Wednesday, April 9, 2008

THE MYTH OF INALIENABLE RIGHTS
AS APPLIED TO THE WAR ON DRUGS:
THE TYRANNY OF LEGISLATING MORALITY


by D. M. Mitchell

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Thesis:

Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endangers same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults. In a truly free and liberty-loving society no laws should be passed to prohibit such behavior. Any laws now existing that are contrary to the above definition of inalienable rights are violations of the rights of adults and should be made null and void.

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Foreword

It is my well-studied belief that the so-called war on drugs is the biggest rights violating scheme in the history of the United States. Once the government had convinced the people that it not only had the legitimate power, but also the moral obligation to stop certain drug behavior—because it was immoral—what could the government not do in the name of protecting the people from themselves? Obviously, the people are weak and need a large, parental (read, tyrannical) government to protect them. And the people bought it, lock, stock, and barrel.

The reason that I have written this political treatise is to shine the light of inquiry and logic on the fact that because of the so-called war on drugs we, the American people, no longer have inalienable rights. We only have privileges granted to us by the government. If we truly had inalienable rights and, thereby, truly owned the property of our bodies and minds, then, as adults, and only as adults, we would have the right to use, take, snort, smoke, or ingest any drug we wanted, just so long as we did not violate the rights of others. We could participate in any other behavior that we wanted to, just so long as it did not violate the rights of others.

The facts are that almost all of the violence caused by the presently illegal drugs are caused because of the prohibition of them. When they were legal, prior to 1914, there was no criminality associated with their use. The same cannot be said of alcohol, a true narcotic drug, and the drug of choice of presidents, prosecutors, judges, and the police. When it comes to crimes of violence, all the illegal drugs put together cannot equal the violence and destruction of the use of alcohol. And yet it is legal.

That’s what I meant by saying the we no longer have rights, only privileges granted to us by the government. It allows us to drink alcohol, but it does not allow us to use any of the presently illegal drugs, all of which are demonstrably less harmful and dangerous than alcohol.

Yes, we are free in America . . . free to do whatever the government allows us to do.

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Mistrust those in whom the impulse to punish is strong. Friedrich Nietzsche



Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.

Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.


In vices, the very essence of crime—that is, the design to injure the person or property of another—is wanting.

It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practises a vice with any such criminal intent. He practises his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.

Unless this clear distinction between vices and crime be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property; no such thing as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.

For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth.
Lysander Spooner. (“The Lysander Spoooner Reader,” Fox & Wilkes, San Francisco, 1992)



I believe a major source of our current lawlessness, in particular the destruction of the inner cities, is the attempt to prohibit so-called drugs. I say so-called because the most harmful drugs in the United States are legal: cigarettes and alcohol. . . . [W]hether or not you believe that it is an appropriate function of government to prevent people from voluntarily ingesting items that you regard as harmful to them. . . the attempt to do so has been a failure. It has caused vastly more harm to innocent victims, including the public at large and especially the residents of the inner cities, than any good it has done for those who would choose to use the prohibited narcotics if they were legal. Milton Friedman. (“Why Government Is the Problem,” Hoover Institute essay, Stanford University, 1993)

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The Myth of Inalienable Rights as Applied to the War on Drugs:
The Tyranny of Legislating Morality

by D. M. Mitchell



Before written law, before the concept of formal oral laws, from before the beginning of civilization, by our very nature, humans knew the concepts of justice and of right and wrong. Justice is when you get what you deserve, nothing more, nothing less. Right is when justice is done; wrong is when it is not. We know that if we have honestly worked for something—sweat of our brow—or, in modern times, by money received for our work whether we sweat for it or not; by money that is rightfully ours (either by work or gift) then that something that we have worked for and paid for is our rightful property. We know that no one has a right to take our property, or to use our property without our permission. Our rightful property is what we deserve as a result of our labor, or what we have come by honestly, whether we have worked for it or not.

A thief knows that he does not have a right to what he steals, no matter how he rationalizes his acts. No one who takes that which does not belong to him, without permission of the owner, wants to have his own property taken from him without his permission, no one.

When a person steals he is validating stealing and opening himself up to reciprocal behavior. He cannot logically claim stealing to be wrong behavior without implicating his own behavior as wrong and, therefore, he cannot defend his thieving behavior as his legitimate right. A person steals only because he can and because he has the power (at that moment) to do so. That is the “might makes right” principle of life. Only, “might” really doesn’t make anything “right,” and, just like you and me, a thief still doesn’t want his property rights violated.

The same principle, of course, holds true for violent behavior. Those who assault, rape, murder, or destroy property do not want the same things done to them.

To protect your life, the lives of your loved ones, and even your property is moral and just. No one and no circumstances forces a thief to rob you or burglarize your home. No one is forced to assault or rape you or your loved ones. When a person sets out to cause you harm for no legitimate reason, but only for his greed, anger, or hate, or simply because he can, then he is no longer due the protection of his rights and deadly force, if necessary for the protection of yourself or your loved ones, is justified. It is your right.

There need be no laws, written or otherwise, for you to know that this is true. If the thief in the night followed the “Golden Rule”—treat others as you wish to be treated—then he wouldn’t have to worry about getting shot in someone’s house because he wouldn’t be in that house except by invitation. He wouldn’t be a burglar and a thief and he would be home in bed, minding his own business.

The point here is that if you are minding your own business, if your behavior is non-violent, non-larcenous, and among consenting, non-coerced adults, then there is no legitimate reason for anyone to interfere in your life. You have an inalienable right to such behavior.

With the above firmly in mind, it follows that since the government is only empowered to act on behalf of, or in the stead of citizens, then it is wrong for the government to assault (arrest) a person who has not harmed another person or his property, or who is not a clear and present danger to another person or his property. It is wrong for the government to steal (forfeit) any person’s property if he has not harmed anyone or destroyed or stolen any other person’s property. And, it is wrong for the government to enslave (imprison) any person for non-violent, non-coerced, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not directly and immediately endanger others or their property, disturb the peace, or create a pubic nuisance, especially if said behavior is done in private and/or on private property. And yet, such assaulting, stealing, and enslaving is what our national, state, and local governments are doing in the present drug prohibition, the so-called war on drugs.

Those government entities are involved in passing illegitimate laws against the inalienable rights of citizens to use their bodies and their minds as they wish—even if such use may harm the user—where there is no evidence that any harm has been, will be, or is now being committed, knowingly or negligently, against other people or their property. As such, those laws of prohibition cannot be considered constitutionally legitimate.

There is no constitutionally enumerated power to allow the government to dictate the moral standards of individuals [1]; to dictate how a person must live his or her life; to dictate what a person can or cannot eat, smoke, drink, or inject into his or her body, without a positive showing that the actions of that person has, is, or more likely than not, will harm the person or property of someone else. The mere use of a mind-altering substance does not, in general, cause people to assault or steal from one another. [2] To the extent, however, that drug use does cause such wrong behavior, that is, actions of violence or theft, then it is the drug alcohol that is the worst drug. This has been shown in study after study. [3] Yet alcohol is still the drug of choice of politicians, prosecutors, and the police.

