Let’s say the Libertarians get their way on the War On Drugs… Now What?



Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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195 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

    My parents started letting me have a glass of wine with Shabbat dinner in high school. IIRC I was also given a wine glass when we went out to restaurants and when I was in college but pre-21, my parents let me order beer and wine with dinner at restaurants or drink at home when on break from college. I think there were only a handful of restaurants where we were carded/checked.

    That being said, I find the idea of smoking weed with my parents to be deeply odd. I have friends who grew up in households that were more hippie than yuppie. They saw their parents smoke weed like I saw my dad pour a drink when he got home from work. They might have even smoked weed with their parents. I don’t know why but I find this very odd. I feel fine drinking with my parents. Smoking weed with them, not so much.

    You are right that Europe has a much more liberal culture about what is appropriate for children to be around. In the first episode of the French TV series The Returned, there was a flashback scene in a smoke filled and crowded bar with a rock band playing and one of the characters brought his two young daughters to the bar with him. I don’t know if this is normal or not. The US used to have a similar culture or at least immigrant sections. Al Smith used to recall going to beer halls with his dad and getting a big slice of chocolate cake and a glass of milk while his dad drunk beer.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

      One of the jokes in the trailer for the movie “Sweet Home Alabama” (sigh) was the protagonist seeing one of her friends from her youth and saying “Oh my gosh! You have a baby! In a bar!”

      So there are parts of the country in which the culture is such that it’s perfectly normal to bring a baby to a bar… and others in which the culture is such that this is a good laugh line for a movie.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to Jaybird says:

        I have mixed feelings about this but it depends on the occasion.

        Once in the Brooklyn Brewery, I saw a bunch of parents hosting a kid’s birthday party in the place (it has a drinking space on Saturdays). This struck me as parents who basically could not bring themselves to hold a proper kid’s birthday party because they were too cool or something like that.

        In SF, there is a beer garden in one of my favorite neighborhoods. Sometimes I see parents bring their kids to that place. These don’t look like birthday parties for the kids so it is more cool.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’m pretty sure in every part of the country there are bars which are Not Acceptable to bring kids to (if nothing else, Actively Dangerous).
        I’d assume that other than dry parts of the country (is that Alabama? I know East Tennessee runs dry some places), there’s always places where you can bring a kid.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:

        Depends on the liquor licensing rules in effect.

        In Canada, as far as I know, in every province a bar license requires enforcing a strict no-minors policy – not just no serving alcohol to minors, but no minors may be present at all. Quebec may well be different, because Quebec.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:

        …Which has the unfortunate effect that 16 and 17 year olds basically can’t ever hear live music – it’s either an ungodly expensive arena tour thing, or it’s got an affordable cover charge but happens in a bar.Report

      • @saul-degraw

        We take our kids to some of the local bars all the time (though never a birthday party there). Some of them have kid-friendly menus, some don’t. It’s really not a big deal. (We’re not out getting blotto with them until 2 am).

        Years ago, my wife and I were playing a show at a local night club with a strict no minors policy (this place: http://zaphods.ca/ ). We had no trouble bringing our 12 month old (who, at the time, tended to stay up until 11:30 or 12:00, anyway.. which was hell, lemme tell ya).

        It probably helped that we were performing and knew much of the staff and owner, but still, they were totally cool with a baby there.Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to Jaybird says:

        It may in some cases actually be easier to take a 12 month old than a 17 year old. You can assume the baby isn’t going to try and sneak up to bar while his parents aren’t looking and lie about his age, nor will he go into school and tell his friends that all the adults like a double vodka so they should try it.Report

      • Most definitely, @matty . I wonder how old my kids will be before I can’t take them out clubbing!Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:

        Not in Canada it ain’t. We went by our friend’s bar with our then seven month old – not even for a drink, just because we were walking past and wanted to show off our baby to the owner. The staff literally ran at us, with somewhat panicked looks on their faces, to turn us away.

        Talking about the fact that no bartender is going to serve whiskey to a bartender, or even that the baby drinks nothing but breastmilk anyway, does no good – that’s the kind of talk you save for sensible humans. The law says a bar found harbouring a minor is liable for a fine and suspension of its liquor license, that’s what the liquor authorities enforce, that’s what barshold themselves to if they want to stay in business.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:

        (heh – should have read “the fact no bartender is going to serve whiskey to a toddler”, obviously)Report

  2. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I think we get caught up trying to lump these things in to one big category and treating them as identical. Marijuana is different than beer is different than whiskey is different than cocaine is different than heroin is different than sleeping pills is different than…

    As such, we should approach them differently.

    Also, people are different. The “forbidden fruit” is enticing to some, terrifying to others.

    A one-size-fits-all approach seems destined to fail.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

      Heck, I’m not even trying to treat these things as identical. It’s more that I’m thinking this:

      There are healthy ways to partake and unhealthy ways to partake.
      The way that I was introduced to alcohol, for example, was not one of the healthy ones.
      Surely there is a healthy way to introduce marijuana that would result in healthy partaking… right?
      I have no idea, like *NONE*, what this healthy way would look like. Like *NONE*.

      Given that I’m one of the “END THE DRUG WAR NOW” folks, this strikes me as a problem.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

        Well, you used a crosscultural model for alcohol, why not for weed too?

        Pass around the peace pipe during ritualized imbibing. Teach the kids not to indulge to excess, both by having folks around to guide them, and by not giving them the idea that excess is even really a concept.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Jaybird says:

        I think it’s partly a problem of conditioning. A child drinking a liquid is perfectly normal, even if said liquid is alcohol. It is still a liquid & kids drink liquids all the time.

        Smoking & other common methods of ingesting drugs is much more of an “adult” thing, and thus we suffer a discordant note when we see kids doing it.

        Think of it this way, which causes more mental distress, watching a kid smoke a spliff, or watching a kid munching away on pot brownies?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        a problem of conditioning…we suffer a discordant note when we see kids doing it.

        It is really funny (and dispiriting) when you consider how many social arguments we have over everything from drugs to sexual issues etc., that are just some form of this.

        Think of your dog.

        If your dog is anything like mine, most dogs have a very sensitive – but not sophisticated – sense of “that ain’t right” for things that they don’t encounter frequently.

        They bark at people rolling along in wheelchairs. Using canes. Wearing hats. Having beards. Kids. White hair. Umbrellas.

        There’s no telling what a given dog will look at and go, “hey! that guy is weird-looking and probably up to no good!”

        Anything that they don’t usually see is possible cause for alarm, and potentially frightens and confuses them.

        Dogs are ‘Man’s Best Friend’ for a reason, and we are more like them than we realize or want to admit.Report

  3. Here’s one of the first issues of Cato Unbound that I ever managed. It seems relevant:


    • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      Who was the classics fan that came up with the titles Cato and Cato Unbound?Report

      • For Cato, that would be Murray Rothbard, by way of John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, by way of Joseph Addison.

        For Cato Unbound, I’m not actually sure who gets credit, or in what proportions, but it must in part include Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      Some awesome essays in there… I really like Sullum’s point that we shouldn’t mix up “temperance” with “abstinence”.

      And Earth and Fire Erowid’s essay where they discuss “Fundamentals of Responsible Psychoactive Use” has me scratching my head. On one level, they’re 100% correct in what they’re touching upon. On another, I feel like I’m reading a book written by a Polygamist explaining how to best be married to four women. Sure, it might be good advice, but isn’t the best advice to avoid being in the situation where you need good advice?

      But then I realize that that position is identical to expecting abstinence rather than temperance.

      If anything, this exercise gives me a bit more sympathy for the Drug Warriors than I had the day before.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird says:

        Regarding the hallucinogens, I believe the native cultures had the right idea. Set and setting are critical; you need a safe environment, experienced guides, and perhaps a better reason than a rock concert. Although I wouldn’t call the experience religious or even spiritual necessarily, I think approaching it with an attitude of seriousness, of gravitas, in an atmosphere of ritual is the correct way to approach it. There are also potentially important psychiatric therapies there as well.

        The wrong way would be like this guy I knew in college that tripped literally every other day. I don’t know what happened with him, but I’m pretty sure wherever he is the people in the white coats treat him nicely.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        @road-scholar – we all know people who did too much and didn’t come back the same, if they came back at all. But I also have a good friend who spent about a year or year and a half tripping daily in college, and he’s a normal, well-adjusted sober family man and professional now. For whatever reason, tripping every day for him was like smoking pot every day would be for someone else. I also have another friend who rarely let himself get hung up on any one substance, but was on a seeming quest to try them all at least once in his life. Again, he’s a well-adjusted, very successful person.

        But regarding ‘ritual’ of some kind as psychic prophylactic, I don’t disagree, and would note that the idea seems to occur naturally amongst many cultures and subcultures; even casual drug takers will often build informal rituals and customs around their use; even Christianity counts the ritualized imbibing of an intoxicant (though in a largely-symbolic amount) at its center.Report

  4. Avatar Damon says:

    I never had an issue. Like Saul I got some booze growing up at the dinner table. I applied that experience when I began drinking away from home, and also applied that model to “other things”.

    I knew how much I could handle for the most part. After a few weekend benders where I clearly had exceeded things, I pulled back and quit for a while.

    But it really doesn’t matter. The societal harm elimated by ending the WOD offsets by magnitudes any hard in the above scenario.Report

  5. If you weren’t Jaybird, and if I were inclined to be hostile to you, I would reply as follows.

    When drugs are legal, they will take on new physical properties. They will creep into your house at night unbidden. Quietly, stealthily, the cocaine will then shoot directly up the noses of your sons and daughters. Or maybe it will shoot directly up your nose, and then you will be hooked, and you will think exactly like I do.

