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Legalize All Drugs and Tax Them As We Do Alcohol.
Raymond Richman, 8/16/2018

Nearly all of our domestic violence is caused by laws “prohibiting” citizens from what is popularly considered evil conduct: consuming drugs.  The U.S. government has spent more than $1 trillion on its war on drugs. In 2015 alone $36 billion was spent on the war on drugs and about an estimated $40 billion as the cost of imprisoned drug-offenders. In 2017, federal, state and local revenues from taxes on alcoholic beverages amounted to $10 billion. Revenues from taxes on the production and sale of drugs could easily be double that.

Proponents of drug prohibition claim that it reduces drug-related crime and decreases drug-related disease and overdoses. The opposite is true. The proof is what happened after the passage in 1920 of the 18th Amendment prohibiting the sale, and transport of alcoholic beverages in the United States. It brought us gang warfare and Al Capone. The war on drugs has filled the prisons with blacks for whom it provided a chance to get rich at the risk of going to prison if caught. Legalization would end the incarceration of blacks and others who make a living from illegal trafficking of drugs. And it would help balance federal and state budgets.

The consequences of the ban on narcotics are international as well as domestic. The Taliban in Afghanistan were eliminated easily because U.S. troops were welcomed by the population who reacted against the Taliban’s ban on the growing of opium. The Taliban was financed and resurrected as a fighting force when it reversed its anti-opium policy and we stupidly adopted an anti-opium policy and banned the growing of opium, even using American troops to destroy the crops in the fields. And for what? All of the Afghan opium is sold in Asia. As a result of our involvement in the anti-opium policy, it is we whom the Afghans want out of their country.

The American-backed anti-drug operations in Mexico resulted in the deaths of thousands of Mexicans and countless violent clashes at the border. Thousands of deaths in the U.S. occur from the competition for narcotics sales as the countless deaths weekly in Chicago and New York bear witness.

Of course, there will be social costs but they would be borne entirely by the drug users, not innocent taxpayers. Just as drunk drivers cause a large number of fatal automobile accidents and much property damage, drug users are and will cause fatalities and damage property. But they will bear most of the costs. Now it is the taxpayer who bears the costs.

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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

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  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

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  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]