The War on Drugs Isn’t So Bad, Is It?

The US government’s campaign against the illegal drug trade was first termed the “War on Drugs” by former president Richard Nixon in June 1971.

According to this overview of the history of the drug war by DrugPolicy.org:

He [Nixon] dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies, and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants. Nixon temporarily placed marijuana in Schedule One, the most restrictive category of drugs, pending review by a commission he appointed led by Republican Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer.

In 1972, the commission unanimously recommended decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations.

The Origins of the “War on Drugs”

After President Reagan was elected in 1980, he oversaw a massive expansion of the drug war. The incarceration rate for nonviolent drug offenses from 1980 to 1997 increased 700%. Source

To call it a “War on Drugs”  is really a misnomer; you cannot declare war on an inanimate object. It is a war on people, mostly US citizens.

If we want to have a serious conversation about this issue, we need to have clarity about what is truly happening. Because this is such a divisive issue, I want to deal strictly with published facts from reputable sources, not subjective opinions or feelings. I want to take an objective look at what the drug war is, what it does, and what the results are.

Once we have a clear picture, you are then free to arrive at your own conclusions.

Prohibition

Alcohol prohibition was instituted in the United States with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on January 16, 1919. While drinking alcohol was never illegal, the amendment prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States.”

After only 14 years, the failure of prohibition became apparent, and public outcry became overwhelming. The repeal of prohibition came with the passage of the Twenty-First Amendment to the United States Constitution on December 5, 1933.

Among the strongest arguments for repealing prohibition was the economic case that legalizing and taxing alcohol would bring about much needed tax revenue, as the “Great Depression” had begun just a few years earlier. Another strong case was that legalizing the manufacturing and sale of alcohol would completely undermine organized crime, which had amassed a great deal of power and control through their monopoly on the alcohol black market.

To illustrate this, consider the vast, criminal empire created by Al Capone, who is probably the most recognized and infamous head of organized crime during the prohibition period. By 1927, Capone and his gang, “The Chicago Outfit”, were making approximately $60 million per year. They controlled the alcohol supply from Canada to Florida, profiting from the sale of liquor to over 10,000 speakeasies. Massive bloodshed occurred whenever rival gangs threatened his empire. In fact, violent crime increased overall during the prohibition period.

Prior to prohibition, the homicide rate in the US was 6 per 100,000. This increased to 10 per 100,000 in 1933. When prohibition was repealed, this rate went back down.

You can see the sharp rise in homicides starting at the beginning of prohibition in 1919. It drops back down after prohibition was repealed in 1933:

Source

We learned some very valuable lessons through the implementation, and failure of alcohol prohibition:

  • Alcohol, which was produced “underground”, became more potent, and dangerous to consume because trusted, reputable manufacturers were forced to cease production. (Adding to this danger was the deliberate decision by the government to poison alcohol, resulting in as many as 10,000 deathsSource)
  • If you make a product illegal, demand for the product will continue, and it effectively creates an illegal black market for that substance and invites all of the criminal activity and dangerous conditions that come with it. It  pushes the entire market for that substance  to “the streets”, resulting in both less safe products and violent criminal enterprises springing up around their sale. In a study of over 30 major U.S cities during the prohibition years, the number of total crimes increased by 24%. Theft and burglaries increased by 9%, homicide by 12.7%, assaults and battery rose by 13%, drug addiction by 44.6% and police department costs rose by 11.4%. Source
  • Prohibiting the use of a product millions of people enjoy quickly fills prisons to capacity with non-violent offenders. By 1932, the number of federal convicts had increased 561%, and the federal prison population had increased 366%. Total federal spending on incarceration rose 1,000% between 1915 and 1932. Source
  • While federal spending on the enforcement of prohibition skyrocketed, production and distribution of alcohol continued. The annual budget of the Bureau of Prohibition increased 204%, from $4.4 million to $13.4 million, during the 1920’s. Source
  • Prohibition leads to wide-spread corruption.  Commissioner of Prohibition Henry Anderson concluded that, “the fruitless efforts at enforcement are creating public disregard not only for this law but for all laws. Public corruption through the purchase of official protection for this illegal traffic is widespread and notorious. The courts are cluttered with prohibition cases to an extent which seriously affects the entire administration of justice.” Source

It’s not hard to conclude that, not only did prohibition achieve the exact opposite of its stated goals, the only people who benefited from prohibition were criminals, and the corrupt bureaucrats that protected them. Both of these groups profited greatly from the illegal sale of alcohol.

When prohibition was repealed in 1933, organized crime was decimated and lost nearly all of its black market alcohol profits. It’s pretty obvious how comparative alcohol prohibition is to drug prohibition.

The comparison between prohibition and the war on drugs is further explained in this article published by Reason.com:

When America repealed prohibition, we repealed it with a constitutional amendment. Contrast that to drug prohibition, where Congress made no attempt to comply with the Constitution in passing the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA), the law that gave us the modern drug war.

There’s no question that drug prohibition has been every bit the failure alcohol prohibition was. Nearly 40 years after the CSA passed, we have 400,000 people in prison for nonviolent drug crimes; a domestic police force that often looks and acts like an occupying military force; nearly a trillion dollars spent on enforcement, both here and through aggressive interdiction efforts overseas; and urban areas that can resemble war zones. Yet illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana are as cheap and abundant as they were in 1970. The street price of both drugs has actually dropped—dramatically—since the government began keeping track in the early 1980s.

When he first visited the United States in 1921, Albert Einstein wrote of America’s ban on booze: “The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law… For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.” That’s as true today as it was then.

The following graph shows the effect of $1.5 trillion worth of federal drug enforcement spending over the last 40 years on the rates of drug addiction in the US:

drug-spending-v-addiction

Source

As with alcohol prohibition, federal spending on drug prohibition continues to skyrocket, while drug use, transportation, and addiction continues, virtually unaffected.

The Financial Cost of the Drug War

In 2011, The Global Commission on Drug Policy issued a report signed by George Shultz, Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan. It begins:

“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption.”