The mere use of the presently illegal drugs causes little to no real criminal behavior. The use of the drug alcohol, however, is related to approximately fifty percent of all murders and to over fifty percent of all rapes and robberies. [4] Therefore, the argument that the government is banning drugs other than alcohol in order to protect society is both false and hypocritical. It doesn’t even stand up to a loose examination of the U. S. Constitution and the legitimate power of government, as such power was supposed to be used in America. [1]

All federal, state, and local laws prohibiting the manufacture, sales, possession, and use of any mind-altering and/or addictive drug for recreational or non-medical purposes are absolutely unconstitutional. There is no such enumerated power. The interstate commerce clause and the necessary and proper clause of the Constitution do not save the federal government here. While the Constitution gives the federal government the power to “regulate” commerce (that is, to make commerce regular between the states), it does not give it the power to prohibit the manufacture, sales, or use of certain substances or products just because said substances or products may harm the user. The fact that alcohol and tobacco are legal to adults, among other deleterious substances, proves that.

Under such a rationale the government could prohibit such potentially harmful things as automobiles, knives, baseball bats, a plethora of household chemicals, sugar, white flour, hydrogenated oils, and people themselves.

And, while the federal government is given its powers via the Constitution and cannot legitimately go beyond those powers, it is also true that state and local governments cannot legitimately pass unconstitutional laws and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law. Think of the implications of what I am saying. All of the morality laws of the government entities in the United States are unconstitutional, regardless of how the U. S. Supreme Court, a branch of the federal government, interprets such laws.


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It is true that, in the United States, at least, we have a constitution that imposes strict limits on some powers of the government. But, as we have discovered in the past century, no constitution can interpret or enforce itself; it must be interpreted by men. And if the ultimate power to interpret a constitution is given to the government’s own Supreme Court, then the inevitable tendency is for the Court to continue to place its imprimatur on ever-broader powers for its own government. Murray Rothbard. (“For a New Liberty,” Fox & Wilkes, San Francisco, 1973, reprint 1994)

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The Declaration of Independence states that we have “unalienable rights.” (We now say “inalienable.”) The Ninth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution states that there are other rights than those listed in the Bill of Rights. The Tenth Amendment states that those powers that the people did not expressly give to the government still belong to the people. The people retain their inalienable rights and they did not give the government the power to act as their moral dictator. (Also remember, an inalienable right, by definition, is one that cannot be voted on, either by Congress or the citizenry. That which is your inalienable right cannot be voted out of existence, otherwise it is not inalienable.)

Further, the principle of inalienable rights, one of the principles upon which this nation was founded, tells us by logic that property rights are the most important rights we have. If we do not have the right to own property then we are slaves to those who do, or to the government. But, if we do have the right to own property then we have the right to use that property as we see fit, just so long as we do not violate the rights of others. If we do not have the right to use our property as we see fit, then the ownership of that property is a sham; it means nothing and we are, in fact, slaves.

Our most basic property is ourselves, that is, our bodies and our minds. If we are not slaves to the government (or to those who control the government) then we have the inalienable right to use our bodies and our minds as we wish—even if it harms us—just so long as we do not harm others or their property. This fact, in a truly liberty-loving society, is not debatable. It is a given and cannot legitimately be taken from us, otherwise there is no true liberty, no free society, only a society of slaves or quasi-slaves.

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The state is not. . .a social institution administered in an anti-social way. It is an anti-social institution, administered in the only way an anti-social institution can be administered, and by the kind of person who, in the nature of things, is best adapted to such service. Albert J. Nock (“Our Enemy the State,” Fox & Wilkes, San Francisco, 1935, reprint 1992) I put it this way: To govern means to control. How much control do you need by a politician or bureaucrat?
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Consider the following: If a person smokes four packs of cigarettes a day and does not pollute the air of non-consenting others, and if that person also drinks a fifth of whiskey a day and, in doing so, does not harm any other person or their property, does not endanger others or their property, does not disturb the peace, and does not create a public nuisance, the police will not break down his door and arrest him. He will not be charged, tried, convicted, and imprisoned, nor will his property be taken from him even though he is using (abusing really) two dangerous and addictive drugs, one of which (alcohol) is a true narcotic drug.

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NARCOTIC: from Greek narkotikos, benumbing. 1. a drug (as of the opium, belladonna or alcohol groups) that in moderate doses allays sensibility, relieves pain, and produces profound sleep but that in poisonous doses produces stupor, coma, or convulsions. (Emphasis added.) Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, 1986, page 1503.

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Why is not an equal measure of liberty and justice permitted someone who uses marijuana or cocaine or any other drug? Is it because we believe that the nicotine and alcohol user is more moral than someone who uses one of the presently illegal drugs? Do we have a right, as a society, to lock up those who we believe to be immoral? Are our national, state, and local governments based on religious principles? Do those religious principles state that some non-violent, non-larcenous, consensual adult drug use behavior is more moral than other such behavior? Is the other such behavior, therefore, immoral and because it is immoral it is criminal? Or, are those government entities secular in nature and based on secular principles?

If religious principles rule, whose religion? Who will come forth and proclaim the one true and correct religion and its principles upon which our governments and laws must be based? Who will come forth and state upon which religious laws, in which specific religious book or set of writings, was the use of any drug banned, whether natural or man-made, and what the proper punishment is?

If a person is a witch or a heretic, should that person be forced to confess then burned at the stake—the auto-da-fe? People like me, people who support the inalienable rights of individuals, are literally considered heretics for speaking out against the religion of the nation-state, for opposing the tyranny of the National Socialist Bureaucracy of America. We are heretics for believing that individuals can take care of themselves if the government would just get out of the way.

Our governments are ruled by secular principles because (for the Christians reading this) God’s Kingdom is not of this world, and because the U. S. Constitution is a political and secular document. That is, if our governments were ruled by logic and reasoning relating to the human condition as it is lived here and now in this world, then the principle of inalienable rights would be the foremost ruling premise of those governments if we are to call ourselves, unhypocritically, a free nation and the land of liberty. Of course, there are among us those who love liberty for themselves only, but not for the masses.

It is by allowing people to live their lives as they wish, to make their own choices and, yes, mistakes, that individuals learn their strengths and weaknesses and how to be self-sufficient and self-responsible. That is how they come to be truly moral people, or not. (But should it be a crime to be considered immoral—by other people’s standard—if one’s behavior does not violate the rights of others?) This leads to a diverse but strong society. Forced regimentation, on the other hand, the National Socialist Bureaucracy under whose tyranny we now live, leads to a weakening of our will. It leads to waiting for someone—a person of authority—to tell us what is right or wrong, or what to do. It leads to an inability to become fully independent, which is, perhaps, what our government truly wants. This is a tyranny over both our right and our duty to choose for ourselves how best to live our lives; how best to find our own morality.

“The common good” is best served by free citizens with their inalienable rights fully intact, looking after their own rational self-interests. And no, it is not in anyone’s rational self-interest to murder, rape, assault, or steal unless, of course, a person believes that it is rational to take a chance on being caught and punished for such behavior, or to have his neighbors do the same unto him. As I mentioned above, if one behaves in a certain way, one is then condoning that behavior for everyone else, or one is (irrationally) stating that he or she has special rights to so behave. Try and sell that to the person whose rights you have violated. Only the government can get away with that bit of sophistry. Most people commit crimes because their thinking is self-centered and illogical. What criminal, that is, one who commits rights-violating behavior without good cause, wants to have the same behavior done to him, or to be fined, or sent to prison, or, in the worse cases, executed?

