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Critiques of Legalization


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#1 PRCD: Death (and Taxes)

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 08:36 PM

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 21 May 2010 - 08:20 PM, said:

The thing that always gets me about liberatarians is their arrogance in the face of large risks.  Man's very poor ability to evaluate risks (and his tendency to evaluate them in ways that favor his short-term desires) should give them pause, but it never does.

So for example, the potential downside of legalizing drugs is a large increase in social disorder for at least a couple of generations (since the recognition and acceptance of the policy's failure would be retarded by generational inertia, whereas the negative effects would tend to build exponentially), with enormous cultural consequnces, whereas the upside is...somewhat easier access to marijuana for the middle class, and theoretically lower law enforcement costs.  This absurdly imbalanced cost/benefit ratio is never referred to by libertarians--we're not even getting into practical issues with legalization, or the impact of even partial legalization on social mores.  Atlas shrugs with lazy indifference at the prospect that anything could go wrong.  Why if I get addicted to drugs, I'll just drive my Lexus over to rehab, problem solved!

I agree with the thrust of what you're saying but disagree with your example.  

I think keeping drugs illegal will result in a large increase in chaos.  Drug cartels profit specifically by the illegality of drugs, much like Capone's gang profited by the illegality of alcohol.  Once they have enough cash from drugs, they become crime venture capitalists and start branching out into ohter things, like sexual slavery.  When they amass even more cash, they start to rival the local government for power through bribes and intimidation (recall Pablo Escobar in the 90s).  

Read "McMafia" by Misha Glenny, it explains this further.

#2 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 10:33 PM

View PostPRCalDude, on 21 May 2010 - 08:36 PM, said:

I agree with the thrust of what you're saying but disagree with your example.  

I think keeping drugs illegal will result in a large increase in chaos.  Drug cartels profit specifically by the illegality of drugs, much like Capone's gang profited by the illegality of alcohol.  Once they have enough cash from drugs, they become crime venture capitalists and start branching out into ohter things, like sexual slavery.  When they amass even more cash, they start to rival the local government for power through bribes and intimidation (recall Pablo Escobar in the 90s).  

Read "McMafia" by Misha Glenny, it explains this further.
This is a subject for another thread, but I believe this mistakes the effects of scale with the effects of making drugs illegal.  The cartels exist for the same reason organized crime in general exists, the same reason gangs exist.  There is plenty to traffic in and even if you legalize drugs cartels will find areas of the business to expand in (since realistically you can't actually have an "anything goes" policy on all pharmaceuticals under the sun--unless you truly just want to give up and turn society into a Philip K. Dick novel).

The libertarian idea is if you "make drugs legal" (which is never fully thought out--how does it impact regulation of painkillers like Oxycontin or the legal status of meth labs, for example) this will somehow dry up the funding sources of organized crime.  The real myth here is that prohibition created the mafia--organized crime was developing for other reasons (an influx of criminals and increasing scale, for a start) and didn't go away with the end of prohibition.  They were always going to be a problem whether through straight up extortion or tax free cigarettes or bootlegging.  That's what organized crime does--it finds the margins where there is a market that government has to regulate.  And by your own example, the cartels have already been around awhile and amassed money, so why isn't it too late to legalize drugs?

More likely we would decriminalize drug use, which of course does nothing to the cartels other than greatly expand their market.  But we're doing that in other ways by destroying the bulk of the middle class and making their lives a joyless and hopeless grind.

By the way have you been to Amsterdam?  It's one of the most depressing cities in the world.

#3 White Like Sinbad

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 12:10 AM

View PostPRCalDude, on 21 May 2010 - 08:36 PM, said:

Drug cartels profit specifically by the illegality of drugs
As do law enforcement agencies! I wonder how many jobs/money would be lost compared to how much money/jobs would be created if they legalized cannabis.

#4 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 01:05 AM

It's the fallback position whenever libertarians are forced to examine the consequences of drug legalization:  WELL WHAT IF THEY LEGALIZED POT, MAN.