Regardless, the Obama administration, in its 2013 budget, requested $25.6 billion in federal spending on the drug war. Source

When you combine state and local spending on everything from drug-related arrests to prison, the total cost adds up to at least $51 billion per year. Source

If you add up total spending worldwide, enforcing the drug control system costs at least $100 billion a year. Source

The money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education in the past 20 years.  Since 1980, California has built 1 college campus and 21 prisons. A college student costs the state $8,667 per year; a prisoner costs it $45,006 per year.Source

You can view a real-time clock of federal drug war spending here.

None of these numbers account for the lost productivity of those in jail, opportunity costs lost as businesses reconsider putting offices in violence-plagued regions, the cost of putting children into foster care and psychological services because a parent has been thrown into jail, or the pain and suffering when innocent people are injured or killed in botched drug raids. Calculating the exact amount of financial damage is impossible.
While the financial costs are staggering, the most vicious impacts are on people’s lives.

The Human Cost of the Drug War

The number of people killed in Mexico as a direct result of the war on drugs is over 70,000. Source

This graph shows how the incarceration of Americans has skyrocketed since the start of the war on drugs:

File:US incarceration timeline.gif

Source

In fact, the US prison population now dwarfs that of all other nations:

Source

In 1992, there were 1.3 million inmates in America’s prisons and jails. Today, there are 2.2 million Americans in prison or jail. Source

The reason for this sharp rise starting in the early 90’s, according to Prospect.org is:

State after state (and the federal government) in the ’90s passed laws lengthening sentences for many crimes, particularly drug crimes. If you got convicted, you’d stay in prison far longer. About half the states also passed “three strikes and you’re out” laws mandating that anyone convicted of a third felony would be sentenced to a long prison term—usually life or 25 years.

1 out of every 34 adults in America are being supervised by the criminal justice system, more than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height. Source

More than half of federal prisoners are incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes. Source

In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on non-violent drug charges; 4 out of 5 were for mere possession. Source

The “Land of the Free” has just 5% of the world’s population, yet we comprise 25% of the world’s prison population. Source

The Racial Bias of the Drug War

Blacks make up 50% of the state and local prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes.

Black youth are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes than white youth, even though white youth are more likely to abuse drugs.

1 in every 18 black males over 18 is incarcerated. Source

Incarceration rates for black males jumped 500% between 1986 and 2004. Source

This graph shows the racial disparity of the prison population:

One of the shocking side-effects of mass imprisonments in America is that we are now the only country in the world where male rape victims outnumber female rape victims, according to the Department of Justice figures.

The Militarization of Police Forces

When it comes to actually arresting drug offenders, the “no-knock raid” is a commonly used technique. A no-nock raid is an unannounced, combat-style, paramilitary raid, usually done in the middle of the night, on a suspected drug offenders home; a tactic that has grown in use from 3,000 raids a year in the mid-1980s, to 80,000 annually today. Source

Radley Balko is the author of Rise of the Warrior Cop.

He writes for the Wall Street Journal:

In my own research, I have collected over 50 examples in which innocent people were killed in raids to enforce warrants for crimes that are either nonviolent or consensual (that is, crimes such as drug use or gambling, in which all parties participate voluntarily). These victims were bystanders, or the police later found no evidence of the crime for which the victim was being investigated.

Since the 1960s, in response to a range of perceived threats, law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier. Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers—American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield.

Consider today’s police recruitment videos (widely available on YouTube), which often feature cops rappelling from helicopters, shooting big guns, kicking down doors and tackling suspects. Such campaigns embody an American policing culture that has become too isolated, confrontational and militaristic, and they tend to attract recruits for the wrong reasons.

In his paper entitled Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, available for free here, he writes:

Americans have long maintained that a man’s home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work.

According to TIME:

In a pre-dawn drug raid late last month in northern Georgia, the Habersham County police entered the home of the Phonesavanh family while they were sleeping and dropped a “flashbang” grenade in a crib holding a 19-month-old boy, who was badly burned and later placed into a medically induced coma.No one was arrested, and no weapons or drugs were found inside the home.

The officers making the raid were part of what the county police call an SRT – or a Special Response Team. That moniker is normally used by the military. But SRT and SWAT teams using military-style tactics and weaponry are becoming increasingly common.

As the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have wound down, police departments have been obtaining military equipment, vehicles and uniforms that have flowed directly from the Department of Defense. According to a new report by the ACLU, the federal government has funneled $4.3 billion of military property to law enforcement agencies since the late 1990s, including $450 million worth in 2013.

Five hundred law enforcement agencies have received Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, built to withstand bomb blasts.

More than 15,000 items of military protective equipment and “battle dress uniforms,” or fatigues worn by the U.S. Army, have been transferred.

The report includes details of police agencies in towns like North Little Rock, Ark., (pop: 62,000), which has 34 automatic and semi-automatic rifles, a Mamba tactical vehicle and two MARCbots, which are armed robots designed for use in Afghanistan.

According to The Guardian:

Tanks, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and assault rifles are just a few of the items that have been transferred from military control to municipal police forces. Law enforcement agencies need only to arrange and pay for shipment in order to receive the items of their choice (pdf).

One particularly egregious example is found in South Carolina, where Richland County’s sheriff acquired a tank with 360-degree rotating machine gun turrets. Sardonically, the vehicle has been named “the Peacemaker“.

Sheriff Lott’s new toy:

In 2012, an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older had used illicit drugs in the past month. Source

We are giving law enforcement officials military equipment, paramilitary training, telling them that they are fighting a war, and that 23.9 million American citizens are the enemy. This has caused a dramatic change in how the public and law enforcement see each other.

The Courts

The numbers of people who are arrested and incarcerated are shocking, but what about what happens in between? Are our courts administering justice effectively?

Michelle Alexander, a Civil Rights Lawyer, writes for the New York Times:

The Bill of Rights guarantees the accused basic safeguards, including the right to be informed of charges against them, to an impartial, fair and speedy jury trial, to cross-examine witnesses and to the assistance of counsel. But in this era of mass incarceration — when our nation’s prison population has quintupled in a few decades partly as a result of the war on drugs and the “get tough” movement — these rights are, for the overwhelming majority of people hauled into courtrooms across America, theoretical.

More than 90 percent of criminal cases are never tried before a jury. 

