As our democracy has revealed its fundamental paradox, which is that people are unequal and thus depending on equal votes results in a lowest common denominator, we have accumulated some perpetual issues.
These are trenches in the culture war where the two sides cannot compromise and have chosen symbolic issues to fight over.
Most deal with socially conservative issues versus cultural Marxism. For example, abortion: one side believes in a sanctity of innocent life, and the other in the right of the individual to liberate itself however and whenever it can.
One of the big ones, that will be coming around again thanks to Dr. Ron Paul bringing it up in his campaign, is that of drug legalization.
We wonder: should we simply give in, stop fighting, and allow drugs to be legal? That obviously favors the leftist side over the rightist, but we think maybe problems will be fewer.
Perhaps drug abuse will fall by half; of course, this isn’t good data since it comes from a radically different country, and measures too short a time period. Wake me in 20 or 50 years and let us see what happened.
Some drugs are already quasi-legal in California. If they’re legal in a whole state, we might be free of the deleterious effects of legalization as we see in Amsterdam, where a horde of ill-behaved tourists have descended on the city. American examples, like quasi-legalization in Ann Arbor, are more encouraging but impossible to separate from other causes and background noise.
In fact, the utilitarians make a good argument. Stop enforcing drug laws, they say, and crime will drop. We can sell drugs at cost, or tax them like cigarettes, and still funnel tons of money into treatment programs. People won’t be forced to steal. We can accept them instead of putting them in jail.
I’m almost convinced. But there is one argument against drug legalization which is impossible to beat, mainly because it is so common sense we view it as subtle and beneath our notice.
When we as a group of people start a society and make rules, we are telling our citizens what behaviors are accepted and healthy. If we lie, they stop respecting the law; if we are too permissive, they stop trusting that our union has our best interests in hand.
No society is perfect and ours has made its share of mistakes. None however might be so huge as endorsing drug use if it is destructive. And it seems to be. Even the mildest of drugs may ease its users into schizophrenia. Others have longer-term effects.
Even more, however, we would be endorsing a simple proposition: do not find your joy in life. Find it in substances. Is that any different than trying to find your joy in life in possessions, or in your title at work, or the number of girls you’ve bedded?
Instead of making life better, you tell yourself that life is bad and so you need some medicine or maybe an uplifting little gift to make it through. You tell yourself small lies. You slowly become more biased against life itself, and more dependent on your medication.
There are infinite ways to go down this bad path. Resentment, greed, intoxication, inchastity, indolence and blind dogma chasing are just a few of them. But drugs rank up there, and that is why our society has for many decades chosen not to endorse the behavior.