Thursday, August 6, 2009

ABC 20/20 The War on Drugs, A War on Ourselves? with John Stossel

Part 1 - Introduction and Police Baiting

Part 2 - The Unintended Consequences of Prohibition

Part 3 - The Effect of the War on Drugs in Colombia

Part 4 - The Effect of the War on Drugs in Colombia

Part 5 - The Right to Choose & Legalization in Europe

Part 6 - Hard Drugs & Legalization in the US

The War on Drugs, A War on Ourselves?

In a 2002 special, John Stossel examines the effect of the War on Drugs on American Society.

He interviews Detroit's police chief Jerry Oliver who points out that since the dealing of drugs is between willing buyers and sellers, the War on Drugs forces cops to use deceit to catch those dealing drugs. Despite all the law enforcement resources put into fighting the drug war, availably of drugs is just as high as before the drug war began.

3 Unintended Consequences are examined including; it sucks children into the underworld, corrupts cops, and creates crime.

John Stossel travels to Colombia and examines the effect of the War on Drugs on the people living there.

Finally Stossel travels to Europe to see how drug legalization has affected society there.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Walter Williams - Good Intentions

Introduction & Public Schools

Minimum Wage, Licensing, and Labor Laws

The Welfare System and Conclusions


Walter Williams' PBS documentary Good Intentions based on his book, The State Against Blacks (1982). The documentary was very controversial at the time it was released and led to many animosities and even threats of murder.

In Good Intentions, Dr. Williams examines the failure of the war on poverty and the devastating effect of well meaning government policies on blacks asserting that the state harms people in the U.S. more than it helps them. He shows how government anti-poverty programs have often locked people into poverty making the points that:

- being forced to attend 3rd rate public schools leave students unprepared for working life
- minimum wages prevent young people from obtaining jobs at an early age
- licensing and labor laws have had the effect of restricting entrance of blacks into the skilled trades and unions
- the welfare system creates perverse incentives for the poor to make bad choices they otherwise would not

Dr. Williams presents the following solutions to these problems:

Failing Public Schools - Give parents greater control over their children's education by setting up a tuition tax credit or voucher system to broaden competition in turn revitalizing both public and non-public schools

Minimum Wages - Remove the minimum wage from youngsters to give more young people the chance to learn the world of work at an early age instead spending their free time idle an possibly falling into the habits of the street

Restrictive Labor Laws, Jobs Programs - Eliminate government roadblocks that prevent new entrepreneurs from starting their own business

Welfare Programs - Enact a compassionate welfare system such as a negative income tax which would remove dependency and dis-incentives for the poor to get themselves out of poverty

Scholars interviewed in the documentary include Donald Eberle, Charles Murray, and George Gilder.


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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The 4 Ways to Spend Money by Milton Friedman

In his book Free to Choose, Milton Friedman described four ways to spend money.

1. You spend your own money on yourself - You shop in a supermarket, for example. You clearly have a strong incentive both to economize and to get as much value as you can for each dollar you do spend.

2. You spend your own money on someone else - You shop for Christmas or birthday presents. You have the same incentive to economize as in the first case but not the same incentive to get full value for your money, at least as judged by the tastes of the recipient. You will, of course, want to get something the recipient will like—provided that it also makes the right impression and does not take too much time and effort. (If, indeed, your main objective were to enable the recipient to get as much value as possible per dollar, you would give him cash

3. You spend someone else's money on yourself - lunching on an expense account, for instance. You have no strong incentive to keep down the cost of the lunch, but you do have a strong incentive to get your money's worth.

4. You spend someone else's money on someone else - You are paying for someone else's lunch out of an expense account. You have little incentive either to economize or to try to get your guest the lunch that he will value most highly. However, if you are having lunch with him, so that the lunch is a mixture of case 3 and case 4, you do have a strong incentive to satisfy your own tastes at the sacrifice of his, if necessary.

All welfare programs fall into either case 3—for example, Social Security which involves cash payments that the recipient is free to spend as he may wish; or case 4—for example, public housing; except that even case 4 programs share one feature of case 3, namely, that the bureaucrats administering the program partake of the lunch; and all case 3 programs have bureaucrats among their recipients.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Milton Friedman on the War on Drugs

In 2006 prior to his death, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) sat down with Milton Friedman to discuss his thoughts on the morality of drug prohibition and the failed War on Drugs. From the interview:

On Morality

"I do not believe the State has the right to tell me what to put in my head. We have a law for free speech, free assembly, and so on. I think the same thing goes with respect to what I put into my body. I don't think the state has any more right to tell me what to put in my mouth then it has to tell me what can come out of my mouth. Those two are essentially the same thingand they both are essential elements of freedom."

On Making Prohibition Work

"You can never make prohibition work. As long as there are substantial numbers of people that want to use the product, there will be a supply forthcoming. What will happen is that the cost of the drug will go up in order to finance the illegal activities that are necessary to bring it to market."

"I think almost every economist would agree that government gets itself into trouble when it tries to interfere with voluntary behavior. Marijuana prohibition is a victimless crime. You have a willing buyer and a willing seller."

"If you have a voluntary sale and purchase of marijuana between a willing buyer and a willing seller, then the only way to enforce the prohibition of it is to have an informer."

On the Drug Users

"We mustn't regard the users of the drugs as if they didn't count. They count! They are people. Who are we to say whether they are doing the right thing or not by using drugs?"

On the International Effects of the War on Drugs

"One of the worst features of our prohibition is its international effects. Here we are responsible in the United States for the deaths of hundreds or thousands of people in Latin Americain Colombia and Peru and so on. Why are they dying? They are dying because we cannot enforce our own laws...we are fundamentally a murderer of people in countries like Peru."

Since 1972

"I challenge anybody to read a Newsweek column I wrote in 1972 and find out where it has gone wrong. That Newsweek column was an occasion by President Nixon declaring a war on drugs. In that column I pointed out all of the effects that would follow from it; the corruption, the violence, the lack of respect for the law, the difficulties overseas, and so on." (Milton Friedman: Prohibition and Drugs, May 1, 1972 Newsweek)

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Coming Century of Liberty

A key figure in the libertarian movement, David Boaz surveys what he sees as the threats to freedom from the Bush administration and the current presidential candidates.

Though he is frustrated with many of the candidates' positions, he remains optimistic about the future of civil and economic liberties. However, he says that the future of freedom requires that Americans devote considerable effort to preserving and protecting these rights.

Speech delivered to The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco July 9, 2008

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Free to Choose 1980 - Volume 2: The Tyranny of Control

Topic: The Case for Free Trade

Government planning and detailed control of economic activity lessens productive innovation, and consumer choice. Good, better, best, are replaced by "approved" or "authorized." Friedman shows how "established" industries or methods, seek government protection or subsidization in their attempts to stop or limit product improvements which they don't control. Friedman visits India, Japan and U.S.

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