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Exchanging Violence For Violence

Updated on November 28, 2015

When I tell people that I am interning at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), of course, I get several questions. The questions do not actually annoy me. I enjoy talking about my reasons for interning with the MPP, which involves my reasoning as to why drugs should be legalized. I generally just like discussing philosophy even the philosophical element of politics because, as is evident in the word "philosophy," it is a discussion concerned with truth. Discussing philosophy improves people in two ways. The most obvious way is that it directs people towards truth and towards virtue; thus, making man a more virtuous being. The other way it improves people is that it makes people more intelligent, and a sharp intellect is obviously necessary to uncover truth and virtue. Basically, discussing philosophy is enjoyable because it is a mental exercise improving intelligence, uncovering truth, and making men more virtuous; thus, being a virtuous act itself.

However, that was not really what I meant to discuss here. Often when discussing my philosophy surrounding drug legalization I find people who agree with me. Except, they only agree on the very basic level of the discussion: drugs should be legalized. Unfortunately, almost immediately after they say this they then say, "After it's legalized then the government can tax the hell out of it." Oh, yes, yes. What a brilliant idea. Let us exchange violence for violence. That is such an improvement.

I have problem written on this before, but I am going to briefly restate it here. Governments are established amongst men to protect man's natural rights to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and property. The government's purpose is to use force against those who initiate force, those who violate others' natural rights. Therefore, the government uses force for defense.

When the government outlaws drugs the government violates its own purpose, and thus behaves viciously. Merely using and distributing drugs does not infringe upon any one else's natural rights. Some will argue this does because drug dealers kill and steal. However, it is the acts of killing and stealing that are violating natural rights. Producing, transporting, selling, and using drugs, these acts do not violate anyone's natural rights. To argue that dealing drugs is violent would be the same as arguing that selling Big Mac's is violent because the employees of McDonald's kill Burger King employees. Selling the drug, or Big Mac, is not violent and not vicious. Killing others whether from Burger King or Colombia is violent and vicious.

By outlawing drugs the government must use force against drug users and distributors to enforce the prohibition. The government must use force against the mere acts of using and distributing drugs. If a drug dealer kills someone, the government would still use force against him if drugs were legal. The government would be using force in response to the murder not the sale of drugs. In this case the government is not acting viciously. It is using defense force. It is protecting others' natural rights. However, when the government uses force against the mere use or distribution of drugs the government is using force against innocent men. Using and distributing drugs does not violate natural rights; therefore, the government cannot be using defense force in this situation. There are no natural rights to defend in this situation because no natural rights are under attack. Thus, it is the government that is initiating force. The government is the one violating the natural rights of the drug users and distributors. Consequently, the government violates its own purpose. The government is supposed to be defending natural rights; however, in this case, the government is violating natural rights.

This is why drugs should be legalized. However, taxing drugs after they are legalized is not part of the solution, it is just part of another problem. Taxing is also vicious and also contradicts the government's purpose, for taxing is nothing but stealing. A man who has not paid his taxes has not violated anyone's natural rights. However, if a man does not pay his taxes he will firstly get a letter from the government, probably the IRS. However, eventually men with guns will come to his door. They may arrest him, then he will be tried, then he will go to prison. However, if the man resists he could be shot and killed. I understand mere resistance will not result in his death, it will only result in his injury. However, this man has not violated anyone's natural rights. He is an innocent man. Therefore, these officers, men with guns, are essentially kidnapping him. If a man is being kidnapped he will use force, defense force, against his kidnappers force, initiated force. In this case, if the man resists with increasing defense force to resist arrest, kidnap, the officers will probably shoot him because the man is endangering their lives. However, those officers are threatening his first. Once again, this man has not violated anyone's natural rights by not paying taxes. Therefore, the government cannot be using defense force, for there are no natural rights to protect. No natural rights are under attack. Thus, the government is initiating force. The government is violating that man's natural rights. Consequently, the government is once again contradicting its purpose. It is supposed to protect natural rights not attack them.

Additionally, the officers are threatening the man with death. In this situation they are not officers they are kidnappers, with guns, bringing him to a dungeon. The man has every right to defend himself. Of course, he knows that if he does not pay his taxes this will occur. When men with guns trying to kidnap him and take him to a dungeon arrive at his door, the man will not be surprised. The fact is, the gun is already pointed at his head. Therefore, the man should pay his taxes because his life is already being threatened.

Now that it is evident that legalizing drugs then taxing them is exchanging violence for violence, I will state that I am aware that taxing is already in existence. Therefore, if drugs were legalized they would have to be taxed. However, I do have a problem with saying they should be inordinately taxed. I agree that drug use is vicious; however, the government is being more vicious. The government is violating natural rights, people taking drugs are not. Therefore, I understand the basic mentality behind inordinately taxing them. The assumption is the drugs will be taxed out of business, then drug prohibition will be complete. Obviously, that has not worked out so well in regards to tobacco. The government keeps increasing the taxes, but people keep buying them. However, I am not opposed to inordinate drug taxes for the practical reason. I am opposed to it for the moral reasons.

The government would place excessive taxes on drugs for the same reason it places an excessive tax on tobacco products. The government just wants to steal more. Obviously, repealing all taxes is not the first step to correcting the government. However, instituting flat taxes is a near first step. Everyone, businesses and people included, should be left alone as much as possible; however, unfortunately it must be done in precipitating steps.


Furthermore, since the government would want to steal more from the drug companies, it is contradicting its false intent with the excessive drug tax. Clearly, the ulterior real motive is to just get as much money from drugs as possible. However, as I stated before, the argument is that it will eradicate drugs because the companies will go out of business. However, as I also stated before, this clearly does not work, and the government obviously knows it does not work. Thus, it is quite clear to everyone the government is just using that position as a smokescreen. The government really would not want drug companies to go out of business. That is where the government would make its biggest steals. Therefore, they would be saying the eradication of drugs is important, while not wanting them to go out of business at the same time. Essentially, the government is saying that any business is fine as long as it is paying the government whatever it wants. It is moral relativity at its core. To the government, drugs are neither virtuous or vicious. It would all depend on how much they could burglarize from them. The government's position would be nothing more than an insulting lie condoning moral relativity. Even without drugs being legalized, this is exactly what the government does with tobacco products. The government is already saying this.

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