Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Alcohol is a drug

Yes, from a public policy viewpoint, the effects of alcohol on society are pretty similar to some banned narcotics.

Obviously some substances are more harmful than others, and quantities/doses are a huge factor as well, as is so often mentioned with alcohol.

Some moralisers and public do-gooders are unsatisfied with heavy taxes on alcohol, and suggest we treat alcohol the same as banned narcotics.

They're half right. Sure they both should be treated in a similar manner, but that doesn't mean they both should be prohibited. We all know about America's short-lived disastrous experiment with prohibition in the 1920's, but in case some people need a reminder, take a look at Russia's wonferful experience:

Gorbachev's original theory was that the socialist system was in good working order, but the people, the cogs in the communist machine, had taken to laziness, drunkenness, and were accumulating "dishonest income" in violation of socialist ethics. His first reform was to call for "a restructuring of people's thinking."

The anti-alcohol campaign began right away. Party bosses sternly announced that they didn't want any "drunks" in their country. Their enforcers began a concerted effort to discover anyone with the smell of alcohol on their breath and haul them into the police station. When the police stations became overcrowded, it became routine practice to drive thousands of people about fifteen miles out of town and drop them in the cold and dark. Nearly every night, you could see armies of so-called drunks walking miles back to town in the middle of winter.

Over 90 percent of liquor stores were closed. The Party bosses did not anticipate what happened next: sugar, flour, aftershave, and window cleaner immediately disappeared from the shelves. Using these products, the production of moonshine increased by about 300 percent in one year.

The nanny-statists have to acknowledge the reality - that people ultimately are going to need to employ their judgment, as to which substances and which quantities are safe to use.

Even with a tax on alcohol, and barbaric laws against drugs, people use and abuse them.

Police have better things to do with their time.

Prisons are expensive to fill.

Legalizing drugs and removing taxes from alcohol does not actively encourage a single person's decision making process. It won't encourage increased drug abuse or alcoholism.

So its time to end the war on drugs and the war on booze.