Sunday, July 08, 2012

Alcohol Facts of the Day

1. There are approximately 79,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States.

2. Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.3 million years of potential life lost annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death.

3. In 2005, there were more than 1.6 million hospitalizations and more than 4 million emergency room visits for alcohol-related conditions. 

Source: CDC 

And we are waging a War on Drugs and putting people in jail for smoking weed?

142 Comments:

At 7/08/2012 3:51 PM, Blogger hancke said...

How does this argue for legalizing drugs? Making drugs as legal as alcohol would be as or more destructive.

From CDC:

$6,120 per second: Estimated cost of drug use to the US society in lost productivity and healthcare costs.

10%- The percentage of American 8th graders using an illicit drug in the past month.

1 in 8: Rate of Americans driving on a weekend night testing positive for an illicit drug.

Every 4 minutes someone in America is sent to treatment instead of prison through drug courts.

How will legalization make this better?

 
At 7/08/2012 4:12 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

it's an argument for consistency.

if this is OK, then why go after far less harmful substances?

many of those who favor a drug war themselves indulge in liquor yet decry the dangers and harm from drugs.

in light of the facts, this seem hypocritical. MY vices are fine, but not YOURS.

starting from a clean sheet of paper and deciding what drugs should be legal based purely upon harm would lead one to choose many currently illegal drugs in preference to alcohol.

but again, this is not really the correct standard. this is a rights issue. lots of things CAN cause harm.

banning them for everyone because of the harm that accrue to some small % is paternalistic prejudice (in the literal sense of pre-judge).

if my neighbor smokes pot and watches scooby doo, who is harmed? why treat him as a potential murderer or thief when he has done no such things nor will.

legalization will makes costs drop for many reasons.

first, we save all the wasted enforcement and incarceration costs that approach that CDC figure all by themselves.

add in the costs of lost income and production due to jail, and they are far more.

add in the estimated $40bn a year drug taxes would raise, and you are way ahead of the game.

it's also more fair. i do not want to pay for their costs either. so tax the drugs and let the user pay.

decriminalization in portugal DECREASED usage.

"In almost every
category of drug,
and for drug
usage overall,
the lifetime
prevalence rates
in the predecriminalization
era
of the 1990s
were higher
than the postdecriminalization
rates."

deaths from od dropped over 25% in 5 years. aids cases from needles dropped 75%. drug use actually dropped as treatment instead of prison turned out to work better.

"For students in the 7th–9th grades (13–15
years old), the rate decreased from 14.1 percent
in 2001 to 10.6 percent in 2006.30 For
those in the 10th–12th grades (16–18 years
old), the lifetime prevalence rate, which
increased from 14.1 percent in 1995 to 27.6
percent in 2001, the year of decriminalization, has decreased subsequent to decriminalization,
to 21.6 percent in 2006.31 For the same
groups, prevalence rates for psychoactive substances
have also decreased subsequent to
decriminalization."

http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/greenwald_whitepaper.pdf

treatment works better than jail.

there is no evidence that legalization increases use.

would you suddenly start shooting heroin just because it was legal?

i doubt it.

 
At 7/08/2012 4:26 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

If legalizing drugs will lower their usage doesn't that violate normal supply and demand?

 
At 7/08/2012 4:31 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"If legalizing drugs will lower their usage doesn't that violate normal supply and demand?"

well, that would depend. prices would drop, but taxes might actually make them slightly higher.

i doubt this would spawn a black market as it has not done so in beer or cigarettes.

people value consistency and quality products and might pay more for them.

it also generates money for treatment and takes away the stigma of jail terms.

assuming price is flat and more treatment is available, i do not think there is anyhting surprising about drug use dropping.

legalization would also make it more difficult for kids to get drugs. a 15 year old has a really hard time buying beer, but can get drugs easily. dealers do not card. that would also seem to push toward lower usage rates.

 
At 7/08/2012 4:51 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich says: "it's an argument for consistency."

The consistency is not promoting alcohol and illegal drugs.

Decriminalizing marijuana is an inconsistency.

 
At 7/08/2012 5:29 PM, Blogger hancke said...

If legalization equals government regulation of production and distribution of drugs what will stop the black market, bootlegging and 'shine'? There is already a tax on illegal drugs.

 
At 7/08/2012 6:44 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

I wonder how much productivity is lost to the incentives provided by the welfare state.

How much has the war itself sucked out of us and how many of those numbers are attributable to the war and not the drugs themselves?

How much are we spending on treatment of people who don't want to be treated?

Drugs are illegal and very much available - particularly to kids. Intentions aren't outcomes.

 
At 7/08/2012 7:15 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

if this is OK, then why go after far less harmful substances?

Self interest. If drugs became legal you would have hundreds of thousands of people lose their jobs and thousands of companies go bankrupt. These parasites need to keep drugs illegal for as long as possible.

 
At 7/08/2012 7:17 PM, Blogger Tom said...

The war on alcohol was fought and lost years ago.

 
At 7/08/2012 7:48 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

I forgot to add this link.

3 Accounting Tricks the Obama Administration Uses to Hide the Cost of the Drug War

 
At 7/08/2012 8:51 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Decriminalizing marijuana is an inconsistency."

only if you believe in a nanny state, forcing its morality and choices on you.

so you are pro prohibition then?

 
At 7/08/2012 9:08 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"The consistency is not promoting alcohol and illegal drugs."

what a bizarre standard. making something legal is now the same as promoting it?

so, the government promotes smoking because it is legal? i think you'd have a very difficult time making that case.

worse, you make the assumption that government has a right to and ought to nanny us and that somehow we have no liberty and that it is right to deprive us of freedom just to avoid "promoting" possible misbehavior?

is legal fried chicken promoting obesity?

the default is not "no" it's "yes".

then, you continually ignore the DROPS in rates of use in countries that decriminalized drugs.

strict laws are not working in the us. rates are rising and far higher than more permissive paces like portugal and holland.

 
At 7/08/2012 9:14 PM, Blogger Nicolas Martin said...

An FYI.

Medical Marijuana Use Reduces Traffic Deaths, Acts As Substitute For Alcohol Consumption, Study Says

http://tinyurl.com/d2p8gp8

 
At 7/08/2012 9:18 PM, Blogger Pulverized Concepts said...

$6,120 per second: Estimated cost of drug use to the US society in lost productivity and healthcare costs.

Sorry, going to have to call BS on that one. There's just no way anybody can make an even slightly accurate estimate of something like that. Lies, damn lies and statistics.

 
At 7/08/2012 9:48 PM, Blogger hancke said...

Sorry, grabbed that stat from a CDC link to whitehouse.gov. It's likely to be skewed.

 
At 7/08/2012 11:34 PM, Blogger Don Culo said...

These statistics were very alaring !!!!!!!!

I had to drink four martinis to relax me.

 
At 7/09/2012 12:20 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Time to start locking up bartenders and other pushers.

The news on cigarettes is even worse....

 
At 7/09/2012 1:02 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich, no matter how much data you're shown (rather than propaganda), you remain confused.

Decriminalization increases drug use. Prevention and treatment decrease drug use.

I guess, you won't be happy till there are millions of more marijuana users.

 
At 7/09/2012 1:49 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich says: "estimated $40bn a year drug taxes would raise."

I've shown you data on alcohol that with over 100 million users, total taxes are $20 billion a year (social costs are roughly $200 billion a year).

It's similar with tobacco, given 60 million users, total taxes are $20 billion a year (which is many times less than health care social costs).

Even if every American over 18 was a drug user or addict, I doubt $40 billion a year could be raised in taxes.

 
At 7/09/2012 8:05 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Prevention and treatment decrease drug use.

Let's suppose your propaganda isn't complete bullshit for a moment. (totally inaccurate, but let's pretend it isn't for just a second).

The price we're paying for it is too high. There are social costs to lots of things - being a layabout, fatness, giving birth to handicapped children, the list is endless. I'm unwilling to live in a police state so that you can socially engineer the perfect society to your particular blueprint.


And if someone isn't terribly productive because they're doing drugs (and I know that plenty of people are plenty productive and still do drugs), then that's none of your business or mine. They were not placed on earth to be "productive" for you benefit or mine.

 
At 7/09/2012 8:21 AM, Blogger bart said...

3 Accounting Tricks the Obama Administration Uses to Hide the Cost of the Drug War

Great link, thanks.

 
At 7/09/2012 8:37 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Morganovich, no matter how much data you're shown (rather than propaganda), you remain confused.

Decriminalization increases drug use. Prevention and treatment decrease drug use.

I guess, you won't be happy till there are millions of more marijuana users.


You confuse data that you are shown with reality.

Once again I provide you with a link that shows you how the data is manipulated to get support from people who should know better.

3 Accounting Tricks the Obama Administration Uses to Hide the Cost of the Drug War

And let us not ignore the fact that this is an issue about liberty and morality, not just cost. The government has no right to meddle in the voluntary activities of individuals who do not violate the rights of others. If you smoke pot, eat fatty food, drink sugary sodas, smoke, or consume alcohol you do not harm me so I have no right to stop you. Your body is your own and what you do with it is not my business as long as you do not initiate violence against others or their proprty.

 
At 7/09/2012 8:37 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Sorry. That last sentence should read, "Your body is your own and what you do with it is not my business as long as you do not initiate violence against others or their property."

 
At 7/09/2012 8:40 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

I've shown you data on alcohol that with over 100 million users, total taxes are $20 billion a year (social costs are roughly $200 billion a year).