If you are arrested and charged with drug possession, and decide to go to trial before a jury, even if you are innocent, it’s your word versus the cop’s word. The conviction is an almost guarantee, and the sentences for those who take their case to trial are unbelievably harsh.

According to the New York Times:

After decades of new laws to toughen sentencing for criminals, prosecutors have gained greater leverage to extract guilty pleas from defendants and reduce the number of cases that go to trial, often by using the threat of more serious charges with mandatory sentences or other harsher penalties.

In the courtroom and during plea negotiations, the impact of these stricter laws is exerted through what academics call the “trial penalty.” The phrase refers to the fact that the sentences for people who go to trial have grown harsher relative to sentences for those who agree to a plea.

Nearly nine of every 10 cases ended in pleas last year, the federal data show, while one in 12 were dismissed (the percentage of dismissed cases was substantially higher a generation ago). The number of acquittals dropped even further.

Last year, there was only one acquittal for every 212 guilty pleas or trial convictions in federal district courts. Thirty years ago, the ratio was one for every 22.

If you are charged with simple drug possession, the plea bargain usually consists of a huge reduction of your sentence if you simply plead guilty, and help the court avoid the hassle of a trial. If you decide to take your case to trial, the judge and prosecutor will throw the book at you. In essence, you are being coerced into giving a guilty plea because going to trial isn’t worth the risk.

Oftentimes, though, the plea deal comes with strings attached.

John Horner

John Horner was a 46 year-old fast food worker who lost his eye in an accident in 2000, and was prescribed painkillers. A couple years later, he befriended a man who said he was suffering from Crohn’s Disease, an incredibly painful inflammatory bowel disease.  The man asked Horner if he could purchase some of the painkillers so he could finally have some relief.

Horner’s new friend was a police informant. Under Florida’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws, the minimum sentence he faced was 25 years. In Florida, it costs around $19,000 to incarcerate an inmate for a year. This means that his sentence would cost the state $475,000 total, enough to send 75 students to Florida State University for a year.

The prosecutor offered to reduce his sentence if he became an informant himself, and helped send 5 others to prison on 25 year sentences. He tried, but was unable to meet the deadline, and was sentenced to the full 25 years last October.

He will be 72 by the time he gets out.

Meet John Horner’s children:

john horner's kids.png

John Horner’s wife has a petition up on Change.org to reform mandatory minimum laws for 1st time drug offenders. You can learn more, and sign the petition here.

Because of these mandatory minimum laws, we don’t even know who’s actually guilty of these crimes, and who is just pleading guilty because it’s less risky. If a cop says you had drugs in your possession, you’re going to take the plea deal. If you turn over the names of 5 other people, they’re going to plea as well. When you’ve got 25 years hanging over your head, you’re going take the deal, and to turn over everyone you can think of.

Not only is the information from informants likely unreliable, sometimes these informants are so terrified of these sentences that they will plant drugs on other people in order to escape jail time.

Such is the case in this story from the Boston Globe:

A Lowell man is expected to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Lowell and a Lowell police officer who relied on two informants suspected of planting drugs on dozens of innocent victims, a scandal that already has led prosecutors to drop charges in 17 pending drug and firearm cases and to overturn two convictions.

Because of the monetary incentives that drug arrests bring to police departments, corruption is inevitable, as is the case in this story from alternet.org:

The NYPD has been under fire in recent months for illegal searches resulting in thousands of low-level marijuana arrests, mostly of people of color. As corrupt as this practice is, testimony from Stephen Anderson, a former NYPD narcotics detective, shows it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

According to Anderson, who testified at trial Wednesday, New York City police regularly planted drugs on innocent people to meet quotas.

Anderson should know. He was arrested in 2008 for planting cocaine on four men in a bar in Queens. His statements are the first glimpse into a culture of set-ups at the Brooklyn South and Queens Narc squads where eight corrupt cops were arrested.

The New York Times also reported on the story:

Though there had been conflicting testimony during the trial about the existence of quotas in the department’s drug units, Justice Reichbach said, a system of flawed procedures in part led to the charges against Detective Arbeeny.

In the department’s Brooklyn South narcotics unit, for instance, drugs seized as evidence are not counted or sealed until they reach the precinct and can be handled by multiple officers along the way, Justice Reichbach said, adding that such unacceptable practices “pale in significance” to the “cowboy culture” of the drug units.

“Anything goes in the never-ending war on drugs,” he said, “and a refusal to go along with questionable practices raise the specter of blacklisting and isolation.”

The “Prison-Industrial Complex”

The corruption continues in other areas, as Salon.com reports:

new report from In the Public Interest (ITPI) revealed last week that private prison companies are striking deals with states that contain clauses guaranteeing high prison occupancy rates. The report documents the contracts exchanged between private prison companies and state and local governments that either guarantee prison occupancy rates (essentially creating inmate lockup quotas) or force taxpayers to pay for empty beds if the prison population decreases due to lower crime rates or other factors (essentially creating low-crime taxes).

Some of these contracts require 90 to 100 percent prison occupancy.

The booming private prison industry is often called the “Prison-Industrial Complex”, a variation of the term “Military-Industrial Complex” coined by President Eisenhower when describing the increasing influence of private military contractors on government policy.

The term implies that the private prison industry is lobbying the government to institute policies to fill jail cells, and their pockets, just as military contractors lobby the government to go to war and buy more weapons. The more wars we get into, and the more people we lock up, the more these private contractors make. By imposing long prison sentences for seemingly innocuous, non-violent crimes such as drug possession, the prison population drastically increases, along with the “Prison-Industrial Complex’s” profits.

According to The Atlantic, it’s not a wacky conspiracy theory; it’s simply a matter of fact:

The prison-industrial complex is not a conspiracy, guiding the nation’s criminal-justice policy behind closed doors. It is a confluence of special interests that has given prison construction in the United States a seemingly unstoppable momentum. It is composed of politicians, both liberal and conservative, who have used the fear of crime to gain votes; impoverished rural areas where prisons have become a cornerstone of economic development; private companies that regard the roughly $35 billion spent each year on corrections not as a burden on American taxpayers but as a lucrative market; and government officials whose fiefdoms have expanded along with the inmate population.

