Tag: alcohol prohibition

How to End the Loophole Surrounding Federalism

By Jack Shields | United States

The drinking age in most states in the United States is twenty-one. This fact is a great disappointment to me having turned eighteen this year. But the fact the age is twenty-one rather than eighteen isn’t even the most disappointing part. It’s the reason why the drinking age is twenty-one. Most states have this as their drinking age because they were coerced into doing so by the federal government using a technique that was held as constitutional in the case South Dakota v. Dole. The decision handed the federal government a mechanism by which they may go around the very idea of federalism and force the states to submit to their will, and must be overturned.

The Effects of Prohibition

In 1919, we as a nation decided that legislating morality was a good idea, and ratified the Eighteenth amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol at a federal level. Unsurprisingly, Americans did not respond well to being told what to do, and the disaster that was prohibition was finally ended with the ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933. Section Two of the Twenty-First amendment clearly stated that states had a right to regulate alcohol if they so choose, but the federal government no longer had a say in the matter. Yet, when has a constitutional provision ever been enough to stop our federal government from expanding their scope of power and informing us ignorant, ordinary people what is moral and right to do?

Congress passed a law in 1984 which required the Secretary of Transportation to withhold five percent of federal highway funds for states that did not adopt a drinking age of twenty-one. This was challenged by South Dakota, which at the time had a drinking age of nineteen. The Supreme Court ruled that this law did not violate the spending powers of Congress or the Twenty-First Amendment. Their logic for this was because the law was for the general welfare of the nation, and the way Congress went about achieving this was reasonable, then the law was within Congress’s constitutional bounds even if they were indirectly trying to achieve a goal not within the purview of Congress or the federal government in general.

The Abandonment of Federalism

This logic has now been widely accepted. In my Government class, we had to create our own bills and have our own Congress as an assignment in order to learn how Congress worked. Our teacher informed us that we didn’t have to worry at all about the fact the federal government has very few enumerated powers. We could make our bills about any subject as long as, instead of just creating the policy at the federal level, our bill listed what we wanted and what we would be willing to take away from the states if they didn’t comply. This is not federalism. This is the system my parents had for me when I was little, where if I didn’t obey them then Santa would not be coming that year.

The federal government and the states should not have a parent-child relationship. The way it was supposed to go was the federal government would have a small list of enumerated powers in which their laws would be the Supreme Law of the Land. These were policies that needed to be uniform throughout the states in order to have one country such as a single currency and regulating trade with foreign nations. But other than that, everything was left up to the states. The states were their own independent government, and with powers not enumerated to the federal government, the states’ law was the Supreme Law. That is the very idea of federalism and of limited government, and sadly we do not have that right now because of this decision.

If the federal government is supposed to have limited, enumerated powers, and nothing more, then indirectly forcing the states to do something not within the scope of their power is clearly a loophole that needs to be shut. But how? The federal government currently gives funding to the states for many things. And both the states and federal government feel the need to legislate morality on many issues like alcohol, marijuana, and many others. Whether either of these things is good is an issue for another time. It’s how things are and a fix to this problem needs to fit into that reality. So the federal government is giving funds to the states and giving money inherently grants the authority to withhold money. What should justify withholding said money?

The Solution

It should all be based upon the federal government’s enumerated powers. This is the most logical conclusion, which is clearly seen when looking at this type of situation with any other entity. If you have a phone, you have a deal with a phone company wherein they provide you with a data plan and you pay them for it. If you disobey their terms and conditions pertaining to the purchase of the data plan, it is completely reasonable for the company to cease to provide you with those things. But if you didn’t pay your rent that month, it would not be an appropriate justification for the phone company to cease to provide their services because that has nothing to do with the relationship between you and the phone company. The relationship between the federal government and state governments should be the same way.