It would have a negligible effect on the drug trade, and possibly increase the market for harder drugs by normalizing usage of a drug that remains connected in the public mind with illicit drug use.  But don't kid yourself, in an environment where many cities do not allow bars to serve tobacco smokers (talk about your candy ass drugs), marijuana does not stand much of a chance of being legalized to that degree (even medical marijuana laws don't allow just anyone to grow and distribute it).

Also, if law enforcement benefits from drug laws, it is the property seizure of big time dealers they profit from, not seizing some stoner's supply of weed and grow lights.

#5 a woman's heart

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 05:00 AM

i think we should have an experiment it would be great :)

#6 Olmos

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 08:01 AM

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 21 May 2010 - 10:33 PM, said:


By the way have you been to Amsterdam?  It's one of the most depressing cities in the world.

It's got nothing on Hamsterdam.

#7 PRCD: Death (and Taxes)

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 08:31 AM

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 22 May 2010 - 01:05 AM, said:

It's the fallback position whenever libertarians are forced to examine the consequences of drug legalization:  WELL WHAT IF THEY LEGALIZED POT, MAN.

It would have a negligible effect on the drug trade, and possibly increase the market for harder drugs by normalizing usage of a drug that remains connected in the public mind with illicit drug use.  But don't kid yourself, in an environment where many cities do not allow bars to serve tobacco smokers (talk about your candy ass drugs), marijuana does not stand much of a chance of being legalized to that degree (even medical marijuana laws don't allow just anyone to grow and distribute it).

Also, if law enforcement benefits from drug laws, it is the property seizure of big time dealers they profit from, not seizing some stoner's supply of weed and grow lights.

Many of them profit by being paid to look the other way.  Like I said, read "McMafia" and see if you have the same opinions.

Scale isn't the issue here.  Criminalizing something for which there is high demand is the issue.  It's like making guns illegal: those who want them will just go to the black market to get them, and then only shady characters will profit instead of legitimate people who want to live within the bounds of the law.

Amsterdam may be depressing, but so are most big cities in the US.  


Answering your point above about the cartels and their money: they rely primarily on a large flux of cash.  The spend it almost as quickly as they make it on "the thug life" in much the same way the ARabs do with their money.  They'd spend themselves into bankruptcy rather quickly if their main source of cash was cut off.  Also, they need to keep the cash coming to bribe government officials and cops to look the other way.

#8 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 09:26 AM

It's ridiculous to suggest that law enforcement organizations have pushed drugs to be criminalized so they can get kickbacks from drug dealers.

#9 PRCD: Death (and Taxes)

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 10:14 AM

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 22 May 2010 - 09:26 AM, said:

It's ridiculous to suggest that law enforcement organizations have pushed drugs to be criminalized so they can get kickbacks from drug dealers.

I wouldn't say that's the case.  There are a multitude of reasons why drugs are still illegal.  But you do have to ask, "Cui bono?"

#10 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 11:04 AM

View PostPRCalDude, on 22 May 2010 - 10:14 AM, said:

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 22 May 2010 - 09:26 AM, said:

It's ridiculous to suggest that law enforcement organizations have pushed drugs to be criminalized so they can get kickbacks from drug dealers.

I wouldn't say that's the case.  There are a multitude of reasons why drugs are still illegal.  But you do have to ask, "Cui bono?"
In a "cui bono" world nothing happens for normal reasons and nothing happens by accident.  It bears little resemblance to our world, but there are compelling reasons why we humans love "cui bono" and other narratives to simplify overwhelming causal complexity.  In this case it makes little sense, however.  The need for drug laws arises when behavior becomes pathologized due to overscale, a classic symptom of which is withdrawal and hedonism.  The laws themselves attempt (somewhat but not entirely futilely) to contain excessive behavior and the adjunct criminal activity that stems from it.

Remember, the end goal of the drug dealer is to get as many people as addicted as possible to something he distributes.  (There's an obvious spur to crime here whether you make the sale legal or illegal.)  You want to see an arms race in this category of pharmaceutical?  By all means give legalization a crack.  We'll do the post mortem two generations after this experiment starts.

