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Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Dual Edged Swords

We've been having a lively conversation in the last post ("A Dead Farmer To Save Us").  It started as a post about the federal government's unconstitutional attempts (successes, really) in restricting access to raw milk products.  It has morphed into a broader conversation on the limits imposed by the Constitution on the federal government.

The Constitution is an elegant and simple document.  Its intent is to define and restrict the powers vested in the federal government.  If you doubt this, read the Federalist Papers or any of the historical documentation surrounding the ratification of the Constitution.  Hell, just read the words of the Constitution - it's pretty plain-spoken.

Clearly, this original intent has been bastardized.  The federal government has grown into this behemoth that literally controls all aspects of our personal lives.

In the previous post, I had asked an anonymous poster to cite the article or amendment to the Constitution that vested food safety powers to the feds.  He is still unable to do so, for the simple reason that those powers do not exist.

The conversation morphed over to drug control at the federal level.  I'm taking his last comments and am going to address the Constitutional foundation as to why virtually any control by the federal government over most aspects of our lives is not allowed.  In fact, it is prohibited by the Constitution.
The drug problem is bigger and more serious then you stated. estimates are that 80% or more of all small crime is committed by people using drugs who need money to buy drugs. That most murders are drug connected either committed by drug sellers killing a competitor or committed by drug addled criminals. And a large percentage of all auto accidents are directly related to drugs. This doesn't even count the huge negative impact of organized crime as aresult of the drug trade.  
Yep, drugs can be bad.  When a government makes them illegal, it pushes their manufacture and sale into the hands of criminals.  Al Capone was one of the largest benefactors of the early 20th century prohibition on alcohol.  Prohibition MADE Al Capone.  How many lives were ruined or lost, not because of what they chose to ingest, but because they had to break the law to acquire what they chose to ingest?

Now, we have cocaine druglords, marijuana druglords, meth druglords.  How much money are we pissing away to keep a willing buyer away from a willing seller?

Why does the federal government believe prohibition will save society when every time it has been attempted, it has failed and had the exact opposite intended effect on society?

If people wish to "get high," they will do so.
So the question is do we the people have the right to pass laws making it illegal to use and sell certain harmful drugs. Are you saying we do not? Are you saying that the constitution forbids laws to protect citizens from crimes and criminals?
First, a Constitutional review.  Article 1, Section 8 provides the following powers to the Legislative Branch:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

So, the feds are empowered to restrict/regulate commerce between the US and other countries, and commerce between the states.  They can enact and enforce any laws which are restricted to those activities alone.  It can be the importation of coffee or cocaine from Columbia.  It can be the sale of pot or petunias between California and Nevada.

The tenth amendment prohibits any further powers of the federal government:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So, to answer your question:  I am saying that the Constitution does not allow the federal government the powers to restrict the USE of anything.  They ONLY have the power to restrict the sale when it falls within their Constitutionally defined powers.
I actually think that you are saying that and you believe that states alone have the right to control drugs. 
Drugs which are consumed and produced inside that state?  You're damned right that's what I'm saying.  The same goes for raw milk, firearms, hot air balloons, pencils or any other product or service.
I assume you would also acknowledge that if each of the 50 states were to individually try to regulate and control harmful drugs that it would make a already monumental task much more difficult.
Your question presumes that a problem would exist if we allowed people the freedom to choose.  Why do you think the problem of people abusing drugs would blossom if they were suddenly re-legalized (because you know that all drugs were legal before the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, right?)?

As I noted in the comments, I don't smoke pot, snort coke or shoot heroin.  If they were re-legalized, do you think I would suddenly burst with joy and run down to Sears to get my Craftsman Bong?  Get real.

I would burst with joy, though.  Because I would know that my portion of the $50 billion that is spent on federal drug enforcement would no longer be coming out of my pocket each year.

Here's the big difference between you and me:  I believe people will make the right choice and not ruin their lives by abusing drugs.  You assume they're too weak and stupid to make such a monumental decision, so in your infinite wisdom, their freedoms must be restricted.

BTW, the empirical evidence is on my side.  If I wanted any of the drugs listed above, I could have them within an hour.  I could be a drug addict if I wanted to be one, but I chose otherwise.  The law has no bearing on that personal decision.
So what should we do? Give up and legalize drugs? Some people do indeed advocate it. 
Yes, re-legalize at least at the federal level.  Your state could enact whatever laws it wishes.  It could choose liberal Amsterdam or draconian Singapore as its model.
I can guarantee that if the stigma of hard drug use is removed all children will use drugs and drug deaths and pregnancy statistics will shot through the roof.  
Really?  You can guarantee it?  Maybe you believe it, but you certainly cannot guarantee it.  And again, because of the ease of access right now, your supposition is weak at best.
Not to mention welfare costs and loss of productivity. 
Once again, the empirical evidence refutes your belief.  Anyone can get all of the drugs they want right now.

But your question shines a light on your world view - your statist colors are showing brightly.  "We must control their lives, because if they mess up, we've got to pay for the clean up".

No sir.

