Laurence: Neither Christie, McCain – nor 99% of the other politicos who are prepared to discuss ending the war on drugs – have the slightest interest in releasing any expression of individual liberty from the state’s tight-fisted controls. They are interested in maintaining the state’s credibility, however. If formal proscriptions of the state continue to be ignored by most people, the state loses its appearance of being “in control” of human activity. Like the teenager who is told he must be back home by 11 p.m., but who regularly returns after midnight, a parent can maintain the illusion of his authority by giving the kid a midnight curfew.
We saw this same process at work when states enforced a 55 mph speed limit. Whenever I drove out on the freeways, I found that the average speed of other cars was around 68 mph. The state cannot appear to its subjects to be irrelevant to their behavior. Control of others depends upon maintaining the appearance that people have internalized the state’s directions. So, when state legislatures amended their laws to have a 70 mph speed limit, the statists could boast that the political process had reduced speeding violations!10:50 am on January 26, 2014