#11 The King of Niger

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 11:11 AM

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 22 May 2010 - 09:26 AM, said:

It's ridiculous to suggest that law enforcement organizations have pushed drugs to be criminalized so they can get kickbacks from drug dealers.

Police officials rob and personally seize drug dealer's assets all the time, in fact there was an organized ring of Detectives in T.O who went around robbing grow-houses and stuff.

The Police benefit by getting increased budgets for things such as 'Vice Squads' 'Gang Task Forces' 'Drug Task Forces' etc.

The DEA and ATF are HUGE organizations with massive operational budgets. It is in the interest of the Police to keep drugs prohibited so they can rack up drug offences and increase their budgets. That's how the Police benefit from this, and also why LEO are mostly against legalization.

People who turn to drugs and get addicted make their own destiny. It is not society's place to try to educate or change people's decisions. Everyone has a right to do what they want as long as it doesn't impede on others rights. If an individual chooses to become a drug addict, society cannot change that. No matter what you may think about 'destabilization', you have to realize you cannot control people, and those who will be successful in life will rise above such distractions.

We don't lament the legality of alcohol because precious snowflakes drink themselves to death in freshman year.

#12 The King of Niger

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 11:12 AM

Quote

Remember, the end goal of the drug dealer is to get as many people as addicted as possible to something he distributes.

The end goal is to make money, not necessarily to get people addicted. That happens on its own, due to that customers actions.

Edited by King of Niger, 22 May 2010 - 11:13 AM.


#13 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 11:25 AM

I agree that property seizure has become a big law enforcement scam.  Of course this happened long after drugs were made illegal, and was intended as a strategy for decapitating drug dealers financially--since prison terms were hard to get for the most powerful and insluated and meant little to the foot soldiers, the best way to hurt them was to consider virtually all their private property "drug-related", confiscate it, and sell it.  The problem is the gray areas where you can seize and sell off property effectively without ever going to trial and proving guilt.  It's completely understandable why they did this though--uncontrolled escalation is what happens in overscaled societies.

Naturally, law enforcement has abused this, and we're looking at the malignant effects of overscale--it breaks down social relationships and creates "us vs. them" mindsets and system gaming behavior and lots of conflict.  You can never solve any of this without descaling--legalization will at best give you a different flavor of disorder as the whole system teeters at collapse.

Also, there's good reason based on medical research to believe that addiction is partly hereditary (you see it clearly with American Indians) and may also be influenced by childhood trauma--hardly ingredients of free choice.  Moreover, it's in the nature of addictive drugs that they rewire the biology to remove the choice element entirely from the equation.  You end up with trainwrecks, and guess what?  They create more problems in the form of criminal behavior (because they aren't capable of earning their own living), dysfunctional parenting, and a drain on rehabilitation/incarceration resources.  There's no free smack.

In short, legalization gets you farther from a right state of affairs, not closer to it.

#14 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 11:26 AM

View PostKing of Niger, on 22 May 2010 - 11:12 AM, said:

Quote

Remember, the end goal of the drug dealer is to get as many people as addicted as possible to something he distributes.

The end goal is to make money, not necessarily to get people addicted. That happens on its own, due to that customers actions.
That's true, I misstated; the end goal is to have power and money, the primary means is through addiction.

#15 PRCD: Death (and Taxes)

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 11:40 AM

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 22 May 2010 - 11:04 AM, said:

View PostPRCalDude, on 22 May 2010 - 10:14 AM, said:

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 22 May 2010 - 09:26 AM, said:

It's ridiculous to suggest that law enforcement organizations have pushed drugs to be criminalized so they can get kickbacks from drug dealers.

