(My Eastern New Mexico News column from November 1, 2017- posted in its entirety now that the paper's exclusivity has expired)
Are you tired of watching government make the same tired mistakes? At least they could have the decency to make some new and different mistakes for a change.
Which recycled mistake caught my attention this time? The government has decided opioid abuse is a "public health emergency".
I haven't seen much mention of making new criminal "laws" yet; just suggestions to use this as an excuse to throw away more of your money. The implication being this prodigal spending will magically fix something.
Opioid abuse is an individual health and psychology problem. Health and psychology professionals need to be left alone to deal with it in an informed way. If this is to be solved, this is how it will happen. Government deserves no seat at the health care table.
But government doesn't actually want to solve this, and you know this will end up with new and bigger criminal penalties. They never let a crisis go to waste.
If government were serious about solving the opioid "emergency" they would end drug prohibition. Completely; not the deceptive way they shuffled the deck with alcohol prohibition.
Government has zero business regulating vices, because vices can never be crimes. If anyone still cares, every vice is a behavior protected from government intrusion by the Ninth Amendment, because the Constitution didn't specifically give government the power to meddle in it. It is therefore off-limits-- not that they are inclined to obey any limit on government action.
While vices are not crimes, treating them like crimes causes real crime. Every time. The only people who dare wade into the dangerous waters created by the War on Politically Incorrect Drugs are those willing to steal and use aggressive violence. This turned the drug trade into a scene of theft and aggression. Prohibition changed a personal problem into a crime wave.
The drug trade should be carried out in corner shops which advertise their services to valued customers, not forced into the back alleys or hidden from view. There should never be incentive to shoot your customers or competitors, and there wouldn't be without prohibition. When was the last time Walmart conducted a drive-by shooting against Albertson's? Drug prohibition ensures crime. It isn't helping anything.
Well, that's not quite true. It does help those who benefit from a growing police state and a world-record prison population, and those who enjoy the inflated profits drug prohibition brings. For the rest of us, though, prohibition is part of the problem, not a solution.