Since 1991 the rate of violent crime in the United States has fallen by about 20 percent, while the number of people in prison or jail has risen by 50 percent.

Between 1990 and 2010 the number of privately operated prisons in the U.S. increased 1600%.  Source

To further increase profits, inmates in these prisons are also put to work.

According to this article in Yahoo Finance:

Federal Prison Industries, a company that contracts out prison labor, made over $900 million in revenue last year.

FPI has prisoners working in apparel, clean energy, printing, document conversion and call centers. The prison industry has also made money by contracting prison labor to private companies. The companies that have benefited from this cheap labor include Starbucks, Boeing Victoria’s Secret, McDonalds and even the U.S. military.

Prison laborers cost between 93 cents and $4 a day and don’t need to collect benefits, thus making them cheap employees.

Simply put, we’re jailing Americans for profit, not because they are violent criminals, or a threat to society.

Kids for Cash

If this wasn’t already bad enough, the Wall Street Journal reports on a scandal aptly titled “Kids for Cash”:

In what is known locally as the “kids for cash” scandal, two judges have pleaded guilty to accepting $2.6 million in kickbacks from a for-profit juvenile correctional facility — a privately owned jail for kids, essentially.

In 2003 one of them, Judge Michael Conahan, who had authority over such expenses, defunded the county-owned detention center, channeling kids sentenced to detention to the private jail — along with the public’s money. Mr. Conahan also agreed to send the private facility $1.3 million per year in public funds.

Over the succeeding years, the private jail, along with a second lockup-for-profit that had opened in another part of the state, won tens of millions of dollars in Luzerne County contracts, allegedly with the two judges’ help. Mr. Conahan’s alleged partner in the scheme, Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr., reportedly sent kids to the private detention centers when probation officers didn’t think it was a good idea; he sent kids there when their crimes were nonviolent; he sent kids there when their crimes were insignificant.

It was as though he was determined to keep those private prisons filled with children at all times. According to news stories, offenses as small as swiping a jar of nutmeg or throwing a piece of steak at an adult were enough to merit a trip to the hoosegow.

The conditions inside these youth correction facilities are usually deplorable, as a special Huffington Post report entitled Prisoners of Profit discovered:

Those held at YSI facilities across the country have frequently faced beatings, neglect, sexual abuse and unsanitary food over the past two decades, according to a HuffPost investigation that included interviews with 14 former employees and a review of thousands of pages of state audits, lawsuits, local police reports and probes by state and federal agencies.

Out of more than 300 institutions surveyed, a YSI detention center in Georgia had the highest rate of youth alleging sexual assaults in the country, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

There are multiple organizations that have a keen interest in keeping the war on drugs going. Because of drug laws, not only do private prisons make record profits, so do the drug kingpins themselves.

Just like alcohol prohibition, the war on drugs keeps drug prices high, which means drug gangs and cartels are making obscene amounts of money, and they are vehemently against legalizing drugs, especially marijuana. Cannabis, or “marijuana”, is a plant that is easily cultivated, which means that if it were legal, anyone who wanted to consume it would no longer have to buy from drug dealers; they could simply grow it in their own home. Border violence and gang wars would be virtually eliminated overnight.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera reported head of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, ranked 701st on Forbes’ yearly report of the wealthiest men alive, and worth an estimated $1 billion, officially thanked United States politicians for making sure that drugs remain illegal.

According to the Huffington Post, he said:

“I couldn’t have gotten so stinking rich without George Bush, George Bush Jr., Ronald Reagan, even El Presidente Obama, none of them have the cajones to stand up to all the big money that wants to keep this stuff illegal. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say, Gracias amigos, I owe my whole empire to you.”

This is obviously satire, but it makes an extremely good point. Just like Al Capone during prohibition, business is good for those involved in the illegal drug market. Business is good for everyone that benefits from drugs being illegal, including private prisons and governments. Simply put, just like all other wars, the war on drugs is too profitable for too many people to be ended.

With all of this money flying around, it’s only natural that large banks would be getting in on the action:

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.

Source

Just like Capone and his “Chicago Outfit” gang, if drugs were legalized, drug dealers, gangs and cartels, and other powerful interests would be decimated, and so would the private prison industry, the DEA, and police departments nationwide. All of them have an interest in keeping the drug war going.

The Most Powerful Interest in the Drug War

As I mentioned earlier, one very powerful group that benefits from the war on drugs is the government itself, and not just because it increases their budgets.

According to ABC News in an article entitled How Undercover Cops in a Florida City Make Millions Selling Cocaine:

For years, the Sunrise, Fla., police have been conducting what are called “reverse stings.” Undercover police detectives play the role of cocaine dealers and try to lure in potential buyers who drive or fly in from all over the country with wads of cash. If the stings are successful, informants can receive large payouts and police can seize cash, cars and other non-monetary assets. The busts have pumped millions of dollars into local coffers.

This is a common practice by police forces nationwide called “Civil Asset Forfeiture”.

It is described in this article by The New Yorker:

The basic principle behind asset forfeiture is appealing. It enables authorities to confiscate cash or property obtained through illicit means, and, in many states, funnel the proceeds directly into the fight against crime.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, cops drive a Cadillac Escalade stencilled with the words “this used to be a drug dealer’s car, now it’s ours!”

In Monroe, North Carolina, police recently proposed using forty-four thousand dollars in confiscated drug money to buy a surveillance drone, which might be deployed to catch fleeing suspects, conduct rescue missions, and, perhaps, seize more drug money.

Hundreds of state and federal laws authorize forfeiture for cockfighting, drag racing, basement gambling, endangered-fish poaching, securities fraud, and countless other misdeeds. In general, you needn’t be found guilty to have your assets claimed by law enforcement; in some states, suspicion on a par with “probable cause” is sufficient. Nor must you be charged with a crime, or even be accused of one.

A piece of property does not share the rights of a person. There’s no right to an attorney and, in most states, no presumption of innocence. Owners who wish to contest often find that the cost of hiring a lawyer far exceeds the value of their seized goods. Washington, D.C., charges up to twenty-five hundred dollars simply for the right to challenge a police seizure in court, which can take months or even years to resolve.

