the most arrogant, condescending, scornful, and sarcastic pussycat I've ever come across.

Aesop said...

All rights derive from property was your proposition.
If you cannot do better than an appeal to solipsism to justify it, you really should put that tool back on the shelf until you're ready to learn how to wield it.

A first step would be explaining whether or not you have, for instance , the right to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater, and whether you have the right to utter "fighting words".
Rather than trying to sidestep the argument, let alone justify it by recourse to property rights.

I don't fail to understand property.
Starting with understanding its non-primacy.
Here's a couple of religious texts for you; read them with an eye towards property rights.
Luke 12:15-30
James 2:1-19
James 5:1-6
Psalm 24:1-2

If Joel Osteen and any 500 similar hucksters of any religion are preaching the "gospel" of their god wanting you to have your stuff, compare their message(s) with the texts noted above, and I'll give you odds which party is liable to have gotten things wrong.
Philippians 3:18-19

Ain't nobody gets out of this life alive, and despite attempts from pharaohs to present, as has been noted innumerable times,
"you can't take it with you", and
"he who dies with the most toys, dies."

You might also be apprised of the words of another young gentleman:
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

And perhaps you might have a glance at the central lesson of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
All of the noted authors I've referenced would laugh uproariously at the very notion that "rights derive from property".

That's quite simply and charitably a load of the most materialistic codswallop I've probably ever read.

Human rights derive from humanity.
More philosophy from John Locke, if you please, and less from Milton Bradley's Monopoly.

Aaron de Bruyn said...

> If you cannot do better than an appeal to solipsism to justify it, you really should put that tool back on the shelf until you're ready to learn how to wield it.

Where did I say that 'self' is the only think that can be verified to exist? I didn't invoke solipsism.

Perhaps you can enlighten me as to where rights come from then? Government? God? Nature? They're just 'self-evident'?

> Luke 12:15-30

Luke 12 has nothing to do with property rights. It has to do with what you *do* with those rights.

> James 2:1-19

James 2:11 has to do with property rights: "For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill."

Is it yours? No? Then don't screw it or kill it. A woman is not your 'property'. A human life is not your property.

> James 5:1-6

Hmm...still not talking about property *rights*, simply what will happen to the unrighteous who are more concerned with wealth than the kingdom.

Now where's that verse where Jesus says "Give up all your possessions because owning property means you're going to hell"?

> Psalm 24:1-2

"The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters."

Aah. Now we're getting somewhere.

Huh. God owns everything. Neat.

Genesis 1:29-30: "And God said, “See, I have --->given<--- you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have --->given<--- every green herb for food”; and it was so."

Leviticus 25:23-24 "The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers. Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land."

Oops. I guess you need to study your preferred religious text some more.

> If Joel Osteen

You lost me. What does Joel Osteen have to do with property rights, liberty, our Constitution, or our Declaration of Independence?

> Philippians 3:18-19

Now you're just reaching.

If the God can not lie, and you believe the scriptures are his holy word, perhaps you can tell me how you reconcile the verses you posted with...say...Leviticus 25 that I posted? Either the Bible is wrong, or your understanding is wrong. Which is it?

> "he who dies with the most toys, dies."

I'm sorry if I confused you. I wasn't talking about cars, airplanes, or mansions. I was talking about *RIGHTS*. RIGHTS derive from property. They derive from ownership. *YOU* own your own body. That means *YOU* say what happens to it--not me. That's why murder is wrong. That's why limiting speech is wrong. That's why I'm not allowed to simply walk into your house and rifle through your stuff and take what I want. IT'S *YOURS*.

It's not a difficult concept.

> And perhaps you might have a glance at the central lesson of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Aah yes. That wonderful book about a pagan celebration that everyone should use as a moral compass for their life because the writer should be worshiped as the messiah. Pass.

> Human rights derive from humanity.

Care to clarify? Human rights derive from being a human? Human rights derive from whatever the human race decides to vote on and grant you?



Aesop said...

Where did I say that 'self' is the only think that can be verified to exist? I didn't invoke solipsism.
You've offered nothing but your own naked opinion in support of...your own naked opinion. Well-played.
Perhaps you can enlighten me as to where rights come from then? Government? God? Nature? They're just 'self-evident'?
They simply are. That's why we call them "rights".
They don't arrive from Amazon, and under your notion, they cannot be voted nor legislated away. If they can, then you don't own what you claim you own. If they cannot, you have only anarchy.
That's quite a conundrum you've got yourself there.

None of the biblical sections has to do with property rights.
(That no such reference exists should be a none-too-subtle hint about how far off you are.) Several have to do with the absolute lack of any such thing, though.
But they all undercut the importance of property itself, entirely.
You can cover your eyes and pretend you can't see that.
Or perhaps you simply didn't see that.

Oops. I guess you need to study your preferred religious text some more.
Not my preferred religious text, nor is further study called for.
You made your remark about looking at religious texts in reference to property rights, and I demonstrated the entire irrelevance of property to your rights, from the cornerstone religious texts of the Western world. And that furthermore, that the rights you imagine do not exist therein.
You think property rights define you and what you may or may not do.
I think property is something of minimal relevance to my rights.
The texts don't support your idea, nor its supposed foundation.

