COMMENTARY: Overreach of the government


When government oversteps its bounds in restricting instead of increasing liberty (freedom) it usually increases our cost of living simultaneously.

Calling your attention to restrictions which protect us from harming ourselves can be as benign as making us wear helmets when cycling or seatbelts in automobiles; but it can be a bit more serious when we make something like prostitution illegal when there is no victim in the activity made illegal.

Possibly, the most serious overreach of government today is in the war on drugs.

When it became criminal for a person to use certain drugs and for others to produce and/or sell these drugs in voluntary exchanges, government repeated the same mistake as when alcoholic beverages were prohibited, but with more sever adverse consequences.

With drug prohibition, our prison population more than doubled, more than 10,000 annual drug-related homicides occur within the country, possibly 50,000 annual homicides in originating countries, our number of addicts and overdose deaths have mushroomed out of control, the increase in homelessness and its ills have ballooned, and we’ve ruined millions of lives needlessly.

Government has an obligation to protect the individual against any activity of others over which we otherwise have no control; but has no right or mandate to protect us from activities wherein we engage voluntarily (or protect us from ourselves).

On the contrary, our Constitution specifically prohibits government from the interruption of such activities.

Apparently, we learned nothing from having created arch criminals such as Al Capone by the prohibition of alcohol. We should have learned that human vices are made worse by prohibition.

We also have not learned that more vice can be made of what we require than of what we simply enjoy.

More people die needlessly from overeating than from the use of drugs, yet we would not think of prohibiting food. On the contrary, we make food more abundant progressively.

The economic problem caused by the waste by government prohibition enforcement ($50 billion/year?) and the personal and economic ruin (immeasurable) of users pushed into addiction and/or prison by prohibition becomes insignificant when compared to the immorality of what government is doing to the user population.

Our prisons become schools for individuals (already with a weakness) to learn a life of criminal activity to feed their weaknesses.

This means that when we reduce the prison population to half by eliminating the criminality of drug use, we will then reduce the prison population much further by eliminating students from the schools which prisons have become.

What percentage of all criminals began a life of crime from what they learned while serving time for drugrelated offenses? There is no accurate number for this percentage, but we know it is significant. If it is 50% we can reduce prison populations by 75%; if it is only 25%, we can still reduce prison populations by 60%, just by making drugs legal and taxable (Not to mention the revenue it could raise).

Socialists tell me we will have more addiction and drug-related health problems if we legalize drugs; I say you can’t prove that claim by statistics from countries where there is no prohibition.

I have lived in countries without drug prohibition, and they had less addiction and less crime than we have. Freedom always wins. Educate, never prohibit.

What right does the USA have to push other countries into anarchy just to feed the drug habits of American junkies?

That’s what our prohibition is doing to otherwise governable neighboring populations.

If D. Trump gets this message, maybe he will get something done about drug prohibition which seems so popular with the ignorant.

Jim N. Taylor is a Harlingen resident.