    In those dark times, you will be well advised to invest in duct tape. And water filtration systems, for the LSD in the tap water. And gas masks, because nitrous oxide.

    It is only the majestic force of Law that restrains the world from any of these nightmare scenarios.

    But I’m glad you’re Jaybird. I’m rarely kind to this type of argument.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      Well, I’m not making an argument as much as freaking out about the world that I’m hoping to will into existence.

      As I’ve said, I’ve got a kabillion nephews in Colorado and, someday, I’m going to be in the room when one of them asks a question about marijuana… I know how *I* was treated when I asked a question about it. I know that I shouldn’t respond the way that I was responded to.

      But, for the life of me, having a life full of cautionary examples hasn’t armed me with any good ones.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’d ask their parents first, and follow their lead, assuming it’s at all rational.Report

      • Avatar Griff in reply to Jaybird says:

        Marijuana seems like a pretty easy case, given that it’s actually less damaging and less habit-forming than alcohol. But, does your vision of a post-legalization society entail a total lack of regulation? If not, wouldn’t the corollary for harder drugs be something like prescription painkillers?Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Jaybird says:

        We’re a non-drinking household, which means that I only drink when I can be sure it will never get back to the parents.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Jaybird says:

        And I don’t ever smoke, because of nicotine and cancer. I’m more or less doomed to get heart disease and diabetes. I don’t need to add lung cancer to my risk profile and drive up my premiums.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      I don’t think this is really responsive to Jaybird’s question, Jason. He’s not really talking about “law”, except as context.

      Given that almost no modern first-world society (not just American) has anything approaching full legalization; and given that various drugs have various properties and risk profiles; I don’t think it’s at all strange to wonder how society (parents, friends, families, teachers) might best teach responsible use of newly-widely-available-and-legal substances.

      Yes, we all agree, adults should be responsible for their own decisions.

      But we also agree that, all else equal, it’s best for everybody if a maximal number of adults make responsible decisions.

      And how do we get to the maximal number of responsible adults, making responsible decisions?

      Well, we need to start teaching them before they are adults.

      We don’t just hand someone car keys at sixteen, with absolutely no prior training or evaluation, and say, “Have fun, champ, and be careful! If you kill yourself or anyone else, remember that’s a decision you made and are responsible for!”

      I mean, even if there was no LAW requiring licensing, we’d certainly want some sort of informal general process to be occurring, for everybody’s sake. Fathers taking their kids out to drive around in parking lots. That sort of thing.

      So, what does that look like for, say, LSD? Take a trip with your 15-year-old? I’m not *inherently* against the idea. CPS might be though.

      Cocaine? Do a small rail with your 13-year-old, so that he knows what it’s all about and doesn’t pull a Richard Pryor later in life?Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Glyph says:

        Portugal’s drug decriminalization seems to have worked very well.

        I don’t intend to use hard drugs with my daughter, but I do hope to use marijuana with her at some point quite late in her adolescence. And to do so legally.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

        I’m putting 2+2 in my head and I’m thinking that a well-prepared grownup would be able to stack the deck in favor of only doing things when they can be done *RIGHT*.

        “We’ve got two kinds of warm tea, three juices, six kinds of cheese, three kinds of crackers, and two different chocolate spreads. There’s also an assortment of melon, berries, and sliced oranges. The freezer has dreamsicles and fudgecicles. The television has Spongebob queued up and if the stereo is preferred, we’ve got Lenny Kravitz.”

        Now imagine someone whose first marijuana experiences were *THAT*… being asked “do you wanna party?” in a room where the available amenities are Chikin In A Biskit, Spray Cheez In A Can, and a community 2-Liter of Mountain Dew.

        “You know what? I think I’ll pass.”Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        I think weed’s the easy case. I think many others are more complicated.Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to Glyph says:

        Jaybird, please, please can I come round to your place to smoke dope? It sounds awesomeReport

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

        We’re more of a “boozehound” household.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      I think I saw a public service announcement like this once when I was kid. I’m really glad my parents didn’t buy into the war on drugs crap.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      I’m gonna have nightmares tonight, @jason-kuznicki

      Thanks a lot.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to zic says:

        Hehe. Thanks, I guess!

        The serious point, which I should have made, is this:

        We already live with drugs. They’re already here. Legalizing them isn’t going to call into existence any problems that we don’t already face to some extent.

        Legalizing will drastically reduce some problems, including nearly all drug-related violence, drug adulteration, and overdoses.

        Legalizing may aggravate some problems, including addiction, but the empirical data from Portugal suggests that these increases may be so small as to be undetectable.Report

  6. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    My parents had that approach with alcohol – I occasionally had a glass of wine (not every day, but not just high feast days – e.g. on occasions as special as having dinner guests), starting around age 12, and by high school no special occasions was required.

    I had a couple of friends whose parents took the same approach with pot (well, more or less – we had to buy our own pot) – we could smoke openly at their house, and didn’t have to hide the fact that we were stoned as long as we didn’t mind being teased a bit. Getting high at those people’s places was generally a much calmer affair than when we were wandering the streets and parks at night – we’d smoke a bowl, play some board games or cards, make a snack, chat with the parents. Pretty much as NBD as it gets.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to dragonfrog says:

      (To clarify – I hadn’t even seen pot at age 12. The second paragraph didn’t apply until around 15 or 16 for me, though I don’t know when my friends with the permissive parents started).Report

  7. Avatar Malcolm Kyle says:

    Under our present prohibitionist-regime, these certain plants/concoctions/drugs are sold only by criminals and terrorists; the huge black-market profits are used to bribe and threaten law enforcement officials and commit atrocities against innocent civilians; the availability and usage rates tend to go up, not down; prisons have become filled to capacity with easily replaced users, vendors and smugglers —this list is endless!

    Prohibition guarantees to criminals and terrorists the power to threaten communities, and even whole countries. Ending drug prohibition won’t be the complete answer to all our drug problems, just as the end of alcohol prohibition didn’t end all the problems associated with alcohol. But it will surely ameliorate the crime and violence on our streets, lessen the huge burden on our judicial system, and shrink the immense incentives for corruption in public office.Report

  8. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Like Saul said, our parents taught us the pleasures and responsibility of drinking starting sometime in puberty. Even in high school, the message about drinking was don’t get in a car with a drunk rather than don’t drink. They didn’t provide access to but they also encouraged experimentation with marijuana. The thing is I still can’t see parents teaching kids to use drugs, the same way to drink. Drugs seem closer to tobacco than alcohol for that reason even though they shouldn’t. The idea of a parent letting a kid try some wine or beer doesn’t seem odd but showing a kid how to inject heroin into you is deeply disturbing.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Well, people might let kids try alcobol, but they generally don’t show kids how to get trashed on Thunderbird.

      And, presumably, if drugs were legal, nodding off on heroin would be seen like getting trashed on Thunderbird.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to Jim Heffman says:


        Re: Thunderbird

        You bring up an interesting issue and it is mainly socio-cultural. I wonder how much of the current treatment of alcohol and drugs is because we worry about parents who would teach their kids to get trashed on Thunderbird and potentially harder jokes.

        I.e. is it a fear of “white trash” that keeps prohibition in place?

        My parents were pretty liberal people but they were also pretty stereotypically upper-middle class, everything in moderation, etc. At one job, I had a co-worker whose father tossed him a bunch of porn mags as sex ed. I was kind of horrified by that.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jim Heffman says:

        Parents who introduce their kids to alcohol by getting them smashed on thunderbird need to get a lesson for having bad taste in alcohol.

        Saul, your worried about parents teaching thier kids to enjoy harsh jokes?Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

      showing a kid how to inject heroin into themselves doesn’t seem much different than how to inject insulin. or anti-histamines/adrenalin.Report

  9. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    Perhaps in addition to legalizing drugs, we should also cut state and federal funding for MADD.Report

  10. Avatar Maribou says:

    I would respectfully suggest that as someone who was raised with such a weird reaction to alcohol, you are not the best person to be dealing with this issue. (I mean, honestly, even if your mom wasn’t present, I’m pretty sure you would still freak out if we started serving watered wine to nephews at family functions.) Despite my having some cultural advantages around this issue, one of my parents was a violent addict, so neither am I. Of course it makes us go O.O

    Fortunately, we have lots of friends with different contexts that we could call upon in need. One hopes that the parents of the nephews also have such friends, or have different contexts themselves. (One is pretty damn sure of it in a few cases.) And MOST of the people who were most harmed by the drug war? Their kids (at least in the case of those who had kids) were already being served up by various examples of people consuming. I doubt that they will have worse examples now than they do then.

    If the spliff thing freaks you out (ahhhhhhhh! lung cancer! seven-year-olds!), instead picture a plate of enhanced brownies and some 15-year-olds. Is that really so terrifying? More so than the same table with unaltered brownies, and a couple of ciders for everybody? If so, I think that’s your deal, not society’s.

    Give it 20 years, and weed will be BORING. At least as boring as alcohol, probably more so.Report

  11. Avatar Patrick says:

    Sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

    Wait, sub in “alcohol” for “rock and roll”.

    Three things that are all well and dandy when taken in proper proportions and with proper preparations, but kids aren’t good at portion control and goddamn my seven year old still can’t stop taking her shoes off and dumping them wherever she stands, and promptly forgetting all about ’em.

    It’s probably not a good idea for kids to drink enough liquor to get more than lightly buzzed more than once a moon. Hinders brain development. Same thing with weed, not to mention the harder stuff.