Personal choice and responsibility is a dual-edged sword - you don't get one without the other.  If a person ends up face down in a gutter, gargling blood and vomit, THEY need to pick themselves up out of the gutter.  Some will, some won't and some will die.  Ugly, horrible deaths.

And our kids will learn from that.  They will see the result of drug and alcohol abuse.

In your world (which is our current one) some government employee scoops them up, wipes their ass, tells them it's not their fault they're a drug addict and sends them on their way with a full belly.  These people are being shown that there is no downside to drug abuse.  In fact, they see that when you do abuse the drugs, someone will come and take care of you.  Such a deal!
I have never used illegal drugs and at my age it seems quite likely that at my age I never will. Drugs could be made legal tomorrow and I wouldn't go looking for crack or cocaine. But children and young adults would.
Huh?  I'm pretty sure that at one time, even YOU were a child and a young adult.  Why aren't YOU a crack head?

And if you say it's because you obey the law, you're lying to me and my readers.  Ever broke the speed limit? Yeah, that's what I thought.  You didn't take or abuse drugs because you made the personal choice not to do so - for whatever reason you may have.
Legalizing drugs (or the equivalent i.e. never having made them illegal) would be a disaster to our society. It would make our current economic and political problems pale by comparison.
No, it would be a Godsend.  Think of the money that would not be spent on imprisoning people who are in prison for making/growing, selling or using drugs, but have not infringed on the rights of others while doing so.

If you get drunk/high/stoned and harm someone, you go to jail.  YOU are responsible for your actions.  This "Minority Report" mentality - assuming that someone using drugs or alcohol will commit a crime - is bankrupting our society.  IT is what is at the root of our economic and political problems, not the act of allowing people the right to choose.


No, I'm not some heartless libertarian.  I just believe in personal responsibility.

In a free society, I can give donations to a drug rehabilitation charity to help my fellow citizens that have strayed into a bad way of life.  I want to help them get back on their feet, but not become responsible for their lives.

What is good about private charities - as opposed to government-mandated charities - is that they have the ability to judge and discriminate.  They can evaluate you and your circumstances.  They can keep track of the number of times you've "fallen off the wagon" and can kick your ass to the curb if you're abusing their facility and generosity.

You might end up cold, hungry or dead as a result.  Perhaps those consequences might influence your decisions in the future.

This Nanny State we've created is a dual-edge sword as well.  All of your needs are taken care of, but you have to live by a strict set of rules.

That sounds too much like prison for my liking.

Accept The Challenge

Pretty radical stuff, huh?  Not really.

We have become so de-sensitized to the fact that the government controls so many aspects of our lives.  Federal seatbelt laws.  Federal food laws.  Federal drug laws.  Federal gun laws.  Federal money laws.

We mostly nod and grin and quietly comply because we think - mostly - that we're not being negatively impacted.  We as a society drive with our seatbelts latched, drink pasteurized milk, don't shoot heroin, don't own guns and don't have enough money to worry about leaving the country with sizable amounts of cash.

But we should all be screaming about this.  For God's sake, look at the depth and breadth of the federal government's reach.  Most of the unconstitutional agencies and departments started out small and met little resistance because they seemed like a good idea at the time.

And then, like all government, they grew like a cancer.

What to do?  I read a great essay over at The Woodpile Report (link to "What to do") about opting out of federal elections.  The idea being that the federal government is so corrupted that it is un-fixable.  By participating in federal elections, we are providing it with credibility.  Focus your efforts strictly on state and local issues and politicians.  If some local guy or gal starts going down the wrong path, cut them off at the knees and get someone else in there that understands who is boss.

I need to let that idea sink in a bit.  Not voting goes against the grain for me.

At least right now.  My views on many subjects have changed over the past 4 or 5 years, and this one may change as well.  The premise of the article really hit home.  I've voted in every election since I was of age, and look at the pile of dung we've been left with.

Perhaps, "Screw you" time has arrived for the feds, and "Feet to the fire" for the locals.

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MikeH. said...

Bravo Sir... Bravo.

You have posted an excellent, fact checkable essay. Unfortunately, the liberal upbringing and education that has produced our friend, Anon, will forever cloud Anon's ability to hear, see, rationalize or accept that which is truth.

Some people, like Anon, are too easily influenced by the "benevolence" of nanny, and too indoctrinated to believe nanny could (or would) use that benevolence as a tool of control.

I thank God that the majority of my education came before the total liberalization of the education system, and that I reached the age of reason before the liberal child rearing "experts" gained popular acceptance. I really like thinking for myself.


Anonymous said...

I do not agree. I do not think you understand the problem. Most people cannot just choose when it comes to crack, meth and many of the other drugs that are available. They try them and they are hooked. There is no civilized society on earth today that does not try to protect their children from these drugs. Regardless of your desire to make drugs legal I do not think it will ever happen or could ever happen. It already causes so much havoc that to legalize it would turn it into an unmitigated disaster. What to do about drugs is a conundrum. However I do not believe that making them legal will solve it. I think it will result in more death and sufferring and a larger welfare society as our young people drop out of school and get hooked. I do think it is ironic that you and others think I am liberal simply because I don't tow the line you all do. I would think a liberal would be in favor of making drugs legal.

