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Mr Frog,

"for every economist, there's and equal an opposite economist."

The next 'law', of course, is "they're both wrong."

I love it! I also always enjoyed
"Economists have predicted 27 of the last 12 recessions."

Neither one of us is going to convince the other one, and frankly, all this is serving to do for me is to have me question my current electoral position and is making me seriously consider voting for Bush instead of Libertarian.

I'll probably vote for Bush too. You weren't expecting me to tell you lies, sweet little lies, to keep you in the Libertarian fold, were you :)?

You can't convince me that the unregulated and free market by itself is going to eliminate 'bad or dangerous drugs', especially since in the legal marketplace, it hasn't eliminated bad or dangerous products.

I wouldn't dream of trying to convince you of that.

Only that less harm would arise to society from drugs being legalized than currently arises from drugs being illegal. And I would use alcohol as an example of that. Prohibition was not abandoned because everybody realized that alcohol was really good for them. It was abandoned because under prohibition, gangsters had a great way to make piles of money, degrading the crap out of the cities they were in, and otherwise law-abiding citizens were turned into criminals. Sound familiar? Its what has happened with drug criminalization.

Tobacco is clearly a dangerous and deadly drug - definitively linked to cancer, emphezema, and premature death. If it has been well known for +/- fifty years that tobacco is a bad drug, then why has the free market not eliminated tobacco through mass-individual selection? Why has only government price control and behavior intervention led to a slowdown of tobacco use?

Would we be better off making tobacco illegal? Turning my 83 year old grandmother into a criminal AGAIN? (She was a criminal during prohibition, she actually knowingly rode in a car smuggling booze from canada into the U.S. once. She did pass away years ago at the age of 83 after smoking since she was 16.)

In addition, many chronic diseases in innocent bystanders, such as asthma and emphezema, are linked to being around smokers, failing the Libertarian premise of "do no harm to others". Yet cigarettes are still legally bought and sold, and private liability claims have failed to put a dent in the use of cigarettes. Only government extortion, via the multi-state settlement, outrageous surcharge taxes on sales of cigarettes, and behavioral dictates on where and when a person can smoke have actually managed to lead to a slowdown of cigarette use.

Your unstated conclusion is that we would be BETTER off if we criminalized tobacco. If, in addition to foreigners running our borders employing psychopaths with good weaponry to smuggle in drugs, we turned over the multi-billion $/year tobacco market to them as well.

Seems we'd have to triple the number of armed federal agents we have fighting drugs in order to add tobacco to the list, and we would fail even MORE miserably. And meanwhile, we would go from having more of our citizens in jail than any other nation on earth to what? EVEN MORE? For SMOKING????

Its not a matter of choosing between a perfect answer or not. The current system is absolutely NOT perfect. All I have to do is show something BETTER.

So which is it? Does the free market really automatically, quickly, and efficiently remove bad drugs from use? Is private drug litigation really effective in a "caveat emptor" marketplace, especially when the substances are known to have negative effects? Or is tobacco really a 'harmless, feel good' substance, and all the stuff about cancer, premature death, emphezema, and asthma merely correlation statistics gone wild?

I can't imagine why you are giving me those choices. But let me point out: the current drug laws ABSOLUTELY FAIL at removing bad drugs from use. Legalized tobacco is sold under regulation with labels about its effects and in law only to people officially old enough to make their own decisions. When I was in high school, it was way easier for me to get Marijuana than alcohol. Why? Because alcohol was sold in stores and they might Proof me (what we called carding or IDing in New York). Marijuana on the other hand, was sold more informally by a distribution network that actually rather preferred to sell to younger buyers.

It IS NOT whether legalizing drugs would make everything perfect.

It IS whether legalizing drugs would make things BETTER than criminalizing them has.

Nobody reputable claims that cocaine and heroin are harmless, feel good substances without serious negative side effects of their own. So will the result of legalized use of the substances be a "caveat emptor" marketplace like tobacco, where the free market, combined with the futility of private prosecution, has failed to eliminate a drug commonly acknowledged as 'bad'? That runs counter to the theory that litigation risk would quickly drive 'bad' drugs (as defined, I guess, the same way as tobacco, by negative side effects) out of business. Or will the legalized use of cocaine lead to a lawsuit-happy user population, driving up the market price, creating a price-imposed demand gap, and again making crack an economically viable, though potentially 'black market' option? Well, that runs counter to the theory that allowing cocaine legally would drive crack out of business.

Legalizing cocaine and heroin would result in the removal of, what, 90%? More? of the funding of criminal gangs. It would empty our jails and free police resources for use against things that actually harm me that are not the result of criminalization. Drug gangs don't shoot at the police, the civilians and each other because it is drugs they are selling, this is a symptom of an illegal enterprise. Shooting was a real part of the alcohol trade in prohibition (Tommy Guns are SO COOL!), shooting is virtually irrelevant to the current alcohol market.

So heroin and cocaine addicts would still suffer from heroin and cocaine. JUST AS THEY DO NOW UNDER CRIMINALIZATION. But they would certainly have les danger in their lives with these things legalized. They would certainly spend less money on these things with legalization, which might be good for their families.

Did the end of prohibition make alcohol MORE or LESS a problem for society overall? You might think MORE, but the people who lived through both prohibilition and not-prohibition were pretty clear on which was worse.

I offer this as a counterpoint to your 'methanol' example and an illustration of how the first and second laws of economists (quoted above) work in reality. In all honesty, this is a point on which I can tell we will likely never agree. So I am going to agree to disagree with you, and I hope you will do the same with me.

Sorry, you can disagree with me, but I won't agree to disagree with you. Or maybe I mean it the other way around. Wow, this is confusing!

I do appreciate the debate and discussion. It was probably the most entertaining political debate I've had in quite a long time.

Hey, thanks! I'm enjoying it too! I'm enjoying it TOO much, i'm not at all sure I'm ready to give up. But I should show some discipline and give it a rest at least. And get some work done before I get fired.

I appreciate that it did not stoop to the personal attack level of many I've seen.

Whew! Thanks! I must be having a good day! Plus you seem pretty smart, which always makes it easy for me to keep to the higher standards I aim at, but don't always achieve!

Keep on posting,

PS - I would LOVE to hear how you picked that name!
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