    We all know abstinence-only sex ed is an abysmal failure, and yet the other day here on the blog Kazzy brought up exactly this topic and there were a lot of flustered responses that came down to abstinence-only drugs-and-alcohol education.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Patrick says:


      While I struggle with an abstinence-only approach with either controlled substances or sex, I think most of those who were advocating it on my thread were doing so because of the unique developmental needs of the students in question (in this case, 8th graders). I’d venture to guess that many would offer different advice if we were talking about a different age range, at which point it wouldn’t be fair to classify their broader view/approach as abstinence-only.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Kazzy says:

        That’s a fair point, but… (and you knew there was gonna be a ‘but’, right?)…

        There’s a very fine line to dance between “don’t do this”, “don’t do this because I say so”, “don’t do this because you’re not old enough to understand it yet”, “don’t do this because it can be harmful to do it at your age” and moving on to affirmative stances such as “you can do this if and only if” or “you can do this if” or “hell, go ahead, kid, just use protection” or whatever.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        Well, that is why I tend to favor a descriptive rather than prescriptive approach.

        “I’m not going to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t do it. But I am going to try to educate you as best I can on the pros and cons. And if you want to know what I would do if I were you, I’ll tell you that as well.”Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Kazzy says:

        So, in defense of your descriptive approach…

        At one point in my high school years, Ma came into my room and said, “So, honey, I know you’ve had beer at parties (she was wrong on that score, actually, but that’s an aside; I didn’t drink socially with peers but one time until my graduation party), but I don’t know if you’ve tried dope yet and we should talk about it.”

        She then told me that she smoked a lot of dope in college (this was not news, my first experience of pot was seeing a smouldering joint in the kitchen at a very large party hosted by my parents when I was about 12… not that my parents smoked at the time, but they had a wide circle of friends), and she didn’t do hallucinogens but she was often the person who stayed sober while people dropped acid.

        She described one bad acid trip where she and a friend had to bodily force another friend into a closet because they were in the middle of a bad trip and they were trying to get a knife to scrape all the spiders off of their body. “That only happened once, and it only happened to one guy, and he was in a bad place when he dropped acid, but you should know that yeah, you can really lose your ability to know what’s real or not when you do hallucinogens. I can’t tell you what to do, but my advice would be don’t take anything that you have to snort, inject, or pop, and don’t smoke pot unless you know where it came from, because people lace drugs with other drugs and you always want to know what you’re taking.”

        I drank a lot in college and I may have tried devil weed, but I stuck to the “don’t snort, inject or pop pills” rule. I never regretted not trying acid. I knew some people that got into speed and that was a bad, bad scene.

        I think most kids want to lose inhibitions, but few kids actually want to lose their minds.Report

  12. Avatar greginak says:

    The great difficulty to say with any sort of detail what the world will be like with ending the WOD is the biggest stumbling block to winding it down. Drug legalization proponents also tend to do a terrible job of it as shown by a few comments above and in every thread about legalization that just states “everything will be better of course, how silly for you to disagree” when we legalize. Psychoactive drugs can be a lot of fun and also can trash a life real fast. There aren’t any really easy answers when it comes to how to deal with it with your own kids and family. I think one reason for that is that while most of us used some drugs and came away with nothing more then a lost night or funny stories we also at some level know we got lucky to avoid serious consequences like serious physical harm. I never partied really hard and i can think of a handful of incidents where myself of friends could have very easily been killed or badly hurt in not for some good luck.

    I do think the general euro attitude towards drinking works better then the “keep the little ones away from demon rum” attitude we often find in the US. How that translates to drugs other then pot i really don’t know.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to greginak says:

      Yeah, this. There are drugs and there are drugs. Marijuana is the drug of choice for legalization arguments because its the most commonly used illegal drug and has the least negative side effects. Other drugs are a bit more serious in their downsides and much more deliberating and addicting. Not recognizing this isn’t doing a great job of convincing skeptical but necessary citizens to the war on drugs. Just because proponents of a particular movement think the concerns of their opponents are silly at best and evil at worse doesn’t mean that they don’t have to address them.Report

  13. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    I suppose the question becomes:
    Do we treat drugs like we treat alcohol? Or do we treat them as we treat tobacco?

    We place substantially more restrictions on the marketing and advertisements involving tobacco in addition to placing a much larger emphasis on funding treatment/quitting programs on the latter using tobacco taxes.

    It’s telling for example that Kleiman and co. found that habitual user creation is one of the big drivers of alcohol and tobacco marketing, and that creating a sort of quasi-dependence is important for the largest mass producers of these products. In which case, should we strongly limit how some of these products are marketed? In that case, which ones? By how much?Report

    • Note that:
      Europeans do seem concerned (on the whole) with the impact of marketing on attitudes toward consumption of alcohol:

      Most telling is that the organization which focuses on these studies is based out of the Netherlands, hardly the prohibition capital of Europe.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        I hear mixed anecdotes concerning the alleged way that Europeans introduce their kids to alcohol. One anecdote is that it works and European kids, at least those not born to British parents, don’t have Forbidden Fruit syndome when it comes to drink. The other anecdote is that you have lots of European kids and teens that drink way too much than they should.

        We’re never going to sovle the problems with intoxicating substances. Humans have been creating a variety of things to help us get mildly buzzed to wacked out of our minds since pre-history. Some of us can handle these substances with no problem, others can’t handle them at all, and everything in between. We have developed many ways to introduce children to them but can’t find a satisfying method that works for everybody. What we do know is that prohibtion doesn’t work.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        I agree.
        My impression of alcohol is this:
        Americans love to party. Europeans love to party. Europeans party at Festivals (Midsummer, etc.), where everyone is there. Americans have college age kids without parents around, and some of them party every weekend for extended periods of time. (Europeans don’t board college students nearly as much, and it’s less of a coming of age ritual anyway).

        Europeans also give their kids alcohol when they’re fairly young (I had some at age 4ish, in France.)Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Nob Akimoto says:


      There used to be greater restrictions on alcohol marketing and are still more than many realize. Hard liquor used to be relegated to print advertising only. And I think commercials are still restricted from showing people actually ingesting the products.Report

  14. Avatar North says:

    I know it’s somewhat non-sequitor but your post immediatly made me imagine you stalking back and forth across the kitchen in front of Maribou with your cats all lined up in a row while ranting “we’ll have none of that devil water in THIS household! None of that satan-weed! None of that nose-candy or uppers or downers being used by my childr..err..cats!”Report

  15. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I wonder how effective saying the following to a child would be:

    “In a few years time, you will have access to a car and disposable income and will spend time with friends without supervision by adults. You will have the world at your fingertips. Included amongst the opportunities that will present themselves to you will be mind altering substance of one stripe or another. Some of these are relatively harmless. Others can take a great toll on you mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, or otherwise. What you choose to indulge in and how will go a long way towards determining whether these experiences are positive or negative for you. Some of these are things I would advise you against ever putting into your body, but I recognize there are limits on how much I can actually do to stop you. So, rather than tell you what you can and can’t do, should or shouldn’t do, I ask that you tell me what you are curious about, what questions you have, what you are interested in trying, and we can try to come up with a plan that will address your curiosity but will also allow me to fulfill my role as your parent.”

    The response would probably be some variant of, “Get out of my room, Dad!”Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

      TL/DR, dad. So should I get high or not?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:


        Well, first off, I’m assuming there are no legal or other formal (e.g., losing a job) consequences for smoking weed. And I would need to do a bit more homework on the matter, but I also believe that weed does not cause any long term changes to brain chemistry, even in teenagers. If both of these assumptions are correct, I’d tell him it wouldn’t be the worst way for him to spend a Friday or Saturday night provided he does it responsibly (e.g., no driving while high). I’d rather he get high in the backyard around the fire pit than engage in a host of other activities.

        If we’re talking about harder drugs, I’d tell him the risks tend to far outweigh the gains, sometimes exceedingly so.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

        @kazzy – jury’s still out on long-term changes to the brain in pot users, particularly in ones whose brains are still developing. My recommendation right now would be to wait until 18- 21, and if they can’t or won’t do that, to use it in moderation.

        Of course, this is no different than my advice with alcohol.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

        There’s pretty clear evidence for long-term, if not permanent changes to the adult brains of adolescent users, but the evidence for long-term changes to adult brains of adult users is minimal. So yeah, wait ’til your brain’s pretty much full cooked.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Thanks, @glyph and @chris . Now I don’t have to do homework!

        “So yeah, wait ’til your brain’s pretty much full cooked.”

        When does that happen?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Around 165 degrees… where are my rim shots? Where are they?

        Sometime between 17 and 25. I’d say 21 is a pretty good, if somewhat arbitrary age. 18 is probably too young unless use is just occasional (you know, like a glass of wine at Christmas dinner, maybe on birthdays), and 25 would be overly cautious.

        By about 18, your brain is losing cells, both in white and gray matter, rather than gaining, but it’s doing so with a purpose — getting rid of the stuff it doesn’t need — so it’s still developing, in a way. And it’s still working really hard to get the connections right, too. Not really a process you want to mess with too much.


      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

        So all that drinking I did in high school is the cause of my problems today? Good to know! A convenient scapegoat!Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

        It might explain your urge to toss Mayo onto the bed, at the very least.Report

  16. Avatar Roger says:


    As someone with a proclivity to lean libertarian, I need to point out a disconnect between your title and your introductory paragraph. My intent is not to pick nits, but point out important distinctions.

    I am strongly opposed to a “war on drugs.” However, this is not necessarily synonymous with a “post-legalization society.” There is a huge potential gap between the two. I see many libertarians use arguments against the former to jump directly to an assumption of the latter.