From 1919 to 1933, it would have been appropriate for the federal government to withhold funds for disobeying their will pertaining to alcohol. Regulating it was an enumerated power and their law is the Supreme Law. But it is not an enumerated power anymore, and therefore they have no place in regulating it. Funds should only be withheld in cases wherein that pertain to an enumerated power. If the federal government wants to withhold funds because states are disobeying immigration laws, they can. Because that’s a federal power. But if the federal government wants to withhold funds because a state doesn’t pay teachers enough, that would not be allowed as that is not an enumerated power of the federal government and is therefore outside the natural bounds of the relationship between the federal and state governments.

If we are to have a system of federalism and not a system of a parent like authority dictating to their children what is okay and what isn’t we must close all loopholes by which the federal government may overstep both directly and indirectly, their natural, enumerated powers. In order to do this, it is clear South Dakota v. Dole must be overturned and replaced with a standard by which federal funds may only be withheld in cases wherein the federal government wishes to directly influence a state’s behavior pertaining to an enumerated power of the federal government.


71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Featured Image Source

Advertisements

Agency is Libertarian. Marijuana and Alcohol Aren’t.

By Ryan Lau | @agorists

The time is ten past three, and John Doe is enjoying himself. A college student, some older friends invited him to a massive party for the first time. However, John is not likely to remember many of the events of the night, for at that party, he consumed a rather unsafe amount of alcohol. He also ingested some edibles and, without realizing a thing, fought his best friend.

A fictional character, of course, John represents the loss of agency that a mind-altering substance commonly brings. Too many in the real world fall victim to John’s same situations, whether at parties, at a formal social gathering, or crying alone at night. The many Johns of the world are victims of lost agency.

Naturally, agency in this sense of the word is considerably different than its common use. Essentially, agency is the capacity of an actor to act consciously in a certain situation. In other words, agency is a form of personal responsibility, a trait essential to libertarianism. Drugs and other mind-altering substances, on the other hand, are antithetical to the same doctrine. As they rob people of their sense of agency, they are detriments to a free society.

Commonly, supporters of libertarianism state that the movement is about doing what so ever makes you happy. They often attack the state, saying that it robs that people of their right to live freely. In a broad sense, they are not wrong. However, they miss what is perhaps the most essential part of this message, the thing that makes freedom a sustainable goal: agency.

A world without agency will quickly dissolve into pure chaos, and there is no denying this. In modern society, the vast majority of people know that it is wrong to kill and steal from others. Also, they recognize the various social norms that we as a world adopt. These range from things as simple as wearing proper clothing, to situations as complex as how to behave in a romantic relationship. All such cases require a clear head and a sense of responsibility.

When people abandon this sense, they are often no longer aware of their own actions. In a sense, they are acting on the terms of something else besides themselves. Without a doubt, society condemns forced action between individuals. When one person holds a lethal weapon to the head of another and says to act, we know that is wrong, as it robs someone of their agency, and ability to freely act on their own terms.

Yet, we seldom are able to apply this logic beyond the confines of humans. Simply put, a human is not the only thing capable of robbing someone of their agency. An alcoholic or drug addict has little more say over their actions than does the person with a gun to his or her head. In fact, the situations are, in many ways, nearly identical.

When someone is addicted to a drug, it of course is quite hard to quit. The hardships range from physical to mental, and both can be viciously strong. Many people hooked on hard drugs need them to live their normal, day to day lives. By giving in to this power, they lose their sense of agency. Mental struggles can be nearly as difficult. Though no physical addiction exists for some drugs, such as marijuana, this does not mean a mental dependency cannot form. When it does, it can be incredibly difficult to break.

As a result, people using these substances often act much differently than they otherwise would. It is no secret that alcohol, for example, can cause severe anger. All addictions cause a compulsion to continue feeding them. In many cases, this leads to lying, sneaking, or even stealing to continue the path. Stealing does not occur in a truly free world.

Now, some may argue that these actions are extreme measures, and that moderation is the key in order to avoid them. While one can safely use in moderation, the fact of the matter is that most people simply will not do so. Yes, one can wisely stick to a drink or two and preserve agency.

