Why Aren’t We Mad to the Max Over Drug War?

June 7, 2011
/ Author: Rick

The single biggest destructive force in the United States of America has been the so-called “War on Drugs.”

I did not say that the single most destructive force has been drugs. That would be a patent falsehood.

Drugs are not responsible for the loss of our civil liberties. Drugs are not responsible for the fact that the United States Constitution is almost completely toothless today, having utterly failed in achieving the one purpose for which it was written: the creation of a limited government. Drugs are not even responsible for the tens of thousands of deaths in the United States and Mexico every year — those are the result not of drugs, but of the War on Drugs.

Any idiot who believes differently simply isn’t paying attention.

How can I say such a thing?

Well, for starters, i am paying attention. I have eyeballs. I read. I’m a lawyer, so a lot of what I read are judicial opinions allegedly applying the law to individual cases.

What I have seen is that the Constitution of the United States has been systematically dismantled almost entirely in response to — or, more accurately, “in the service of” — the War on Drugs. The Fourth Amendment has been the most obvious casualty, with searches now almost completely unfettered by any constitutional considerations.

As far back as 1992, the conservative Cato Institute was trying — by publishing articles like this one by Steven Wisotsky, professor of law at Nova University in Florida — to warn Americans that the War on Drugs was really a war on all of us.

Milton Friedman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Services and former economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan, said:

Every friend of freedom . . . must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the U.S. into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence.

As the Cato executive summary to Wisotsky’s paper notes:

Because the drug industry arises from the voluntary transactions of tens of millions of people — all of whom try to keep their actions secret — the aggressive law enforcement schemes that constitute the war must aim at penetrating the private lives of those millions.

The consequence?

[V]irtually everyone has become a suspect. All must be observed, checked, screened, tested, and admonished–the guilty and innocent alike.

The damage done reaches far beyond the War on Drugs. As I’ve previously written, about the only way to avoid being forcibly subjugated is to at least be clearly willing to submit, at any time, any place, to the government. This helps, I noted, if you are — like me — one of those people who has to have contact with the same government agents over and over.

Sometimes. I mean, Madera County just doesn’t care — either about my civil liberties or the fact that I can easily smuggle any weapons that won’t set off the metal detector into their courthouse — they’re going to make me remove my belt, my watch, empty my pockets, scan my bag, and turn on my cellphone every time.

The weaponized cell phone is particularly interesting. If I were really sophisticated enough to smuggle a weapon in the form of a cellphone into the courthouse, why wouldn’t I be sophisticated enough to make sure it could look like it “turned on” when I was checked? Like this one?

Sure, currently that gun can supposedly be detected by x-ray. But not all weapons, such as this assault weapon, show up in that manner. The future will surely bring more sophisticated weapons more widely available — again, no doubt courtesy of the War on Drugs.

Which brings me back to what actually inspired today’s post.

Mexican authorities report finding “homemade ‘Mad Max’ type heavily armored vehicles,” which are lovingly being referred to as “narco tanks.”

So far, these same authorities report, the tanks are only being used by drug gangs against rival drug gangs. But that’s probably just because, as almost anyone can tell you, they don’t need to use them against the authorities: Mexico is already losing its drug war. Even the United States government knows this, but their solution is for Mexico to militarize its police forces, as the United States has already done.

But…this has not worked very well in the United States. Instead, it has dramatically increased the number of innocent people killed by our own government.

In Mexico, where the fighting amongst drug gangs, and between drug gangs and the government, has resulted in an official count six months ago of more than 36,400 dead and estimates that the number has now passed 40,000?

While Mexico is suffering with a death rate in the tens of thousand because of this insane and unwinnable war, much of the United States is merely going bankrupt. That tends to happen when you spend $500 per second fighting wars that never end.

Time Magazine reports that in the past 40 years the United States has spent “over $2.5 trillion dollars fighting the War on Drugs.”  And what do we have to show for all this? According to a story in The Wall Street Journal:

[I]n the U.S. there is little or nothing to show for it “except for the warehousing of some 600,000 people a year on drug-related offenses in prison at huge cost.”

The fact of the matter is this: the War on Drugs is unsustainable. Humans have been using drugs of one form or another since before we were even human. If you count caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, almost all of us still do. We might as well have a War on Pooping.

Hmmm…maybe that’s not such a bad idea.

Because at the rate we’re going, we’re in deep shit.

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One Comment

  1. Rick, I share your outrage at the apparent death of the 4th Amendment!

    However, here in FL, we are seeing a new/different type of (in my view) seizure–officers use a “ruse” (not force) to get a person (no warrant nor PC) out of their home…then get “consent” to search. Here is the outstanding [bad] case in this genre–how does this not gut the entire 4th Amdmt?


    Wasn’t one of the greatest motivations for the 4th Amdmt the hate the founders had for soldiers/police knocking on people’s homes in the dead of night? But I guess lying to the resident to get him outside makes it all ok.

    Here they told the guy his car had been stolen. What if they told him there may be a firebomb in his house? A rabid dog? A gasleak? What if they sent a gas co guy (their agent) to tell the homeowner [falsely] there may be a gasleak?

    Is there any citizen who wd respond, “Sorry, officer, I need to just go back to bed.”

    I’ve had many similar cases, here it is as if law enforcement pretends we have no doors on our homes–they are all free to be searched at the whim of the police.

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