Prohibition

The Prohibition President

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In a January 8 prime-time border security speech so unpersuasive that only 2 percent of Quinnipiac poll respondents said it changed their minds, President Donald Trump did the country a rare rhetorical favor. By thoroughly blurring the lines between immigration and drug policy—at one point he claimed that "the border wall would very quickly pay for itself" because "the cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion a year"—the president offered an unintentional lesson that the country has needed to learn for far too long: Prohibition kills.

Ask most reasonable adults why the 18th Amendment, which banned the manufacture and distribution of alcoholic beverages, was a resounding policy failure, and they won't hesitate: You cannot arrest out of existence a good or behavior enjoyed by millions of people. Black markets produce dangerous products peddled for high profit margins by violent criminals. Since there can't possibly be enough cops, selective enforcement will undermine respect for the rule of law and incentivize corruption.

Yet when invited to apply the same logic to other activities, policy makers and commentators have been blanking for 85 years. Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns, even while promoting his documentary Prohibition in 2011, could not see parallels to the drug war, telling Reason's Nick Gillespie, "No, I think it's less to that. Alcohol is used by every culture since there have been human beings. Drugs are a subcultural thing."

We have come a long way as a country since then in belatedly deploying prohibition analysis to policy conversations about marijuana, to the point where one-quarter of Americans now live in states where recreational use is legal. But we seem to be going the opposite direction on harder substances, while losing the plot entirely when it comes to immigration.

Trump embodied both logical errors in his speech.

"Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs," he said, "including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War."

The president's solution—vastly expanding and reinforcing the existing 650 miles of physical barriers along the 1,950-mile U.S.-Mexico border—would have little impact on those numbers. "For the first 11 months of the 2018 fiscal year, 90 percent of the heroin intercepted at the border and 88 percent of the cocaine was captured at a legal port of entry rather than between those ports," USA Today pointed out. Fentanyl, for its part, is coming primarily through China and Canada.

Meanwhile, note the drug left off Trump's list: pot. As the Cato Institute's David Bier reports ("The Wall Won't End Pot Smuggling at the Border. Legalization Will," page 22), the legalization of recreational marijuana in the United States that began in 2014 vastly reduced demand for the Mexican cartels' weed.

Traffickers, alas, have just moved on to where the prohibition still exists. "By making prescription opioids harder to come by, government policy has probably driven illicit actors to supply—and drug users to ingest—fentanyls," the American Enterprise Institute's Roger Bate concluded in a December report.

Where are opioid deaths decreasing? In states that have legalized marijuana.

Those who would crack down on drugs, guns, or the free movement of people routinely invoke a zero-tolerance, not-one-more-death argument. As Trump put it, "How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?"

Yet when confronted with clear policy results, such as Portugal reducing drug usage and slashing drug-related harm by decriminalizing all narcotics in 2000—just 1 in 170,000 Portuguese now die from overdoses, compared to 1 per 5,000 Americans—the zero-tolerance crowd changes the subject. For instance, they start saying we need a wall to stop the coyotes from smuggling humans across the border.

But here, too, prohibition analysis is key. The Trump administration is choking off legal entry into the country—turning back potential asylees at the very entry ports where they are authorized to apply, slashing refugee intake to all-time lows, limiting family-based immigration—and then pronouncing itself horrified that bad hombres are trafficking desperate migrants across deadly stretches of wilderness.

You want fewer bodies in the desert and lower profit margins for criminal gangs? Legalize more of the people seeking work and safety in the United States. Prohibition kills.

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123 responses to “The Prohibition President

  1. Suicides and other deaths cause 8 million some deaths in the USA alone, every year! Not to mention untold economic losses and grief. Isn’t it about time to outlaw suicides and deaths?

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    1. “Illegal immigrants are like illegal weed, and legal immigrants are like legal weed… no… wait… this fucking analogy, umm..
      Legal avenues to immigration don’t exist and banning illegals is like prohibition!!! Yeah! Take that Orange Hitler!”

      t. Matt Welch

      1. And Matt is wrong about pot. Legalization didn’t bring down pot prices. They were already plummeting long before due to both increased quality and quantity from the black market, years before legalization.

  2. Ken Burns: “No, I think it’s less to that. Alcohol is used by every culture since there have been human beings. Drugs are a subcultural thing.”