But your data is not right. The government plays accounting games to maximize the cost of using drugs so that the War on Drugs can continue to transfer wealth from taxpayers to the special interests that benefit from it. If the War on Drugs ended hundreds of thousands of people would lose their jobs because they can no longer justify their parasitic activities that the taxpayers are forced to pay for.

 
At 7/09/2012 9:10 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

"
Decriminalization increases drug use. Prevention and treatment decrease drug use.

I guess, you won't be happy till there are millions of more marijuana users."

you have yet to provide even a shred of evidence for this.

you just keep repeating the same claim over and over as though repetition will make it true.

i ahve shown you the results for portugal. decriminalization caused usage rates to drop.

i have show you that usage rates in holland are lower than in the US.

i have shown you that use in the US is rising despite stricter laws.

in response, you have just blustered and linked to data that is 15 years out of date.

you repetitively baseless claims, bad logoc (like increased homicides being caused by reduced drug use) and inability to respond to the issues just shows how bigoted and reactionary you are on this issue.

you have no argument and no data, just prejudice.

you cannot even address the most basic issue: by what consistent legal and moral standard does the government have the right to prevent americans from making their own recreational choices so long as those choices do not violate the rights of others?

until you can answer that, you cannot possibly have a valid opinion.

 
At 7/09/2012 9:18 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

Even if every American over 18 was a drug user or addict, I doubt $40 billion a year could be raised in taxes.

then you are mathematically as well as ethically illiterate.

most drugs are MUCH cheaper to make, so if we keep price at parity, the tax would be a much higher % of sale price.

"This report estimates that legalizing drugs
would save roughly $41.3 billion per year in government
expenditure on enforcement of prohibition.
Of these savings, $25.7 billion would accrue
to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion
would accrue to the federal government.
Approximately $8.7 billion of the savings would
result from legalization of marijuana and $32.6
billion from legalization of other drugs.
The report also estimates that drug legalization
would yield tax revenue of $46.7 billion
annually, assuming legal drugs were taxed at rates
comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco.
Approximately $8.7 billion of this revenue would
result from legalization of marijuana and $38.0
billion from legalization of other drugs."

http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/DrugProhibitionWP.pdf

i've given you this link and math 3 or 4 times. try reading it.

the drug war is a huge loser from a cash standpoint.

but again, you keep trying to frame this as a cost issue. it isn't. it's a rights issue.

if my choices violate the rights of no one else, what right to you have to interfere in them through government coercion?

you have no answer to that, thus, you position is morally bankrupt.

it's just totalitarianism and bigotry masquerading as "the common good".

the role of government is not to stop me from doing things that might harm me, it is to protect my liberty and that or everyone else.

 
At 7/09/2012 9:23 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

you have no answer to that, thus, you position is morally bankrupt.

He has already conceded the fact that the position is morally bankrupt otherwise we would hear an argument that supports the government violation of individual rights.

 
At 7/09/2012 10:02 AM, Blogger bart said...

you have no answer to that, thus, you position is morally bankrupt.

Maybe we should have more government laws to regulate the morally bankrupt? /sarchasm

 
At 7/09/2012 11:52 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

bart-

what an excellent idea!

the war on totalitarian morality!

mandatory sentences for trying to use coercive force to take away the liberty of another, asset seizures, and deprivation of suffrage.

 
At 7/09/2012 12:18 PM, Blogger juandos said...

obama boy makes a blanket statement sans anything credible to back it up: "many of those who favor a drug war themselves indulge in liquor yet decry the dangers and harm from drugs"...

LMAO! What's next?

"but again, this is not really the correct standard. this is a rights issue. lots of things CAN cause harm"...

Maybe so but its also a cost issue obama boy...

There's no free lunch laying in the weeds out there with the decrim/legalization agenda...

 
At 7/09/2012 12:41 PM, Blogger bart said...

... the war on totalitarian morality!


*rimshots* du jour!


The Nanny State über alles - "We know what's good for you"

We're trustworthy, loyal, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty... ad nauseum.
Hey, maybe that could be a new presidential election slogan? /sarc

 
At 7/09/2012 1:58 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

oh look, juandos is back with his ignorant and substance-less blather and name calling.

why tell deliberate lies juandos?

you know full well i dislike obama intensely and that these are not his policies.

is your argument so weak that you must resort to telling lies to try and score cheap points?

on this issue, you are more of an obama boy than i am. he's the one using the IRS to go after pot dispensaries.

what is it you social reactionaries find so difficult about libertarian notions?

you seem to support economic freedom. yet, as soon as you face a social issue, you suddenly oppose it.

does the inconsistency of your views not bother you?

i support social and economic freedom. is that really so hard to grasp?

cost is irrelevant until you can answer this simple question:

"by what consistent legal and moral standard does the government have the right to prevent americans from making their own recreational choices so long as those choices do not violate the rights of others?"

answer that (which you cannot as you have repeatedly shown) and then cost could even possibly be an issue, but, until you can, it's irrelevant.

we could drop costs by banning fried foods too. do you support that?

do you think prohibition worked?

do you drink alcohol juandos?

i'll bet you have.

did it turn you into a raving criminal and ER visitor?

 
At 7/09/2012 3:34 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

May I ask a question?

I understand the cry for someone to be arrested for operating machinery while under the influence of pot. It's the same as with alcohol: they are putting lives at risk.

But if someone is just sitting at home and lights up a joint and watches cartoons all day, do they really deserve to go to jail for that?

 
At 7/09/2012 3:50 PM, Blogger Pulverized Concepts said...

A major factor in DUI accidents isn't the blood alcohol level in the driver per se, but the fact that the driver FELL ASLEEP, because he'd not only been drinking but had been awake for umpteen hours. We occasionally hear of horrific accidents caused by some driver passing out at the wheel but we seldom see any statistics on the matter. If we were serious about preventing all manner of accidents, wouldn't we want to insure that everyone had a good nights sleep before they did whatever they do? Maybe we need some kind of a curfew, perhaps with sophisticated electronic monitoring, to insure that each and every one of us has a restful repose and is at maximum alertness throughout the day. Or go to jail.

 
At 7/09/2012 4:01 PM, Blogger bart said...

Following up, perhaps we should have cameras in every bedroom too, to make sure that no one ever got raped. /sarc

 
At 7/09/2012 4:04 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Following up, perhaps we should have cameras in every bedroom too, to make sure that no one ever got raped.

We could mandate everyone begin their day with an hour of exercise. Put cameras in the TVs so we can make sure they are exercising.

 
At 7/09/2012 4:47 PM, Blogger Prof J said...

It's astounding how little people have learned with the long experiment of banning destructive substances. Prohibition lasted 13 years. It did curb drinking somewhat, but look at the 'social cost' (another b.s. concept) of all the crime associated with it.

Laws cannot eliminate demand.

The best we can do, as individuals, is to live a morally upstanding life. If others want to poison themselves, so be it. The only room for intervention is when someone's behavior negatively affects others. Then intervention can be made to curb said behavior.

 
At 7/09/2012 5:08 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

bart-

"Following up, perhaps we should have cameras in every bedroom too, to make sure that no one ever got raped. /sarc"

but that owuld only help us catch them after the fact.

clearly, we could do better by just jailing all males from puberty until their pubes turn gray.

 
At 7/09/2012 5:23 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

so, i think we really ought to look at this another way.

let's take the example of fried food.

nutritionally, it has no redeeming value. it serves no good functional purpose and exacerbates a serious obesity problem in the US that has large costs. we could say the same of soda.

however, one cannot look just at the costs. they also have benefits. this gets left out of the equation.

fried chicken tastes good. many of us, myself included, enjoy it. sure, i know it's bad for me, but as an occasional meal, i find it worth it. that is to say, i find the benefits to be greater than the costs. and as a responsible fried chicken user i am not fat. i do not have diabetes. so, where is the harm?

for me, it's a big net positive.

beer could be looked at the same way. sure, it ups certain risks (including hangover) but i still view it as a net positive. as a responsible drinker, i don't drive. it causes me little trouble apart from the occasional headache, and i feel it also to be a net positive.

the fact that we enjoy things cannot be left out of the equation.

i do not smoke pot because i do not enjoy it. but many do. for them, it's just like beer is for ma and, frankly, with a far less nasty next day.

to focus just on the negatives misses the point entirely. people are doing this for a reason: they enjoy it.

they decide what that is worth.

you cannot argue that pot has net negative social costs and more than you can that fried chicken does without making the assumption that people cannot make choices about what things are worth to them. the underlying assumption is that people repeatedly choose to be less well off which flies in the face of the rest of economics.

i suspect this derives from taking personal preferences and extrapolating them to everyone else and ignoring that they may feel differently.

it may not be your thing, but many people have had a lot of fun in warehouses with pumping music and extcay pills.

you might find it horrible. for others, it is the acme of fun and well worth the energy and a bad next day.

so they can go off raving, and you can go eat fried chicken.

they may think your choice sucks and you may feel likewise about theirs, but you both get to do what makes you happy and make your own determinations about what is and is not fun and worth the trouble.

choice is a wonderful thing.

 
At 7/09/2012 6:29 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"oh look, juandos is back with his ignorant and substance-less blather and name calling.

why tell deliberate lies juandos?
"...

My gosh obama boy, you really are blessed with a deep and wide streak of liberal stupidity...

Apparently since you can't find the intelligence to embed links you will ignore the embedded links, right?

 
At 7/09/2012 6:39 PM, Blogger bart said...

clearly, we could do better by just jailing all males from puberty until their pubes turn gray.

