I feel bad for Stossel because for some reason he gets a harsh wrap in some libertarian circles, but I never really understood why. Many believe he is some Fox News puppet, pretending to be libertarian in order to bring libertarian viewers to Fox. But I do not this is the case for a couple reasons: 1: He is very critical of the Republican establishment, just watch his show, 2: There is no evidence to support this claim, and 3: He is an open agnostic. But what I want to talk about in this post is the point of being critical of the Republican establishment, and this is quite clear if we look at the Drug War debate he had with Ann Coulter.
Clearly Stossel exposes Republican irrationality in this debate. Coulter’s basic premise of ‘we need to control what people do because we live in a welfare state’ is insane because this extends to what we can do in our daily lives, and not just what drugs we may consume in our own homes. But also her facts are all wrong. Coulter claims that death rates decreased during the times when alcohol was illegal because it reduced alcohol related deaths, and that murder decreased but as Stossel showed, murder rose during times of Prohibition. And what is the typical Republican response when facts contradict their beliefs : I don’t believe that!
But let me get back to Coulter’s premise – we need to control people because we live in a welfare state. She further justifies this position by saying because she is a tax payer of the welfare state that she has a right to control the lives of what people are doing because she assumes that people that takes drugs will lead to a higher dependence of public services. I do not know if this is necessarily true, as a lot of successful people have taken drugs before (and since she is the one making the claim, I would love to see evidence of this claim), but legalizing or at least decriminalizing drugs would reduce the amount of money we spend in prisons, that I can say for sure. They would reduce the policy programs that target solely drug users. The United States currently puts a lot of money into funding prisons and police drug programs and this would surely decrease if drugs were legal.
Also, in an economics perspective, according to Milton Friedman, an economist that is supposedly praised to the right wingers, criminalizing drugs generally brings drug users that use mild drugs to more heavy drugs. For example, in the case for weed, where it is a bulky substance, thus relatively easier to detect, thus increasing the cost for it, has led people drugs like cocaine where it is less bulky. Also on top of that, making the drug costs more, leads people to create more harmful versions of hard drugs. For example, Friedman points out that one of the reasons for the creation for crack was because cocaine was too expensive.
In conclusion, it is going to be nearly impossible to convince the typical Republican on the issue on drugs, simply because they have this predetermined idea of their ‘perfect’ conservative society….sick and Coulter is the one calling us kooky, can you say ironic?