    So, what you’re saying is, Ken Burns is a racist.

    1. No, Ken Burns is saying that drugs, being subcultural, are for subhumans. Druggies are drugged-out inferior beings, so it is OK to beat, shoot, jail, abuse, assfuck, and starve them, snot all overt them, and make them spend all their money on “therapy”, AKA, making them pay their moral superiors to lecture them about not smoking pot, and so on. This is called “keeping America clean”. These are Government Almighty-approved things to do, so they are GOOD!!!

      Doing any of the above kinds of thing to ANYONE, due to their skin color or ethnic group, now THOSE are NOT Government Almighty-approved things to do, so they are BAD!!! They are RACIST!!!

      (If your victims are both dark-skinned and druggies, druggies beats race in “intersectionality”, so you are TOTALLY free to abuse dark-skinned druggies, or suspected druggies).

  3. The goal is not to stop drugs, the goal is to keep the wall and prison contractors fat and happy.

  4. Was Prohibition a failure?

    Historians differ in their interpretations of Prohibition. Most historians writing in the 1950s and 1960s portrayed Prohibition as an outright failure that was thrust on the country by repressive, cranky zealots. These historians, such as Richard Hofstadter and Andrew Sinclair, reflected the contemporary backlash against Prohibition after repeal.

    More recently, however, scholars have taken another look at this era and have challenged the common stereotypes. John C. Burnham and Norman Clark have shown that drinking did decrease substantially in the 1920s, especially among working-class Americans, despite the impression of widespread drunkenness. In fact, alcohol consumption did not return to pre-Prohibition levels until the 1970s. Historian David Kyvig asserts, “most Americans obeyed the national prohibition law.” This school of historians argues that the media sensationalized stories of bootlegging and gangsters, and Hollywood studios played up drinking in contemporary films, all of which led to the false impression that Prohibition was widely violated.

    1. The nature of drinking had changed though. As I have heard it told, we were a nation of beer and wine drinkers prior to Prohibition, and that didn’t return until just within the last decade. It takes some doing to get blackout drunk on beer.

      Which follows into the other aspect of Prohibition- it increases potency. The art of distillation takes a backseat to increasing proof for smuggling purposes. Now you are drinking to get drunk.

      So yes, drinking did go down with Prohibition, but it made the drinking taking place more problematic.

    2. Yes prohibition reduces consumption. That happens with any supply/demand situation. Supply and Demand are both curves. Some number of people are willing to provide drugs at X price, and some people are willing to do it at Y price. Likewise, some number of people are willing to buy drugs at A price, and some are willing to buy drugs at B price.

      When you outlaw a set of goods, it shifts these curves. The price for selling/purchasing the good also includes the consequences of operating outside and opposed to the law. On the supply side, you now have people who are only willing to supply the drug at a high price, and who are OK engaging in their own protection racket.

      Nobody disputes the idea that consumption went down. Just like this “new breed” of prohibition apologists are unable to honestly dispute the fact that consumption was still far from zero. So instead they shift the argument to try and beat up strawmen. They pretend as if the argument against prohibition was that consumption was rampant, and valiantly attack it. Good for them, but it doesn’t change the fact that consumption still existed, and that it led to extremely violent crime.

      The sensationalization of organized crime may or may not have skewed peoples view on the numbers of consumers, but that isn’t the point. The fact remains that these crime lords were created by prohibition. The “good” of reduced consumption, came at the “price” of creating blood and death.

      1. Cartel pot smuggling decreased due to the fact that cartel pot is garbage weed and can’t begin to compete with domestically grown pot, legal or illegal.

    3. So why didn’t deaths from liver cirrhosis decline subsequent to prohibition?

      It’s simple minded absurdity to pretend that one can accurately gauge the prevalence of clandestine activities.

  5. This is a silly taken. Enforcing the existing border laws is absolutely nothing like prohibition. Incredulous arguments don’t convince people.

    1. The Reason staff is extra upset that Trump is enforcing immigration laws.

      They are even pinning their hopes to a simply Congressional majority to end Trump’s Emergency Declaration. Never mind that he can veto the bill and then all the Congressmen need to decide if they want their preventing border security to be used against them their next election cycle.