Yure won of thos racists I cee. Wimmen r danjurus 2...

 
At 7/09/2012 6:47 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich and VangelV, you two want to promote drug use and you call me "morally bankrupt!?"

Your weak methodology and make believe data don't dispute any of my statements. You don't even see the contradictions in your estimated data.

If you want to believe in things that aren't true, you have that right. You've certainly exercised that right often.

 
At 7/09/2012 7:24 PM, Blogger bart said...

you two want to promote drug use and you call me "morally bankrupt!?"

If you can't win with facts and logic, etc., then redefine the terms and pretend that they're promoting drug use.

Orwell would be proud.

 
At 7/09/2012 9:39 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

"legalization would also make it more difficult for kids to get drugs. a 15 year old has a really hard time buying beer, but can get drugs easily. dealers do not card. that would also seem to push toward lower usage rates."

I have heard people say this but I don't think it is true in the communities I have lived in. I know parents who bought the keg for the prom party (and took the car keys) but they didn't provide drugs. Maybe in some parts of the country it is the other way around, but if my 21 year old friend can legally buy alcohol I'm not going to have much trouble getting it.

 
At 7/09/2012 9:46 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

"you cannot argue that pot has net negative social costs and more than you can that fried chicken does without making the assumption that people cannot make choices about what things are worth to them. the underlying assumption is that people repeatedly choose to be less well off which flies in the face of the rest of economics"

I don't see how my decision to drink to such a degree that I lose my job, abuse my family and wind up on the street can be construed to have a net positive social benifit just because I think I am still better off in the street with alcohol than with my family and job and no alcohol. It seems to me you can claim people always choose what seems the best option to them but that isn't the same as claiming a person's best option can't have a negative social cost.

 
At 7/09/2012 9:53 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

"well, that would depend. prices would drop, but taxes might actually make them slightly higher."

Price is only part of the cost the threat of getting busted is also part of the cost. Prohibition had terrible social costs but it lowered drinking per capita (at least that is my understanding) and when it ended the rate of drinking went up. I don't see why the same wouldn't be true with drugs. If we are only concerned with social costs the question is will the benifits of removing many of the negative effects of drugs and the drug trade outweigh the negative effects of more drug usage. By the way, it may be different now but 20 years ago when I started teaching we were told in our drug education classes alcohol was the drug of choice amoung high school kids and it wasn't even close.

 
At 7/09/2012 10:02 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

juandos-

you keep proving my point for me.

you cannot answer even the basic questions i ask nor, it seems, even understand the simple facts i provide.

if you want poo flinging, go to the monkey cage at the zoo.

if you expect to be taken seriously, try and actually participate in the discussion.

 
At 7/09/2012 10:05 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

you try to take away the liberty of those who are not violating the rights of others in the name of some imagined moral crusade and on the basis that YOU know what's best for everyone, and you wonder why we call you a morally bankrupt totalitarian thug?

really?

and this:

"
Your weak methodology and make believe data don't dispute any of my statements. You don't even see the contradictions in your estimated data."

is pure nonsense.

you have failed to address any of the argument. you just beg the question and pretend you have.

further, you duck the key question over and over:

by what consistent legal and moral standard does the government have the right to prevent americans from making their own recreational choices so long as those choices do not violate the rights of others?

until you can answer that, you have no argument at all.

 
At 7/09/2012 10:11 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Prohibition had terrible social costs but it lowered drinking per capita (at least that is my understanding) and when it ended the rate of drinking went up. I don't see why the same wouldn't be true with drugs"

i am less sure that was the case. reported drinking maybe.

but again, look at the link i gave you about portugal. decriminalization reduces drug use.

usage in places like holland is lower than here despite it being legal.

those seem like significant evidence against the "legalization will increase use" argument. this is especially true for kids. getting carded to buy would make it much harder for them to get drugs.

but this is not a costs issue, it's a rights issue.

i invite you to consider the same question i posed to peak:

by what consistent legal and moral standard does the government have the right to prevent americans from making their own recreational choices so long as those choices do not violate the rights of others?

fried food and soda have costs too.

shall we ban everyhting people enjoy if it has "social cost"?

 
At 7/09/2012 10:15 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"don't see how my decision to drink to such a degree that I lose my job, abuse my family and wind up on the street can be construed to have a net positive social benifit just because I think I am still better off in the street with alcohol than with my family and job and no alcohol. It seems to me you can claim people always choose what seems the best option to them but that isn't the same as claiming a person's best option can't have a negative social cost."

doesn't this argument imply that YOU or the government know what is best and what we all prefer?

how can you know what everyone wants?

i'm not arguing that no one will wind up worse off, but most will not.

we had some wine with dinner last night. no one lost a job or abused their family.

but you also act as though there is some magic wand that will make drug use go away.

drugs are easy to get. people are already experiencing those costs. why pile more on top of it?

and if such costs are an issue, then isn't user pays fairer? why should you or i pay? tax the drugs and let the users pay.

 
At 7/09/2012 10:17 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"I have heard people say this but I don't think it is true in the communities I have lived in. I know parents who bought the keg for the prom party (and took the car keys) but they didn't provide drugs. Maybe in some parts of the country it is the other way around, but if my 21 year old friend can legally buy alcohol I'm not going to have much trouble getting it."

did you have a lot of 21 year old friends at 15 that would buy you beer? that seems pretty unusual. and parents being involved means there is supervision. is that not better than now?

 
At 7/09/2012 10:31 PM, Blogger bart said...

"legalization would also make it more difficult for kids to get drugs. a 15 year old has a really hard time buying beer, but can get drugs easily. dealers do not card. that would also seem to push toward lower usage rates."

I have heard people say this but I don't think it is true in the communities I have lived in.



Fair enough, but my experiences are the reverse and I've lived in many different areas of the country, and in large and small cities.

In the "fabulous" 60s, I found it much easier to buy drugs than beer when I was under 21... not that I did either of course.
The under 21 crowd that I do know today also have similar experiences.

 
At 7/09/2012 10:34 PM, Blogger bart said...

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
-- Daniel Webster

 
At 7/09/2012 11:10 PM, Blogger Cody Rice said...

oh no, don't let them make THAT illegal too.

 
At 7/09/2012 11:11 PM, Blogger Cody Rice said...

oh no, don't let them make THAT illegal too.

 
At 7/09/2012 11:15 PM, Blogger Cody Rice said...

Are there any legitimate erowid frequenters or seasoned experimenters on this blog that could attest to the mind-numbing thoroughness of criminalizing substance use. It really becomes a paranoid world for the recreational experimenter, even one seeking to abide by the current drug use laws.

 
At 7/10/2012 6:20 AM, Blogger ranger275 said...

"but you also act as though there is some magic wand that will make drug use go away."

I think you are grouping me with someone else. I haven't said whether I think legalizing drugs is a good idea or not. My main point is I think drug use will go up (as it did when alcohol was legalized) if it is legalized. A side point is it is possible for a person's decision to maximize their own utility and yet have negative costs for society as a whole.

 
At 7/10/2012 6:30 AM, Blogger ranger275 said...

"but again, look at the link i gave you about portugal. decriminalization reduces drug use.

usage in places like holland is lower than here despite it being legal"

The link below claims prohibition reduced alcohol consumption. I need to look closer at your Portugal link. Hollands rate of drug use says nothing about how legalizing drugs will change drug usage. Hollands rate could be even lower if they banned drugs.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470475/

 
At 7/10/2012 7:25 AM, Blogger ranger275 said...

"but this is not a costs issue, it's a rights issue.

i invite you to consider the same question i posed to peak:

by what consistent legal and moral standard does the government have the right to prevent americans from making their own recreational choices so long as those choices do not violate the rights of others?

fried food and soda have costs too.

shall we ban everyhting people enjoy if it has "social cost"?"

I haven't stated my position on legalizing drugs. I'm just responding to the idea that not only will legalization be a net positive, there will be no negative effects of legalization.

 
At 7/10/2012 7:48 AM, Blogger ranger275 said...

"Fair enough, but my experiences are the reverse and I've lived in many different areas of the country, and in large and small cities.

In the "fabulous" 60s, I found it much easier to buy drugs than beer when I was under 21... not that I did either of course.
The under 21 crowd that I do know today also have similar experiences."

As you say fair enough. I can't argue with your experience and things may be different now than when I was in school. I know none of the kids I was in high school with who drank had any trouble getting alcohol. The guys I went to college with got drunk in bars all the time and most of them were underage so carding didn't seem to be a problem with them. As far as usage goes, the links below seem to indicate alcohol is still the drug of choice amoung teenagers so it seems hard to argue it is overall more difficult to obtain alcohol. Another way to look at it is to compare tobacco use with marijuana use. It seems to me tobacco use is easier for teenagers than marijuana use.

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/yrbs/pdf/us_alcohol_trend_yrbs.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/yrbs/pdf/us_drug_trend_yrbs.pdf

 
At 7/10/2012 8:15 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Hollands rate of drug use says nothing about how legalizing drugs will change drug usage. Hollands rate could be even lower if they banned drugs."

what it does show is that decriminalized drugs do not lead to a usage epidemic.

they fact they they use less is likely a function of education and treatment, paid for by taxes on legal drugs.

as those 2 things go hand and hand, i do not think you can really separate them.

 
At 7/10/2012 8:17 AM, Blogger ranger275 said...