However, it is better to say that none at all is the best approach, rather than condoning small amounts. With the latter, it is inevitable that people with different levels of will and tolerance will become addicted. Obviously, substance abuse has caused the destruction of countless families and lives. But, it is still important to note that a lack of agency, rather than the drugs themselves, are the real issues. Just as some can safely use in moderation, others can dangerously become addicted to other things besides drugs or alcohol.

Society should not draw the line at alcohol or marijuana or hard drugs. Instead, it should focus on eradicating addiction through recovery programs. All such programs should make clear that a clean life involves living with proper agency.

Thus, it is imperative that we recognize agency as a central tenet of freedom. Without it, freedom has little meaning, and will not last. Without legal pressure, another force must exist to maintain order in society. That force is agency. With it, we can truly set up a model of lasting freedom.


To support 71 Republic, please donate to our Patreon, which you can find here.

Featured Image Source.

For Libertarians, There is No Room for a Moderate Drug Policy

By Glenn Verasco | United States

Via Reason Magazine:

“San Francisco may end up being the first city in the United States to open injection sites where drug addicts can shoot up safely…

“…The facilities will be funded from private sources, though Garcia declined to say where specifically the money will come from.”

San Francisco might be the least economically Libertarian city in the United States. But permitting the existence of open injection sites is as Libertarian as it gets (well, aside from the fact that permission is needed).

From what I gather, this initiative will provide heroin users with a safe and supervised hideaway to use their drug of choice. Although maintaining consistent funding seems a bit fishy, the project will be privately sponsored, which means taxpayers won’t be forced to subsidize drug use against their conscience. Allowing drug addicts to seek refuge, depending on philanthropists to assist the needy, and keeping the public purse out of it is a hyper-Libertarian trifecta.

I also predict that, assuming the funds don’t dry up, this will make the world a better place. Drugs are a fact of human life. Alcohol, caffeine nicotine, and harder substances are as old as humanity itself, and well-intentioned laws don’t deliver on their promises. Alcohol prohibition in the 1920s was a gargantuan failure of government policy, and the 40-year War on Drugs has been equally ineffectual.

Instead of trying to alter human nature, the existence of human drug use should be accepted, and those interested in helping others should seek out ways to make the best of a difficult fact of life.

The main point I’d like to make in this piece is that Libertarians should not tolerate a moderate position on drug policy. Weed should be legal, but harder narcotics should be banned is a cowardly opinion for a lover of Liberty. Drug use should be decriminalized, but the drug trade should not be legalized is weak as well. The only acceptable Libertarian drug policy is the total legalization of the manufacture, sale, and personal use of all substances.

(Since I speak through an American-Constitutional lens, I’ll add at the federal level to the end of the only acceptable Libertarian drug policy. If a state or locality that I don’t live in chooses to prohibit drugs in one way or another, it’s none of my nor the external public’s business.)

The reason I say Libertarians should vouch for legalization instead of decriminalization is because we live in a world of taxes and regulations, not a Randian utopia. Since basically every other industry is taxed and regulated, the drug industry ought to be too. Though decriminalization would be ideal, it would be unfair to leave one industry free from government interference and not others. The push to keep taxes and regulations at a minimum in the drug industry and all others is a separate battle.

Total drug legalization highlights the merits of both ethical Libertarianism and practical Libertarianism. By moral Libertarianism, I mean the extreme Anarcho-Capitalist view that no one has any right to force any individual to do anything with his body or property that goes against his will.

By practical Libertarianism, I mean the broad spectrum of ideas that are often described as socially liberal and fiscally conservative or Classically Liberal. Practical Libertarianism, by my definition, encompasses the likes of Steven Pinker, Jonathan Haidt, and Jordan Peterson as well as Ron Paul, Stefan Molyneux, and Ayn Rand (though not all of them would necessarily embrace my label or support total drug legalization).

The moral Libertarian case for total drug legalization is obvious. If no one can tell you what you can trade, what you can do with what you own, or what you can do with your body, no one can force you to refrain from making, buying, selling, or taking drugs. Not much else needs to be said.