Do my neighbors, other citizens in my town, have the legitimate power to force me to live by their own personal or religious moral code? Of course they don’t. If individuals do not have that legitimate power, then how can the government have it? Through the procedure of democracy? When it comes to one’s personal life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness, democracy cannot rule. The example of democracy in which two wolves and one sheep vote on what to have for dinner—pure democracy—cannot be allowed in a truly free and liberty-loving society that supposedly values individual rights. Inalienable rights are superior to such democratic procedures. The government has no legitimate power to pass and enforce laws that would criminalize the actions of citizens where there is no harm or danger to others or their property. Again, if my neighbors can’t force me to live by their moral standards, where my behavior does not physically harm them or their property, or endangers them or their property, then the government cannot do so either, because a legitimate government gets its power from the people. If the people don’t have it, they can’t give it to the government. It’s that simple.

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Crime is crime, aggression against rights is aggression, no matter how many citizens agree to the oppression. There is nothing sacrosanct about the majority: the lynch mob, too, is the majority in its own domain. Murray Rothbard (“For a New Liberty,” Fox & Wilkes, San Francisco, 1973, reprint 1994)

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Where is the actual harm, the physical harm to innocent others, non-consenting others, from someone’s use of drugs other than alcohol and tobacco? The majority of the harm is in the moral/religious based laws that have been passed that have prohibited the free market in the manufacture, sales, possession, and use of such drugs. The majority of the harm is in the prohibition of those substances, not from the mere use of them. The harm is in the imprisonment of otherwise peaceful, honest citizens, disruption of their families, loss of homes and cars though forfeiture laws, the violence that unscrupulous people will resort to when conducting an illegal business, and so forth. While it is true that a drug addict can and may cause emotional and financial disruption to himself or herself, or to his or her family, that effect would be minimized under a system of legalized drugs. Without imprisonment for non-violent, consensual adult drug behavior, and without drug-law-related violence, the United States would be, on balance, a much better place in which to live.

Tobacco (nicotine) is the most harmful drug in use in America today in terms of deaths per year. It is generally accepted that the annual death toll from the use of tobacco is over 400,000. Alcohol is the second most deadly drug in terms of deaths per year, with a yearly average of 200,000. [5] But when the effects of the present drug prohibition are factored out, that is, the violence caused by the prohibition, as well as deaths caused by adulterated drugs, deaths per year for the use of the presently illegal drugs are not more than 5,000. [6] This is one-one hundred twentieth (1/120) of the combined effects of alcohol and tobacco. To put it differently, deaths per year from the presently illegal drugs, as a percentage, compared to alcohol and tobacco, is 0.833%, or less than 1%. Yet, for those 5,000 people who knowingly and willingly choose to use the drug or drugs which kill them, we, as a nation, are willing to spend 30 billion dollars per year in the attempt (and not a very successful attempt) to prohibit those drugs. [7] Actually, that figure is probably as much as 100 billion dollars per year. [8] We are also willing to incarcerate hundreds of thousands of people who have not harmed anyone. And, I might add, that this huge expenditure and mega-incarceration is, for the most part, futile. All the laws passed, money spent, and people incarcerated has not substantially effected the use of the presently illegal drugs.

It is sad that some people are so stupid, or so abjectly hopeless or confused that they feel the need to escape reality by abusing mind-altering drugs (including alcohol). But none of the presently illegal drugs are instantly addictive or instantly deadly. (I am talking about pure, unadulterated drugs taken in “normal” amounts by people who are not allergic to those drugs.)

Like alcohol, there is use and there is abuse. Most drinkers moderate their alcohol use. Further, not all adults smoke tobacco or drink alcoholic beverages even though those two drugs are legally available to adults and, at least for alcohol, socially acceptable. (Even though smoking is now considered anti-social, the Center for Disease Control stated in October of 2006 that there were still nearly 45 million smokers in the U. S.) Not all people by any means, not even a majority of them I am sure, would use any of the presently illegal drugs were they to be re-legalized.

The price of freedom and liberty is that we cannot protect all people at all times from their own mistakes, nor should we want to. First, it is the primary responsibility of parents to teach their children the truth about the dangers of the world in which they live. Second, a person must be free to make choices that may harm him (mountain climbing anyone?) if we are to respect the principles of individual freedom and inalienable rights. But beyond that, we as individuals and, therefore, our governments too, just do not have the legitimate right to force other people to live their lives by our own personal moral standards, as long as they are not actually harming us or our property, and as long as they are not a clear and present danger to same. To do so would be to negate the very concepts of personal liberty, freedom of expression, and rights, all of which are supposedly the bedrock of American culture.

Consider this: If it is wrong to make and sell any of the presently illegal drugs because of the perceived or potential harm that they may cause, then how much more wrong must it be to make and sell alcohol and tobacco for the demonstrably greater harm that they cause? Can the people who sell alcohol and tobacco, the people who manufacture the booze and cigarettes, or the farmers who grow the tobacco, or the grain and fruit used to make alcohol, can those people claim rightness of purpose, legitimacy of their businesses, and moral superiority, knowing that hundreds of thousands of people will die and that millions will suffer because of the misuse of their labor and their products? Can they logically or morally be given reputable status and community support over the marijuana or cocaine distributors who also provide their drugs to willing customers, but drugs that cause far less harm overall in our society than either alcohol or tobacco?

If the government has the legitimate right and the moral duty to rid society of harmful, mind-altering, and possibly addictive drugs, then isn’t it logical that the government should put their greatest efforts into combating the most harmful drugs first? Those being, of course, alcohol and tobacco. Wow! What a war on drugs that would make! More violence, more theft, more corruption, more danger to all people at all times in all places, and millions more people put in prison. It would be for the common good, of course, but it would also be one hell of a boost to the various justice department bureaucracies, police departments, as well as the prison building and supplying industries along with prison guards and their unions. These are the ones, today, who legally benefit from the so-called war on drugs. Why, they’d have to fence off Kansas and put all the prisoners there!

But who else benefits from the illegal status of drugs? Remember, there are billions of dollars per year being made off the illegal status of these substances. The violent Colombian and Mexican drug cartels want the drugs to remain illegal. So do the terrorists who want to kill Americans and destroy our society. Then there are the violent street gangs who make most of their money in trafficking in illegal drugs. Without the illegal status of these substances all those people would be out of business. Then what would they do to make money? Rob banks? That is a much more dangerous and much less lucrative proposition.

Further, how can a politician drink alcoholic beverages, maybe even smoke a tobacco product—or support the tobacco subsidies—then stand up and say he is tough on crime because he supports laws that violate the rights of honest, non-violent, consenting adults in their use of other, less harmful, drugs? But more, how can the voters be so blind to such crass hypocrisy, illegitimate lawmaking, wasteful efforts, and the suppression of our rights?