    2. You haven’t even made an argument. “Nuh-uuuh,” is not an argument.

    3. Chipper knows all about the “nuh-uuuhh” reply.

      We call it an M.O.

    4. “Free trade in human widgets! Do it for the plutocrats!”

  6. Drug warring is very similar to genocide. It’s the same language of “they”. The same dehumanization. The same killing. The same theft. The same torture. The same imprisonment. Drug warring is just another manifestation of witch burning. The modern man’s witch hunt. They burned those women for the best of reasons.

    1. I wrote an article on that very subject 14 years ago.

      How To Put An End To Drug Users

  7. Reason, give it a rest….

    1. C’mon man. Where would we be without “moar dope ” and “orange man bad”?

    2. Reason staff lost the, “Trump will never get the money” position and they will lose the “Congress will end the Emergency Declaration” without a veto-proof majority, so they have moved to this.

  8. 1) A significant portion of the American people, Trump supporters foremost among them, want a secure border–regardless of whether it’s effective against drug smuggling. When we get distracted by the president’s talk about the drug smuggling, we’re doing the president a big favor. It isn’t really about drug smuggling. It’s just throwing red meat to his base about building a wall. The hand-waiving is meant to distract us.

    2) It’s odd to talk about Trump in terms of prohibition. Sessions didn’t refrain from going after recreational marijuana in the states because he didn’t care about marijuana or because he was principled in his federalism. Trump promised to let the states decide on marijuana during his 2016 campaign, and that’s what his administration has done. In that context, we’re talking about him as a prohibitionist?

    The Obama administration, by contrast, raided medical marijuana facilities in California hundreds of times.

    1. Trump is trying to stop the import of fentanyl. Which I can understand to some degree because it is relatively easy to OD and the stuff is a potential hazard to cops and EMT’s.

      Fentanyl is only popular because the govt. made it harder to get prescription opiates like hydros and oercocet, so demand for heroine increased and now fentanyl. The pills were probably the lesser of those evils.

  9. 3) The causes of cocaine, heroin, Fentanyl, meth, etc. use is about things like poverty, bad parenting, genetic proclivities, and other things that building a wall won’t fix, but we reinforce the idea that these things are all about the wall in people’s minds when we give so much emphasis to the futility of hurting drug smuggling in our opposition to the wall. It’s not as if refusing to build the wall will improve the heroin and cocaine situation. It makes it come across as though the only thing you really care about is not securing the border–for reasons that have nothing to do with drug smuggling.

    Telling us that prohibition is bad because it promotes lawlessness within an argument against securing the border comes across as duplicitous. How can someone seriously oppose lawlessness within the context of an argument against securing the border?

    1. I’m not sure, I think it was DB on cafehayek directly or with a quote, who said that we should look at the causes of wealth, not poverty. Poverty is the default state of man. Sitting around, hopeless, seeking happiness through chemicals, is what people do! It’s the default. It is not unusual. It is how people have lived for tens of thousands of years. This recent development of wealth, of clean water and full stomachs, that’s unusual. That is what needs to be studied. And it has. Free minds and free markets create wealth. Wealth destroys poverty. In American poor people aren’t starving. They’re fat!

    2. 3) The causes of cocaine, heroin, Fentanyl, meth, etc. use is about things like poverty, bad parenting, genetic proclivities, and other things that building a wall won’t fix,

      I cannot agree with you on this. The reason someone turns to drugs may well be because of the reasons you say. But the reasons they go from, say, oxycotten to fentanyl is solely due to the dynamics of prohibition. The reason they are getting their drugs in a back alley instead of working with the doctor to maybe even get off the drugs, is because of prohibition.

      It is not a coincidence that the recent opioids epidemic started at the same time the government started cracking down on doctors prescribing opioids for long term use. Certainly, many people were addicted. Many people shouldn’t have been. But they were at least being treated by a professional.

      My wife broke her foot back in 2005, when pain meds weren’t as heavily watched. The doctor gave her a weeks worth of opioids to manage the pain. Flash forward 14 years and she broke her hand. The doctor gave her a couple pills, and it required huge inconvenience for me to pick the pills up for her. The government has made access to pain pills so hard, that it is no wonder we end up with people downing drano cooked up in some chinese lab.