    In other words, I see huge problems with complete legalization. I see this as a worthwhile area of continued state involvement, though substantially below the “war” level. Perhaps you do too. Perhaps not.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

      Typical Roger… waging a War on Wars.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger says:

      In other words, I see huge problems with complete legalization.

      Without even venturing into “complete legalization” territory, I find myself wondering what a society where marijuana is not illegal anymore would look like when it comes to teaching the yutes about how to do it right.

      I figure that if I can’t even imagine marijuana being legal (a goal of mine), that’s a problem with my position when it comes to how we need to legalize it.Report

      • Avatar Herb in reply to Jaybird says:

        “I find myself wondering what a society where marijuana is not illegal anymore would look like when it comes to teaching the yutes about how to do it right.”

        Colorado, man. I’m up in Denver, and it seems like we already live in a post-legalization environment. “Regulating the hell out of it” seems to be the answer the authorities have come up with when it comes to dealing with legal weed and children.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Jaybird says:

        “…if I can’t even imagine marijuana being legal (a goal of mine)…”

        Again, I see not having a war on Marijuana as being a better world. I think having Pepsi setting up Hashish vending machines outside of elementary schools as a worse world. Thus I worry that your legalization goal is a step backward in terms of human flourishing.

        Thus I would take a step back. Instead of assuming legalization and fretting over how to explain it to the kids, I would recommend not assuming complete legalization.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        I live in Colorado Springs! Now, of course, we have no recreational stores (city council voted against it) but the unincorporated areas do (and I’d be downright flabbergasted if Manitou didn’t end up selling recreational) but we’re littered with Medicinal shoppes and all of those seem to be interested in not branching out… they prefer the Medicinal clientele (which, as far as I can tell, is almost entirely middle-aged and up).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        I think having Pepsi setting up Hashish vending machines outside of elementary schools as a worse world.

        Privatize the schools!

        For the record, it seems to me that hash vending machines are about as likely as beer vending machines. (They might exist in isolated corners, of course.)

        I imagine that even in a war on marijuanaless world, there will still be issues of “how to best introduce this substance?”… unless we agree that the way colleges do it now ain’t bad.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

        I believe most places have laws about how close places that sell alcohol can be to schools and other such things (maybe churches?). I can’t imagine “legalize marijuana” implies, in any possible world, “put the marijuana shop next to an elementary school.” If that is an argument for maintaining its illegality, then, it’s an absolutely terrible one.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        I don’t see us turning into Japan unless the, ahem, prophylactic and eye protection regulations in California’s, ahem, movie district start applying everywhere.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

        If the the vending machine panties were edible then they could be sold next to the hershey bars, peanuts, pop tarts and chewing gum. Problem solved. Just have to be careful when pressing the selection buttons.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Jaybird says:

        Regulation is in effect making certain actions illegal. A state regulation against selling beer to minors effectively introduces the power of the state to make doing so illegal.

        If we are just quibbling over definitions, so be it. I am all for stopping the war on drugs. I am not sold on the idea of eliminating all legal regulations on drugs. Indeed, this seems like one of those areas where regulations make sense.

        Is anybody for legal and unregulated (by the state) drugs? If so, would you care to share the argument?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yes, but if someone wanted to discuss how to best introduce, say, beer or wine to children… we’d be able to discuss such things as “dinner” or “when the menfolk are all out hunting” or “when the womenfolk finally are able to get the menfolk all out hunting” or “gender roles are social constructs” and *THEN* talk about how to do it rather than explaining about whether we want people to be able to sell beer or wine in schools.

        I mean, right now? I can pretty much guarantee you that your kid’s school has more weed exchanging hands than beer or wine.

        I mean, unless you live in Warshington or Colorado.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Jaybird says:

        Not sure I am following the logic. Chalk it up to poor reading comprehension.

        You are suggesting that youth pot smoking is lower in “legalized” but (still heavily) regulated states? Not sure where you got your data, or how this supports not regulating.

        Thanks for the discussion.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        You are suggesting that youth pot smoking is lower in “legalized” but (still heavily) regulated states? Not sure where you got your data, or how this supports not regulating.

        I’m suggesting that youths have access to various substances in their schools. Everybody knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy. “Dealers” is what we called them back in the 80’s. Maybe they’re called “Fixers” now. I hope so.

        Anyway, in ths 80’s, it was possible to get anything from weed to acid to coke from a dealer. You know what it was a lot tougher to get, for some reason? Beer or wine.

        Now, true, there *WAS* beer drinking going on (you’d hear stories of kids getting suspended for drinking at a dance or whatnot) but the dealers didn’t move beer or wine.

        Using “what happened last time” as a template, I’m pretty sure that once marijuana becomes legal in the same way that beer or wine is legal, it will, similarly, be difficult to find in the hallways of the school.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

        It was much easier to get weed than alcohol at my high school, and at least as easy to get several other drugs (acid, mushrooms, coke (powder and rock), and speed at least). In order to get alcohol, you had to steal it or know someone who’d buy it for you or have a fake ID and be able to pull it off. To get weed, you just had to talk to one of the many dealers in the hallways (and everyone knew who they were).

        The parties all had both (and usually plenty of other stuff), but there were a ton of daily smokers, and not very many daily drinkers.

        In fact, there was a guy with a fake ID and the looks to pull it off (sometimes, at least) who’d buy people alcohol in exchange for weed.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:


        I think at least PART of the reason why you don’t see alcohol moving through school hallways is a result of size. A dime bag can be moved with a handshake deal and can get a couple of people high for the night. A six-pack is much harder to move logistically. It’s big, bulky, and heavy.

        I had pretty easy access to both weed and booze in high school. I don’t know if harder drugs were available; no one I knew did them and I never had any interest. Tobacco was everywhere; the smokers all hung out outside one door and the most school officials would do was shoe them off the curb so at least they weren’t on school property. While some of those folks could legally acquire and make use of tobacco, the vast majority couldn’t. Yet there it was.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        Did any of your towns have dealers who went by Rob Ice? It seemed every town in my area had a dealer named Rob Ice, such that you had to specify whether you were talking about Teaneck’s Rob Ice or Hackensack’s Rob Ice or Bergenfield’s Rob Ice.

        Unless someone very entrepreneurial was setting up franchises…Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        Worth noting is that “Ice” is a slang term for meth. Maybe Rob didn’t sleep a lot and was able to cover a lot of territory.

        Another possibility would be that using a common pseudonym offers each dealer a modicum of protection…”‘Rob Ice’? Nah man, you got the wrong guy, my name’s Clarence, I heard that guy lives in Teaneck…”Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

        @jaybird Regarding alcohol vs. drugs sold at schools (or playgrounds, or street corners), I think there are other more logistical issues than regulation.

        I easily can carry around bags of X in my backpack or even my coat or pants pockets without looking in any way suspicious. I can’t really carry around any 12-Pac.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        I don’t think meth was really on the scene when I was in high school (1997-2001). Not on the east coast at least. Weed and ecstasy (which I forgot to mention in my previous comment) were the main drugs. Some of my friends dabbled in shrooms and acid, though a bad trip on the latter by one guy put the kibosh on that. One girl was rumored to be on coke, but this was always talked about as if it was uniquely scandalous. A “real drug”. We had some unique demographic issues that might have contributed to that perception.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        The logistics of moving beer/wine might hint to something like a lively vodka/whisky/rum market but, seriously, I never heard of such things moving on the underground.

        I mean, not that I was *THAT* close to it, but I was close enough to know that when kids got busted for drinking, it was beer that they got busted for.

        And, in a brief conversation with my guidance counsellor, she expressed incredulity that there was more LSD going on than weed (which, now that I think about it, would be a *LOT* easier to move than even weed… a couple of tabs are smaller than a stamp).

        In any case, I imagine that in a post-legalization world, weed will be a lot more similar to beer than to LSD. The kids who bring it in will have stolen it from their parents rather than selling it on spec from a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy.

        The only real question is whether parents will do a good job of keeping tabs on their weed.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:


        I think you are underselling logistics. I know plenty of people who had fake IDs and who made a little extra cash hustling booze. The problem was, they could only do special orders. “Hey, Mike, can you pick me up a 30 rack for Friday?” “Sure. Meet me at my house at 7 that night.”

        Mike couldn’t keep a stash of 30s. It wasn’t practical. Hard liquor was a bit of a middle ground, but most teenagers are more turned off by the taste than they are turned on by the buzz.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        @kazzy – that was mostly a joke, though meth (or speed) has always been around, burbling under the surface, and just because that dealer sold weed to your friends doesn’t mean he wasn’t selling other products to other customers. I certainly saw it on occasion in the early-to-mid-90’s (not to get all Breaking Bad, but I was even at a party once when an extremely sketchy individual showed up with a whole tray of freshly-cooked crystal – I did not partake, though a friend and his girlfriend did, then went at it like extremely-loud rabbits all night long in the next room while I was trying vainly to get some sleep).

        In fact, that’s another thing that I think legalization might help with – black market dealing is by its nature risky-legally and full of individuals who are willing to work outside appropriate boundaries, and IMO therefore has higher incentives to get customers onto the most-addictive, smallest-by-dose drugs (they are easiest to conceal and move in volume to repeat dependent customers). A couple pothead friends of mine contacted their dealer in a particularly dry time once, and were told there was no weed to be had, but he could get them heroin (!) They declined, but presumably there’s a reason he offered.