I wouldn't say that's the case.  There are a multitude of reasons why drugs are still illegal.  But you do have to ask, "Cui bono?"
In a "cui bono" world nothing happens for normal reasons and nothing happens by accident.  It bears little resemblance to our world, but there are compelling reasons why we humans love "cui bono" and other narratives to simplify overwhelming causal complexity.  In this case it makes little sense, however.  The need for drug laws arises when behavior becomes pathologized due to overscale, a classic symptom of which is withdrawal and hedonism.  The laws themselves attempt (somewhat but not entirely futilely) to contain excessive behavior and the adjunct criminal activity that stems from it.
Hedonism is hardly a problem of scale.  There are drug addicts in poor countries and rich countries alike.  There have been black markets in various things since man was using wind power and horse power to distribute them.  You can't blame everything on scale.  

I didn't reduce the problem to "cui bono," I said that there were a variety of reasons for which drugs remain illegal, but one is "cui bono."  This is not a controversial statement.  People get paid to look the other way (ask Cold Cash Jefferson).

Quote

Remember, the end goal of the drug dealer is to get as many people as addicted as possible to something he distributes.  (There's an obvious spur to crime here whether you make the sale legal or illegal.)  You want to see an arms race in this category of pharmaceutical?  By all means give legalization a crack.  We'll do the post mortem two generations after this experiment starts.

We already have an arm's race.  Remember that article we discussed awhile back about Chinese underground pharmaceutical companies selling drugs into the UK?  We've had a war on drugs for 40 years and drugs have decreased in price the entire time while variety has increased.  Meanwhile, our government has less legitimacy all the time and the black economy is on its way to eclipsing the legitimate economy.  Something like 1 out of every 3 dollars have been circulated through the illegitimate economy.  

It's time to admit that we've lost the war.  I think reducing the demand side is the way to go.

#16 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 11:53 AM

Yes, in fact hedonism increases as people become more atomized.  It's a constant in all declining civilizations, and is influenced by pitched resource competition and increased stressors (also one of the reasons people overeat--stress-related gluttony).  This is basic stuff.

You won't reduce the demand side through legalization, that's for sure.  It doesn't make any sense at all.

#17 PRCD: Death (and Taxes)

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 12:50 PM

View PostPLEASUREMAN, on 22 May 2010 - 11:53 AM, said:

Yes, in fact hedonism increases as people become more atomized.  It's a constant in all declining civilizations, and is influenced by pitched resource competition and increased stressors (also one of the reasons people overeat--stress-related gluttony).  This is basic stuff.


You cranky.  

Look, scale is definitely an issue, but it's not as if these problems aren't affecting small town in poorer countries.  Look at all of the khat-chewing degenerates in Somalia, for instance.  

I like most of what you write but I can't help but wonder if you're making scale into a catch-all critique.  

Quote

You won't reduce the demand side through legalization, that's for sure.  It doesn't make any sense at all.


Legalization would probably increase demand, actually.  You attack the demand side in the same way they went after it for smoking.  Numerous PSAs, brow-beatings by your doctor, stigmatization, etc.  Make it a SWPL cause celebre.  

I think my points above still stand. Also, let's be honest, alcohol is a drug too, and not one without numerous harmful side-effects. It's also legal.  Prohibition of alcohol was a collossal failure.

Edited by PRCalDude, 22 May 2010 - 12:54 PM.


#18 Tim Dang

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 01:09 PM

people that still get all up in arms about weed and legalizing it .......... it seems like they live on a whole other planet i just cant believe how f**ked it is

#19 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 02:10 PM

I think I've addressed all your points, but let me talk about some of the scale stuff a bit more to correct a few things you've said.

View PostPRCalDude, on 22 May 2010 - 12:50 PM, said:

Look, scale is definitely an issue, but it's not as if these problems aren't affecting small town in poorer countries.  Look at all of the khat-chewing degenerates in Somalia, for instance.
Let's break this down.  First, scale exacerbates a lot of problems that exist at a more manageable level in properly scaled settings.  You get exponential increases in crime, collapse of trust, etc. because what overscale does is reduce us to an atomized state where we become increasingly self-centered and either hyper-aggressive or passive (this is because it puts us into an intensely competitive environment).