      1. Isn’t there some control that can be adjusted other than harder/easier to get? Some way to be more discriminating so narcotics could be easier to get in cases of pain, harder to get in cases of not-pain? Is there only a brightness knob, not a contrast one?

  10. Even among people who intellectually support ending prohibition, the mention of crack babies and the like immediately shuts down any further discussion. We are a nation that can’t even use antibiotics correctly under supervision, and you want to open the floodgates to heroin? Are you mad?

    And again, that externalization problem comes to the fore. Unless you can figure out how to keep drug users from raising children or having sex, there is always the possibility of children paying the price, and at least a mother in prison has a better chance at a healthy child than doing god-knows-what to support their habit.

    And with that, if the wall/nationalized healthcare/longer prison sentences saves only one child, then it is worth it.

    No one wants to hear how the same money could have otherwise been spent to save even more children (we should just spend more on that too).

    1. Switzerland and Portugal decriminalized heroin. Overdose deaths and crime went down significantly.

  11. Unless your position is that anyone should be able to come to the country even if they are criminals or mean people harm, then there will always be some form of prohibition against immigration and some need to secure the border. So its no like alcohol where you can just legalize everything and only have enforce whatever tax scheme or age restrictions you put on it. This is a dumb analogy.

    1. By that logic we should deport all criminals. Send them to Australia or something.

      1. No. That is not the logic at all. Just because we have native criminals doesn’t make it okay or somehow require us to allow nonnative criminals to enter as well. We can’t deport natives. But we can deport non natives. So, why shoudln’t we? If some illeglal alien isn’t in the country, he can’t commit any crimes here. And whatever crimes he would have committed would be in addition to whatever crimes the natives would have committed. So if he isn’t here, the crime rate is lower.

        1. Yes, John. That is the logic. The only difference being where the person was born, which is out of their control. Just as a person’s race is out of their control. You want to judge people based upon where they were born, and treat them differently based upon where they were born, which is no fault of their own.

          1. No non-American has a right to become an American. It’s entirely within the discretion of Americans (just as with the citizens of any other country) to decide whom, and how many of them, if any, to allow to become Americans.

            I consider that axiomatic. YMMV.

            1. Immigrants can become Americans.

              Unless they are criminals.

              So shouldn’t Americans be stripped of their citizenship when they commit a crime?

              If criminals can’t become Americans, why should criminals stay Americans?

              1. I think we’re talking about the proper purview of democracy, here.

                Some things have no business being subject to a popularity contest. The First Amendment starts out, “Congress shall make no law . . . ” because the popularity of religion and speech shouldn’t have anything to do with whether people’s free speech and religious rights are protected. Our constitutional rights are like that generally.

                On the other hand, living in a free society also means that the government shouldn’t be able to impose certain things like wars and taxes on the American people over our objections and against our will, so the Constitution enumerates those powers to Congress because they’re within the proper purview of democracy. One of those things is also setting the rules of naturalization.

                Violating someone’s rights requires a high standard, with respect for due process and Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights among them. Congress can’t make rules for naturalization that violate the First Amendment. Stripping an American citizen of their right to be within the United States might even be considered a violation of the Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. At the very least, that would have to be something a judge did to a citizen at sentencing rather than an administrative decision by a president or an act of Congress.

                1. Congress deciding that felons shouldn’t be given citizenship in the first place isn’t like that. That’s within the proper purview of democracy and within the power granted to them by the Constitution.

              2. So shouldn’t Americans be stripped of their citizenship when they commit a crime?

                So desperate to have totally open borders he’d remove the citizenship from Americans for doing what he does not like…

              3. There is no mechanism to strip an American citizen of citizenship. Period. So no point indulging another sophist Arty net from Sarc.

            2. Oh yeah. Because of where they were born.

            3. Do you distinguish between “becoming an American” and “becoming a resident”?

              If you mean that only the collective should decide who can become a citizen, then sure.
              If you mean that only the collective should decide who can become a resident, then no.

              1. Yes, I believe that subjecting the American people to an immigration policy over their objections and against their will is incompatible with a free society–just like subjecting them to an unpopular war. And that is why immigration is within the proper purview of democracy.

                If you want to get grammatical, I believe “naturalization” covers the entire process of coming here, establishing residency, and becoming a citizen.