        This is like going to the store for a BB gun so you can shoot at tin cans in your backyard, and being up-sold to a bazooka.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:


        Excellent point. There is a reason most people buy their last bottle of 151 sometime in their late teens or early 20s.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        The Dread Dealer Rob Ice.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Our class had Matt. Matt was one of those guys who had a full beard at 16. He was also a body builder and was tall and wide. The scam he usually pulled was to go in with one of the smaller kids from our circle and pull a case of whatever up to the counter. While up there, the small kid would say “Dad, can I have a Snickers?” and he’d throw the candy bar on the counter next to the beer.

        Matt never got carded.

        But these are more stories detailing the ingenuity of yutes forced to deal with a regulated market that will not sell to them.

        The guy who sold weed, for example, never carded anybody.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jaybird says:

        For what it’s worth, I had a jacket that could hide 8 beers in it.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Roger says:

      Maybe we could just have a kinetic action on drugs. We have all these drones just lying around anyway.Report

    • Avatar Lyle in reply to Roger says:

      Why not move then to decriminalization where possession and trading of any amount is a fine only offense as well as confiscation of the drugs, but no taking of cash or other possessions, making it hardly worth the police effort to enforce the law. (If the cops don’t get money for nice toys from the dealers then they may not go after them). Now the question becomes do you allow access to the courts for disputes between drug dealers? This is the next step beyond decriminalization, which reduces the need for violence in settling disputes (consider how the repeal of prohibition made liquor contracts legally enforcable for example, no need for valentines day massacres since the courts are there) The the question is do you use the drugs to raise money. Perhaps the fines in the first example could be used to pay insurance companies to support rehab). Or if you go full legalization do you tax like liquor and tobacco are taxed?Report

  17. Avatar j r says:

    Here’s the thing to remember about drug legalization or decriminalization: it is not an answer to the drug problem. It is an answer to the drug war problem.

    Your question of what to do about the drug problem has almost nothing to do with the Drug War.Report

  18. Avatar Kazzy says:

    To update my earlier piece, today we worked on strategies for responding to peer pressure. The lead teacher was attending to another matter so I got the class rolling. At one point, I talked about how I grew up being taught, “Just say no,” and little else and juxtaposed this with the more varied strategies and “formal” training we were offering them. The other teacher, who had joined us at that point, and I shared a smile across the circle every time we mentioned “Just say no”. Oh, the 80’s…Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Kazzy says:

      “just say no” and drug talk from the 80’s….great now i’m hungry for some eggs.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to greginak says:

        I did not offer, “I’m not a chicken, you’re a turkey!” as a viable option.


        “You know… MARIJUANA?” Ahh… it still cracks me up.

        Though, the message at the end is exactly the sort I struggle with. “Drug dealers are dorks… don’t even talk to them” isn’t much use if the drug dealer is perceived to be a cool kid and/or is a close friend. Telling kids that they should abandon close friends who engage in “bad” behavior is a recipe for telling kids not to listen to us.Report

  19. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    I actually wonder if, for the psychedelics, religion or something akin to it isn’t part of the answer. We could see how things work in cultures that have traditionally used peyote or ayahuasca as part of a religious rite. I don’t know enough social science to talk about it knowledgeably, but it seems like this could be a valuable exercise.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Dan Miller says:

      You beat me to it. I made a similar comment upthread as a reply to a comment by Jaybird. Reading the tales of the first LSD pioneers, who were mostly middle-age, white college professors living in the suburbs, was… illuminating.Report

  20. Avatar switters says:

    One of the scariest things I have come to realize as a relatively new father of three young boys is that there are no simple answers to questions like this (not that that means we should refrain from asking). Each child is different, and what may work wonders with one child may end up being a horrible strategy for another. Lessons in moderation will work for some kids, for others, that lesson may become a tacit stamp of approval to go hog wild.

    The really scary part is that often you wont know whether your strategy was a good one until after the relevant decision has been made. I think I’m a pretty good father with pretty good instincts (surprise surprise), and for the most part i’m pretty confident about what i’m doing with respect to raising my kids and why I’m doing it. Nevertheless, more often that i care to admit, I reach a point where i’m just guessing as to which course of action is in the best of interest of my child. I suspect my deliberations on how to approach this issue, regardless of the amount of effort i put into it, will end up in that same spot. And it will not be until years later that i’ll even be able to guess whether I chose correctly or not.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to switters says:

      Boom goes the dynamite.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to switters says:

      The worst thing my parents did, upon finding out that I was smoking, was to confront me about it. They expressed shock and horror. I, meanwhile, was relieved because I didn’t need to hide it anymore. And so I started smoking more.

      Granted, I was over 18 at the time. If I had been younger and living under their roof, it would have been different. But the best thing they could have done was not confront me about it, because secrecy was one of the things that kept me from getting too addicted.

      But that’s probably not the right move most of the time. There’s just no way of knowing.Report

  21. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Lots of confounding factors, some mentioned previously…

    Differences in the delivery mechanism. Ethanol comes wrapped in flavorful packages that have another purpose: beer tastes good with pizza; wine tastes good with a variety of things; a nice single-barrel bourbon tastes good all by itself for dessert. I’d still drink beer, wine and bourbon if the ethanol could be removed without affecting the flavor. At least IMO, THC lacks the same sort of dual-purpose delivery mechanisms. The hash stuffing at Thanksgiving in graduate school was nice, and certainly helped a number of overly tense graduate students unwind prior to the crush of the end of the semester, but it didn’t enhance the stuffing itself. Perhaps more important, the most common THC delivery mechanism can be physically annoying to other people (that may just be me; I’m really sensitive to smoke of all sorts).

    By-the-drink equivalent. So far, THC lacks public settings in which it can be consumed. I’d guess we’re at least 20 years away from it being acceptable to use THC in public. One of the hurdles is how to implement by-the-drink, which is a critically important social setting for acceptance. Colorado has the equivalent of liquor stores now, but is a very long way from the equivalent of a by-the-drink bar. One of the big problems is the delivery mechanism. Who wants to use a vaporizer that’s been who knows where? Could the vaporizer industry standardize on a package for a by-the-drink equivalent?Report

  22. Avatar Shazbot11 says:

    Good post, JB.

    There are two separate problems here.

    1. Acts of drug and alcohol abuse that are socially pernicious. I’m thinking of binge drinking, getting high before school and not learning, stimulants and engaging in unprotected sex, dying from overdose, etc.

    2. Drug and alcohol addiction ruining lives in the short term. (Obviously, addicts also behave in ways relevant to #1, but not all people who engage in socially pernicious abuse are addicts.)

    What to do about problem #2?

    A.) Stop using prisons as drug rehab centers. It don’t work.
    B.) Mandate treatment in some cases
    C.) Spend more on much better treatment facilities. Have feds take control entirely of funding. Community mental health (and thus a lot of drug treatment) is an administrative patchwork mess right now and needs to be reorganized and better funded.

    Problem #1 is much tougher. Some suggestions:
    D.) Public health campaigns as we have been doing with cigarettes
    E.) Restrict sales of drugs to locations where people will be required to act in safe ways, e.g. only certain cafes. Limit the number of drug cafes.
    F.) Increase public transportation use to reduce drug related driving
    G.) Require facilities that distribute and sell drugs and alcohol to be responsible for making sure they are not selling to those who are currently high or dangerous

    That ain’t enough. Not by far. More is needed.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot11 in reply to Shazbot11 says:

      Sorry that should be “ruining lives in the long term”Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot11 says:

      Shaz, I’ve been thinking about your comment here (and contrasting it with Zic’s immediately after) in my head for a couple of days now and the contrast is *HUGE*.

      My main worry is not that we’re going to suddenly burden society with a bunch of people who have suddenly afflicted themselves with the problem that Afroman talks about above. Those people, it seems to me, have the hookup right now. And what are they doing? Well, whatever it is, they’re doing it while high.

      What I’m hoping is for a way to introduce this sort of thing in such a way that “holy cow, I want to feel like this… for the rest of my life…” isn’t a thought in the heads of those partaking as much as “this wouldn’t be a bad thing to do on every other Friday, maybe, depending on whether we’re bowling with the Thompsons.”

      It seems to me that prohibition leads to excess and there are healthy introductions possible in its absence. I’m just trying to figure out what they’d be.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot11 in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’m not sure how you introduce alcohol or drugs to young people makes much of a difference in how it will effect them long term, in terms of pernicious acts of abuse or dependence and addiction. It probably (IMO) makes a measurable but very small difference in whether they will become addicts or whether an act of alcohol abuse will hurt them or their friends. (If there is evidence that I am wrong on this, let me know. I am pretty sure that lots of Europeans do introduce kids to alcohol in this way, and I don’t know if it makes that much of a difference everywhere in Europe. I would be interested to learn more.)

        Lots of factors go into how people behave with drug and alcohol use: genetics, cultural pressure, availability of the substance, where the substance is allowed to be consumed, public health programs, poverty, etc., etc., etc

        Here’s an analogy. Lots of factors go into a person’s sex life. Whether your parents taught you about sex education and told you it was okay that you sleep with your girlfriend or boyfriend under their roof, as long as you used protection, probably doesn’t make much of a difference in whether you will have a sex life and romantic life that is good for you or bad for you.

        The difference is that drugs and alcohol are more potentially damaging (in the aggregate) than sex (although unprotected sex in specific is very dangerous, too). And the damage occurs not just to you but the people around you.

        Thus, society -through government- is justified in restricting how drugs and alcohol will be sold, how public health programs will teach responsible use, and in taxing the wealthy to pay for good treatment programs (not prisons) for those that need it.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot11 in reply to Jaybird says:

        For instance, the French have an alcohol abuse/addiction problem, too.