The practical Libertarian case is far more interesting and may require a certain degree of counterintuitive thinking.

The first point to make is that prohibition is destructive. As I alluded to earlier, alcohol prohibition led to a massive crime wave that only ceased when the 18th Amendment was repealed. The War on Drugs, which began in the early 1970s, has failed to make a dent in drug addiction while costing over $1.5 trillion (equal to ~8% of our national debt). Making drugs illegal creates new problems without solving old ones.

The second point to make is that legitimate businesses and non-profits are safer than cartels and gangs. Here, Conservatives and Progressives who oppose total drug legalization can have their own logic turned against them. When Conservatives are faced with anti-Second Amendment arguments, they often retort by noting that criminals who really want guns will find a way to acquire them. The only difference is that criminal organizations do not operate in accordance with rules and regulations, do not have legitimate businesses to keep on the up and up, and have no oversight in terms of training or licensing. Gun control laws interfere with the lives of law-abiding citizens while providing free reign to crooks.

On the Progressive end, consider abortion. Every pro-choice advocate is ready to note that women will not cease from having abortions if they are forbidden, but will instead go to back-alley clinics where there is little concern for medical degrees or hygiene. Banning abortion will spread death and disease without actually banning abortion.

The logic of each of these positions is accurate and sound, regardless of your feelings on firearm and reproductive rights. The same thinking should be applied to drug prohibition, which already provides glaring real-world illustrations that the naked eye can see: the underground drug industry is unimaginably violent, drug abuse is as rampant as ever before, the quality and content of the drugs being taken is a mystery to dealers and users, and people who could benefit from some guidance wind up hurting themselves and others every single day. Name a legally-operating industry that experiences these problems, and I’ll delete this column.

The third point to make is that drug laws don’t stop people from doing drugs. I can prove this point from personal experience. For starters, I smoked pot regularly in high school and college and also experimented with psychedelics, cocaine, and opioids. The fact that these drugs were illegal for me to use made them easier for me to acquire than alcohol until I turned 21. Alcohol distributors that want to keep their licenses must follow the rules or lose a great source of revenue, so it took elaborate plans to fool them into selling booze to my friends and me. Drug dealers did not face this kind of dilemma, so all I needed to procure them was a contract and cash.

More importantly, prohibition laws did not deter my friends or me from buying drugs in any way. We were unafraid of the legal consequences and did what we wanted. We did not, however, attempt to buy heroin or crystal meth. This is because we were afraid of what those drugs could do to our minds and bodies. It had nothing to with the law. As Ron Paul cleverly asked a GOP presidential debate audience in South Carolina, “How many people here would use heroin if it was legal?”

A total drug legalization policy initiative could include some modest regulations. Perhaps age limits, manufacturing protocols, advertising restrictions, distributor licensing, and some other rules would have a positive impact without meaningfully impeding Liberty. But the general proposition of treating drugs like any other consumer product is supported by evidence and common sense, and Libertarians should promote it unapologetically.

***

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me at www.howtocureyourliberalism.com. Also check out my podcast on iTunes  and like my Facebook page.


Featured image source.

2018: The Year to Legalize Marijuana

By Nick Hamilton | USA

Legalizing marijuana needs to happen in 2018.

Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking. “Marijuana is bad for our kids.” “Marijuana is bad in general!”

Well, it’s really not.

In 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were 33,171 alcohol-induced deaths. That’s 33,171 more deaths than cannabis had. Yes, you read that right. Not ONE death in 2016 was attributed to the use of marijuana, an illegal drug, however, 33,171 deaths were attributed to alcohol. You’d think that with those statistics, alcohol would be illegal and marijuana would be legal. While a whopping 63,500 deaths attributed to drug overdose, cannabis had ZERO deaths from the drug itself.