"don't see how my decision to drink to such a degree that I lose my job, abuse my family and wind up on the street can be construed to have a net positive social benifit just because I think I am still better off in the street with alcohol than with my family and job and no alcohol. It seems to me you can claim people always choose what seems the best option to them but that isn't the same as claiming a person's best option can't have a negative social cost."

doesn't this argument imply that YOU or the government know what is best and what we all prefer?

how can you know what everyone wants?

i'm not arguing that no one will wind up worse off, but most will not.


Actually I don't mean to imply I know what is best for everybody, only that what is best for me may not be what is best for everyone.
I was responding to the statement "you cannot argue that pot has net negative social costs and more than you can that fried chicken does without making the assumption that people cannot make choices about what things are worth to them. the underlying assumption is that people repeatedly choose to be less well off which flies in the face of the rest of economics". I understood this to mean that net negative social costs = people choosing to be less well off which I think is false. If I make millions of dollars making a product but my production process kills thousands of people I am better off (assuming I don't care about killing people) but it seems to me it would be hard to argue that is a net benifit to society.

 
At 7/10/2012 8:20 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

ranger-

"
I haven't stated my position on legalizing drugs. I'm just responding to the idea that not only will legalization be a net positive, there will be no negative effects of legalization."

i understand, but my point is that the cost calculus is irrelevant until you can address the rights issue.

we could make the country better off by requiring exercise, broccoli eating, and banning fat people too. all those things would have positive costs (in the way you are describing costs).

but there is no right to do so, nor should there be.

i think this discussion of drugs gets bogged down in the ends and ignores the means and tends to be based on anti liberty ends justify the means thinking.

in my view, the question i asked has to be answered before you can even begin to consider the cost/benefit calculus.

the fact that no one has even tried to do so speaks volumes about the immorality of the drug way.

 
At 7/10/2012 8:25 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"I understood this to mean that net negative social costs = people choosing to be less well off which I think is false. If I make millions of dollars making a product but my production process kills thousands of people I am better off (assuming I don't care about killing people) but it seems to me it would be hard to argue that is a net benifit to society."

this seems like a straw man. first off, producing somehting harmful (and lying about it)violates the rights of others, which puts it in a different camp.

but just producing somehting that CAN cause harm does not. consider alcohol. you can drink too much and wreck you life, but most do not. it's not a requirement that is somehow baked into alcohol. it's a personal choice.

individuals may not always make good choices. i doubt anyone would argue that. but to take away choice from the 99% who use it well to punish the 1% that does not is a greater evil than that produced by the bad choices.

it's an issue of liberty, personal responsibility, and the ability to make your own determinations.

in college, many might have felt i drank too much. but i didn't. that was my choice and i was and am happy with it. my choice now is different as my circumstances are different.

to take away freedom because of what i MIGHT do seems like a presumption of guilt.

on the basis of what doctrine is that just?

 
At 7/10/2012 8:41 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

"by what consistent legal and moral standard does the government have the right to prevent americans from making their own recreational choices so long as those choices do not violate the rights of others?"

I stated before, if drug users can afford their private costs and external costs were small, I'd be for drug legalization.

However, the devastation is massive. So, why promote illegal drugs?

 
At 7/10/2012 8:42 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

But if someone is just sitting at home and lights up a joint and watches cartoons all day, do they really deserve to go to jail for that?

Not in a free society.

 
At 7/10/2012 8:44 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/10/2012 8:46 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Revised for consistency:

I stated before, if alcohol users can afford their private costs and external costs were small, I'd be for alcohol legalization.

However, the devastation is massive. So, why promote legalizing alcohol?

 
At 7/10/2012 8:48 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Why promote alcohol or illegal drugs when the devastation is massive.

Do we need more alcoholics and drug addicts?

 
At 7/10/2012 8:50 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Like I have said before, it will take more enlightened generations of future Americans to see this issue clearly and rationally, and end the Drug War insanity.

Right now, there are too many otherwise intelligent Americans who have a blind spot in their thinking about drug prohibition, and they lose all rational, reasonable and logical thinking on this issue. No amount of evidence, reason or logic will change their thinking, the blind spot is just too entrenched and large.

 
At 7/10/2012 8:55 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Unlike others (which we see on this site), I started from an unbiased position (not the "wrong side").

 
At 7/10/2012 8:56 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Sure, we need consistency. Either all drugs including alcohol and tobacco and prescription pain medication should be legal, or they should all be illegal.

To support alcohol being legal but weed being illegal is a position so inconsistent, illogical and unreasonable that it really can't be taken seriously.

And it's giving power to the government to decide which drugs are approved and which ones aren't approved, which is dangerous and costly in terms of the loss of liberty and costly in terms of incarceration of drug users, 55,000 murders in Mexico, etc.

 
At 7/10/2012 8:59 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

"
I stated before, if drug users can afford their private costs and external costs were small, I'd be for drug legalization.

However, the devastation is massive. So, why promote illegal drugs?"

that does not answer the question, it just retreats back into cost calculus.

whatever the costs, you cannot take away liberty without a reason. the means matter more than the ends. that is what rights and freedom are about.

we could catch more violent criminals if police were allowed to stop, search, and detain anyone they liked without a reason.

however, such a practice violates your rights, so no matter how effective it might be, it is not permissible.

claiming: drugs do harm so we should ban them is precisely the same as saying violent criminals do harm so police should be allowed to detain them indefinitely upon mere suspicion that they will commit crimes.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

-ben franklin

 
At 7/10/2012 9:00 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

I'm sure drug users would prefer taxes, regulation, monopoly power, predatory pricing, etc. over the guilt caused by their demand for illegal drugs (which many can't control).

 
At 7/10/2012 9:02 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

"Unlike others (which we see on this site), I started from an unbiased position (not the "wrong side")."

that's one of the most biased statements i have ever read. it's literally a parody of itself. it sounds like someone defending sharia law.

just what position was that? you seem unwilling to ever tell us.

lay out your first principles argument that can be applied across all forms of drugs, food, and behavior that you used to get to your drugs position.

i do not think you can do so because it is, in fact, you who are starting from a biased and inconsistent position.

 
At 7/10/2012 9:03 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

to focus just on the negatives misses the point entirely. people are doing this for a reason: they enjoy it.

they decide what that is worth.


You might be interested in Spooner's, Vices Are Not Crimes

Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property.

Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.

Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.

In vices, the very essence of crime — that is, the design to injure the person or property of another — is wanting.

It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practices a vice with any such criminal intent. He practices his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.

Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property — no such things as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.

For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth....

 
At 7/10/2012 9:09 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

mark-

"Right now, there are too many otherwise intelligent Americans who have a blind spot in their thinking about drug prohibition, and they lose all rational, reasonable and logical thinking on this issue. No amount of evidence, reason or logic will change their thinking, the blind spot is just too entrenched and large."

7/10/2012 8:50 AM
Blogger PeakTrader said...

Unlike others (which we see on this site), I started from an unbiased position (not the "wrong side").

QED.

wow. that didn't take long.

 
At 7/10/2012 9:10 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Morganovich and VangelV, you two want to promote drug use and you call me "morally bankrupt!?"

I have never promoted drug use and have never smoked pot, snorted cocaine, or taken any prescription pain pills. The fact that I can tell the difference between a vice and a crime does not make me morally bankrupt. But the fact that you support the initiation of violence against others to control their vices certainly makes you morally bankrupt.

Your weak methodology and make believe data don't dispute any of my statements. You don't even see the contradictions in your estimated data.

My only mention of data is to show that you rely on data that has been doctored to support a position that is morally reprehensible. My own position is simply based on morality and common sense. It is wrong to make slaves of individuals just because they have vices. You cannot violate their natural rights because your religious beliefs turn you into a busybody.

 
At 7/10/2012 9:12 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich, why do you find my statement of starting from an unbiased position so hard to accept?

You should try it.

 
At 7/10/2012 9:19 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

I don't see how my decision to drink to such a degree that I lose my job, abuse my family and wind up on the street can be construed to have a net positive social benifit just because I think I am still better off in the street with alcohol than with my family and job and no alcohol. It seems to me you can claim people always choose what seems the best option to them but that isn't the same as claiming a person's best option can't have a negative social cost.

YOUR decision has consequences for you. You lose your job and wind up in the street. How is that different than being sent to jail and having a record for the rest of your life? Or spending your whole life in jail because you were caught with drugs three times?

Why should others who are not as abusive as you are be thrown in jail and have a record? Particularly when the hypocrite-in-chief has engaged in the same type of drug use that got you that record and makes you virtually unemployable?

As I pointed out above, the argument has been with us for a long time. As Spooner pointed out:

Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property — no such things as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.

For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth.

 
At 7/10/2012 9:21 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

"Morganovich, why do you find my statement of starting from an unbiased position so hard to accept?

You should try it."

because it is so clearly not true.

if it were true, you would be able to respond to my request for to "lay out your first principles argument that can be applied across all forms of drugs, food, and behavior that you used to get to your drugs position."

you are suffering from precisely the loss of rationality to which mark alluded. worse, you do not seem to even be aware of it.

if you have such an unbiased opinion, then lay out your consistent thinking that can be used across all drugs, activities, and foods.

consistent application is the test of lack of bias.

my view is simple:

as vangle pointed out, vices are not crimes nor should they be treated as such.

the best society protects the liberty and rights of its members as its paramount aim.

until my actions violate the rights of another, they are my business.

i can eat, drink, and smoke what i want because it is no one's business but mine so long as i do not violate the rights of another.

it's a simple, consistent, universally applicable view. it is free from bias and consistent with the letter and intent of the us constitution. this nation was founded with no restrictions on drugs or food or medicine.

so where is the bias in that?

there is none.

so lay out your views from first principles and let us perform a similar check.

i'll bet you cannot even communicate them. this is because you have a massive blind spot around your own bias.