I’m not trying to attack the intelligence or gullibility of the average person, I consider myself to be an average person. In our modern and complex society there are many things that contend for our attention, but the obvious transparency of the rationale for the present drug prohibition is, to me, overwhelming. The bigger issue, however, is this: Do we as individuals own the property of our bodies and our minds and, therefore, do we have the inalienable right to use our bodies and our minds as we so choose, just so long as we are not harming others or their property? If we do not, then let’s get it out into the open and state that the principle of rights for citizens is dead; that you will now get all your privileges from the government. If, on the other hand, we still do have our inalienable rights intact, I say: Government, leave us the hell alone, unless actual harm or imminent endangerment to a non-consenting other can be shown to exist.



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The State “is a device for taking the money out of one set of pockets and putting it into another.” Voltaire

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With re-legalized drugs, that is, with the re-legalization of our personal liberty and inalienable rights, the 30-40 million illicit drug users [9] would have to become 10 times that many (equal to or greater then the present population of the United States) in order for the use of the presently illegal drugs to rack up a death toll of 50,000, just one-twelfth (1/12) of what the use of alcohol and tobacco cause now. My figures were taken from 1991 (see endnote 9). Newer statistics suggest as few as 16-20 million illegal drug users. A 1999 Center for Disease Control and Prevention report put “drug-induced deaths” at just under 16 thousand for the year 1997 rather than the 5 thousand that I have used (see endnote 6). That would, of course, include both illegal drugs and non-medical use of legal ones (while my number of 5,000 drug deaths only includes the use of the presently illegal drugs).

But, if we multiply 20 million drug users by a factor of 15, to get 300 million—the approximate population of the United States—and also multiply the number of deaths, 16 thousand, by 15, which would be 240 thousand, we see that if the whole population of the United States were using re-legalized drugs, the death toll would still only be about four-tenths (0.4) that caused by the use of alcohol and tobacco. And, of course, it is an impossibility that everyone in the United States would become a user of those drugs (especially of those drugs most likely to cause such deaths because, believe me, marijuana won’t do it).

But what if, upon re-legalization, there were a four-fold increase (although the trend seems to be less drug use, rather than more)? Then, by using the higher figure of 16 thousand deaths per year, there would be 72 thousand drug-induced deaths per year. That is one hell of a lot of stupid, preventable deaths . . . but only 12% of what alcohol and tobacco cause. And, remember, in this scenario, we are talking about 70 to 80 million illegal drug users, approximately 25% of all Americans—men, women, and children. Not hardly likely is it? Most people don’t want to be junkies or alcoholics. They want the good job and a future with a reasonable retirement. Therefore, they moderate their drug use, especially as they mature.

Again, the question is, why are we spending so much money and manpower on the presently illegal drugs that are obviously less harmful overall than alcohol and tobacco? Further, the presently illegal drugs are less harmful than tobacco and alcohol even though they are illegal. How much less harmful would they be if they were to be re-legalized and regulated as to purity, dosage, and sales? (Illegal drugs are also easier for minors to obtain than legal ones.)

The mere use of the presently illegal drugs seldom causes real crime, that is, violent or larcenous behavior. Many of the presently illegal drugs were legally available at the beginning of the 20th Century. There was no criminal justice problem associated with their use. There still are no large studies correlating drug use with real criminal, rights-violating behavior. Such studies just do not exist. [10]

I want to make this very clear. We, as a nation, and through our elected and appointed officials, allow adults the right to decide whether they want to use or abuse the mind-altering and addictive drug alcohol, or the addictive and cancer-causing drug nicotine. We do not, however, allow adults the same right (an inalienable right) to use other and, quite often, less harmful drugs. The boogie man of drug-caused crime is, in fact, not a boogie man at all. Rather, it is a paper tiger, a sham put up by the government to scare us. Why this should be, I am not sure. It is a complex issue. But I am sure that the very prohibition of the presently illegal drugs causes the majority, and the vast majority at that, of the real, rights-violating, criminal behavior surrounding drug sales and use. It is the prohibition that is causing more harm than good to our society, not the drugs themselves.

If it is your inalienable right to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, even though they may cause you harm, then it must also be your equal right to use any other chemical substance you wish, even though those substances may also cause you harm. Inalienable rights are not “allowed” or “given out” by the government. Inalienable rights are yours because you exist. However, you have no right to harm other people, or the property of other people, unless it is in the defense of yourself, your loved ones, your property, or innocent others.

As I said, it is the drug prohibition itself that causes almost all of the criminal behavior related to the prohibited drugs. The very nature of the irrational attempt to prohibit the use of substances wanted and used by several million people, means that the risks associated with providing those substances will demand artificially high prices. This, of course, leads to the use of violence to eliminate competitors or to collect money owed, which cannot be legally collected. Also, there are some who will not or cannot control their drug use and who will resort to violence or stealing in order to obtain the money necessary to pay for the artificially expensive drugs that they use.

The vast majority of this real criminal behavior—rights-violating behavior—would cease upon the re-legalization of our full inalienable rights and, therefore, the right of adults to manufacture, sell, or use any of the presently illegal drugs. But, in that eventuality, legitimate pharmaceutical companies, rather than unregulated, clandestine labs would produce these drugs. Prices would then be low enough that few, if any, would have to resort to real crimes in order to support their habit. I don’t believe that there is any real or perceived danger to the average citizen from alcoholics needing to get the money to pay for their drug of choice. The same holds true for smokers too. Why should it be any different when we re-legalize the other drugs? After all, when cocaine, marijuana, and the opiates were legally available, before and during the early part of the 20th Century, there was no criminal justice problem associated with the use of those drugs. (I found this out from the writings of Joseph D. McNamara, a Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Mr. McNamara has thirty-five years of police experience and was the Chief of Police for the cities of Kansas City, Missouri and San Jose, California. For an excellent article about the foolishness of the so-called war on drugs, go to http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3042936.html.)

Then there is the issue of “street” quality drugs. Many, if not all, of the clandestinely produced drugs sold on the streets carry the risk of having been “cut” (diluted) with substances that could be poisonous, as happened during the prohibition of alcohol, or cause allergic reactions. Pharmaceutically pure drugs would eliminate that risk. Street drugs are also of unknown dosages. A certain weight or volume of a street drug may be enough for one or two doses today. Tomorrow that same amount of drug may be strong enough for four or five doses. Again, pharmaceutically produced drugs would eliminate that risk also. There are few intentional overdose deaths. Drug users just want to get “high”; to feel the effects of their drug of choice. That includes nearly everyone who uses the drug alcohol too. Drug overdoses, whether they cause death or not, can be attributed to the unknown purity and strength of street drugs, being diluted with a poisonous substance (quinine, for instance), obvious ignorance (such as using both alcohol and heroin at the same time), suicide, or murder.

If this nation is serious about reducing real crime, that is, violent, larcenous, non-consensual behavior, and reducing it substantially; if we want to control the damage done by “street” quality drugs; and if we want to re-establish the supremacy of inalienable rights, then we must tell the government in no uncertain terms to stop the false and hypocritical war on drugs. We must tell the government that we do, indeed, have inalienable rights and that the government has no legitimate authority to suppress them. We have the right to any behavior that does not violate the rights of others, in their person and their property, or that does not disturb the peace or creates a public nuisance, especially if said behavior is done in private and on private property.

