Sunday, July 12, 2015
This summer Toronto is welcoming athletes from all over the Americas to participate in something called the Pan Am Games. Most Canadians have very little knowledge or understanding of the many Latin countries which are outside the winter vacation spots they like to escape to. Most importantly they are unaware of the destabilizing effect our (and the USA war on drugs) policy of prohibition is wreaking on both Americas.
Western governments seem to have learned little from history and once again they are doomed to repeat their mistakes. The conviction that government sanctions will protect our children from dealers of addictive self-destruction has had the depressing effect of exacerbating the problem on every front. The finest intentions have realized our greatest fears.
It is time we were appraised of the consequences of our actions and begin to empathize with the victims of our rectitude. In the late Nineteenth Century the crusading zeal of militant Christianity had imposed upon the world a rigid morality which endorsed a style of political correctness where the appearance of respectability was valued above all else. In an unregulated society this expectation of self-moderation had many beneficial effects and was an impetus for the great social and economic achievements of the Victorian era. At the time there was a strong belief that mankind was existentially evolving into a more perfect society. The great institutions that were built during this time were the edifices of confidence. But, behind the veneer of decorum existed an underworld of human frailty. It is instructive to note that during this period of morality nascent industries of vice were happily and profitably operating out of view. The brothels, opium dens and myriad drinking establishments served as pressure relief values for many who desired respite from the culture’s overbearing expectations.
As we know vice can lead to many social and physical ills. The destruction wrought by participating in the forbidden world of debauchery (mainly men) repulsed the guardians of respectability (mainly women) and they demanded that something be done. Good people took up their crusade with the moral equivalence of the abolitionist movement to end slavery. They demanded the institutions of government step in and save the population from itself. Thus the legal prohibition of drink, drugs and sex was imposed for the greater good.
Safe from the distractions of vice, humanity could at last achieve another evolutionary step on the road to perfection. Yet, something peculiar happened almost immediately after the “Greater Good” was served. The demand for forbidden fruit strengthened and the revenue netted by those supplying it increased. Attempts by authorities to stop the trade in contraband only seemed to produce a more creative entrepreneurial response. Average citizens were being rounded up and charged with criminal offences simply for possession of something they chose to consume. Suppliers operating in the Black Market meant that product quality control was hit and miss – without legal recourse many customers were cheated or poisoned. Colossal profits financed sophisticated criminal organizations that could bribe or extort government officials and prosecute a relentless public relations battle in the press. Operating outside the law required an armed security infrastructure that would not only ward off the police, but also other criminal competitors. They were well armed and would defend their source of revenue by any means possible – killing both themselves and innocent bystanders. Taxes had to be raised and fines increased to pay for the ever increasing demands for police resources to combat the threat. Young men were enticed to forgo the traditional path of fatherhood in order to chase after the riches promised by the dangerous Black Market adventure. Within a short span of years the majority of people had had enough, at least when it came to booze.
The end of prohibition was a great reprieve which forced the engorged criminal organizations to look elsewhere for profitable opportunities created by laws that would restrain legitimate competition.
Today many people cannot even comprehend a world where self-moderation is not accompanied by volumes of rules and regulations that govern every aspect of their lives. As in the past we have chosen to outlaw certain vices for the “greater good” and not surprisingly we are enduring the same results. A critical difference is that the world is a much smaller place. If prohibition is enacted in one country the black-market demand will be supplied by resources that could come from anywhere around the globe.
Contraband is produced and delivered by ruthless criminal gangs in South America and the Far East. Prohibition laws in North America are enabling these lawless organizations to operate off-shore and reap obscene profits. Our laws are once again enriching criminals. They are still bribing and extorting officials and in some countries have become so strong that they control the entire government. High profits mandate that markets have to be defended from other criminals as well as the police. This has led to turf wars where hundreds of thousands of people in Latin America have been slaughtered. Our very civilization is being challenged by enriched warlords who are terrorizing entire populations in countries like Mexico and Columbia.
Banning products or services simply to protect citizens from themselves will only empower those who seek to subvert our purpose. Prohibition corrupts our government by providing a reason to bribe, extort or terrorize those who operate our institutions. The cost of maintaining police resources to counter the lawbreakers escalates year upon year as the futility of their mission puts them at odds with the personal freedom enjoyed by the citizenry.
The work ethic of our young people is undermined by temptation to reap a higher income within the Black Market. It degrades their respect for legitimate authority and encourages them to shun the responsibly of a traditional lifestyle. In effect they become the pawns within vast criminal organizations.
So what can we do?
Do we double down by increasing the power of the state? Do we treat every human being as a potential criminal by watching and cataloging their every move? Or, do we adopt a Freedom Agenda that is based on the respect of each individual?
Foundational documents like the Magna Carta sought to prevent the damage that cascades as a result of laws enacted to protect society from “potential” injury. A man should be judged by his peers and not subject to regulation without just cause. Re-adopting respect for the freedom of individuals would have the wonderful effect of defunding and disarming criminals, lowering the cost of government and the police, promoting a responsible lifestyle for our youth, reducing the subversion of many third world nations by criminal elites and ending a major source of corruption within our own government. It will give us a chance to demonstrate the true compassion that grows out of our principled empathy for our fellow man.Those who benefit from the status quo will fight the Freedom Agenda tooth and nail. Fear, uncertainty and doubt will be broadcast from every organization or institution that stands to lose funding, status or most of all control. Yet at the end of the day it is we people working for our personal self-interest who hold the power. We must expose the Prohibitionists for the paper tiger they are simply by demanding our legitimate right to freedom.