 
At 7/10/2012 9:27 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Price is only part of the cost the threat of getting busted is also part of the cost. Prohibition had terrible social costs but it lowered drinking per capita (at least that is my understanding) and when it ended the rate of drinking went up.

What we do know is that prohibition increased binge drinking. After all, if you are going to risk getting arrested you better get your money's worth. And it did lead to terrible deaths or blindness due to the ingestion of wood alcohol, some of which was introduced into the product stream by the government agents to scare off potential drinkers. It also increased violence in society as gangs fought over the high margins that were guaranteed by prohibition as drug gangs do today.

I don't see why the same wouldn't be true with drugs. If we are only concerned with social costs the question is will the benifits of removing many of the negative effects of drugs and the drug trade outweigh the negative effects of more drug usage.

You are wrong again. These drugs used to be legal. When they were the addiction rates were around the same level as they are now. Abusers of the drugs paid a price that they inflicted on themselves. People who tried drugs but rejected drug abuse or gave them up were not harmed and continued to be productive members of society who did not siphon off tax revenues to keep them in jail for years as they do today.

By the way, it may be different now but 20 years ago when I started teaching we were told in our drug education classes alcohol was the drug of choice amoung high school kids and it wasn't even close.

It still is the drug of choice. Alcohol is more addictive than pot so kids are attracted to it. But as I wrote above, a vice is not a crime. And any attempt to make it a crime reduces the liberty that so many people fought to defend. What next? Will you adopt portions of the Islamic Law code because it strictly regulates personal behaviour?

 
At 7/10/2012 10:50 AM, Blogger bart said...

A bit OT, but indicative of how commonly held beliefs are incorrect


"Grice on traffic-lights and a crisis of regulation
Posted by David Keohane on Jun 29 14:15.

As I watched the intricate social ballet that occurred as cars and bikes slowed to enter the circle (pedestrians were meant to cross at crosswalks placed a bit before the intersection) Monderman performed a favorite trick. He walked, backward and with his eyes closed, into the Laweiplein. The traffic made its way around him. No one honked, he wasn’t struck .Instead of a binary, mechanistic process – stop, go – the movement of traffic and pedestrians in the circle felt human and organic.”

The above quote is from the ever-readable Dylan Grice’s latest missive in which he argues that regulation acts much like traffic-lights, in that it lulls market participants into a false sense of security.

He uses the the small town of Drachten in Holland, where the removal of road safety measures has doubled traffic flow and resulted in zero fatal accidents, as his argument-vehicle. Go figure."


Rest at:
http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2012/06/29/1065671/grice-on-traffic-lights-and-a-crisis-of-regulation/

 
At 7/10/2012 11:10 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

bart-

here's another fun one for you:

http://alcoholism.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=alcoholism&cdn=health&tm=68&f=00&su=p284.13.342.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/%3Frequest%3Dget-document%26doi%3D10.1371%252Fjournal.pmed.0050141

turns out that there is no correlation between strict drug laws and lower usage in this 17 nation WHO study.

"Globally, drug use is not distributed evenly and is not simply related to drug policy, since countries with stringent user-level illegal drug policies did not have lower levels of use than countries with liberal ones"

turn out the variable most correlated with drug use is wealth.

i guess we just need to become poorer to stop this menace...

 
At 7/10/2012 12:41 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

The above quote is from the ever-readable Dylan Grice’s latest missive in which he argues that regulation acts much like traffic-lights, in that it lulls market participants into a false sense of security.

He uses the the small town of Drachten in Holland, where the removal of road safety measures has doubled traffic flow and resulted in zero fatal accidents, as his argument-vehicle. Go figure.


I saw something like this in China where inner city intersections were very chaotic but kept traffic flowing with very few accidents. The same number of vehicles on an equivalent set of roads here would have caused absolute gridlock and many accidents.

 
At 7/10/2012 1:01 PM, Blogger bart said...

turn out the variable most correlated with drug use is wealth.

i guess we just need to become poorer to stop this menace...


My admiration for your most excellent and awesome perspicacity and expertise in finding the simple solution is boundless?

(and just in case, that's sarcasm)

And more seriously, that is a surprise about the wealth correlation - wouldn't have thought it was germane at 1st glance, but it's also not an area of expertise for me. Thanks.

 
At 7/10/2012 1:13 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Yet, marijuana use is up in a depression:

Teen drinking, smoking continue to decline, but pot use is up
Los Angeles Times
December 15, 2011

One in four of the 47,000 teens surveyed for the 2011 Monitoring the Future report said they had used marijuana during the last year, up from 21.4% in 2007.

The survey, which polled students nationwide in the eighth, 10th and 12th grades, also found that 1 in 15 of the oldest students used pot on a daily or near-daily basis — the highest rate since 1981.

The survey also revealed that teens don't think of marijuana as dangerous. Because of that, "we can predict that use of marijuana is going to increase," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funds the annual study.

That pot has become more widely used as more states legalize the use of medical marijuana cannot be ignored, said R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

"We know that any substance that is legally available is more widely used," he said.

The rise of marijuana use is largely responsible for an overall increase in youth drug use over the last four years, said study leader Lloyd Johnston of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, which conducts the annual survey.

When marijuana is taken out of the equation, the proportion of teens reporting they had used any illicit drug declined through the first half of the 2000s and has been stable over the last three years.

 
At 7/10/2012 1:17 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

How much wealth was lost again between 2007 and 2011?

 
At 7/10/2012 1:29 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Teen drinking, smoking continue to decline, but pot use is up

The bad stuff that is legal continues to decline while illegal pot use continue to go up.

Isn't this an argument for making pot legal?

The survey also revealed that teens don't think of marijuana as dangerous. Because of that, "we can predict that use of marijuana is going to increase," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funds the annual study.

It isn't dangerous. And isn't someone who makes his living off the Drug War a biased proponent of that Drug War?

 
At 7/10/2012 1:32 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

bart-

"
And more seriously, that is a surprise about the wealth correlation - wouldn't have thought it was germane at 1st glance, but it's also not an area of expertise for me. Thanks."

i think it's just a function of ability to afford it and availability of leisure time, though that's just a guess.

 
At 7/10/2012 1:33 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

"We know that any substance that is legally available is more widely used," he said.

Read the title of the article that contains your quote.,

What part of, "Teen drinking, smoking continue to decline," leads you to accept the claim that, "any substance that is legally available is more widely used?"

See your problem? Not only do you keep avoiding the fundamental question of what gives you or any other nanny to criminalize vices but you can't even think logically and get your false stories right.

I suggest that you try again.

 
At 7/10/2012 1:39 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

i notice you are still silent on the ethics questions and are again refusing to proved your consistent, first principles views on the topic.

once might be an oversight, but you have ducked this question 5 or 6 times now.

the only conclusion i can draw is that you have no answer, proving my case that your views are biased and inconsistent.

until you can do this, no stats matter and you are just trying to hide the moral bankruptcy of your position behind a misframing of the issue:

"lay out your first principles argument that can be applied across all forms of drugs, food, and behavior that you used to get to your drugs position"

we keep asking. i have given you mine and note that you have not even tried to dispute it (likely because you cannot without admitting what an ethical mess your position is).

yet you will not share yours.

surely a fellow so deeply on the "right side" as you purport to be should have no trouble telling us why?

so lay out your consistent view.

what is the legitimate role of government and how does that role allow them to ban personal choices that do not violate the rights of others.

 
At 7/10/2012 1:43 PM, Blogger bart said...

i think it's just a function of ability to afford it and availability of leisure time, though that's just a guess.

My 1st guess would have been the "escape" potential of the various drugs and including alcohol.

In bad times, a temporary escape can be very valuable.

 
At 7/10/2012 2:13 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich says: "what is the legitimate role of government and how does that role allow them to ban personal choices that do not violate the rights of others."

Actually, I answered your question before. I'll answer it in another way.

Whether or not you like a law, if you break it, you should be punished, right?

Why should someone who obeys the law be punished by the law-breaker's ignorance, selfishness, carelessness, etc.?

Should people have the right to choose which laws they want to obey?

 
At 7/10/2012 3:18 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

that is not an answer. you are begging the question.

the question is why should such a law exist?

the defense you gave could support slavery. hey, they ran away and broke what was, at the time, the law. so it's just to punish them and return them to slavery.

you are tying to use the laws existence to justify the laws existence.

surely you would not claim that all laws are good laws.

my point is that this is not a good or just law and that it is antithetical to liberty and rights.

to answer my question, you need to provide a reason that is consistent across issues to allow the government to restrict personal choices that do not violate the rights of others.

you have never done so.

 
At 7/10/2012 3:58 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Whether or not you like a law, if you break it, you should be punished, right?

If you hide Jewish families from the police you should be executed. Is that what you are claiming? That no law is bad or in violation of your rights?

Why should someone who obeys the law be punished by the law-breaker's ignorance, selfishness, carelessness, etc.?

Those who turn in Jewish families so that they are sent to the concentration camps should not be punished just because some families choose to ignore the law and hide them. Is that what you are claiming? That no law is bad or in violation of your rights?

Should people have the right to choose which laws they want to obey?

Absolutely. Some laws are immoral and should be ignored.