Drug prohibition is but one part of our national, state, and local governments’ war on the rights of individuals, but it is perhaps the part that causes more harm to society and individuals than any other. It is also the one that uses—without positive results—the most money. One’s inalienable right to participate in various controversial areas of human behavior, whether it is drugs, sex, gambling, or alternative medical practices, among others, deserve the same protection as conventional behaviors such as using tobacco or alcohol, not exercising, eating a poor diet, free speech, free press, going to church, not going to church, and so forth. (At one time in England, and the colonies too, I am sure, it was mandatory, upon pain of punishment, to attend church on Sundays…the one true church, of course.)

Consider the following. Martin Luther was deemed a danger to the social order; that his ideas would cause wars and revolution and the destruction of society as they then knew it. Martin Luther would have certainly been imprisoned and possibly executed had the (church) authorities been able to get their hands on him. His ideas, of course, did change things, but it was the official resistance (prohibition) to them that caused all the violence and upheaval in Europe during the Reformation. Further implications of the uselessness of prohibitions are that in the 16th Century in Egypt coffee was banned and the supplies were burned. In the 17th Century the Czar of Russia ordered the execution of tobacco users. About 1650 tobacco was prohibited in Bavaria, Saxony, and Zurich. At the same time, the Ottoman Sultan also ordered the execution of smokers. All this was to no avail. [11]

There are many, many more examples of various prohibitions throughout the ages, imposed by religious-based governments or religious authorities for one irrational or self-serving reason or another. All such prohibitions failed where large portions of the societies affected wanted that which was prohibited. All such prohibitions merely made those societies in which they were implemented less tolerant and more restrictive places to live; meaner, more inhumane places in which to live. That also applies to America today.

* * * * *

There is only one political sin: independence; and only one political virtue: obedience. To put it differently, there is only one offense against authority: self-control; and only one obeisance to it: submission to control by authority. Thomas Szasz (“Friedman & Szasz on Liberty and Drugs, The Drug Policy Foundation Press, 1992)

* * * * *

No person should be fined or imprisoned for any non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior. Whether such behavior is harmful to those who choose to participate in it, or whether it leads them to ruin, is upon those who so choose. They make their choice, and choice is the hallmark of a truly free society. It is not within the legitimate constitutional power for the government to stop people from making such choices.

We may find a person’s choice of lifestyle to be atrocious or immoral, but vices are not crimes. We have no legitimate right to force a person to conform to our personal moral standards. Mine will be slightly different from yours, and yours slightly different from the next person’s, and so on. So, which moral code is the absolutely correct one? And if we, as individual citizens, cannot legitimately force a person to go to our church, or to live by our personal or religious moral standards, or to stop using or abusing alcohol and tobacco, or to eat in a healthy manner and exercise properly, then by what authority can we attempt to force people to not smoke marijuana, inhale cocaine, or use any other of the presently illegal drugs? Further, by what legitimate and constitutionally enumerated power do you think our national, state, or local governments can force people to follow a specific moral code, or punish them if they don’t, absent a showing of actual harm to, or imminent endangerment of, other people or their property? Of course, if America had a religious-based government, like Iran, then the government, by the law of God would have the legitimate authority to punish us for our religious transgressions, even when we had not violated the rights of others. But I thought the governments of the United States of American and of the several states were supposed to be secular governments, deriving their powers from the people…and if the people don’t have it, then the government can’t have it either.

What is more, no person (and especially not the government, which is supported by the taxes of the producing workers [12]) has a duty or obligation to take care of those who will not take care of themselves. No one has a duty to take care of those who knowingly and willingly make bad choices that lead to their ruin. Such a socialist idea only leads to a lack of responsibility by those who will not take care of themselves, knowing that the government will take care of them. This is an irrational and unnecessary tax burden upon the responsible citizens, the producing workers.

As cruel as it may sound, no matter how needy a person is, he does not have a legitimate claim to your time, your body, your mind, or your property, unless he has honestly contracted with you for any of those things. You have an inalienable right, if it is in your nature, if you so choose, to be a hard-hearted, miserly Scrooge-type of person, even if it is not in your rational self-interest. Now, having shown myself to be the Grinch who stole Christmas, I must say that private charities could and would take care of the truly needy, and those charities would not be burdened with an inefficient and self-perpetuating bureaucracy. People do care, and people would give to such private charities. Private charities did an admirable job in the early part of the last century, before the advent of the welfare state, with its added tax burden.

To guarantee support for able-bodied people, as a “right”, is to tell those people that they do not have to suffer the consequences of their bad choices and mistakes. There can be little to no learning or, perhaps, even no desire to learn to do better, to learn from ones’ mistakes, if you know that the government will rescue you with money extorted from the responsible producing worker.

The more money the government has forced from the citizens to spend on inefficient, socialist, welfare state schemes, the less money the citizens have had to give to the charities of their choice. But more, since the advent of the welfare-state people have felt less responsible to take care of the truly needy. The sentiment has become, “Let the government do it.” But, of course, the government can’t do it. The nature of bureaucracy is self-perpetuating inefficiency. Frederic Bastiat, a 19th Century French political economist, said something to the effect that “everyone wants to be supported by the government; they forget, however, that the government is supported by everyone.” To paraphrase that, I say that everyone wants to be supported by the government, but the government is only supported by the producing workers (who are becoming a smaller percentage of the total population every year).

Therefore, if a person is a drug addict, including alcoholics, and makes no effort to reform himself and has no one to pay for his physical or mental health care, or financial problems, it is not up to the State to take care of them. Private charities could do it. Of course, the private charities would demand that the person, at the very least, make an attempt to reform himself. Also, if the presently illegal drugs were re-legalized, then “free clinics” could supply the indigent addict with his or her daily dose of drug for a very small price. Even taxpayer supported clinics could do it and it would be a better use of your tax dollar. That method worked extremely well in England, until the U. S. Government put pressure on the English Government to stop supporting those types of clinics.

The government has certain, limited, constitutionally enumerated powers. After fulfilling those duties, all the government has to do is get out of the way. Society, a free and healthy society, one unencumbered by an overly strong central government, can and will take care of itself, including the truly needy. The welfare state intervenes in the orderly running of human affairs. It is only a socialist or dictatorial notion that people cannot take care of themselves without the government to tell them what to do. Socialism includes, of course, all subsidies, tariffs, entitlements, and all other interventionist and special interest government programs that twists and distorts the true free market.

* * * * *

It seems to be very imperfectly understood that the cost of State intervention must be paid out of production, this being the only source from which any payment for anything can be derived. Albert J. Nock (“Our Enemy the State,” Fox & Wilkes, San Francisco, 1935, reprint 1992)

* * * * *

The government of the United States, as well as the state and local governments, have no legitimate, constitutional authority to tell citizens what they can or cannot do with their own bodies and minds absent a showing of actual harm to other people and their property, or direct and immediate endangerment of same. The government does have the might, but that is naked tyranny—tyranny over your decisions on how best to pursue your life, liberty, property, and happiness.

