I've said this before, and I still believe it: the importance of practicing personal responsibility outweighs any government restriction policy. I don't refrain from breaking into my neighbor's home to steal the cash from their mattress and kick their kitten on my way out because I might go to prison. No; I refrain from doing so because of the outward expression from the inner-working morals to me as a person.
Don't get me wrong, the desire not to go to jail is a part of the reason, but a lesser contributing piece. For example, I could rationalize this fear of imprisonment away with "well, they won't suspect me – I have a good record, after all." Even then, I could further rationalize this thought with the comfort of detailed planning ahead in order to leave no trace of evidence. Then if all else fails and they did somehow suspect and catch me, I could just lie my way out!
The lengths at which humans have shown to take throughout history in order to avoid punishment for their own actions range from comically lazy to astoundingly well thought out. In light of this fact, where or when does this end? The rationalizing, lying, and prioritizing oneself above any other no matter the integral cost. I would like to take a look at a current example in America and consider how the following policy may be good – even feasible – if people were to approach them after instilling personal responsibility.
Let me ask you this, what comes to your mind when you think of a support group? Probably a small, tight-knit community of people all with a similar struggle and goal to overcome it, right? That’s what comes to mine, at least, and they sound pretty useful for those involved. It is not the only way, nor perhaps the best method for everyone, but I am not going to get into this aspect. Rather, I would like to focus on the entry into these groups.
Does anyone wake up one day as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous? How about finding their first treatment of Suboxone at the doorstep? I doubt it. Chances are they were pressured by their closest social groups or forced in by a heated interaction with the law. Whatever the case may be, it seems their attendance is more often by force than of independent action.
Forced or not, when a rehabilitation expert looks at the patient straight in the eye and says something to the extent of “your addiction is going to kill you,” shouldn’t that at least help in fixing the issue? Especially when they then follow that up with professional counseling, scheduled and unscheduled drug tests, information resources and so much more. Studies show that this does work to decrease spending in other areas such as healthcare and criminal justice costs, but at what cost to society?
"Prohibition has not only failed in its promises but actually created additional serious and disturbing social problems throughout society. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic but more. There is not less crime, but more. … The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished." - H. L. Mencken, 1925
The global total of inmates amount to 10.35 million people, of which the United States holds 2.2 million. The number of inmates in the US federal prisons for drug violations amount to 52%, and this may be due to the United States drug enforcement policies being amongst the most strict in the world. In other words, these rehabilitation facilities may help cut back on costs, but are these costs there merely by a product of our own volition?
The United States federal government was put in place to manage the individual states and protect its individual citizens rights: possession of property, persons from violence and oppression – these basics determined by the founding fathers. But this is amongst the law, not societal systems. If society decided that the purpose of wearing a purple shirt was to indicate you love tacos, and people think that that's oppressive to color blind people, should the government be obliged to hear them out and deem it illegal to wear shirts or this color? This is a strange scenario, but is it any more reasonable than banning and micro-managing by a “War on Drugs?” That is not my cup of tea, and I do disagree with drug usage, but I will not hate those partaking because they are not hurting anyone outside of themselves.
“Hate the sin, love the sinner.” - Gandhi
I have heard an argument against that more libertarian argument of “why should I care when they aren't hurting anybody else?” It often times paints the picture of streets being littered with druggies. Driving will become horrendously dangerous, mugging rates will soar and the death/addiction rates will be on an everyday rise. Based on the evidence before, during and after the prohibition, I would have to disagree, but they do offer a solid point. Public properties would need to be off limits, as we see with public intoxication laws today.
Government-public property, such as roads and parks, should be controllable regarding consumption and blood intoxication levels of these “substances of abuse,” as they do with alcohol. However, within your home or private property, it is free game. Go get plastered at your place, but you'll be paying your sales tax to get your goods and don't step foot behind the wheel until it's flushed out of your system.
Do you see the trend? I understand where arguments for and against drug enforcement are coming from, but at some point it has to come down to personal responsibility. Especially something like drug abuse which has taken media, society and government spending by storm over the past four decades. Burdening our taxpayers and enabling an overwhelming growth of governmental overhead due to our poor abilities to regulate our own lives is harming others in this current system.
I propose less regulating and more education funded partly by the sales tax on reliable doses and purity grades of drugs on a freer marketplace. This would remove the taboo aspects too, allowing open discussion to fuel any remaining policies to work alongside society and individuals taking charge in order to spend much less and make better decisions.