However, what not many people consider is the economic value of legalizing hemp, the biggest one being paper. Hemp has been used for paper since the Western Han Dynasty, back in 200 BCE. Not to mention, our founding fathers even used hemp as an alternative to paper. Here’s a fun fact: the Declaration of Independence was actually written on hemp paper. Not to mention, marijuana usually isn’t cheap. Imagine if people were legally allowed to make sales legally of marijuana. Imagine if marijuana was legalized and bought as much as beer and wine. Our economy would be through the roof! Not to mention, paper companies, especially small ones, could use this legalization to their advantage in lifting their businesses off the ground, ensuring that they can buy hemp at a lower cost, processing needs would be lower, and they’d have very high quality paper. So, in a way, this could help small businesses out a lot.

Oh, and that state with all of that cool skiing? Colorado? Yeah, they’ve legalized marijuana. And during the FIRST HALF of 2017 ALONE, marijuana has earned $750,000,000 in total, earning the state an extra $116M in spending money, according to an analysis by the Cannabist, which you can read here.

That’s not just some loose pocket change, my friend.

However, many people forget this, and say that marijuana is bad for you, and that the federal government should keep it as is.

But let’s analyze this for a second. Why should the federal government tell us what we can and can’t put in our bodies? Someone hitting a blunt isn’t putting someone else’s life in danger, as we’ve seen from the CDC report. And if marijuana was really as bad as many say it is, why do hospitals have prescription rights for it? Why would this harmful drug have any place in the field of medicine? Even when it was banned, science backed up the strong fact that marijuana is not nearly as bad as some of the things that are legal in this country. Back in the 1930’s, the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) led by Harry Anslinger asked 30 of the country’s top scientists if marijuana was actually as bad as the businesses said it was. 29 out of the 30 said that it was not, however the FDN used that one scientist in order to manipulate their claims and say that it was “backed by science.” And this same science also concludes that marijuana can help fight off cancer cells, and help prevent HIV from turning into AIDS. 

Here we are, almost 100 years later. Here we are, looking back and seeing similarities. Similarities that show that marijuana is in fact not nearly as bad as the majority of conservatives say it is.

Let’s analyze THAT for a second.

Conservatives tend to lean against the legalization of marijuana. I’m one of the few conservatives as a matter of fact that is sitting here calling for legalization. But when you look at the values, shouldn’t conservatives be calling for legalization? Shouldn’t conservatives not want the federal government to be intervening with possible economic strides? Shouldn’t conservatives not want the federal government trying to dictate how we live our daily lives? I thought the whole idea of conservatism was the principle of having a smaller government, and keeping government out of economic affairs as much as possible. So why in the world should conservatives be calling for a plan that hurts our economy and keeps the government in our business?

Now, I’m not a smoker myself. I’m not saying that parents should start giving their kids weed as a stocking stuffer. However, next time you hear someone say that marijuana doesn’t have a place in America, refer them to this article. This article has pretty much debunked every case against marijuana with scientific facts, and in addition has provided scenarios beneficial to this country that would most likely occur if it was legalized.

Therefore, marijuana should be legalized. Now.

Was Murray Rothbard a Sexist?

By Mason Mohon | USA

Multiple times throughout the years, Murray Rothbard has criticized many women-oriented movements. To anyone first stepping into libertarianism, this is a seemingly obvious red flag. One of the most pronounced and influential libertarian theorists of modern times has literature rife with what looks like sexism. Who in their right mind could support the teachings of a man who was against the women’s suffrage movements of the 1830’s and stood against the women’s liberation movements in the 1970’s? Should Rothbard be completely disregarded for his sexist comments?

In short, not at all. There are two main writings by Rothbard I would like to focus on, and these two writings are writings usually cited when people are making accusations of sexism. The first of these is his essay Origins of the Welfare State in America and his article Against Women’s Lib, which can be found here and here respectively.

In the first place, Rothbard’s essay Origins of the Welfare State in America should be focused on. The intent of the essay was to make an analysis as to how the welfare state has expanded, hence its name. Right off the bat, we can see that Murray Rothbard did not title this essay “Why Women are Bad.” Rather, the article’s entire intent was to analyze how the welfare state arose.