 
At 7/10/2012 5:46 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

I don't see how my decision to drink to such a degree that I lose my job, abuse my family and wind up on the street can be construed to have a net positive social benifit just because I think I am still better off in the street with alcohol than with my family and job and no alcohol. It seems to me you can claim people always choose what seems the best option to them but that isn't the same as claiming a person's best option can't have a negative social cost.

YOUR decision has consequences for you. You lose your job and wind up in the street. How is that different than being sent to jail and having a record for the rest of your life? Or spending your whole life in jail because you were caught with drugs three times?


Are you claiming a father who beats his family, eventually loses his job and winds up on the street does not have negative social costs?

 
At 7/10/2012 5:48 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

I don't see why the same wouldn't be true with drugs. If we are only concerned with social costs the question is will the benifits of removing many of the negative effects of drugs and the drug trade outweigh the negative effects of more drug usage.

You are wrong again. These drugs used to be legal. When they were the addiction rates were around the same level as they are now.


Do you mean addiction rates per capita or per user? Also what time period are you referring to when the drugs were legal?

 
At 7/10/2012 8:58 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

I don't see why the same wouldn't be true with drugs. If we are only concerned with social costs the question is will the benifits of removing many of the negative effects of drugs and the drug trade outweigh the negative effects of more drug usage.

You are wrong again


I may be wrong about future results but according to the link below when Alaska legalized Marijauna their teenage marijauna was twice the national average. Also assuming you are correct binge drinking increased during prohibition and combining that with the fact per capita drinking decreased then there had to be a significant drop in the number of people who drank. If prohibition had that effect it seems reasonable to assume removing prohibition would have the opposite effect.

http://www.justice.gov/dea/ongoing/alaska.html

 
At 7/10/2012 9:12 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

Is the general opinion here any activity I choose to do which might or might not negatively effect other people should not be outlawed but if that activity does harm others then I should be legally accountable?

 
At 7/10/2012 9:42 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

I just read the summary of the Cato paper concerning Portugals drug policy and found the following. Although postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or
even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies—such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage—have decreased dramatically. Drug policy
experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens—enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization.
(A good overview of the benifits of Portugal's policy is at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=portugal-drug-decriminalization)

It seems according to the Cato paper decriminalization didn't have much impact either way on drug usage. It should be noted Portugal did not legalize drugs. It is still illegal to produce and sell drugs which means the supply is still restricted so it doesn't seem a good example to use to claim drug legalization would not increase drug usage. We know more people used alcohol after prohibition than during prohibition and we know Alaska's teenage marijuana use was twice the national average in 1988 after marijuana was legalized in 1975.
http://www.justice.gov/dea/ongoing/alaska.html both cases seem to support the idea that drug legalization will lead to higher drug use.

 
At 7/10/2012 9:49 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Are you claiming a father who beats his family, eventually loses his job and winds up on the street does not have negative social costs?

Not at all. What I am saying is that the social costs are greater when you try to make crimes of vices and that those costs have nothing to do with the question of what right the state has to regulate voluntary behaviour. I have yet to hear an explanation that attempts to make a logical argument on that front.

 
At 7/10/2012 9:53 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Do you mean addiction rates per capita or per user? Also what time period are you referring to when the drugs were legal?

I mean per capita. There was a time when you could go to your local apothecary and purchase cocaine or heroin for your own use and could grow pot on your own land. Some people did abuse drugs but the addiction rates were no higher than they are today. But in those days the costs of abuse were primarily borne by the abusers and the charities that tried to help them. If people changed there was no 'record' to prevent them from getting a job or making a good living. Today's War on Drugs has not lessened total addiction rates and the criminalization of drug use has ruined the lives of many otherwise good people who could have had very productive lives. I see no way to justify that.

 
At 7/10/2012 10:04 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

I may be wrong about future results but according to the link below when Alaska legalized Marijauna their teenage marijauna was twice the national average.

So what? Pot is far less dangerous than alcohol and certainly better for teenagers than sniffing glue, using hard drugs or using prescription drugs.

Also assuming you are correct binge drinking increased during prohibition and combining that with the fact per capita drinking decreased then there had to be a significant drop in the number of people who drank.

Not really. And let us note that once alcohol became more expensive and harder to get people moved to other ways of getting a buzz. The problem was never the alcohol but the human desire for activities that are seen as vices. In many northern communities it is very difficult to bring in alcohol, tobacco, or any drugs that can be abused by the kids. This does not mean that the kids give up trying to get high. They simply move on to sniffing glue, gasoline, and other solvents that rot their brains and do far more harm than pot ever could.

If prohibition had that effect it seems reasonable to assume removing prohibition would have the opposite effect.

It did. Crime rates went down. Property taxes went down as the states and cities found another source of revenue to fund their activities. The mob went out of the alcohol business.

The legalization of alcohol sales in most states provided federal, state, and local government with increased tax revenues to offset cuts in property taxes while simultaneously providing a drastic decrease in the price of alcohol and in effect granting the American public a type of tax cut.

 
At 7/10/2012 10:08 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Is the general opinion here any activity I choose to do which might or might not negatively effect other people should not be outlawed but if that activity does harm others then I should be legally accountable?

I agree with Spooner. "Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property.

Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.

Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.

In vices, the very essence of crime — that is, the design to injure the person or property of another — is wanting.

It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practices a vice with any such criminal intent. He practices his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.

Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property — no such things as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.

For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth."

The argument is sound. I am more than willing to look at a contrary argument that claims that bad habits and vices should be criminalized.

 
At 7/10/2012 10:27 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another

I thought involuntary manslaughter covered irresponsible accidental deaths? If I target shoot in my back yard and accidently shoot my neighbor is that not a crime?

 
At 7/10/2012 10:46 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

I may be wrong about future results but according to the link below when Alaska legalized Marijauna their teenage marijauna was twice the national average.

So what?


Earlier I believe you said I was wrong to think legalizing drugs would lead to an increase in drug usage. This seems to be a case where legalizing a drug led to an increase in the use of the drug. By the way Alaska didn't like how it worked and voted to recriminalize it in 1990.

 
At 7/10/2012 10:51 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...


i understand, but my point is that the cost calculus is irrelevant until you can address the rights issue.


Is this true no matter what the cost?

 
At 7/10/2012 10:55 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

this seems like a straw man. first off, producing somehting harmful (and lying about it)violates the rights of others, which puts it in a different camp.

I didn't mean to imply either the product was harmful or I lied about it. I only said the process was deadly. Lets say my process has a 1 in 10,000 chance of poisoning a town's drinking water. Should I be banned from doing it?

 
At 7/11/2012 8:45 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

I thought involuntary manslaughter covered irresponsible accidental deaths? If I target shoot in my back yard and accidently shoot my neighbor is that not a crime?

When you shoot a person with a gun while firing in your back yard you cannot claim it to be an accident. An accident is when you are practicing on your farm far from people and happen to hit a drunk who was asleep under a pile of leaves behind your targets.

 
At 7/11/2012 8:47 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/11/2012 8:48 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Earlier I believe you said I was wrong to think legalizing drugs would lead to an increase in drug usage. This seems to be a case where legalizing a drug led to an increase in the use of the drug. By the way Alaska didn't like how it worked and voted to recriminalize it in 1990.

You are missing the point. If legalizing pot gets kids off alcohol and hard drugs the increased use of pot is not a harm to the kids or society. For the numbers to be valid you need to look at what the legalization did to all drug use and for the harm and benefits that were realized as a result.

 
At 7/11/2012 8:51 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Is this true no matter what the cost?

Yes it is because individuals have the right to bear any costs that they choose. But government has no right to impose costs on voluntary activities by individuals who do not aggress against others or their property.

 
At 7/11/2012 9:08 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Are you claiming a father who beats his family, eventually loses his job and winds up on the street does not have negative social costs?"

that's a pure straw man.

who is to say he would not have done most of those things anyway?

most drinkers manage not to do this. correlation is not causality. does beer turn you into a wife beating drunk or might you need the predilection to start with?

consider the possibility that people with real problems are attracted to drinking as opposed to the drinking always causing the problems.

but, such costs, which likely do exist, do not justify punishing the innocent.

if i drive recklessly and they take your car away, is that fair or just? is that a society you want to live in?

you keep trying to jump to costs without first providing a rationale for permitting such government interference.

that's the cart before the horse.

 
At 7/11/2012 9:12 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"
Is this true no matter what the cost?"

as vangle said, yes.

that is how inalienable rights work.

you have a right to free speech, no matter if your theories on aliens and l ron hubbard drive away your family and cost you your job,.

at no point can the government step in and say "hey, you are just saying things that are much too stupid and harming yourself, you need to be forcibly silenced for your own good." that's just not how it works.

drugs use is precisely the same. you may be harming yourself. you may be doing something stupid. but until you violate the rights of another, that is purely your business.

inalienable rights are absolute or non extant. once there are "exceptions" they are not real inalienable rights anymore, they are governmental fiat.

 
At 7/11/2012 12:38 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

Earlier I believe you said I was wrong to think legalizing drugs would lead to an increase in drug usage. This seems to be a case where legalizing a drug led to an increase in the use of the drug. By the way Alaska didn't like how it worked and voted to recriminalize it in 1990.

You are missing the point


Actually you are missing my point. I was addressing one aspect of the arguement not whether the arguement as a whole is correct. People on this board are claiming legalizing (not decriminalazation (spell?) drugs will not lead to increased drug use. That goes against what most people feel would be true so if you are going to include it in your arguement it seems to me you should have strong evidence for it. When I point out evidence it isn't true other points are brought up (which may be valid). I think the legalization case will be stronger if you don't make claims that people can give counter evidence for.