  23. Avatar zic says:

    Haven’t read through the comments yet.

    I got high the first time with my grandfather and two uncles. The pot we smoked had just come back with one in his trunk at the end of the Vietnam War. My uncle is a war hero, he tracked more hours flying rescue missions then just about any other chopper pilot.

    They used to hand him bags of speed — little pink pills — and tell him to go fly, he’d be out for binges of 22 hours, he told me once. Puts your video games to shame, JB. He got shot down twice, and was lost behind enemy lines for two weeks; our family went through hell then. They did not check his locker for drugs, everyone knew they all did drugs. He came home to a nation doing drugs, and we’re still suffering the trauma of that.

    Dr. Richard Rockefeller gave a Commonwealth Club talk on treating PTSD with ecstasy, and he opens it with a wonderful discussion on the national trauma that drug used created. This is also an incredible explanation of what PTSD is, and I recommend the lecture highly. Because PTSD and drug use have a really complicated relationship, and you have to think about drug use in concert with coping.

    Most teens are highly aware of drug culture by the time they’re in high school. They will witness people drunk, they will be around people smoking pot, snorting ADHD medications, zoning on opiates — and that last was pretty uncommon when I was younger. The epidemic of heroin addiction that used to be prescription addiction is really frightening, replacing crystal meth and bath salts. I suspect meth has fallen out of fashion due to Breaking Bad; I hope so. Teens see this, at least at a distance, and for many, up close and often discomforting. Many teens self medicate; I know I did. Heartily. I know dozens of young people who did.

    I think legalization of pot, at the very least, wise. Other drugs, I’d consider one by one. And if I ran the world, I’d be prescribing a lot more pot for pain and a lot less oxycontin.

    I do not know many families that have not suffered some sort of war-on-drugs scar. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t have someone close to them (outside certain religious communities) that is at least an occasional pot smoker. What I’ve seen here is that it’s a lot like same-sex couples — as the people who do smoke are more open about it, there’s more comfort; they’re just regular people. This is really more of a ‘getting to know you,’ social thing, in my mind.

    For kids, make it okay for them to talk about what they witness (and try) to you without being judgmental. Shut up and listen to them. Don’t condone, particularly if you’re not comfortable. Give solid reasons — and the best solid reason is that the reward centers of their brains are still developing and they are at the stage of their lives where it’s easiest to form a life-long addiction.

    It’s like sex. Don’t say know, teach them how to be responsible for their actions. Arm them with good information, and respect their right to make choices, to make mistakes, and to learn and grow.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to zic says:

      “I got high the first time with my grandfather and two uncles. The pot we smoked had just come back with one in his trunk at the end of the Vietnam War.”

      Wait, did your uncle drive home from Vietnam? 🙂Report

  24. Avatar Robin says:

    I thought the last post was spot on!
    I see people as all individuals, so the problem with these laws is, they are black and white. I know people that can go to a party, do some drugs, & won’t again for a long time. Other people try a drug, & developed a life long love. There’s no way to tell.
    I do know, we aren’t doing this right.
    I am surprised no one addressed your main concern…. The kids. Why do you feel you need to do something with a child to teach a child about it? To say you have to do drugs with them, because they need to learn, is like saying you would have to have sex with them to teach them about sex.
    Maybe some parents do choose to smoke pot with their kids, or drink. Mine didn’t, & we had many talks. I’m not an alcoholic or pot head.
    Keeping things in the shadows is strange. Children are not stupid.Report

  25. Avatar Shazbot3 says:

    The using drugs or drinking with your kids thing is not much help for anything. Bad parents will do this badly and that will make things much worse.

    We could have a program in hospitals and schools teaching kids to use carefully that exposed them under safe conditions. As a side effect, this would make use seem incredibly dorky and might reduce overall use.

    Also, psychotherapy has value here.Report

  26. Avatar Murali says:

    I grew up in a place where drug dealers get the death penalty. While I know and assent intellectually to the case for decriminalisation, growing up in such a legal regime means that my intuitions about drugs are all messed up. I may want to live in a liberal society, but no way in hell am I going to run a liberal household.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Murali says:

      In your experience and sphere of knowledge, does the very harsh penalty for drug dealing mostly deter would-be criminals from engaging in this behavior?Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Pretty much. When it comes to drugs, they’ve really reversed the burden of proof to such an extent that just being caught with more than X amount of drugs shifts the burden of proof on you to show that you are not dealing drugs. This violates just about almost every defensible political principle I know, but it works. Given Singapore’s location near places like Thailand and Indochina which have a higher incidence of drug trade and Singapore is an important hub of many trade routes, Singapore ought to be having a much higher incidence of drug abuse. Yet, somehow, very few drugs actually make it into Singapore. The drug war has so far been much more successful in Singapore than in the US.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

        my experience with harsh and restrictive regimes leads me to think that they’re just better at not getting caught than you think.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Murali’s firsthand description tracks with my understanding of the situation. That is, the “War” CAN be (mostly) “won”, but only by using scorched-earth tactics which frankly should be unacceptable in a peacetime democracy (crazy-harsh penalties and near-complete-abrogation of liberal political ideals and civil rights in certain arenas, no matter how good Singapore may be on other metrics).

        We’ve certainly been inching towards the Singapore model for years now, I am hopeful that we are finally starting to realize where that leads and back down from it.Report

  27. Avatar ktward says:

    Fwiw, this is literally the only place on the web where I feel uniquely obligated to read an OP’s comments before I even think of commenting. (I get virtually all my news on the web, but I hardly ever comment anymore. A wasteland of wasted time.)

    Despite my decidedly imperfect and often misguided intentions as a parent, I managed to raise healthy kids into healthy adults. Thanks to me, I thought once upon a time, but truth is that I’m only one piece in a puzzle full of critical pieces: if any one of those pieces went missing, my kids might have been fucked.

    The difference between liberals and libertarians? You libertarians still believe in magic. As in, you can somehow magically effect the well-being of your child without the expressed involvement of a greater society.

    Me, I’m a liberal. I raised my kids knowing with all certainty that I needed society to help me raise them into healthy adults. I needed the Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts, and a UU church, and a county health clinic for affordable, no-strings immunizations, and a flex-hour job so I could be involved with my kids’ schools without being penalized in my paycheck, and a state that allowed me to divorce my very bad husband without having to paint him as a very bad father which would have certainly hurt my kids. Among other things.

    All kids are different. Ask any parent of more than one kid. What works for one kid doesn’t necessarily work for the next. They all come out different: some are anti-authoritarian no matter what you do. The day you think you can treat/teach/reach every kid the same way is the day you fail as a parent. Or a teacher.

    In a nutshell, here’s what happened in my parenting experience: I told both my kids that drugs (including alcohol) would fuck up their developing minds and bodies. Nevermind what adults do, they weren’t fucking adults. I had public school education and church backing me up. Did any of that stop my kids from doing some really stupid stuff? Nope. I had to be around when they did the stupid stuff and, thankfully, was able to intervene. Now that they’re older with fully functioning frontal lobes, I worry much less about them.

    At the end of the day, if either of my kids were somehow genetically inclined or otherwise fated to abuse a substance, I would much rather it be pot than alcohol or anything else. I’m pretty sure pot would do the least damage.

    So, I guess I’m saying … get a grip already. Pot legalization should happen for a bunch of good reasons, but the very least of those reasons is to make a parent’s job somehow easier.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to ktward says:

      Totally amazing comment, @ktward

      I particularly like this:

      Me, I’m a liberal. I raised my kids knowing with all certainty that I needed society to help me raise them into healthy adults. I needed the Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts, and a UU church, and a county health clinic for affordable, no-strings immunizations, and a flex-hour job so I could be involved with my kids’ schools without being penalized in my paycheck, and a state that allowed me to divorce my very bad husband without having to paint him as a very bad father which would have certainly hurt my kids. Among other things.

      It takes a village.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to zic says:

        It does indeed take a village. IMHO.

        That said, I can genuinely sympathize with those folks who, for whatever ideological or religious reasons, don’t want the help of the village. Even resist the help of the village. And if those folks don’t want the village’s help, then we shouldn’t force them to take the help of the village. But why the hell should the rest of us be penalized for wanting and needing the help of the village?

        That’s more or less my take on the village thing.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to ktward says:

      You libertarians still believe in magic. As in, you can somehow magically effect the well-being of your child without the expressed involvement of a greater society.

      Sigh. No, no. Because society is not synonomous with government. But it seems that no matter how often we libertarians try to make this point, it seems there is a subset of liberals who insist on hearing our critique of government as a critique of society, social institutions, and all non-profits like the Boys and Girls club.

      KT, Mennonites, like all others are biblically enjoined from bearing false witness.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        New libertarian theme song?


      • Avatar zic in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Because society is not synonomous with government.

        It’s not exclusive of government, either. They’re all parts that fit together into the whole we call culture and society.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        T’ain’t showing up for me.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Weird, it shows up for me. But in case it never does for you, two words: Lovin’ Spoonful.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        No doubt the fault lies on my end, but I don’t get your Mennonite reference.

        Anyhoo. Is there a single contributor or commenter here at OT who doesn’t understand that society isn’t synonymous with government? We all get that, I’m sure.

        Nevertheless, like it or not government is an intrinsic part of society. Myself, I like government that works towards the express benefit of society. But that’s just me.Report

      • Avatar dexter in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Sigh, You libertarians believe that if we would only get rid of national borders, allow hair salons to operate without any oversight and stopped making taxis pay taxes everybody would magically be fed and there would be no more poverty.
        James, you are a very bright fellow, but sometimes your condescending manner is more than a little off putting.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        But while gov’t is not possible without society, you can have society without government. Indeed about 90% of human history is evidence of that.