Here is a further example of why we must never trust government, an example that we must never forget, because, if it happened once, it can happen again. Before the Civil War, the United States Supreme Court, a branch of the federal government, ruled that owning people—slavery—was legal; that runaway slaves were criminals, and that anyone helping slaves to run away were also criminals. That was neither right nor just, but it was the law, and it was law that was enforced by all levels of government. Now, I doubt that we will ever have direct slavery again, although being sent to prison for not violating anyone’s rights, is a bit like slavery, especially when you consider that the majority of non-violent drug prisoners are “people of color.” The laws prohibiting consensual adult possession and use of certain chemical substances for recreational purposes makes all citizens virtual slaves because they do not fully own the property of their bodies and their minds. They cannot use themselves as they wish—if they wish to use a drug—where such use does not violate the rights of others. And, the U. S. Supreme Court upholds these illegitimate, rights-violating laws just like it did the practice of slavery and the Fugitive Slave Act. The government truly has become our moral master.

Notwithstanding the powers that were given to the government, by the people, through the constitution, there are only three basic purposes of legitimate government in a truly free and liberty-loving society: (1) To provide a police force, along with a criminal courts system, to arrest and punish (where possible) those who would violate the rights of their fellow citizens, (2) to provide a system of civil courts so that honest citizens can resolve their differences peacefully, and (3) to provide an army to protect the United States from foreign invaders. Personal moral choices are totally within the realm of each individual adult. Personal moral choices are not the business of government. Are you aware that the United States, with only 5% of the world’s population, has 25% of the world’s imprisoned population; that there are now over two million people in prison, on parole, on probation, or otherwise under an order of supervision; that approximately 50% of all prisoners in the U. S. are incarcerated for non-violent, non-larcenous, consensual adult drug behavior; that it costs about $50,000 to build one prison cell, and that it costs over $20,000 per year to keep a person in prison?

But the issue here is really not about the use or possible abuse of mind-altering or addictive drugs, alcohol and tobacco included. The issue here is about the absolute and inalienable right [13] to choose how you want to live your life. It’s about your own personal moral code. It’s about having the right to behave any way you choose, just so long as you do not violate the rights of others. That’s what a truly free and liberty-loving society is all about. If you don’t have that right then you are not a truly free and independent citizen even if you choose not to use drugs, and all the talk about rights is a myth. If the government has the legitimate power to outlaw personal moral behavior that does not harm or endanger others, then what is it that the government can’t outlaw if it had a majority of legislators voting for it? The precedent set in the war on drugs is more than dangerous. It has the very real potential to be, eventually, absolutely deadly to true freedom and liberty.

If you don’t own the property of your body and mind because you can’t use that property as you wish, then what we have, instead of rights, are privileges granted to us by the government. But there is no way that the government can legislate morality. Morality is about “right conduct”. Right conduct is different for a Christian, a Moslem, an atheist; for a smoker, a drinker, a teetotaler; or for one who believes that all sex is wrong except between a married man and woman, and then only penile-vaginal, with the man on top; or for someone who believes that all sex is right between consenting adults.
To me, right conduct, in a secular society, with a secular government, is any conduct that is done alone or with consenting adults that is non-violent, non-coerced, non-larcenous; that does not physically harm other people or their property, or directly and immediately presents a threat to same; that does not disturb the peace or create a nuisance in public, especially if said conduct is done in private and on private property. I may not agree with all such conduct. I may find some of it to be disgusting. But I will agree that adults have a right to do it.

With that in mind, and since “to govern” means to control, I must ask you: How much control do you need from a politician or a bureaucrat? How much control by the government are you willing to put up with? How many more of your tax dollars are you willing to spend on this war against our inalienable rights? The so-called war on drugs is the longest war in American history. This war against our rights, having so obviously failed in its attempt to enforce the religious or personal moral standards of some people in order to stop others from using drugs, is both ludicrous and tragic.

What America needs, and needs desperately, is a constitutional amendment. It should be stated in words exactly or very close to my stated thesis at the beginning of this essay. We need this amendment in order to take back our full rights. Further, all the laws prohibiting the consensual adult use of mind-altering drugs, for whatever reason, must be abolished. All present drug prisoners, if their behavior was non-violent and did not involve minors, must be released. All people who have ever been convicted for non-violent drug behavior of any sort, if it did not involve minors, must be allowed to have their records expunged. We must do this for the sake of true liberty and the re-establishment of the principle of inalienable rights. And we must do this by telling—not asking—our elected representatives that we must have this amendment.



* * * * *
Drugs are a species of property, and hence the right to drugs is a form of property right. Accordingly, I maintain that we have a right to grow, buy, and ingest drugs much as we have a right to grow, buy, and ingest food; and that drug prohibition, epitomized by our prescription laws, constitute deprivations of our fundamental right to own and use property. Thomas Szasz (Friedman & Szasz on Liberty and Drugs, The Drug Policy Foundation Press, 1992.)

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End Notes

1. Article I, Section 8, Clauses 1-18 of the U .S. Constitution lists the original powers given to the U. S. Congress. (The 16th Amendment—income taxes—gave Congress the power to collect taxes on personal income and the 18th Amendment—prohibition of alcohol, another rights violating law and later repealed—allowed the federal government to outlaw alcohol for drinking purposes.) Nowhere does the Constitution give the federal government the authority to regulate personal moral standards, or to protect individuals from their own pursuit of happiness. That was tried with the 18th Amendment and it caused a great increase in violent crime, gave a huge boost to organized crime, caused rampant corruption, and was a complete failure—just like the present prohibition. Congress is only to provide for the “general Welfare” of the states united into the nation known as the United States of America. Congress was not empowered to provide for the “general Welfare” of individual citizens.

2. See the interview of Michael S. Gazzaniga, Professor of Neuroscience at Dartmouth Medical School; interviewed by William F. Buckley, Jr. and published in the February 5, 1990 issue of the National Review. See also, Thinking About Drug Legalization, by James Ostrowski, Cato Institute Policy Analysis #121 (1989), page 13; and The War on Drugs, 12 Years Later, by Dan Baum, ABA Journal, March 1993, page 71.

3. A U.S. Department of Justice study from 1985 stated that 49% of all homicides, 68% of all manslaughter, 54% of all robberies, and 52% of all rapes were committed by people who had been drinking alcohol. A 1994 U. S. Department of Justice study of urban murders stated that 64% of murderers had alcohol in their blood during the commission of the crime.

4. Ibid.

5. Extrapolated from the Fifth Special Report to the U. S. Congress on Alcohol and Health, by the Secretary of Health and Human Resources.

6. In May of 1991, Jeffrey M. Blum, an associate professor of law at the University of Buffalo, filed a (letter) brief at the request of federal judge, John Elfvin, on the question of whether the constitutional rules should be relaxed because of the drug situation. The brief stated, among other things, that the total number of deaths due to either overdose or poisoning from all of the presently illegal drugs combined was between 3,800 and 5,200 (a figure taken from Ostrowski’s “Thinking About Drug Legalization”, note number two, above). To see the full letter brief—but especially paragraphs 16-23 and 27—go to http://www.november.org/dissentingopinions/Blum.html#top.

7. Ain’t Nobodies Business If You Do, by Peter McWilliams, Prelude Press, page 183.

8. O.K., Call It War, by Max Frankel, The New York Times Magazine, December 18, 1994.

9. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (1991): 6.38 million cocaine users, 19.5 million marijuana users, 0.7 million heroin users, 0.7 million hallucinogen users, 0.7 million stimulant users, and 2.5 million “others”. That adds up to 30.48 million people. These figures were extrapolated from those people who admitted their drug use. Could it be possible there are actually some who were asked but denied any such use, thereby adding to the actual number of users?