 
At 7/11/2012 12:50 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

ranger-

but given that the rights issue needs to be resolved before a costs issue is even a matter for consideration, don't you think we ought to be having the other discussion first?

 
At 7/11/2012 12:53 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

"Are you claiming a father who beats his family, eventually loses his job and winds up on the street does not have negative social costs?"

that's a pure straw man.


It is clear if you think that is a straw man I haven't made clear what I am asking. I think you have said people who maximize their utility can not have negative social costs. If you don't believe that then we agree and are done. If you do believe that then someone who maximizes their personal utility by drinking but that drinking leads to family disentegration is not a straw man. It doesn't matter how few people fit this catagory or what we should or should not do about it. My only point is the claim people who maximize their utility can not have negative social costs.

 
At 7/11/2012 12:55 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

When you shoot a person with a gun while firing in your back yard you cannot claim it to be an accident

I had no intention of shooting the person. I thought you said without intent there was no crime?

 
At 7/11/2012 12:58 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...


but given that the rights issue needs to be resolved before a costs issue is even a matter for consideration, don't you think we ought to be having the other discussion first?


I have no problem with that. I don't necessarily disagree with your general position but am trying to point out what seem to me to be weaknesses in specific parts of the arguements I've seen on this topic.

 
At 7/11/2012 1:08 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

at no point can the government step in and say "hey, you are just saying things that are much too stupid and harming yourself, you need to be forcibly silenced for your own good." that's just not how it works.

But they can stop you from yelling fire in a theater. They can stop you from inciting a riot. They can stop you from telling military secrets to other countries.

 
At 7/11/2012 2:05 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"I think you have said people who maximize their utility can not have negative social costs. If you don't believe that then we agree and are done. If you do believe that then someone who maximizes their personal utility by drinking but that drinking leads to family disentegration is not a straw man. It doesn't matter how few people fit this catagory or what we should or should not do about it. My only point is the claim people who maximize their utility can not have negative social costs."

i think you have missed the thrust of what i am saying.

sure, there can be costs. but there are also (at least perceived) benefits. you are talking about part of the equation, i am talking about the net figure.

if net effect = B - C (benefits -costs) then it is difficult to see how most drug users could possibly produce a negative net social cost. their benefits are part of the benefits to society. net social benefit is the sum of all net individual benefits.

thus, to believe that alcohol (or whatever) has a negative net social benefit, you must believe that most individuals are consistent making a choice to consume somehting that makes them worse off.

we can look at a few examples and say "you drank and got mean and it cause problems for your family" but i think you are assigning the full cost of such too readily and ignoring benefits as well.

first off, we do not know if he would have done those things anyway. did drinking wreck his family or were drinking and family wrecking symptoms of the same pathology?

second, what about the guy who has a crappy day at work, has a beer afterward with some friends, and comes home is a better mood instead of taking it out on the kids and wife?

you have to factor that into the sum as well.

the existence of costs does not imply the existence of a negative net social benefit.

this is the issue i am taking with your argument.

you look at one piece and try to make it stand for the whole.

surely if a product costs $200 and provides $400 in benefits, focusing just on the costs is the wrong metric.

i think you are trying to do just that here and in the process making assumptions that most americans consistently buy somehting with net negative value, which seems pretty untenable.

might some, sure. some guys bought tesla roadsters and rapidly found out what crap they were, but the car market as a whole has net positive benefits in spite of some outliers.

 
At 7/11/2012 2:09 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"But they can stop you from yelling fire in a theater. They can stop you from inciting a riot. They can stop you from telling military secrets to other countries."

examples of bad applications do not provide evidence for the the justness of another policy. that's like saying he stole my car so i can steal yours.

you are free to yell fire in a theater. however, if there winds up being no fire (or no credible reason to think there was) and you have harmed others, then you ought to be held responsible for that. thinking of it as a speech issue is the wrong framing.

 
At 7/11/2012 2:12 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

also note:

all the speech examples are ones in which you harm another.

thus, they are not analogous to drug use in aggregate.

you have personally performed an action that caused harm by violating rights.

if you get drunk, you have not. if you get drunk and beat your wife, you have.

for speech laws to look like drug laws they would have to say "you may not speak about racial equality in public because it MIGHT incite a riot".

 
At 7/11/2012 2:57 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Actually you are missing my point. I was addressing one aspect of the arguement not whether the arguement as a whole is correct. People on this board are claiming legalizing (not decriminalazation (spell?) drugs will not lead to increased drug use.

I don't think that anyone can clearly tell you exactly what will happen to total drug abuse. If smoking pot is less harmful than hard drugs or abusing prescription medication why is an increase in pot smoking that is accompanied by such a decline a net negative? As Mark showed the Drug War has been lost because drugs are widely available and supply is increasing by so much that prices are falling. The fact is that drug use has increased even though drugs have been illegal and the Drug War has harmed many innocent people.

That goes against what most people feel would be true so if you are going to include it in your arguement it seems to me you should have strong evidence for it.

The strong evidence that the Drug War has failed has already been included. Prices are falling because supply is growing. That is something that the proponents of the War are not paying much attention to as they cite doctored data and decades old reports for support of their failed position.

When I point out evidence it isn't true other points are brought up (which may be valid). I think the legalization case will be stronger if you don't make claims that people can give counter evidence for.

My primary argument is the one I gave above. In a free society vices are not and should not be criminalized because the government does not own our bodies. I have yet to hear from the nanny state supporters and argument about why it is that taxpayers should fund a huge bureaucracy that does little else but criminalize bad behaviour and tramples on the natural rights of individuals as it often commits acts that are above the law. When you or others can do that we may have a two way debate that is meaningful. Until then there is little of substance on the main point.

The less important, utilitarian argument that you guys are giving out is not very sound. The data shows that the War on Drugs is very costly to society and very profitable to drug dealers and terrorists who use drug sales to finance their activities. Supply is certainly not constrained and demand is only lessened by throwing many individuals who use drugs but do not harm others in jail and by doing so ruining their lives. The gangs love it because the barriers put up by the legal system keep margins very high and keep profits flowing. When these gangs use violence to fight for market share many innocent people are killed or are forced to live in fear.

I have no clue how you can support such a failed activity that does obvious harm to individuals and to society.

 
At 7/11/2012 3:02 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

But they can stop you from yelling fire in a theater....

That is because you are violating the property rights of the owners and the patrons if you yell fire when there isn't one. Which rights held by other individuals are you violating when you smoke pot?

 
At 7/11/2012 3:05 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

if net effect = B - C (benefits -costs) then it is difficult to see how most drug users could possibly produce a negative net social cost. their benefits are part of the benefits to society. net social benefit is the sum of all net individual benefits.

I think that assumption is that the use of alcohol or drug users will make an otherwise peaceful person do harm to others. It seems that the argument that people would not do stupid things that hurt their families or others without access to drugs or alcohol.

Frankly, I do not think that our friend has thought through the position.

 
At 7/11/2012 8:41 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

i think you are trying to do just that here and in the process making assumptions that most americans consistently buy somehting with net negative value, which seems pretty untenable.


I think I understand your point now. I think your point would be if I buy item A and it has 50 utility points for me and costs those around me 25 utility points then society has come out 25 utility points ahead because I am part of society. The only way it could be a net loss would be if the utility points society lost was more than 50. I think I can agree with that. But then I think you claim it is unreasonable to think a group of Americans could all make decisions which cost society more utility points than they gained. That may be true with drugs but I don't see why it would have to be true as a general principle.

 
At 7/11/2012 8:55 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

But then I think you claim it is unreasonable to think a group of Americans could all make decisions which cost society more utility points than they gained. That may be true with drugs but I don't see why it would have to be true as a general principle.

I am sorry but what the hell are utility points? Is one of your utility points the same as one of mine? This is the typical nonsense that makes fools out of most economists that are dumb enough to make these type of arguments. I suggest that you boys and girls abandon the angels on the head of the pin approach and start dealing with reality as messy as that may be.

 
At 7/11/2012 8:58 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

I think that assumption is that the use of alcohol or drug users will make an otherwise peaceful person do harm to others. It seems that the argument that people would not do stupid things that hurt their families or others without access to drugs or alcohol.

Frankly, I do not think that our friend has thought through the position.


I clearly have never claimed people only do stupid things when they use drugs or alcohol. If you are claiming there are no people who do stupid things under the influence they wouldn't do otherwise then we will have to agree to disagree. I know several people whose personal experience would say otherwise, but maybe they are deluding themselves.

By the way, if you really care about bringing people over to your position comments about people who disagree with you not thinking probably doesn't help you do that. It turns out I support legalization of drugs but I have tried to point out what appear to me to be incorrect points in the arguement. You have no idea how much I have or have not thought about the idea. I guess cheap shots are part of the blogging game. I have enjoyed the conversation and am sorry you didn't think my comments where worthy of your intellect.

 
At 7/11/2012 9:25 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"But then I think you claim it is unreasonable to think a group of Americans could all make decisions which cost society more utility points than they gained. That may be true with drugs but I don't see why it would have to be true as a general principle."

i'm not sure i follow you here.

why would people consistently choose to pay more for things than they are worth?

i can see doing it once if you made a mistake (as we all do), but assuming you then realized that you had not gotten value in the trade, why would you do it again? if you buy an expensive bottle of wine and don't like it, you would not buy it again.

that seems like one of the basic tenets of economics to me: price and utility discovery.

also:

"I think your point would be if I buy item A and it has 50 utility points for me and costs those around me 25 utility points then society has come out 25 utility points ahead because I am part of society. The only way it could be a net loss would be if the utility points society lost was more than 50"

this is even a bit more complicated. someone sold you item A. thus, they valued it at less than 50 utils and therefore also got value and so on down to raw materials.

your net purchase gains you 25 utils but if the guy who produced it and sold it to you valued the work he put in at 12 utils, he gained 13 as well so the societal gain would be 38 and so on down the production chain.