        But your critique is really rather beside the point, which is that the suggestion that liberals are opposed to social institutions, that they must oppose organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, is a tired old lie. And I use the term lie with careful intention here. It’s deeply depressing when even liberals I like and respect are so careless as to indulge in this lie.

        Who would bother to maintain friendship with, and treat respectfully, someone who repeatedly lies about them?Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        I think your criticism should be directed toward me, not @zic

        But while gov’t is not possible without society, you can have society without government. Indeed about 90% of human history is evidence of that.

        I’m not really sure where you were going with that. But surely we can agree that, today, society cannot exist without governance. (You didn’t suddenly turn into an anarchist, did you?)Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        which is that the suggestion that liberals are opposed to social institutions, that they must oppose organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, is a tired old lie. And I use the term lie with careful intention here. It’s deeply depressing when even liberals I like and respect are so careless as to indulge in this lie.

        I have no idea where that came from. Truly. If anyone said it, it certainly is a lie. But I never did, and ktward certainly didn’t say that, she expressed gratitude for those parts of the village that she drew upon to help raise her children. All I did was point out that government — probably in the forms of schools, the county health clinic, etc. — helped, too. It was part of, not separate from, the social fabric.

        So much tilting at windmills.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        So the bad thing is not someone making false claims about others, but someone else nit being gentle enough in pointing it out?

        I think I’ll start repeating a lie about liberals, and we’ll see how nice everyone here is the umpteenth time I repeat it.

        @ktward, I assume you believe in the Bible and take its commands seriously, and are bothered by religious right types who seem to have no qualms about lying about others. I was just snarkily hinting that you made yourself not so different from them. You don’t need to have regard for libertarians at all, but I assume you have a regard for the truth.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        I assume you believe in the Bible and take its commands seriously

        Holy cow. I’ve no idea why you would assume such a thing. I mean, even if you don’t remember me, did you not catch my UU reference above?

        Ftr, I’m an atheist. I was, however, raised a fundamentalist Christian so I can quickly quote bible verses if pressed.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Well dagnabbit, KT, I thought you were our Mennonite?

        A. I’m sorry for that mistake.

        B. Who the heck am I thinking of?Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        Well dagnabbit, KT, I thought you were our Mennonite?

        To be sure, I’ve been called worse. 🙂Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Summer in the City? Great song. 😉Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        My mom was Mennonite, so I see it as a compliment.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        … is the suggestion or argument that libertarians are opposed to social organizations or institutions.

        I can’t speak to other threads or other commenters. But I, myself, did not accuse libertarians of being against social orgs or institutions. And quite obviously you’re not.

        I accused you of being principally against government institutions, even to the detriment of citizens. Am I wrong?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        KatherineMW is our Mennonite (major pinko, too (said with all love)).

        To address the point, I would think that any government program to introduce weed to children would end up being worse than pretty much anything anybody else might suggest.

        I’m trying to imagine what the AD Council commercials would look like. “This is Jefferson Starship! They’re cool because Grace Slick was at Woodstock! Listen to them while you light up a doogie houwser!”Report

      • Avatar Lyle in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        The question of the measurement of time is does it include the hunter gather state of human development. At that time human groupings were small and social pressure would work. Ever since agriculture came into being in Iraq, (Babylon etc) there has been government, except when you have a failed state and then warlords provide a form of government such as in the failed states today. Once you have the concept of property, then you have to have some means of enforcing claims. In the early days of gold rushes and land rushes you had claim clubs that acted as a defacto government and a bit later vigilance committees, when crime got to bad. But all seemed to agree that it is better that organized government provide these services that mobs.
        So could you define the period on which you measure the 80% and consider were the groups involved large enough to need government?Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to ktward says:

      But surely we can agree that, today, society cannot exist without governance

      Let’s not confuse government and governance. All societies have governance, even those without government. And there are societies without government today, although they are rare. But that’s nit the point here. The point is whether, as you said, libertarians believe “you can somehow magically effect the well-being of your child without the expressed involvement of a greater society.”

      There’s not one thing in libertarians’ critique of government that leads to that belief. And to the extent you believe gov’t is necessary for society, and recognize that libertarians aren’t anarchists, you have yourself demonstrated the falsity of the claim.

      @zic ,
      you can somehow magically effect the well-being of your child without the expressed involvement of a greater society.

      KT did say it, and said it in contrast to her valuation of that social org called the B&G club. So you’re wrong to claim she didn’t say it.

      The truth us, libertarians like orgs like the B&G Club precisely because they’re non-governmental. I have a good friend who works at our local B&G Club–she writes the grants seeking the funds from private donors that keeps the place running. Anyone who fails to understand that libertarianism applauds that fails to grasp the basics of libertarianism. Unfortunately, there are a great number of people who mistake their misunderstanding for evidence of their deep understanding of that about which they are deeply ignorant.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        I did fail the context up the thread, for that I apologize.

        Odds are on the side that your friend the grant-writer writes grants applying for government funds, too. I don’t know of a development officer in a non-profit who doesn’t do both, unless the organization is large enough to have people who specialize (in which case, someone else writes the gov. grants.)

        I think this anti-gov. stuff bugs me so much because it really misses that for me and my gender, something approaching equality flows to us because of government. Voting, the right to use contraceptives, the right to decide how many children and how far we place them. I know you will hate me forever but: living a life being more then some dude’s chattel is because of government. It’s had my back over the last 100 or so years; though it happens in fits and spurts.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        I have zero problem with folks disagreeing with libertarians anti-government stance. It’s a legitimate position to take. What I have a real problem with, and what is not a legitimate position, is the suggestion or argument that libertarians are opposed to social organizations or institutions. We’re voluntarists, not radical individualists. We push people’s cars out of the snow, drop money in the church collection plate. Help build playgrounds, volunteer with habitat for humanity, open the door for other people, loan tools to our neighbors, keep an eye on each other’s kids and drive them to school when the parents’ car breaks down.

        We’re not anti-social and purely selfish, but we repeatedly get portrayed that way, even by those who should know better. That’s offensive.

        Critique our beliefs, by all means. But don’t slander us.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        Let’s not confuse government with governance? Are you kidding? What’s the diff? (Look who I’m asking. No one does navel-gazing better than the League. Fuck me.)

        [Deep breath.] Look, I totally like the B&G Clubs. (Even though I take certain specific issue with either of them.)

        Thing is, for the overall well-being of my kids, and to help me usher them into adulthood, I relied just as heavily upon government-sponsored services — public school surely heads that list — as I did privately-sponsored services.

        Why is this concept so difficult for you to grasp?
        Government — governance — is a critical piece in our everyday lives. I’m just as thankful to my county healthy department for inexpensively immunizing my children (when my fucking health insurance wouldn’t!) as I am to my local church-sponsored Scout Troop.

        Btw. My 25yo son, living in CO, for the first time in his adult life can now see a real Doc and doesn’t have to worry that he can afford being sick. Thanks to ACA. My daughter, in IL, holds a Degree in Psychology and is presently a hard-working restaurant server, now qualifies for Medicaid benies.

        Damn fucking straight I want government in the mix, because there are things that only government can do, especially because private enterprise either doesn’t want to do them or has demonstrably done them badly. (Don’t even get me started on Big Pharma and superbug R & D.)

        For every example you might throw at me that government has failed society, I’ll throw back at you two examples where private enterprise has failed society. I mean, seriously, you’d have to have been living under a fucking rock the last 20+ years to not see that. Thing is, as a citizen I have zero voice in whatever, say, an Enron does. But I do have a vote. Which makes government, theoretically at least, my bitch.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        While I appreciate the advantages to the disadvantaged when it comes to ACA, remember this moment 12 years from now when the insurance companies all come looking for a bailout and we have to provide it because otherwise nobody has insurance.

        I agree with you that there are some problems that require a very large scale response. (I think insurance is a terrible private market problem, sure).

        But that doesn’t mean that government always tackles those problems “better” than other avenues do, either.

        For every example you might throw at me that government has failed society, I’ll throw back at you two examples where private enterprise has failed society.

        The problem with this response is that when government has failed society, it usually has failed it spectacularly, and it requires a massive change in government to fix it. Decades. Jim Crow is of course the poster child. I’ll not give private enterprise a pass, but it’s often the case that when private enterprise fails society, it’s because private enterprise suborns the government, as opposed to failed to offer a product.

        The proper response, of course, is to keep hammering on government to work properly, not give up.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        The proper response, of course, is to keep hammering on government to work properly, not give up.

        Exactly. Perfect metaphor. But, for whatever reasons, that’s a hammer only liberals care to wield anymore. I don’t see libertarians picking it up much.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        …remember this moment 12 years from now when the insurance companies all come looking for a bailout and we have to provide it because otherwise nobody has insurance.

        With all due respect, I’m unaware of any overarching reason to have confidence in your crystal ball.

        Ftr, I’m a big fan of single-payer. But I’m not at all convinced that the US, as it exists now (economically/socially/politically-speaking), is capable of responsibly segueing into it. So, whatever steps we can take that move the needle in that direction is fine by me. Also too, the health insurance companies are not banks. They’re both greedy motherfuckers and have well-paid lobbyists, sure, and both really really want to stay in business. But unlike banks, health insurance companies have to answer to regular folks who just want to see a doctor. That’s a much less nebulous concept for regular folks than wresting with why they lost their retirement savings.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        “But unlike banks, health insurance companies have to answer to regular folks who just want to see a doctor. ”

        but for the most part, they don’t, because patients are not their direct customers – their employers are.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Liberal here, checking in. ACA has led to an increase in the number of slaves in America. So isn’t it just another program that helps the “haves” and disadvantages the “have-nots”? Having learned this, I’m a lot more ambivalent about it (and more likely to look at its overall effects on the economy and making medicine more efficient, rather than touting how much it’s helping the poor).Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:


        Let’s not confuse government with governance? Are you kidding? What’s the diff?