Obviously, asset forfeiture presents a massive conflict of interest for law enforcement, and it is ripe for rampant corruption and abuse.

You can find countless stories of innocent people losing of their valuables in police encounters for absolutely no reason, including a man who lost $22,000 in cash.

According to the story:

“If somebody told me this happened to them, I absolutely would not believe this could happen in America.”

That was the reaction of a New Jersey man who found out just how risky it can be to carry cash through Tennessee. For more than a year, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has been shining a light on a practice that some call “policing for profit.”

In this latest case, a Monterey police officer took $22,000 off the driver — even though he had committed no crime.

“You live in the United States, you think you have rights — and apparently you don’t,” said George Reby.

This is nothing but thinly veiled armed robbery on a massive scale.

The Iran-Contra Affair

During the ramping up of the drug war in the 80’s under President Reagan, Nicaragua was controlled by a leftist group called the Sandinistas. In an attempt to further US economic interests in Central and South America, Reagan believed that the Sandinistas should be replaced by a regime more friendly to the US; the Contras. In order to do so, Reagan believed the best course of action would be to fund and arm the Contras, much like he did with Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban “Freedom Fighters” in Afghanistan.

In fact, here’s Reagan meeting with the Taliban in the White House:

Man-and-Horse-that-Built-Civilization-62580619141

In order to acquire the funds to support the Contras, members of the executive branch sold weapons to “supposedly moderate elements” within Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages of Hezbollah. These “moderate elements” ended up being Ayatollah Khomeini’s radical Islamist regime. Khomeini was known for his support of the hostage takers.

According to The New York Times, the following weapons were sold to Khomeini:

  • August 20, 1985 – 96 TOW anti-tank missiles
  • September 14, 1985 – 408 more TOWs
  • November 24, 1985 – 18 Hawk anti-aircraft missiles
  • February 17, 1986 – 500 TOWs
  • February 27, 1986 – 500 TOWs
  • May 24, 1986 – 508 TOWs, 240 Hawk spare parts
  • August 4, 1986 – More Hawk spares
  • October 28, 1986 – 500 TOWs

The only problem for Reagan was, the Contras were human rights abusers who frequently employed tactics such as rape, kidnapping, torture, and murder of civilians, and U.S. funding of the Contras insurgency was made illegal through the Boland Amendment. (Again, the US has a nasty little habit of constantly supporting “Freedom Fighters” who end up being violent, extremist terrorists.)

The deals went down as planned, and the Contras got the money they needed. So, what does this have to do with the drug war?

Gary Webb

During what became to be known as the “Iran-Contra Affair”, an investigative journalist named Gary Webb wrote a series of articles for the San Jose Mercury News called Dark Alliance.

What Gary Webb uncovered was that the CIA was helping fund the Contras in an even more insidious way; drug trafficking. In essence, Nicaraguan drug traffickers, with the assistance of the CIA, were transporting and distributing cocaine in Los Angeles (leading to the crack epidemic of the 80’s), and the profits were used to support the Contras.

In 1996, CIA Director John M. Deutch went to Los Angeles to attempt to refute the allegations raised by the Webb articles, and was famously confronted by former Los Angeles Narcotics Detective Michael Ruppert, who testified that he had witnessed it occurring firsthand.

Here’s the video of the confrontation:

John M. Deutch was fired as the director of the CIA shortly after this confrontation.

Michael Ruppert was found dead with a gunshot to the head on April 13, 2014. The coroner judged it a suicide.

Meanwhile, Gary Webb’s reporting generated a firestorm of controversy. His employer, the San Jose Mercury News, backed away from the story, effectively ending Webb’s career as a journalist. His wife stated that he had been depressed for years over his inability to get a job at a daily newspaper, losing his house, and not being able to financially support his family.

Tragically, Gary Webb was also found dead with 2 gunshot wounds to the head in 2004. The coroner judged it a suicide as well.

According to Esquire, Webb’s work “prompted an investigation by the CIA’s inspector general which subsequently confirmed the pillars of Webb’s findings.”

A movie about Webb’s life called Kill the Messenger is coming out later this year:

A New Approach

All of the evidence, facts, and data are clear; the war on drugs is a massive failure, and the unintended consequences have been devastating.

If we, as a country decided, after just 14 years, that alcohol prohibition was a failure and had to come to an end, how can we not at least admit the same about the drug war?

The people who believe that legalizing drugs will lead to widespread abuse now would have said the same thing about alcohol abuse in 1933. What they forget is that all drugs were freely available prior to drug laws passing. Only a tiny portion of society ever got addicted to these drugs, contrary to what drug war supporters would have us believe.

In his book, The Great Libertarian Offer, presidential candidate Harry Browne wrote:

Until the early 1900s, the federal government did little to regulate or control the sale or use of alcohol or drugs  except for taxing alcohol.

It may be hard to believe today, but early in the 20th century a 10-year-old girl could walk into a drug store and buy a bottle of whiskey or a packet of heroin. She didn’t need a doctor’s prescription or even a note from her parents. Any druggist would sell to her without batting an eye; he would assume she was on an errand for her parents.

While that may seem amazing now, it wasn’t to anyone then. Heroin was sold in packages as a pain reliever or sedative  just as aspirin or other analgesics are sold today. The measured dose didn’t make anyone high, and rarely did anyone become addicted certainly no more often than with sleeping pills today.

Given such easy access to liquor and drugs, we might assume that America’s adults and children were all high on booze and drugs. But that wasn’t the case.

You can read the entire chapter on the drug war for free here.

As mentioned earlier, under Nixon, marijuana was temporarily classified by the DEA as a Schedule One drug, the most restricted drug category, along with heroin. Nixon ignored the report by his drug commission, and marijuana has remained a Schedule One drug ever since.

Ironically, meth and cocaine, which are both significantly more dangerous and addicting than marijuana, are only Schedule Two drugs. Source

It is clear that these categorizations are not based upon any serious scientific research, but instead are informed solely by irrational fear and propaganda. Federal drug criminalization prevents any further scientific research, and completely eliminates a serious, factually-based debate.

