Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Legalize Drugs and Prostitution...Then Tax Them!

Like Nick Schulz, I find the notion that government should legalize the activities of consenting adults in order to financially exploit them...philosophically insufficient.

Sodomy laws, for example, should be repealed if for no other reason than that it's none of your damn business what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

[Although I haven't heard anyone propose that sodomy laws be repealed so that gay sex can be taxed. That would be an interesting piece of legislation.]

I'm glad to hear of people who favor drug and prostitution legalization. But those who do so with a taxation proviso aren't truly supporting limited government. They're just advocating a different flavor of government intrusion. The farmer who doesn't kill the golden goose, but still takes its eggs, is still exploiting the goose.

And that's not going to cut it in a free society.


Kenny said...

The taxation proviso may, however, be necessary given that we don't live in a libertarian society. In particular, one of the key arguments for keeping drugs illegal is the claim that if they are legalized the taxpayers will end up spending a bunch of money on healthcare for dying drug addicts. Avoiding this consequence would require some really radical changes in the way our health system functions. So if you are an incrementalist libertarian, you might support legalizing drugs on condition that the taxes collected from them be sufficient to pay these medical bills. (On the other hand, even if we didn't tax them, the cost to the healthcare system can't possibly be as high as what we are presently spending on enforcement!)

I think the argument is more often made by liberals than by libertarians, and I think these guys are saying that we should view drug addiction as a public health problem, rather than a criminal enforcement problem, and that the problem would be best solved by collecting taxes on drugs which could be used for drug education, healthcare, and rehab programs. This argument is straightforwardly paternalistic.

I'm not entirely sure about the degree to which the same line of reasoning applies to prostitution.

John said...

Well, I suppose that half a loaf is better than none. But still, it seems like such a hollow victory when I'd like for people to see that using government force against the activities of consenting adults isn't just an opportunity to exploit, but morally wrong.

Larry B said...

I agree with the sentiment in your post that legalization for taxation purposes is in philosophical conflict with a libertarian viewpoint.

It is still in my opinion ridiculous to propose legalizing recreational drug use, because drug uses effects can't be contained to the "it's none of your business what I do in my own home". We've already proven that with alcohol and tobacco.

I don't buy the idea that taxation can be used in a paternalistic manner to help drug abusers either. If drugs were legal, The majority of taxes would be coming from those who need the help anyway. It's the same stupidity that goes on with the cigarette taxes. Those who can least afford to pay the taxes are proportionately the higher users of the product and they end up just handing money over to government to mishandle without solving problems. Eventually government just takes the money and spends it elsewhere anyway - like the lottery was supposed to help schools.

John said...

Yes -- it's almost as though government cannot be trusted with power.

doodlebugmom said...

I think they should tax stupid drivers (there are so many of them out there, it would be a windfall!)