10. The War on Drugs, 12 Years Later, by Dan Baum, ABA Journal, March 1993, page 72.

11. Thinking About Drug Legalization, by James Ostrowski, Cato Institute Policy Analysis #121 (1989), page 30.

12. A “producing worker” is anyone who provides a product that is valued and wanted by others. A producing worker can be the person with the concept or idea, the person with the capital to implement the idea, or the person who provides the labor to actually make the product; or the producing worker can be all three in one.

13. For those who argue that there are no such thing as rights, inalienable, absolute, or otherwise (and there are those who do so argue), I then say that all people and, therefore, the government as an agent for the people, have a duty and obligation to leave individuals alone when it comes to their personal choices, and their personal moral standards, where no harm to others or their property or direct and immediate threat to same can be shown. A minority of people behaving in what might generally be considered an immoral way cannot destroy society. And if a majority behaved in such a manner one would be a fool not to set up shop and cater to them, unless, of course, it was against your personal moral standards to do so. Such a choice would be your right to make, and it would be the duty and obligation of others to respect your choice. It is also true that concepts and words mean nothing (such as “inalienable rights”) unless one is willing to speak out, organize, and even risk life and limb in the defense of them.

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ADDENDA

Miscellaneous Quotes and Information

Cigarettes have “a violent action on the nerve centers, producing degeneration of the cells of the brain, which is quite rapid among boys. Unlike most narcotics this degeneration is permanent and uncontrollable.” Thomas Edison

“The boy who smokes cigarettes need not be anxious about his future. He has none.” David Starr Jordan, first president of Stanford University

“No boy or man can expect to succeed in this world to a high position and continue the use of cigarettes.” Connie Mack, manager of the Philadelphia Athletics

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­(The above three statements about tobacco cigarettes, made in the early part of the 20th Century [circa 1913-1914] were made during a time when, ironically, marijuana was legal but several states had outlawed tobacco cigarettes. “Opponents of tobacco depicted cigarettes as a foreign threat to the youth of America, sapping their energy and intelligence…. They claimed that smoking cigarettes led to crime, brain damage, lower productivity, and narcotic addiction.” Jacob Sullum, “Smoke Alarm,” Reason, May 1996, pp. 40-41.)

“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others…. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.” John Stuart Mill

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams

(The facts show that the most harmful drugs are legal—alcohol and tobacco. Making non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult drug behavior illegal and locking up hundreds of thousands of otherwise honest, peaceful citizens, destroys the lives of those people, as well as those of their families, especially their children. This makes society a worse, not a better place in which to live. The facts also show that today, in the United States, there is no such thing as inalienable rights. That is a myth. What we have are privileges granted to us by an ever-increasing dictatorial and totalitarian government. Yes, Americans are free…free to do whatever the government allows them to do.)

“The scale of imprisonment in America is now unmatched in any democracy, and is greater than even most totalitarian governments have ever attempted.” The Economist, March 20, 1999

“’Tis an old stratagem to call oppression law, and resistance to oppression lawlessness.”
E. M. Rhodes

“The na├»ve advocates of government interference with consumption delude themselves when they neglect what they disdainfully call the philosophical aspect of the problem. They unwittingly support the cause of censorship, inquisition, intolerance, and the persecution of dissenters.” Luwig von Mises.

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Crime, Organized Crime, and Criminals

1. Crime, in its most basic and secular definition, is the violation of the rights of others without good cause. Everything else that some people might find to be incorrect behavior is sin. Good cause for the violation of the rights of others only applies when said violation is committed in defense of self, loved ones, innocent others, or property.

2. Organized crime is the violation of the rights of others by members of an organized group or gang—an organization.

3. A government, by definition, is an organized group or gang—an organization.

4. A person who knowingly and willingly works for an organization that violates the rights
of others is culpable for those crimes under the criminal conspiracy laws even though he or she may not have participated in the actual violation of anyone’s rights.

5. Under a system of inalienable rights, a person owns the property of his or her body and mind. It is his or her inalienable right to use such property anyway he or she chooses, just so long as said use does not violate the rights of others. This assumes consenting adult behavior.

6. Any law by a secular government that prohibits the use of one’s body and mind as one chooses, where such use does not violate the rights of others, is itself a violation of the rights of consenting adults. Such laws and prohibitions are illegitimate under the principle of inalienable rights and are criminal in nature.

7. The present scheme of drug laws (among others) in the United States prohibit individuals from freely exercising their right to use the property of their bodies and minds as they choose, where such use does not violate the rights of others.

8. Due to said drug laws of the federal government and the governments of the several states, the United States of America makes up one of the largest rights-violating organization in the world. It is organized crime personified.

9. All of the people who make up the federal government and the governments of the several states, whether elected, appointed, or hired, and who have sworn to uphold the laws of those governments that violate the rights of citizens, specifically, the drug laws, are culpable members of an organized crime gang that has conspired to violate the rights of citizen and are, therefore, criminals.

10. In any truly civilized nation it is without a doubt that the violation of rights without good cause (crime) should not go unpunished. That is to say, those who actually violate the rights of others, or those who knowingly and willingly belong to and participate in an organized crime group or gang, should be punished directly for their actions or as coconspirators.

11. The drug laws of the United States violate the inalienable rights of otherwise honest, peaceful, consensually behaving adults who wish to use certain drugs (other than alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine). Therefore all government workers in the United States, who take an oath to uphold these rights-violating laws, are rights-violating criminals. They are criminals, either directly, by their actions, or indirectly, by knowingly and willingly working for a criminal, rights-violating organization under the criminal conspiracy laws. As such, those government workers should be punished.

12. In the alternative, the federal government and the governments of the several states should announce the nullification of the principle of inalienable rights and the institution of a system of government-granted privileges in the place of said rights. They should also declare that they are not secular governments, but rather, that they are religiously or personal morally based governments enforcing the personal moral and religious beliefs of some of the people and that sins are now criminal offenses, punishable by fines, imprisonment, or even the death penalty.


* * * * *

A set of beliefs about the nature, cause, and purpose of the world or universe and having a moral code dictating proper human conduct is a religion. Every person’s personal moral beliefs constitutes that person’s religious basis, whether shared by others or not. If we are not ruled by secular laws, then we are ruled by religious laws . . . and that is exactly what the drug prohibition laws are, regardless of the obvious fact that millions of people in the United States do not subscribe to that religion nor belong to that church.
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Recap of deaths per year due to drug use

(The term “drugs” means the presently illegal drugs.)