More people die from tobacco and alcohol use each year in the US alone than all illegal drug use worldwide. Source

No one has ever died from marijuana use. Source

Obesity has now surpassed tobacco use as the number one cause of preventable death in America. Source

There is no rhyme, reason, or logic to our drug laws. If we really want to fight a war on dangerous substances consistently, we need to focus most aggressively on fighting alcohol, tobacco, and sugar.

Research by Harvard links sugary beverages to 180,000 global deaths.

Locking people up for cigarettes, beer, and cupcakes sounds ridiculous, but because of how many people they kill, it should make total sense for supporters of the drug war.

The motivation and rationale behind the drug war is confusing, contradictory and inconsistent at best, and devious at worst. It is clear that those struggling with addiction to illegal drugs shouldn’t just be thrown in jail; they should have the same treatment options as those with addictions to prescription drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or junk food.

The organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition says:

We believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.

Richard Branson, the billionaire CEO of Virgin recently wrote for CNN,

In business, if one of our companies is failing, we take steps to identify and solve the problem. What we don’t do is continue failing strategies that cost huge sums of money and exacerbate the problem.

Rather than continuing on the disastrous path of the war on drugs, we need to look at what works and what doesn’t in terms of real evidence and data.

In the United States, if illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco, they would yield $46.7 billion in tax revenue. A Cato study says legalizing drugs would save the U.S. about $41 billion a year in enforcing the drug laws.

Have U.S. drug laws reduced drug use? No. The U.S. is the No. 1 nation in the world in illegal drug use.

As with Prohibition, banning alcohol didn’t stop people drinking — it just stopped people obeying the law. Treating drugs as a health issue could save billions, improve public health and help us better control violence and crime in our communities. Hundreds of thousands of people have died from overdoses and drug-related diseases, including HIV and hepatitis C, because they didn’t have access to cost-effective, life-saving solutions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that syringe access programs lower HIV incidence among people who inject drugs by 80 percent.

One-third of all AIDS cases in the U.S. have been caused by syringe sharing; a total of 354,000 people.

U.S. federal government support for syringe access programs is currently $0.00, thanks to a federal ban reinstated by Congress in 2011 that prohibits any federal assistance for them. Source

Six former presidents, Richard Branson, and other world leaders have concluded that the drug war fuels the global HIV/AIDS pandemic:

The global war on drugs is driving the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs and their sexual partners. Throughout the world, research has consistently shown that repressive drug law enforcement practices force drug users away from public health services and into hidden environments where HIV risk becomes markedly elevated. Mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders also plays a major role in spreading the pandemic.
Today, there are an estimated 33 million people worldwide living with HIV – and injection drug use accounts for one-third of new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

The case against the drug war couldn’t be any more clear.

Further viewing:

Ending the War on Drugs – With Compassion!

“The video footage was taken by a CIA surveillance plane over the Peruvian jungle in 2001. It shows Peruvian fighter jets opening fire on the light Cessna carrying American Missionaries Jim and Veronica Bowers and their children Cory, 6, and adopted baby Charity, who was just seven months, as well as pilot Kevin Donaldson.”

U.S. Marines, sponsored by the U.S. taxpayer, stand vigilant watch over poppy fields in Afghanistan ensuring that the world is supplied with plenty of heroin.

The War on Drugs Isn’t So Bad, Is It?

We were 1 generation away from eradicating poverty. Then the “War on Poverty” started…

The “War on Poverty” was declared by President Johnson in 1964. Prior to that, the poverty rate was dropping by around 1% each year. We were only one generation away from eradicating poverty completely. Then the “War on Poverty” began. Every time the government declares a war on something, whatever they are fighting always grows exponentially:

poverty

We were 1 generation away from eradicating poverty. Then the “War on Poverty” started…

Is Capitalism Evil?

Thanks to capitalism and free trade (not government aid), nearly 1 billion people have been taken out of extreme poverty in the last 20 years.

After years advocating for government aid to solve the problem of poverty, U2 frontman Bono was recently quoted as saying the following:

“Aid is just a stopgap,” he said. “Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”

capitalism

“The above chart is from Gapminder and shows China’s per capita income growth since 1800 vs. that of the US and the UK. What happened to China toward the end of the 20th century? Well, it started doing what America and Britain began doing some 200 years earlier. China started embracing what Bono calls entrepreneurial capitalism. “

– http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/08/this-chart-shows-what-bono-is-talking-about/

Capitalism has gotten a bad reputation as of late, because people mistakenly attribute the economic calamity in the United States to a free-market, laissez-faire economic system. Deregulation, it is argued, leads to rampant corruption, greed, and evil, and that is why we need the state to intervene, and force those “evil corporations” to follow the rules. To say that we have a capitalistic, free-market system in the United States couldn’t be any further from the truth. To begin with, corporations are, in no way shape or form, a capitalistic idea. As Stefan Molyneux explains, “Corporations are legal fictions created by the State to shield executives from liability. It’s like if I had a little hand-puppet, and I went to rob a bank, and the hand-puppet held the little gun and told people to hand over all the money, and then the hand-puppet grabbed the money and ran out, and then I got caught and I handed the hand-puppet over the police and then the police tried the hand-puppet, put the hand-puppet in jail, and I get to keep all the money.”

Capitalism can be defined simply as an economic system in which private individuals create, own, and exchange property voluntarily among themselves. Individual preferences drive the market. If the individuals of society tolerate greed and evil, they will purchase from greedy, evil businesses, and greed and evil will flourish. If individuals do not tolerate greed and evil, but instead prefer purchasing from honest, generous, peaceful businesses, those businesses will compete for customers by being more generous, and peaceful than all the other businesses. Supply and demand are very basic concepts to understand. Whatever the individuals in society demand, other individuals in the marketplace will supply. What we need is to demand virtue, instead of relying on an immoral statist system to keep other immoral individuals in check.

The evil corporations that anti-capitalists always rail against are, in fact, a creation of the state, and cannot exist without the legal protections that the state grants them. It is entirely wrongheaded to assert that we need the state to protect us from corporations, as the state is responsible for creating and protecting corporate interests in the first place. We have an economic system that is a long ways away from capitalism, so it is fallacious to attribute our current economic conditions to the free market.