                I also believe that in order to have these things properly subject to democracy means that sometimes we have to tolerate the legitimacy of things we don’t like. I can oppose a war, but sometimes Congress may declare wars that I oppose. That doesn’t mean I have to like them or stop opposing them. It just means that I shouldn’t pretend the war is illegitimate just because I don’t like it. It’s the same thing with immigration policy with rules that are set by Congress. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean I should pretend they’re illegitimate.

                1. Imagine if Congress declared a war I opposed. Should I go around arguing that Congress shouldn’t have the power to declare war? I don’t think so. I think I should argue that Congress should end the war. It’s the same with immigration. Going around arguing to your fellow Americans that Congress doesn’t really have the enumerated power to set the rules of naturalization or immigration is barking up the wrong tree. Otherwise, you end up like ChemJeff down yonder arguing that child molesters should be brought into the country as citizens and Congress shouldn’t be able to do anything to stop it. Not only is this incorrect but also counterproductive.

                  Much better to argue that Congress should adopt an open immigration policy. Not only is that consistent with its actual powers of naturalization but also it’s persuasive rather than trying to persuade your fellow Americans that they shouldn’t have any say in whether child molesters (or other felons) should be brought into the country as citizens.

              2. You’re failing to see how much of an Iraq War-level debacle the open borders argument is.

              3. Jeffy we know how badly you want to import more illegal pedophiles to the US without question, but we’re not going to let that happen you sick bastard.

            4. Ray Mckigney; that’s what was said about your immigrant ancestors, yes? Yes

    2. Later today, you will almost certainly see people harassing chemjeff over making precisely such an argument over the weekend.

      There was a story about the thousands of claims heaped on a certain group of asylum seekers regarding the sexual abuse of children in refugee camps, and I actually asked the rhetorical question, “Does it really need to be said that we have no business bringing people who have sexually abused children into our country?”

      ChemJeff stepped up to the plate and started arguing that we have no business discriminating against asylum seekers who have sexually abused children. It appeared to be a function of his argument about how Congress has no business setting the rules of immigration, only the rules of naturalization argument.

      Like Jane Fonda feeling compelled to vouch for the good treatment of American POWs by the North Vietnamese, some people do feel it necessary to stand up for the right of anyone who wants to come into this country–yes, even if they’re criminals and mean people harm.

      1. “Does it need to be said that we shouldn’t be granting asylum to people who have sexually abused minors?”

        —-Ken Shultz

        “Why? Asylum isn’t about whether the victim is a saint or not. Asylum is about whether the victim is fleeing real persecution at home.

        One can be a terrible person and still be fleeing persecution at home.”

        —-chemjeff radical individualist

        https://reason.com/blog/2019/02…..nt_7694436

      2. Once again. For the umpteenth millionth time.

        Asylum is about fleeing persecution. It’s not just saints who are persecuted.

        If your rule is “only good people deserve asylum”, then you are setting a standard that it’s okay for oppressive governments to persecute people, just as long as they’re bad people.

        I did not say “let’s bring over all the child rapists”.

        I did not even say that all asylum applicants ought to be treated the same. If Bad People fleeing persecution want to be considered for a lower level of asylum than Good People fleeing persecution, then that’s fine.

        I did not say “let’s ignore their crimes and bring them all over”.

        I simply said that the bad things that an oppressed person might have done should be distinguished for the real persecution that a person may experience.

        Evidently this is a profoundly controversial statement.

        1. That isn’t what you said or argued, and the problem is that we don’t understand what you were saying.

          What you said about questioning why child molesters should be denied asylum is consistent with your beliefs that Congress doesn’t and shouldn’t have any power to decide who should or who shouldn’t be allowed into the country.

          If you’ve revised your views since you wrote the statements above, then good for you, but that doesn’t mean you meant anything other than what you said when you said it.

          1. “That isn’t what you said or argued, and the problem [isn’t] that we don’t understand what you were saying.”

            Fixed!

        2. Jeffy, we all know you would be delighted to bring over an unlimited amount of vicious pedophiles of it meant no more border controls. So just stop.