Drugs, according to my earliest research ……………………………………………….. 5,000 to 10,000
Drugs, according to http://www.drugwarfacts.org/ ………………………………………………………17,000
Alcohol related murders (approx. ½ of the 17,732 murders FY2003/CDC report) ..……………… 8,800
Alcohol related automobile deaths, http://www.drugwarfacts.org/ ………………………………………16,653
Alcohol, total, according to my earliest research ……………………………………………….. 200,000
Alcohol, total, according to http://www.drugwarfacts.org/ ……………………………………………... 85,000
Tobacco, all sources …………………………………………………………………………….. 435,000
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) ……………………. 7,600
Adverse reaction to prescribed medicines, http://www.drugwarfacts.org/ ……………………………. 106,000
Marijuana, alone, no other drug involved, http://www.drugwarfacts.org/ ……………………………………. 0

If we take the largest figure for illegal drug caused deaths (17,000) and compare it to the total for legal drug caused deaths (excluding prescribed medicines), using the lowest figures for them (633,600) we see that the death, pain, and misery (grieving loved ones, etc.) for legal drugs is extremely more than for the presently illegal drugs. As a percentage (17,000 divided by 633,600 = 0.0268) the presently illegal drugs cause only 2.7% of the problems that the legal drugs do. This begs the question: Why are we spending tens of billions, perhaps even 100 billion dollars a year on this useless, unwinnable behavior? It’s rather like the government is addicted to its rights violating morality crusade, it is not? Or better yet, a definition for insanity is to repeat the same behavior over and over again expecting different results, as has been done for decades in the so-called war on drugs. Ergo, we can say that we have an addicted and insane government.

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Highly probable effects of re-legalizing drugs

BENEFITS

1. The re-establishment of the true and complete ownership, as adults, of our bodies and minds, where our behavior does not violate the rights of others.

2. It would cut off the money source to violent drug cartels.

3. It would cut off a money source to political-religious global terrorists.

4. It would cut off the money source to violent street gangs

5. Legitimate companies would take over the production and sales of the re-legalized drugs, regulated by the government as to strength and purity and labeled properly.

6. Legally sold drugs could be a significant source of taxes for the government, like alcohol and tobacco now.

7. Drug abusers could seek help without fear of legal or criminal consequences.

8. Harsh penalties could be left in place for selling or providing drugs to minors. Legalized drugs would then be harder for minors to obtain.

9. A forty to fifty percent reduction in prison population could be achieved saving billions of tax dollars per year. And saving many families from the destroying effect of a parent being sent to prison, a major problem in our society today.

10. Re-legalized drugs would reduce the overcrowding on court dockets, a major problem in the legal system. It would allow the police and prosecutors to focus more time and resources on real crime, that is, rights violating behavior such as murder, rape, robbery, forced prostitution, etc.

11. Re-legalized drugs would allow true addicts to obtain their drug of choice inexpensively without needing to resort to robbery, burglary, prostitution, etc.

12. With possibly up to 100 billion dollars saved by not fighting this illegitimate war on our rights, along with the extra revenue from taxing re-legalized drugs, the government could set up free drug rehab locations or use that money for other worthy causes such as medical insurance for those who have none now (all of which are probably extra-constitutional) or, the government could give citizens a tax break. But how likely is that?


DETRIMENTS

1. With the re-legalization of non-violent, non-coerced, non-larcenous, consensual adult drug behavior, a large number of federal, state, and local Justice Department employees would be out of a job: prosecutors, police, DEA agents, as well as prison and jail employees. Although their unions would fight tooth and nail to keep all that deadwood on the payroll—your tax dollars—these people would have to find other work.

2. The prison-industrial complex, the builders and suppliers of prisons and jails, would suffer a large hit. But, who knows, maybe they could finagle tax dollars so that they could become part of Habitat for Humanity and do some real good for society.

3. The rich, famous, and politically connected investors (among the regular ones) in the private prison industry, would lose their investments. But who knows, maybe they can turn some of those places into theme vacation spots and recoup some of their money.

4. There would probably be a temporary increase in drug usage and, therefore, abuse. But as stated above, in the body of this work, it would have to be a huge increase to have anywhere near the negative impact upon individuals and society that alcohol and tobacco now have. That, as I stated, is extremely unlikely. And, after a period in which the novelty of re-legalized drugs becomes accepted, the wheat would be separated from the chaff, so to speak, and being an abuser of drugs would have the exact same connotation as being just another alcoholic. There are winners and there are losers. There are those who do and those who make excuses for why they have such messed up lives. The losers tend to be the drug abusers of today, even with all the laws trying to stop the manufacture, sales, and use of the presently illegal drugs. The winners may experiment, but soon realized the dead end of too much drug use, including alcohol. The winners moderate their appetites and get on with their lives.

I am sure others can think of other detriments to the re-legalization of our full individual rights when it comes to drug behavior. It is my strongly held position, however, that the benefits would far outweigh the detriments. I truly believe that society will become a much better place when, finally, the drug laws are repealed and our full inalienable rights are restored.

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A First Amendment’s “Establishment” Clause Violation


After thinking over what I had written above for many years, it came to me that the so-called war on drugs is a First Amendment violation based on the religious beliefs of some people who lobbied Congress to pass what is called the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914. That was the true beginning of the so-called war on drugs. It was actually a tax that then got used by the federal government as a criminal law.

Those religious groups and religious individuals who persuaded Congress to pass the Harrison Narcotics Act were acting from their deep-held religious beliefs that drug use was immoral and therefore should be illegal. However, where no rights are being violated, the moral/immoral argument is purely a religious issue, not a secular legal one. For instance, many people think that drinking alcohol and smoking are immoral behaviors but we don’t arrest people for smoking or drinking unless their behavior harms another person or directly threatens to do so.

According to Joseph D. McNamara (Hoover Institution Research Fellow and former policeman with 35 years experience), as mentioned above in the body of this work, at the time of the passages of the Harrison Narcotics Act there was no criminal justice problems associated with drug use, except for alcohol. Also, the rate of addiction was leveling off due to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which forced patent medicines manufacturers, and all food and drug producers, to label what was in their products. As the people became aware that cocaine, tincture of marijuana, heroin, opium, and morphine were being added to those products and, at the same time, becoming more aware that those substances were addictive, they stopped using them—except, of course, for those who were already addicted. But again, they weren't committing any rights-violating behaviors, that is, crimes.

Therefore, certain religious groups and certain prominent religious people lobbied Congress to get their version of religion passed into secular law. That was a violation of the First Amendment, the relevant clause of which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . .” When the law enforces the religious beliefs of some at the expense of non-believing others—assuming, of course, no violation of rights—then Congress has made a law respecting an establishment of religion.

Further, a person has the right to not follow any religion and has the “free exercise” to do so. To force a person to follow the religious beliefs of some violates his or her right to said free exercise to not believe in any religion and if that person’s behavior does not violate the rights of others, or threatens to violate the rights of others, then said person should, under a theory of inalienable rights, be able to freely behave as he or she wishes, including the use of possibly addictive, possibly dangerous, mind-altering drugs. This is assuming that the person in question is an adult.

For these reasons the scheme of drug prohibition laws are in fact religious laws and a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and should be repealed.

(D. M. Mitchell, September 2012)

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A last word

You have come this far with me. I hope all my words have not been wasted. I remind you once again that in a truly free and liberty-loving society—with a secular, not religious government—one that upholds the spirit of independence of individuals and the principle of inalienable rights, then:

Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endanger same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults.

THIS SHOULD BE A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT!

Because this proposed amendment should have been the law of the land already, any person who has been convicted of any non-violent, consensual adult drug behavior should have that conviction reversed and their record expunged. Further, any person in prison for said non-violent, consensual adult drug behavior should be released immediately…but only if the American people want their federal, state, and local governments to uphold the principle of inalienable rights fully, and only if they want justice done.