I would contend that the problems we are facing are almost exclusively due to the different schemes of economic intervention that the state has undertaken, and the fact that corporations and banks can have their CEO’s and lobbyists placed in high positions of government to pass legislation that favors them, and regulates their competition out of the market. The state is used by corporations as an enforcement agency against it’s competitors to force them out of the market through regulations, making it too expensive for them to remain profitable. The corporations that lobbied for those regulations are exempt, granting them a legal advantage over their competitors. This practice is commonly called ”regulatory capture”. In his book The Myth of the Robber Barons, Burton W. Folsom, Jr. calls the people and businesses that engage in this practice ”political entrepreneurs”, and those who compete in the marketplace without special legal protections as “market entrepreneurs” who succeed “by producing a quality product at a competitive price”. Instead of hiring a thug off the street to burn a competitor’s business to the ground, these “political entrepreneurs” hire the government’s regulatory thugs to achieve the same effect through regulations.

In his 2004 book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins labeled the collective of corporations, banks, and government as “Corporatocracy”, otherwise known as “crony capitalism”. According to the wikipedia definition, crony capitalism is “a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of dirigisme. Crony capitalism is believed to arise when political cronyism spills over into the business world; self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals.”

In a true free market system, corporations wouldn’t exist, and neither would the current legal protections and favors they receive that enable them to commit the evil deeds they are notorious for. Our current economic system can be entirely attributed to statism, not capitalism. It’s not that voluntaryists believe that without the state, evil will cease to exist. Rather, evil, without the state, will be labeled for what it is. In a statist system, things like theft, fraud, insider trading, and pyramid/ponzi schemes are illegal, unless the state does it. The state grants itself a legal exception that gives criminals a legitimate organization in which to practice their evil deeds. We call these criminals “politicians”.

Voluntaryists/anarchists/libertarians are not naive enough to believe that the problems of greed and evil will be done away with without the state. Greed will always exist, as will evil, murder, theft, etc.

As Muray Rothbard writes in his famous article Society Without a State, “the anarchist society is one which maximizes the tendencies for the good and the cooperative, while it minimizes both the opportunity and the moral legitimacy of the evil and the criminal. If the anarchist view is correct and the state is indeed the great legalized and socially legitimated channel for all manner of antisocial crime – theft, oppression, mass murder – on a massive scale, then surely the abolition of such an engine of crime can do nothing but favor the good in man and discourage the bad. By eliminating the living example and the social legitimacy of the massive legalized crime of the state, anarchism will to a large extent promote peaceful values in the minds of the public.”

Another aspect that needs to be addressed when dealing with the subject of economic calamity is how the American government, banks, and the Federal Reserve have manipulated the economy, and how the economic meltdown of 2008, including the bubble that preceded it, is entirely the fault of the government and the Fed.

Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, writes for Forbes.com:

“The single greatest contributor to financial crises is the Federal Reserve manipulating interest rates in ways that distort the true price of capital.  As Friedrich Hayek, a Nobel-prize winning Austrian economist noted, prices play an important role in the economy, transmitting information that allows market participants to coordinate their plans. The Fed’s distortions create the boom and bust cycle by distorting the information that the price signal conveys to consumers and producers.  It may seem like businesses are overinvesting but they are simply responding to false economic signals sent by the Federal Reserve. An inevitable bust occurs due to all of the bad investments made.

Peter Schiff draws a perfect analogy between an artificial boom and a circus that comes to a small town for a couple weeks. During this time, the circus attracts a large crowd, which is a boom to local businesses. Now imagine that a local businessman mistakenly believes that the upturn in his business will endure permanently. He then responds by greatly expanding his business by hiring new workers or opening a second location. Ludwig von Mises called this malinvestment instead of overinvesting. All is well until the circus leaves town and the businessman is left with a large surplus of workers and capacity. He finds out he miscalculated when all the wasteful malinvestments are exposed. This is an example of the boom and bust cycle.

The last decade in America has been a textbook example of a boom and bust cycle. Between 2001 and 2004, the Federal Reserve injected new credit into the economy, pushing interest rates to their lowest level since the late 1970s. As a result, the economy was booming just a few short years ago. This sent out false economic signals to businesses with respect to demand for their products. These businesses responded by hiring more staff, buying more resources, investing in capital, and so forth.

The early 2000s marked the boom phase. We experienced a 52-month record streak of uninterrupted job growth from September 2003 to December 2007. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in March 2007 said that “the global economy is more than sound: it’s as strong as I’ve seen it in my business career.” The stock market was too good to be true. On October 9, 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record level of 14,164.53. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke even stated in January 2008 that “the Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.” Most were too busy celebrating their supposed gains to realize that an inevitable economic bust was about to happen.

Just as the Austrian business cycle predicts, the boom was followed by a bust because booms created by monetary inflation are unsustainable. The stock market crashed in October 2008. Many were quick to wrongly blame free market capitalism for the economic crash. As economist Henry Hazlitt once said, “in a crisis and a slump, and…worse than the slump itself may be the public delusion that the slump has been caused, not by the previous inflation, but by the inherent defects of ‘capitalism.’” The free market has not failed since we’ve never had free market capitalism. Instead, government intervention in the economy failed.

Many Americans probably believe that continuous boom and bust cycles are natural occurrences. The truth is we would not experience such dramatic economic swings were it not for monetary policies that distort real prices and encourage improper investment decisions. Boom and bust cycles are inevitable when government interventions confuse market participant.”

Is Capitalism Evil?

Government Services Turned Over to the Free Market

If the government operated like every other organization in society, it would have to prove that it is the best at providing services in order for people to voluntarily choose to fund it.

Why is that a preposterous idea? The government is simply an organization that funds itself by force. It has no incentive to provide its services in an efficient manner. Even if it completely fails to do so, it still receives the same amount of funding.

The way it stands, the US government would go completely bankrupt (even more so than it already is) because no rational assessment would lead to the conclusion that the government provides services in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

Would people fund wars, welfare, social security, and the DMV voluntarily? Not likely, which is why it is necessary for the government to steal our money in order to fund them.

