Thursday, March 5, 2009

Why I like the Economist

This week the Economist has once again raised the issue of how to deal with the war on drugs - legalize the drugs.

I first starting reading the Economist in 1987 when I was still a hardcore leftie. I found time and time again that I agreed with them on numerous issues. It was in 1989 that they called for drugs to be legal. Over and over again no one media source has been as independent and as reasoned as the Economist. Over time I saw that when I disagreed with them, odds were that I was one that was wrong. I never meant to stop being a leftie, but the Economist had all the best reasoned arguments on all issues related to politics - it also helps they are socially liberal.

As much as when I was 21 I did not want to believe that the free market and competition are the best ways for society to move forward and bring benefits to the most people, the Economist showed me that it was the answer. The global trade boom of the last ten years has lifted more people out of poverty than at any other time in human history. The business growth in China and India each year has done more for third world poverty than all the first world aid projects have done over the last ten years.

As to legalizing drugs, this is something that needs to happen now and immediately. Legalization has several public policy goods that come out if it.

1) The government would be able to collect more taxes. Sales of drugs are about 1/5 the sales of alcohol in most jurisdictions. Legalizing the drugs would mean they could be taxed and bring in a new revenue stream.

2) The quality of the drugs would go up - no more getting a bunch of shake at the bottom of a 1/4 ounce. Even more important, no more cutting heroin or cocacaine with stuff hazardous to your health.

3) Competition in the market - people would be able to get more for their money.

4) Less policing costs and no gang wars.

5) A major blow to organized crime.

6) Legal pot, heroin and cocaine would remove the market and demand for stupid drugs such a crystal meth and crack.

7) Healthcare costs related to drugs and addiction would go down as it all comes out of the shadows and into the public eye.

I would legalize all drugs, hard and soft. Then tax it to pay for the 'stimulus' budgets that everyone seems to think make some sort of rational sense.
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