what made our country great and they will say, without hesitation,
that liberty is our touchstone. Yet ask Americans what their government
should do for them and the answer can be boiled down simply to this:
"Control, tax, and regulate my neighbors." Americans want
liberty for themselves, but they want something very different for
This is why
it has been a struggle to keep liberty as the foundation of our
society. Liberty requires respect for the personal choices that
others make. In the long run, our liberties cannot be maintained
if we violate the liberties of others. In trying to control others,
we will eventually find ourselves controlled. Taking our neighbors'
liberties results in the loss of our own.
the Drug War, for example. When we take away our neighbors liberty,
because they like to use substances we consider to be harmful, we
expose ourselves to harm. Close to one-half of all murders in this
country result from the prohibition of drugs. Turf wars between
gangs result in the death of many innocent victims. The exorbitant
black market prices mean that more people steal to fund their habit.
Thus, we are twice as likely to die from a mugging when drugs are
illegal than when we are not.
are also put at risk. The high black-market profit margin in illegal
drugs guarantees that pushers will haunt our schools, addicting
our youth. Even though alcohol and tobacco are illegal for minors,
the average student finds it easier to buy an assortment of chemical
highs at school than drinks or smokes. The War on Drugs has painted
targets on the backs of our young people.
costs of the Drug War are staggering as well. Half of our police,
court, and prison resources are devoted to tracking, arresting,
and jailing people whose only crime is an attempt to be happy. Our
military are deployed overseas to burn hemp fields and to prevent
the cultivation of opium. We have fueled anti-American sentiment
and strengthened the hand of Latin American authoritarian regimes
by funding their half-hearted cocaine eradication efforts. We pay
these costs with high taxes and more inflation, resulting in recession
and job destruction. As a result, our very livelihood may be lost.
The standard of living that would otherwise have been ours is no
I could go
on, but I'm sure you get the picture. Taking liberty from another
has dire consequences for us. The blowback can cost us our standard
of living, our jobs, our children, and our very lives.
I cringe when some well-meaning individuals, even those who call
themselves libertarian, insist that society is better off when we
deprive a select few of liberty. They just don't understand. Our
rights are intertwined. When we deprive someone of their liberty
our own is sure to be compromised. It's just a matter of time.
be for liberty, you must be for it consistently, respecting the
lives of others in all matters. You cannot make an exception for
the War on Terror. You cannot make an exception for the War on Poverty.
You cannot make an exception for the War on Drugs. You cannot make
an exception for gays or prostitutes. You can't let bureaucrats
deny dying patients life-saving medicine just because the FDA hasn't
yet approved it. You can't take another's money or land and give
it to another.
is indivisible. It's the one thing we can't have unless we are willing
to give it others. If someone tells you differently, they just don't
know how the world really works. Make sure that you don't vote them
you save may be your own!
J. Ruwart, Ph.D., [send
her mail] is seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for President.
She is the author of Healing
Our World in an Age of Aggression and Short
Answers to the Tough Questions.