Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Pete Morin Editorial Review--Issue #55

The Pursuit of Happiness

There are hundreds, or thousands, of definitions that could apply to the above heading. Pursuing happiness is at the very heart of our existence, yet few people actually stop running in the rat race to consider what would make them happy. I'd like to proffer a suggestion that will turn some heads and may even make me an outcast in polite society, but none the less, I consider it essential to an improvement in our pursuit of happiness.

We need to do two things today that are necessary to improve the condition of our society; drug legalization and prostitution legalization. Now, I know you're thinking , 'how can this possibly IMPROVE our society?' If an individual wants to smoke marijuana or pay for sexual services that should be their choice as a free person living their life as they wish to. The stigma attached to these, so called, crimes far exceeds any benefit to society. The term 'victimless crime' should be considered an oxymoron and be relegated to the dustbin of history. Let's take an unvarnished look at what our attempts to keep these acts criminal has done to the nation.

Drug laws: Since 1970 the US government has spent untold BILLIONS of dollars in attempts to control the drug trade. Just how successful have these attempts been? Drug use has not changed in any appreciable amount, except in the eyes of law enforcement who seem to believe that they only need more money to completely solve the problem. We have today some of the most vicious drug gangs located on our southern border that are impervious to the efforts of the Mexican authorities. They so thoroughly control the drug trade that they have eliminated rivals and killed over 25,000 people in the last five years alone. Kind of reminds you of the notorious Purple Gang of Detroit and Al Capone in Chicago during the 1930's. They had control of illegal booze during that time and made a lot of money thanks to the Volstead Act passed in 1920. Government finally wised up and repealed the Volstead Act in 1933. The result was control of alcohol by recognized distributors and regulations that netted the government significant sums of money via taxes. And lo and behold it eliminated the power of the mafia in this trade. We must treat narcotics in the same fashion. Legalization, regulation and taxation will eliminate the drug cartels and provide to the government a good source of revenue to apply to drug treatment programs and other methods of educating the public on the dangers of drug overuse (as has been done concerning cigarettes and alcohol).

A less known debilitating effect to personal freedom are 'forfeiture laws'. If you've never heard of these pernicious, regrettable laws then you should learn the horrible effects they've had on our society. Eric Schlosser wrote a fine book entitled 'Reefer Madness' where he outlines many cases of expropriation of people's property through the enforcement of these laws. You'll be shocked to see some of the methods law enforcement has used in taking the property of completely innocent people who ran afoul of drug laws. No one could read about these instances without a sense of regret that this happens in modern day America. Ask yourself a simple question; Is the war on drugs a success? If you can answer this question honestly, then you know we must change our approach regarding legalization of controlled substances.

Prostitution: We already know this the is the world's oldest profession; perhaps second only to the 'slip & fall' trial lawyers. Once again, how have we done making this profession illegal? An honest answer would have to be, not very well. One of law enforcement's main tactics to reduce the trade is to publish the names of individuals caught in the act of purchasing sexual favors. If we're going to use shame as a means of controlling this behaviour shouldn't we publish the names of people on food stamps, welfare, social security or any other government transfer or expropriation of property from one class of society to another? Even if you believe these programs are beneficial to society, there most assuredly is a good amount of graft and cheating that goes unreported. The state of Nevada has had legalized prostitution for many years and hasn't yet been relegated to the fires of hell. What it has managed to do is reduce the amount of disease associated with the profession and used, once again, regulations and taxes that prove beneficial to the state coffers.

Arguments against legalization of the above are many and varied, but probably the most convincing to the public is that, if legal, everyone will do it (i.e. drugs and purchased sex). Ask yourself another question; if you're not inclined to participate because of your religious and moral beliefs, then why would you all of a sudden want to imbibe in these pursuits? Evidence provided by Holland and Denmark (where both pursuits are legal) does not support the claim that 'everyone will do it.' A moral person must be true to his/her moral teachings. Placing drugs and sex in the same category as alcohol and cigarettes will make us, at least I contend, a more moral, law abiding society.

Let the debate continue. Click HERE for a short video.

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