The reason people see this article as a sexist one is first that of the section titled “Yankee Women: The Driving Force.” What this shows us immediately that Rothbard was linking a women’s movement to the impacts of the welfare state, rather than the impact be women’s rights itself. This legion of Yankee women strongly pushed for the right to vote, because they knew that they would be the first to the ballot box, seeing as that Catholic women saw their place as an individual who is the homemaker. The Catholic women would not care about political issues, while the Yankee women would, and the first thing on their agenda was prohibition.

Susan B. Anthony, an ardent women’s suffragist, was also the founder of the first women’s temperance movement. In the early 1870’s, this spurred into a large organized movement, with “Women’s Crusades” taking to the streets. These marches became widespread, but rather than marching against a president, they were marching for dangerous prohibitionist political action. According to Rothbard, though, this wasn’t the end to it, for in the following decade “the WCTU was pushing, throughout states and localities, for a comprehensive statist program for government intervention and social welfare.” These female suffragist movements didn’t want to be able to vote just for the sake of equality. Rather, their goal was political action, most notably prohibitionism, which was disastrous for American society, and the welfare state, which has also had absolutely horrible impacts.

Clearly, Murray Rothbard was not criticizing the ability for women to have equal rights with men. Rather, he was against the political action immediately following the success of these movements. The alcohol prohibition era is looked at fondly by very few, so why are its most staunch historical supporters held in such high esteem? If someone is a supporter of equal rights solely for the sake of the perpetuation of political violence, they are no hero in my book, and neither are they in Rothbard’s.

Moreover, Murray Rothbard’s article titled Against Women’s Lib should be discussed. He opens the article by comparing it to environmentalist movements in that they were both making a sudden surge in the 1970’s. One other similarity should be made clear, and that is why Rothbard opposed them. Murray Rothbard was very against environmentalist movements, not because he hated the environment, but because all of their proposed solutions were phenomenally statist. The same holds true for Murray Rothbard on women’s rights; he doesn’t hate women, but he is against the movement for reasons within the movement itself, not its ultimate goal.

The Women’s Liberation movement at the time was eerily similar to modern feminism in that it is vague and no specific adherence other than a fight against sexism. Today, feminists are the declared enemy of the patriarchy, and it was the same idea in Rothbard’s time. There was a faceless entity of sexist oppression which was being attacked by a mob that had no specific agenda except to defeat it, and whatever happens between point A of the status quo and point B of destroying the patriarchy is acceptable.

Rothbard made the claim that the oppressors are staying strangely silent, attempting to make the point that no institution of oppression exists. The ‘patriarchy’ has never made any official statement. Ever. Because it can’t, for it does not exist.

The similarities to Women’s Liberation and modern feminism do not end there, though. Rothbard faced his own time’s wage gap, which was much larger at the time. At the time, reports were that women only made 58% of what men make, rather than today’s 80%. He quickly made the economic explanation for this occurrence, debunking the idea that it is because of a shadow oppressor.

The strongest attack, though, comes in Rothbard’s defense of capitalism, which is as follows:

It should be emphasized that, in contrast to the Women’s Lib forces who tend to blame capitalism as well as male tyrants for centuries-old discrimination, it was precisely capitalism and the “capitalist revolution” of the 18th and 19th centuries that freed women from male oppression, and set each woman free to find her best level. It was the feudal and pre-capitalist, pre-market society that was marked by male oppression; it was that society where women were chattels of their fathers and husbands, where they could own no property of their own, etc. Capitalism set women free to find their own level, and the result is what we have today.

Clearly, Murray Rothbard has never articulated any disdain for females as a category of humanity. His attacks on the suffrage movement were not based on its goal of the ability for women to be able to vote, but rather, they were well founded on distaste for prohibition and welfare. Furthermore, Rothbard attacked the Women’s Liberation movement for the same reason libertarians widely attack feminism today; Women’s Lib and feminism are ill-defined, turning them into destructive societal forces rife with economic fallacy. These two Rothbardian writings should not be a turnoff when looking for liberty, and Murray Rothbard should not be seen as a sexist woman hater.