Monday, August 17, 2009

The answer to our budget woes?

This op-ed piece in today's post offers a surprising and radically practical idea: legalize drugs. The U.S. spends billions ineffectively fighting the drug war, so why not throw in the towel, legalize and regulate drugs, and let nature take its course?
No one can deny that there is money to be made here. Similarly, there is no denying that if we are engaged in war on drugs, we're losing miserably. Why not accept the reality before us and balance our budget at the same time?

Wait a minute-how many times on this very blog have I recommended a similar solution to the immigration problem? As a reminder: I suggested that the U.S. sell work permits to potential immigrant workers (assuming the government would do background checks, etc) and effectively shut down the border crossing business. This would mean the government would collect the billions spent by immigrants crossing the border. What about overpopulation? The deal is that the work visa would make the immigrant a free agent--free to find work anywhere. This solution allows the market to take care of excesses as most workers would could not find work would likely go home or elsewhere for work.

I know it's unlikely to happen. I just like to daydream that Americans might one day be pragmatists.


zannie said...

I've supported full legalization of drugs (to the extent that alcohol and tobacco are legal) for years. My whole adult life, really. I think it is probably too optimistic to hope for within the next few years, but I think the economic climate is as ripe for it as it's ever been. For marijuana, at least--I think other drugs are unlikely to become legal any time soon. Perhaps if marijuana is legalized and people see that the sky does not fall, other drugs will be legalized too, but you'd think alcohol would be enough of an example of how prohibition costs more lives (and money) than drug use does. Doesn't seem to occur to most people.

As for immigration, I would likely support a proposal like yours, but I don't think most Estadounidenses would. Most of the uproar about immigration is xenophobia at heart, and that's a much deeper problem to solve even than moralism.

Deb said...

Thanks for your comment Zannie, and your insights into the immigration controversies. Unfortunately, I think you're right.

Marijuana was "decriminalized" in Canada recently. People caught in possession are giving the equivalent of a parking ticket, trafficking is still a crime, however.