Second, different societies will have different levels of scale they can manage, just as you see in different organisms--which has to do with adaptation, social organization, and so on.  Ants form large colonies but you don't see similar colonies of wolves--ants just happen to be equipped by evolution to function in large colonies (for starters there is extremely high genetic similarity and shared reproductive goals).  Man can have large, populous societies, but there is a limit and once that limit is breached you see dramatic increases in pathology.  Drug use on the frontier (where patent medicines often contained morphine or cocaine) is completely different from drug use in the inner city.  Not just different in scope but in character.  And of course these differences apply to the races--clearly African societies are the useful example here, and can be contrasted with China or Europe.

Third, it's a side-effect of Western expansion and universalism that we have brought unmanageable levels of complexity to people around the globe who would otherwise function more or less normally at whatever more primitive level they were suited to.  The societies that will do better in this new environment will be those that maintain more homogenous populations and probably provide rigid social/government structures (caste system or dictatorship).  High IQ will of course help as well.

Fourth, when dealing specifically with drug use you need to keep in mind the role of traditional practice, particularly when making cross-cultural comparisons, where use of intoxicants varies greatly from one region to the next.  The Western tradition has normalized consumption of alcohol over hundreds of years--this is the real reason why prohibition failed, not because raving alcoholics had to get their booze even if they had to march through a hail of DEA lead for it.

You are ignoring some or all of these points in your example.

#20 PRCD: Death (and Taxes)

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 02:58 PM

Quote


Let's break this down.  First, scale exacerbates alot of problems that exist at a more manageable level in properly scaled settings.  You get exponential increases in crime, collapse of trust, etc. because what overscale does is reduce us to an atomized state where we become increasingly self-centered and either hyper-aggressive or passive (this is because it puts us into an intensely competitive environment).
Atomization primarily occurs because of diversity, not scale, unless you're going to include diversity as part of the scale issue.  Drug use remains high amongst more homogenous, less diverse countries as well (the Netherlands, for instance).

Quote


Second, different societies will have different levels of scale they can manage, just as you see in different organisms--which has to do with adaptation, social organization, and so on.  Ants form large colonies but you don't see similar colonies of wolves--ants just happen to be equipped by evolution to function in large colonies (for starters there is extremely high genetic similarity and shared reproductive goals).  Man can have large, populous societies, but there is a limit and once that limit is breached you see dramatic increases in pathology.  Drug use on the frontier (where patent medicines often contained morphine or cocaine) is completely different from drug use in the inner city.  Not just different in scope but in character.  And of course these differences apply to the races--clearly African societies are the useful example here, and can be contrasted with China or Europe.


People on the frontier used drugs recreationally as well, and not for medicinal purposes.  Comparing societies formed by creatures in completely different phyla does not provide a useful analogue to differing human societies, I'm afraid.  We're different, but we're not as different as wolves are to ants.  

Quote

You are ignoring some or all of these points in your example.

I'm not ignoring anything and - yes - scale is becoming your catch-all diagnosis.

Whether Western tradition normalized alcohol consumption over hundreds of years or not is irrelevant.  Man has been consuming alcohol for thousands of years and alcohol itself is a drug.  Drunkeness is criticized in ancient near eastern literature as much as it is in Western society and no society glorifies it as near as I can tell. Just because alcohol consumption has been going on a long time does not mean it's right or good.  You like to give the most complex explanations for what is very simple: there is a demand for alcohol regardless of what the law says.  Most people have a desire for it and would buy it regardless of its legality.  No one considers tradition when it comes to having a drink.  Rather, they're thinking about having a good time or relaxing.  The same is largely true for marijuana consumption.  Harder drugs have more severe side effects, but even those people use drugs as a form of relaxation or escapism, and their uses are not all that different from alcohol consumption.

The evil white man did not introduce drug use or overscale to the rest of the world. The white man did not bring khat to somalia nor opium to china nor cocaine to the Andes, yet those narcotics are found in those regions and are used and abused.


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