 
At 7/11/2012 9:28 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"I am sorry but what the hell are utility points? Is one of your utility points the same as one of mine? This is the typical nonsense that makes fools out of most economists that are dumb enough to make these type of arguments. I suggest that you boys and girls abandon the angels on the head of the pin approach and start dealing with reality as messy as that may be"

this seems like a pointless statement and a straw man. utility is just a catch phrase for a personal view of value. substitute in dollars if you like, it amounts to the same thing.

value somehting more than its price, then you are inclined to buy it and can be better off as a result. i find it difficult to see what could be called objectionable about such a claim.

it seems to me like you are splitting hairs here for no real reason.

 
At 7/11/2012 9:34 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

bart-

i think the best doctrine around such flame wars is no first use.

so long as folks are civil, i think one should try to remain civil in return.

granted, we do not all always succeed, but it seems like some of the regulars around here (not you) seem to be more than usually stroppy lately.

insofar as we can, i think we all benefit from keeping the tone around here as high as we can.

personally, i enjoy a lot of these debates and get annoyed when they degenerate into poo flinging. it tends to eclipse the actual issues.

 
At 7/11/2012 9:39 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/11/2012 9:48 PM, Blogger ranger275 said...

Moganovich,
I apologize, I misread one of you posts and incorrectly thought what you quoted was your point. Ignore my last comment. I appreciate your effort to answer my questions although I don't think I have made my points clear enough.

 
At 7/12/2012 9:00 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

this seems like a pointless statement and a straw man. utility is just a catch phrase for a personal view of value. substitute in dollars if you like, it amounts to the same thing.

But how do you aggregate judgments of personal value? You can't so it is best to ignore the nonsense and start to look at the dollars. But even there you have a problem because the involvement of government does away with a market price signal. There is no empirical data that can provide a 'proper' conclusion because the social sciences are not suitable for the methodology that is being pushed.

value somehting more than its price, then you are inclined to buy it and can be better off as a result. i find it difficult to see what could be called objectionable about such a claim.

I am not finding anything objectionable with that statement. It is the pretense of knowledge that brings into the discussion the idea of aggregate utility that I have a problem with.

it seems to me like you are splitting hairs here for no real reason.

Not at all. You had a very good argument until you decided to get diverted into the utilitarian argument.

The way I see it there is no way to justify the War on Drugs on moral or economic grounds. As Mark pointed out, it has failed to limit supply and I cannot see how you can eliminate all demand in a human society without moving towards absolute tyranny. Look at it this way. The government is so incompetent that it cannot even keep drugs out of the prison system. Why would one want to keep funding such incompetence?

And why can't the busybodies learn from Prohibition? The answer is that theirs is a faith based position that has little to do with logic, morality, or economics. The argument demands an answer to the rights question. By diverting attention to flawed positivist methodology you are letting the other side off the hook.

 
At 7/12/2012 9:01 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

So you are saying we can't talk about net social benifit because your value is not the same as mine so your entire argument is about something which doesn't exist.

Not exactly. But what I am saying is that you have no clue about how to measure the utility that you are bringing up and as such cannot ever come to any conclusion by talking about utils.

 
At 7/12/2012 9:42 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"
But how do you aggregate judgments of personal value? You can't so it is best to ignore the nonsense and start to look at the dollars. But even there you have a problem because the involvement of government does away with a market price signal. There is no empirical data that can provide a 'proper' conclusion because the social sciences are not suitable for the methodology that is being pushed. "

this seems like more semantic hair splitting.

the issue were were discussing was hypothetical and intended in a more qualitative than quantitative vein.

obviously, no one could ever aggregate the net happiness of all Americans in dollar or utils or any metric.

but if we look at one micro individual qualitatively, we can extrapolate trends that ought to be true in the society/economy as a whole.

eg. if most people derive more value than harm from drinking, then it turns out to be a net social positive and that to believe it is a negative, one must believe that most amercians are consistently choosing to by somehting they value less than it's cost.

you seem to be trying to make the impossibility of precise aggregation the enemy or qualitative analysis.

it's not a utilitarian argument. utilitarianism is a very fraught and dangerous idea even if you try to include rights as values. there, i wholeheartedly agree with you. it becomes a monstrously subjective mess, especially in aggregate.

that is not the argument i am making.

i am making a rational actor argument: that individuals can determine over time what the costs and benefits of an action are and will chose those actions whose benefits to them outweigh the costs.

if we aggregate that, then it becomes very difficult to see how the net social benefit of say, drinking, can be negative.

i think the word "utility", which, btw, was not something i chose to inject here, just a response to ranger, may have set you into a mindset that is not what i am actually driving at.

 
At 7/12/2012 10:05 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

this seems like more semantic hair splitting.


I do not think so. The big problem that I see is that much of the methodology used by the neo-Keynesians in the Chicago school and the Keynesians who usually argue with them is worthless. The pretense of knowing more than can be known is only used to spin narratives and avoid logic.

While I agree with most of your argument on this issue I think that when you guys get into the utilitarian arguments there is little basis for either you or your opponent.

 
At 7/13/2012 7:05 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

but if we look at one micro individual qualitatively, we can extrapolate trends that ought to be true in the society/economy as a whole.

If you want to say that people rank alternatives and as long as they do not violate the rights of others should be free to pursue their chosen actions because those actions are valued more than the alternatives I would not disagree. My problem is with the pretense that social sciences can yield sound empirical data that can be used to draw valid conclusions. That diversion into fantasy land moves the argument away from the moral questions that need to be answered. What is the justification for having some people dictate to others what they may or may not do with their own bodies?

 
At 7/13/2012 8:41 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"While I agree with most of your argument on this issue I think that when you guys get into the utilitarian arguments there is little basis for either you or your opponent."

an i think you are still miunderstanding what you are reading. the mere use of the word "utility" seems to have really thrown you.

this is not a utilitarian argument. it's an argument about how individuals make choices.

are you seriously disputing that people try to make trades for things they value more? eg i value a t shirt at more than it's $30 price, so am am better off when i buy it? (or, conversely, that is i paid $30, i likely value it at more than $30?) i may make mistakes, but i rapidly correct and do not repeat them.

that is literally all that has been said and all one must believe what i am saying.

you seem to be having this utilitarian argument with yourself.

no one else in invoking js mill here, just assuming that people, by and large, try to get value from their choices.

"My problem is with the pretense that social sciences can yield sound empirical data that can be used to draw valid conclusions. That diversion into fantasy land moves the argument away from the moral questions that need to be answered. What is the justification for having some people dictate to others what they may or may not do with their own bodies?"

again, the only one going there seem to be you.

no one is making that argument. i think you have misunderstood the point. there is nothing in any of this that requires some sort of social summation of net benefit.

my whole point was this:

people try to make trades that leave them better off.

we each make our own choices about that. (in economics these choice rankings/parameters are called utility curves. this has zero to do with utiltarianism)

thus, if many make a choice to drink alcohol, they must see some benefit to this choice.

for alcohol to be a net social negative, most of these people must be wrong.

ironically, my point is that no one could ever demonstrate that and that we need to trust the individuals.

you seem to be trying to describe my argument as the opposite.

all i am, in the end, saying is that until they violate the rights of another, we should respect (or at least permit) the choices of each individual based on their own preferences.

you seem to be injecting all manner of things into what i have said that are simply not there.

 
At 7/13/2012 12:38 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

are you seriously disputing that people try to make trades for things they value more? eg i value a t shirt at more than it's $30 price, so am am better off when i buy it? (or, conversely, that is i paid $30, i likely value it at more than $30?) i may make mistakes, but i rapidly correct and do not repeat them.

I do not dispute this argument.

that is literally all that has been said and all one must believe what i am saying.

My problem was with the statement, ""I think you have said people who maximize their utility can not have negative social costs. If you don't believe that then we agree and are done. If you do believe that then someone who maximizes their personal utility by drinking but that drinking leads to family disentegration is not a straw man. It doesn't matter how few people fit this catagory or what we should or should not do about it. My only point is the claim people who maximize their utility can not have negative social costs."

I think that you allowed yourself to be diverted from the important part of the argument by someone who did not want to deal with the points that you felt were important.

Note that Ranger stepped took the opportunity and responded to you by posting, "I think I understand your point now. I think your point would be if I buy item A and it has 50 utility points for me and costs those around me 25 utility points then society has come out 25 utility points ahead because I am part of society. The only way it could be a net loss would be if the utility points society lost was more than 50. I think I can agree with that. But then I think you claim it is unreasonable to think a group of Americans could all make decisions which cost society more utility points than they gained. That may be true with drugs but I don't see why it would have to be true as a general principle."

Instead of dismissing the nonsense for what it was and restating your argument as you did later you responded with:

"this is even a bit more complicated. someone sold you item A. thus, they valued it at less than 50 utils and therefore also got value and so on down to raw materials.

your net purchase gains you 25 utils but if the guy who produced it and sold it to you valued the work he put in at 12 utils, he gained 13 as well so the societal gain would be 38 and so on down the production chain."

 

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