Drug Czar to Milton Friedman: Drop Deader


The San Diego Union-Tribune's Chris Reed, fulfilled the dream of a lifetime by interviewing drug czar John Walters. The exchange, wonderfully rich in "libertarian griping," is invaluable. Here's a snippet:

I said to Walters that by any possible statistical reckoning of deaths, car wrecks, suicides, drownings, crimes of violence, etc., alcohol is vastly more destructive in the U.S. than all illegal drugs combined. I asked if he disputed this.

He didn't answer me directly even after I reposed the question. Basically, he said that while alcohol may be a big and destructive problem, the fact that alcohol is legal doesn't mean you don't try to reduce the use of other, illegal drugs. He said "the danger of marijuana today" is far greater than in the old days, thanks to its potency.

Did he in any way acknowledge the oddity of having a war on drugs that don't kill all that many people while tolerating drugs (alcohol, tobacco) which fill up graveyards 24-7?


I said that many libertarians object to the drug war not just on the grounds that government shouldn't tell people what they can put in their bodies but on the grounds that the execution of the drug war routinely involves assaults on civil liberties. I cited past drug czars' eager touting of confiscation policies, in which a family could lose its only car without even a court hearing if one member were caught driving the car while in possession of pot. Did he see the drug war as diminishing civil liberties?

Walters offered a broad defense of asset-forfeiture tactics as being "designed to reduce the demand in a tangible way. … I'm not going to say" that "laws sometimes aren't misapplied," but claims that civil liberties are a routine victim of the drug war are "great misrepresentations" and a "great mischaracterization."

He said the "magnitude of the injustice" suffered in some cases was exaggerated.

Read the full thing here, especially the parts where the drug czar says the Milton Friedman's age-old critique of the drug war is just wrong, and feel good about someone speaking truth to power, at least for a glorious few minutes.

And then cry for all the damage wrought by America's longest war, for all the people rotting in jail, for all the lives utterly ruined by idiot bureaucrats such as Walters.