Anonymous said...

From time to time on the news there will be a report of a bank robber or someone robbing a 7-11. They do the obligatory "man in the street" interview who says something like "well, times are tough and people have to feed their family". I feel like screaming back at the TV "You nut, people rob banks and 7-11's to pay for their drug habit not to feed their family. You have no doubt heard about that home invasion in Connecticut where the mother and daughters were raped and murdered after the mother withdrew $15k from her account. They committed that crime to get money for drugs!! They didn't do it to feed their family! Drugs are a scourge on America. This is not harmless and you cannot allow drug addled criminals to just do whatever they want to. Most murders in the U.S. are drug related. 80% of all property crime is drug related. 100% of persistent homelessness is drug or alcohol related. It isn't one of your enumerated freedoms!!!

Chief Instructor said...

Mike, thanks. It's not brain surgery, it's common sense. Our liberal educational system has eliminated the need to think and question, and replaced it with the dogma of obedience. "If the big bosses say it's so, follow the rules".

Anon, you don't agree? Well, there's a shock. A statist who disagrees with personal freedom. Who'd a-thunk it?

As soon as you can show me evidence that legalization leads to increased crime, I'll listen to you.

"It's for the children" - ahhhh, the statists favorite card to play. If you think there is a state in the union that would not restrict access based upon age, you're being - at best - disingenuous.

Regarding robbery/rape, etc: Do we agree that the guys/gals that use drugs now, will continue to use them in the future? Their lives are in the crapper, and robbery/rape/mayhem are part of what they do NOW WHILE DRUGS ARE ILLEGAL. At the very least, prices would likely DROP because of easier ways to supply the product. If anything, crime would drop because of ease of access.

Not to let facts cloud your judgement, take a look at this site:

There are dozens and dozens of sites that show what happened as a result of Prohibition. Pick one of your liking.

One of the interesting things was that after Prohibition was enacted, childhood alcoholism INCREASED. Hmmm. Perhaps the forbidden fruit tastes sweeter??

suek said...

>>Most murders in the U.S. are drug related. 80% of all property crime is drug related. 100% of persistent homelessness is drug or alcohol related. It isn't one of your enumerated freedoms!!!>>

Aaaahhh...but gun ownership _is_. In fact, if citizens took more responsibility for their own safety and depended less on the police to protect them, and if the law wasn't so intent on prosecuting people who were protecting themselves, their families or their possessions, those crimes would be much less likely to occur.

Remember ... "When seconds count, police are only minutes away"...

MikeH. said...

There are some advantages to being retired. Mostly free time on my hands. So, I'll play your game... at least until I get bored.

Anon, I was a police officer prior to retiring. so I have a little knowledge of what I speak.

Not all pot smokers cross the line to harder drugs. Not all drug users turn to crime to pay for their habit. And not all drug users are doomed for life.

You speak and quote in generalities and you accept statistics as being irrefutable. I realize you won't accept this as fact, but there are agencies that purposefully fudge stat numbers. They use those fudged numbers to scare the hell out of people so that the agencies can "justify" their existence and their enormous budgets.

A guy gets a ticket for having a joint. Guy either goes to court and pays a fine, or he pays a waiver. Bottom line for him is, he had to PAY for his minor infraction. The police administration shows the arrest as a drug crime statistic, not as a major or minor offense, just a statistic, and viola!!! You have a drug crime epidemic. So what do they do; Raise taxes, hire more cops, and spend billions of dollars on a problem that never goes away.

If drugs are so bad and in need of government interdiction, why are a couple of cities in California suggesting legalization of pot? Because they see it for the cash cow it is. Tax the hell out of it just like alcohol and cigarettes. In short, drugs are only bad for you, and deemed illegal, right up to the point it's needed to fund the government's pockets. Then, it becomes legal and safe for you and your children to use.

Pay big bucks to some government "ABC" agency and I'd bet you could legally sell skunk milk on the open market.


Andrea said...

Just curious, since the issue has been raised...Anon, what IS your position on gun control?

Anonymous said...

I believe the 2nd amendment meant exactly what it says. That is all citizens have the right to own and carry arms (guns) without restriction (infringement). I think all laws, state and federal that limit that right are unconstitutional.

suek said...

How about licensing requirements, Anon?

Andrea said...

Awesome. Thanks for answering.

Anonymous said...

I believe licensing would be an infringement. Worse, anyone can see the only purpose of licensing is to prepare for confiscation.

suek said...'re ok with private ownership of guns, you don't think the government has the _right_ to require registration, but you think it's ok to physically attack and throw people in jail if they sell raw milk to people who _want_ raw milk.

Interesting inconsistency, imo.

liteluvr said...

Well said, and I must say it was an amazing breath of fresh air to hear a sane view on personal responsibilty.

Kudos to you Chief!

Chief Instructor said...