        I could, and maybe should, write a whole post explaining the difference. In a nutshell, it’s about the type of institutional structures, how formal and bureaucratic they or are not. Government is a subset of governance. It does governance, but so do other types of organizations. As Max Weber said, government is not defined by its ends, only its means.

        Sociologically, the state cannot be defined in terms of its ends. There is scarcely any task that some political association has not taken in hand, and there is no task that one could say has always been exclusive and peculiar to those associations which are designated as political ones: today the state, or historically, those associations which have been the predecessors of the modern state. Ultimately, one can define the modern state sociologically only in terms of the specific means peculiar to it, as to every political association, namely, the use of physical force.

        This is not a libertarian position, but a political science one. The claim that governance and government are not synonomous in no way arises from libertarianism. The claim also says nothing about what policy areas ought to be governed by the state or governed by other forms of association (all of which can be vigorously debated). It is just a verified empirical claim, not a normative one.

        Whatever your critiques of libertarianism–which you are of course entitled to–the governance/government distinction is not one of them.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        For every example you might throw at me that government has failed society, I’ll throw back at you two examples where private enterprise has failed society.

        The odd thing is, that’s got nothing to do with my critique here.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Liberal here, checking in. ACA has led to an increase in the number of slaves in America.


        Right from the get-go, I admit that I don’t have the slightest idea how to respond to this kind of comment. Clearly we’re very different types of liberals but, as a liberal, I feel reflexively okay with that.

        So. We good?Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        The claim that governance and government are not synonomous in no way arises from libertarianism.

        Of course not. But libertarianism is indeed a political ideology that seeks to inform and influence modern governance. (And government.) Which was my point.

        Are you getting lost in the weeds? Seems like that happens a lot to libertarian thinkers.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        This line of argument- that the libertarians want all the good stuff, that society brings (schools, organization, infrastructure, etc) but just done voluntarily, is probably sincere, in their minds.

        The basic premise is that people should be free to make contracts and have their property defended, and their engagement with the larger society should be entirely voluntary.

        Which sounds wonderful- except there is one party whose permission is being ignored- society itself is not being asked if it wants to provide these services.
        We are expected to enforce contracts, without having any say in their terms- without any input or regard for how this affects the larger workings of society.

        Are these services “voluntary”? Is society allowed to decide that we will, or won’t, protect Joe Libertarian’s property, on a whim, or are we obligated- (coerced!) into doing so?
        The idea that the social engagement should be entirely defined on the terms of the individual is entirely anti-social, cutting out our legitimate interests.
        Don’t we have a moral legitimacy in asserting our terms and conditions under which we will provide these services?

        Casting the word “voluntary” over the workings of society elevates a single value over all others, ignoring the larger set of values and aspirations that the rest of us have. It doesn’t address the real concerns that we have and sounds, well, anti-social.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to ktward says:

      You libertarians still believe in magic. As in, you can somehow magically effect the well-being of your child without the expressed involvement of a greater society.

      Who told you this?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to ktward says:

      Time to bust out Bastiat.

      “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

      For the record, I’m not particularly crazy with how the government is doing when it comes to the introduction of alcohol to the yutes (and wonder if the way the kids I mentioned in the restaurant were treated wouldn’t be a better way to do it… until, of course, I imagine such things as the children in the picture) because I know that, when it comes to my nephews, I could very well be part of the conversation with at least one of them trying to thread the needle between “AUGH NEVER EVER DO IT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE FIVE YEARS OLD FOREVER WHEN IN THE HELL DID YOUR VOICE CHANGE” and “there are ways that you can be introduced to the substance that will best ensure that you will not spend a couple of years in a stupor once you get outside of the watchful eye of your parents and we want to make sure that you see this as merely something to look forward to doing when you hit 68 or so at which point we don’t care if you bathe in it.”

      The attitude that society will take care of this for me makes me remember how society handled the job of introducing me to it and, lemme tell ya, I want *BETTER* than that for my nephews.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to Jaybird says:


        Interestingly, Bastiat has long featured prominently in evangelical Christian education.

        The more I read your comments and OPs, Jaybird, the more I’m convinced you’re a closeted christian conservative. You just don’t recognize it yet.Report

      • Avatar ktward in reply to Jaybird says:

        For the record, I’m not particularly crazy with how the government is doing when it comes to the introduction of alcohol to the yutes ..

        The government introduces kids to alcohol? Guess I missed that PSA. Otoh, I’m totally familiar with how manufacturers of alcohol introduce kids to their wares.

        The idea that government regulation is [somehow condensed into] a four-letter word, according to libertarian and conservation thinkers, works … right up until they personally grapple with a specific issue that touches them.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Jaybird says:

        The more I read your comments and OPs, Jaybird, the more I’m convinced you’re a closeted christian conservative. You just don’t recognize it yet.

        I was going to offer a running tally of your instances of logical fallacy, but I’m not that bright and I get confused when I run out of fingers on which to count.

        I will just say this. You have an awfully pronounced sense of intellectual superiority over libertarians for someone who does not appear to have a firm grasp on what libertarianism actually is and you have an awfully pronounced sense of moral superiority for someone who has yet to put forth one valid ethical argument.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        The government introduces kids to alcohol? Guess I missed that PSA. Otoh, I’m totally familiar with how manufacturers of alcohol introduce kids to their wares.

        Well, I was kinda making a joke, there.

        My entire post is how we, as a society (no really!), should provide something close to a healthy introduction to mind-altering substances. We, as a society, are doing a crappy job with alcohol… and I can’t imagine what even a mediocre job would look like with regards to introduction of marijuana.

        My intention, kinda, was to kick off discussions of such things as “well, here’s what happened to me and here’s what was healthy and here’s what wasn’t and here is what I want for my children…”

        My intention was less to discuss how awful libertarians are for all this wanting and end to the war on drugs and then complaining about how hard it is to be responsible adults when it comes to raising children in the absence of the war on drugs!

        I’m generally fine with taking “libertarians are awful” to be a given. I’m more interested in ideas of how to be a good uncle in this situation. “You need to rely more on the government”, to give an example of a fairly statist argument, strikes me as an argument that would benefit from concrete examples.

        If you’re *NOT* saying “we need to rely more on the government” (see? it’s funny! It’s a joke! Libertarian humor!), then we’re discussing what we, as a society, ought to do.

        Which, at this point, seems to be “make fun of libertarians for wanting to put us in this position”.

        Which, lemme tell ya, is less funny.Report

  28. Avatar zic says:


    Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MBPN) has a talk/call-in show, Maine Calling that discussed our new medical culture today, thought you might enjoy it.


  29. Avatar Wardsmith says:

    Did someone mention vending machines?Report

  30. Avatar dexter says:

    James, The two reasons I spend more time on this site than any other are the quality of the writing and because it is not an echo chamber. The furor that would ensue if I went to Common Dreams and told them what I think of illegal immigration or Red State and told them what I think of the lack of environmental regulation would be intense.
    Now that goatee guy and that French philosopher are gone there is rarely a huge dustup. One can disagree without be rude.
    You say that we spent millennia without government, but I believe that even if wasn’t called government, we have had an alpha something that said who got laid first.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to dexter says:


      Unsnarkily, I would say that more comprehensive reading in anthropology would change your mind. Those societies have existed, of course, but are far from the total human experience. There are countless examples of society where being the big man just meant you were more influential in discussions, not that everyone had to follow your orders.

      In fact total control is far more a feature of formal government because of its capacity for controlling resources.

      And I always emphasize the distinctiom between governance and goverment. All societies have governance, even if they lack formal government, and resesrchers have found many examples–including extant centuries old ones–of institutions for self-governance.

      Can you govern a society the size of the U.S. without formal governance? It’s difficult to fathom. But of course one can legitimately question the scope of that government. Once we agree some degree of government is necessary, the scope of it becomes a subject of debate that we cannot reasonably expect to have an end.

      I have no objections to that debate. As you try to persuade me toward a more expansive government in certain policy areas (not all, obviously), I’ll try to persuade you to less (in most, but not all policy areas).

      All I object to is the mischaracterization of libertarians as being against social institutions, against governance, against any form of mutual assisstance, of FYIGM. Just as I object to libertarians and conservatives who characterize every government action as socialism. Both are dishonest mischaracterizations, and destroy the capacity for us to have an open, intelligent, and reasoned debate about the scope of government.Report

  31. Avatar dexter says:

    James, I was writing my last post when you posted your reply to Zic and missed it until now. I want to say that people like you and Jaybird aren’t the people who bother me; it is the Ryans of the world. I think both of you would make great neighbors.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to dexter says:


      I’m a terrible neighbor. All I do is sit on my front porch drinking bourbon, blasting Dead Kennedys and Black Flag, and shooting my neighbors’ cats when they come to poop in my yard. When the neighbors complain I say, hey, nobody forced you to live next to me–you want me to stop, let’s negotiate a price.Report

  32. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I covered this one in 2012 here:


    In short, preach abstinence when they are young and then be honest with them when they are old enough to smell bullshit. And pray you raised them to have enough common sense to stay away from the stuff that will put them in a hospital (or worse).Report