We don’t have a drug and alcohol problem in America, we have a prohibition problem, and a mass incarceration problem. There’s more people incarcerated for victimless crimes in this country than anywhere else in the world. In fact, 1 in 5 incarcerated people are locked up for a drug offense, and 450,000 are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses on any given day. Why is this? Police, prosecutors, and judges continue to punish people harshly for nothing more than drug possession, but they haven’t hurt anyone, committed fraud, force or coercion of any kind. They haven’t stolen anything and they haven’t been violent towards anyone. Have they violated the non-aggression principle? If two consenting adults peacefully exchange a product or service for a monetary value, then where is the harm?
Governments should not be in the business of regulating morality from their offices because they often get it wrong.
If there is no victim, there is no crime. So what is a crime? Drug offenses account for the caging of close to half a million people, and nonviolent drug convictions remain a major burden on the prison system. So many arrests are made every year which end up leading to unjustified prison sentences that only add to the endless cycle of mass incarceration numbers. Over-policed communities are the ones suffering, and it’s hurting their employment opportunities and only continuing the war on drugs and longer jail sentences. We have prisons full of people who have committed victimless “crimes.” According to the ACLU, the U.S. has more than 20% of the world’s prison population. Since 1970, our incarcerated population has increased by 500%—2 million people in jail and prison today, far outpacing population growth and crime. Is the criminal justice system working? Is the country getting safer?
Alcohol prohibition (1919-1933), is acknowledged as a gift to organized crime. It created more of a problem than anything else. The production, underground sale, and distribution increased and expanded throughout this period, despite the strict laws and resources allocated to enforce prohibition. Through bad legislation, lawmakers have created more problems in an attempt to “protect others” from themselves. They’ve essentially created criminals and interfered with free market solutions.
Here in North Carolina, we have the Alcoholic Beverage Control System (ABC Commission). It’s a perfect example of things government does for no good reason. The ABC system’s goal is to maximize revenue. Instead, it limits revenue by restricting sales. It stifles industry growth and job creation that could bring in more revenue. Local ABC boards decide how many stores to operate and what to sell. This reduces consumer choice. Local distillers cannot sell a product without a local board’s approval, but there are no standard rules for approval. More outlet stores and more product variety would increase liquor sales revenue. It would give consumers more choice.
Government has no business selling any product or service the private sector can provide, especially if the free market can do so more effectively and efficiently. Other states do just fine without government liquor stores. There’s no evidence supporting assertions the state liquor monopoly prevents underage drinking or alcohol abuse. The claim that the government would lose revenue is also unfounded. Only seven percent of liquor sale profits go to the local government. State government revenue from liquor sales is already built into taxes and surcharges under state law. It’s just the opposite. Free market liquor sales would increase government revenue through surcharges, licensing fees, and sales taxes. Consumers, distillers, private retailers, future entrepreneurs, local job-seekers, and local communities would all benefit from freeing North Carolina’s liquor industry from senseless, ineffective regulation.
Keep in mind that Republicans and Democrats are responsible for this mess we’re in. They created these policies. They are making these laws and keeping the war on drugs an ongoing cash cow for the bail bond system and the courts. Something has to give. The free market will take care of the problems that cannot be solved through bad legislation. In the words of Jo Jorgenson, “I think the government is too big, too nosey, too intrusive, and often hurts those it intends to help.”
Stay safe out there, and say no to prohibition because it’s not working.