What if you disagree with a government program? What if you think a particular war the government wants to fight is immoral? What if a government program uses your tax money to fund abortion, or something else that you disagree with? Too bad. They’re going to take your money by force, and fund those programs anyways. If you disagree, and refuse to give them your money, they’ll send men in costumes to throw you in a cage. What other business or organization has that power?

Let’s say we’ve broken the government’s monopoly up, and forced them to compete with other organizations. They can no longer force you to fund their programs and services. They have to convince people to send them money voluntarily. No one buys their inefficient services, they go bankrupt, and the public land and assets are liquidated. Then what?

A lot of people would still demand the services that our government provides right now. There will be a giant void in the market, which means that organizations will compete with each other to provide those services in the cheapest, most effective manner.

Say you’re very rich and you want to set up a private, for-profit city to compete for the markets demand for a structured society. You will have to compete with other private cities, which means you have to buy the best land, and provide the best judicial system, streets, hospitals, schools, police, and defense services in order to stay competitive.

Then you have to hire the best judges, cops, building and construction contractors, teachers, and military members who will provide the best service for the money. Any service that customers demand, you must provide at a high quality, for a low price. (Government does not have these incentives, so they do the opposite; provide the lowest quality for the highest price.)

If you think the notion of a private city is far-fetched, consider Paul Romer’s Charter Cities initiative, which “focuses on the potential for startup cities to fast track reform. By building new cities in special zones, countries can leverage the ongoing wave of urbanization, generating new options for reform-minded leaders and new choices for families in search of better places to live and work.”

You can also check out the Seasteading Institute. The Seasteading Institute “is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), working to enable seasteading communities – floating cities – which will allow the next generation of pioneers to test new ideas for government. The most successful can then inspire change in governments around the world.”

In our hypothetical scenario, you buy some of that land the government is liquidating, and set up your private city, and charge people to live there, in exchange for the services you provide.

This would mean that societies are built up around what the society itself deems best and most desirable. If people in a society demand that the environment be protected, then private ownership is the solution. People take care of land and resources they own, because it’s in their own best interest. You change the oil and take care of the vehicles you own, but you don’t change the oil in a rental car.

If society thinks it a good and desirable idea to provide charity and help for people who can’t afford to live in a private city, they can do that voluntarily as well.

Government is simply one way to provide the solutions to problems most people already want to solve anyways. It’s a fallacy to say that the environment will be destroyed, or that poor people will suffer without government. In fact, I can quickly prove that poor people would be much better off without government.

In the absence of six decades of regulations, a median annual household income would have been $330,000, instead of the current $53,000.

But who needs an extra $277,000 per year anyway when we can have free birth control and endless wars?

http://reason.com/archives/2013/06/21/federal-regulations-have-made-you-75-per

The “War on Poverty” was declared by President Johnson in 1964. Prior to that, the poverty rate was dropping by around 1% each year. We were only one generation away from eradicating poverty completely. Then the “War on Poverty” began. Every time the government declares a war on something, whatever they are fighting always grows exponentially:

poverty

Government is possibly the worst way to solve societies problems.

88% of American households give to charity, without being forced to do so. Even if only 50% of people in our society wanted to protect the environment, or help poor people, they could all donate a few dollars each, and solve the problem voluntarily. This was already happening prior to the start of the “War on Poverty”. Without government aid, people were solving the problem of poverty through free trade, and voluntary, peaceful means. You don’t have to force people to solve problems they already want to solve through taxation.

To further illustrate this, thanks to capitalism and free trade (not government aid), nearly 1 billion people have been taken out of extreme poverty in the last 20 years.

After years advocating for government aid to solve the problem of poverty, U2 frontman Bono was recently quoted as saying the following:

“Aid is just a stopgap,” he said. “Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”

capitalism

“The above chart is from Gapminder and shows China’s per capita income growth since 1800 vs. that of the US and the UK. What happened to China toward the end of the 20th century? Well, it started doing what America and Britain began doing some 200 years earlier. China started embracing what Bono calls entrepreneurial capitalism. ”

– http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/08/this-chart-shows-what-bono-is-talking-about/

Government Welfare programs have failed to win the “War on Poverty”, and have simply made the whole problem worse.

What if someone sets up a private city, then turns it into a dictatorship, and forces everyone within their private city to pay them?

They go out of business, and people leave to find the private city that provides the best services for the money.

The proposition that one company would force or buy out all the rest and turn the entire thing into a dictatorship is extremely unlikely, as no monopoly in history has been sustainable without the legal protection government provides to giant, monopolistic corporations.

Not to mention, military conquest is extremely costly, and the only way to sustain military conquest is through forced taxation, printing money, and borrowing. Every nation and empire that has ever existed has proven that this is not sustainable.

Violent people and organization’s are generally shunned and exiled from communities and societies since the beginning of time. If voluntaryism and peace were held up as virtues, instead of government violence, there would undoubtedly be a shift in the collective morality and ethical underpinnings of society.

The proposition that some Mad Max style roaming gang, a terrorist group, or army would raise up to pillage one of these private cities is pretty ridiculous, as I mentioned previously, military conquest is unsustainable, especially compared to peaceful exchange.

However, if this happened, the protection and defense services that the people within that city paid for would be put to the test. This is why you make sure you find the private city/organization with the best defense services.

Even “small government” conservatives hold to the belief that the military and police protection services provided by government are somewhat effective, except in the cases of murder, rape, muggings, theft, and the two big ones; Pearl Harbor and 9/11. In all of those cases, the government fails to provide the protection/defense services that it taxes you for. I believe this is why a lot of people buy guns. Gun ownership is a private sector response to the failure of public sector protective services.

Is there really anyone who prefers our current system where one government has a monopoly on these services, and forces everyone within a society to buy it from them? Do you think the government efficiently provides the services it taxes you for?

If you think that there will be a large group of people who wouldn’t be able to afford to live in a private city, consider the economic effects that all the money that the government takes by force now, and wastes (tens of trillions) would have if it is left in the pockets of citizens.

Then, consider if you would receive better services from a private company competing for customers, or from the same organization that operates the DMV.

Government Services Turned Over to the Free Market