If, as you ascribe, property was the cornerstone of having rights, rich people would, by definition, have more rights than poor people.
Neither the Hebrew nor Christian scriptures support that notion.
Rather the exact opposite.

Joel Osteen, and any number of other hucksters going back decades, have been selling people the snake oil that God Wants Them To Have Everything, without stating the necessary corollary that if you don't have everything, you must suck, and either God hates you, or you hate God.

Jesus was a bit more blunt with that line of nonsense:
"It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter heaven."

Sorry if you didn't notice you were inadvertently preaching the gospel of Getting Rich, but that's where your notions lead.
(cont.)

Aesop said...

(cont.)
I'm sorry if I confused you. I wasn't talking about cars, airplanes, or mansions. I was talking about *RIGHTS*. RIGHTS derive from property. They derive from ownership. *YOU* own your own body. That means *YOU* say what happens to it--not me. That's why murder is wrong. That's why limiting speech is wrong. That's why I'm not allowed to simply walk into your house and rifle through your stuff and take what I want. IT'S *YOURS*.

It's not a difficult concept.


You're only speaking doubletalk.
Murder is wrong because it's against the law: murder is properly defined as "the unlawful killing of another human being".
No law, no murder.
No humanity, no murder.
Whose law, and who is a human being, is always the sticking point. Your body as your property has Jack and Squat to do with that answer, under any notion of justice you could point to.
Otherwise, all war, capital punishment, and self defense itself would be prima facie unjust. Murdering murderers under your notion of rights deriving from property is trying to pick up a turd from the clean end. In fact, it necessarily means the survivor of any fatal squabble goes free, every time, because "they own their own body".
The deceased, being dead, has no standing any longer in any court.
You've painted yourself into that corner quite nicely; feel free to try and paint your way back out.

And you clearly have the right to be on your own property; fair enough.
So, what right do you have to ever leave it?
You clearly don't own it, you'd have to concede.
So you're trespassing every time you escape your property.
So is everyone else.
So as expected, under your theory of rights, everyone is a prisoner under house arrest. Or a serial trespasser, and worse.
Connect those dots for me. Then try to unconnect them without giving yourself a hernia.
That should be good.

What right do you have to be anywhere that isn't your property, under your notion of rights??

What about people who have no property (other than their own body)? And thus, no further rights?
Do I have the right to put or leave my property on someone else's property? Can they put theirs on mine, against my will?
How could anyone decide whose property right is the greater of the two, under your conceptual notion, without being arbitrary and unjust?

Let me know when the penny drops.

All rights do not derive from property.
They simply cannot.
QED

Aesop said...

@Larry,

I gave you two easy options to demonstrate the truth of your position:
Show that your opinion, applied to someone shooting bullets off in public, would not be seen as mollycoddling the reckless endangerment in question.
It is functionally identical with drunk driving, other than the grain-weight of the projectile involved in either case.

Alternatively, I asked if you could name the jurisdiction where shooting bullets at people while drunk is treated the same as driving your car at people while drunk.

If you cannot or will not do either one, that's fine. No one can compel you to defend an indefensible position, nor blame you for failing to try.

But doubling down on ad hominem in lieu of either such argument is poor form, so of the two of us, your remarks seem to fit you better.
I'm sorry if you cannot concede that the facts I cited disagree with your opinion, without yourself becoming disagreeable.

And I managed to make my points without calling names.

My sincere apologies, good sir, for pointing out the facts as they stand, without extending my pinkie finger correctly, and for enjoying the exercise rather obviously.

Larry said...

Oh, for goodness sake. Why don't you name the jurisdiction where firing a pistol in the mall is charged as attempted murder? Unless you were actually there trying to kill someone, or actually hit someone, that's a charge that would be laughed out of most courts. You must have a long list of cases where attempted murder was the charge where no person was fired at or hit? If not you're blowing smoke.
I thought that was hyperbole not warranting an answer. Do you like this one better? There'd be a lot of other charges, certainly, including reckless endangerment. Why stop with felony imprisonment for a few years, loss of career, probable loss of family and home, and more? Maybe you could go after everyone in the chain as abetting the crime? Bring back Prohibition, but this time no mollycoddling. Treat moonshiners and bootleggers like Singapore treats drug smugglers. Prison time for speakeasy customers. We've got to nip it in the bud! Nip it in the bud!

Larry said...

Hmm, Aesop, going back over what you replied to me, how is calling me an idiot in so many words any kflipping different than me calling you arrogant, condescending, and sarcastic? BTW, genius, that's not an ad hominem, because I didn't say no one should pay any attention to your message because you can't refrain from being that way, I was saying (in a previous comment you disparaged, as well as that one) that it makes it harder for people that might disagree with you to pay any attention to your message because you get their backs up. It's pretty obvious that there's nothing anyone could say to you, nothing at all, that could shift you one iota from a Singaporean ideal. I sincerely suspect that if God himself came down and told you personally you were a mite extreme in your views and prescriptions, you'd argue with him and all but call him a fool. Enough. If you want to call it a victory, celebrate it.

Peter said...

Folks, I think the mutual sniping has gone on long enough. This discussion is generating far more heat than light. Please cut it out.

All further comments will be deleted.