Reason Writers Around Town: Nick Gillespie in The New York Times on Legalizing Drugs, Gambling, and Prostitution


Never let a good crisis go to waste, says Obama administration Rahm Emanuel. Exactly. So why not legalize and then tax and regulate drugs, prostitution, and all forms of gambling, asks Nick Gillespie in The New York Times. A snippet:

As the history of alcohol prohibition underscores, there are…many non-economic reasons to favor legalization of vices: Prohibition rarely achieves its desired goals and instead increases violence (when was the last time a tobacco kingpin was killed in a deal gone wrong?) and destructive behavior (it's hard enough to get help if you're a substance abuser and that much harder if you're a criminal too). And by policing vice, law enforcement is too often distracted at best or corrupted at worst, as familiar headlines about cops pocketing bribes and seized drugs attest. There's a lot to be said for treating consenting adults like, well, adults.

But there is an economic argument as well, one that Franklin Roosevelt understood when he promised to end Prohibition during the 1932 presidential campaign. "Our tax burden would not be so heavy nor the forms that it takes so objectionable," thundered Roosevelt, "if some reasonable proportion of the unaccountable millions now paid to those whose business had been reared upon this stupendous blunder could be made available for the expense of government."

Gillespie files the Geithner-approved Turbo Tax version of revenue estimates here.