    3. Right, Johnno, there are no restrictions on alcohol and everything is legalized. Dafuq?

    4. You’ve built up quite a straw man there. I don’t see any value statement in particular about border security in the piece. In fact Welch says, “You want fewer bodies in the desert and lower profit margins for criminal gangs? Legalize more of the people seeking work and safety in the United States.” Notice he doesn’t say legalize ALL people or criminals.

      Actually it stands to reason that if ICE weren’t spending so much time rounding up border crossers who want to peacefully come here and work, they might have more time to hunt down the “bad hombres.” If there were no restrictions on coming to work here after passing a criminal background check, there would be no incentive for the good hombres to cross at non-points of entry.

      As to the analogy, Welch is saying legalize immigration to reduce human smuggling and people dying in the deserts, similar to how (re-)legalizing alcohol brought a reduction in mob violence, and legalizing drugs has brought a reduction in overdoses in Portugal. I think it’s very appropriate. You make something that is in high demand illegal, you drive a thriving black market in that thing. Why should labor be any different?

      1. Exactly.

      2. Why should labor be any different?

        Because THEY weren’t born HERE.

      3. Thank God for the US Constitution and its enumerated powers to regulate migrants, naturalization, and common defense.

    5. This seems like a false choice.

      The same could have been said about alcohol prohibition- unless you are going to allow anyone anywhere to get alcohol, you are going to have some form of prohibition. This is true, and yet the problems we have with underage drinking and such are minor compared to when we had full scale prohibition.

      While I am not intimately familiar with all the ins and outs of prohibition, I know that at least at the employer level, the administration has restricted so many forms of legal immigration- from H1-B to green card sponsorship- that they have created a de facto prohibition on immigration.

      I don’t really care about the wall- I think it is pointless, but also a drop in the bucket. It is just a symbol at this point. The real problem is that we have created so much red tape and restrictions preventing people coming here legally, that many of the same problems of prohibition exist in the immigration market. Concentrating on identifying the law breakers and terrorists would be much easier if we weren’t also concentrating on preventing people who have no other desire than to come here and work- just as it is easier to concentrate on underage drinking than to go after every adult trying to get a drink after work.

      1. Yes, agreed, and well written…

        It gets worse… Trump and Trumpistas actually, actively conspire to turn legal-resident humans into illegal sub-humans!

        https://reason.com/archives/201…..wall-of-bu “Trump Is Building a Wall of Bureaucracy”? Where we see that Where we see that Trump and his bureaucrats are jumping on any and every excuse that they can find, to turn rule-following non-American residents into illegal subhumans, via any route that they can find! To thwart Congress, which would NOT cut back LEGAL immigration as much as Trump wants!

        Trumpistas will tell you, just get out of America before your visa expires.

        But… If I fell deathly ill or my plane reservations got cancelled, so my departure got delayed a bit. Then Donald’s army of bureaucrats jumps on the chance to turn me into an illegal sub-human.

        Telling us what the law is doesn’t help the fact that the law is an evil, inhumane ass, as enforced by Donald’s army of bureaucrats! Being black and sitting in the front of the bus used to be illegal, too, you know!
        Trump is appealing to his racist-nationalistic base, if we are honest!

      2. I’m just wondering if we can apply that same discrimination between those who need narcotics & those who don’t.

        1. In other words, forcing more of those who seek drugs to go thru legal channels to do so, resulting in its becoming easier for people who really need them to get them, because those who don’t are more easily screened out.

        2. Technical advancements may help here…

          http://newatlas.com/blood-test-chronic-pain/54507/

          Revolutionary new blood test can instantly identify chronic pain

    6. Unless your position is that anyone should be able to come to the country even if they are criminals or mean people harm, then there will always be some form of prohibition against immigration and some need to secure the border.

      I tried to persuade Blay Tarnoff 20 yrs. ago that it was false to characterize libertarians’ position as against all controls on border xings. He replied that we didn’t mean to include them when we characterized it that way, so that it was fair to say it as “open borders” or the like. But that was before 9/11, i.e. before people were even discussing that possibility.

      1. Not bad……not bad at all.

        1. Now, it’s still true that some people use security arguments to favor excluding immigrants for entirely unrelated reasons?cultural, racial, competitive?but just because they do doesn’t mean that people who don’t want that sort of exclusion should mischaracterize our position as opposing any or all controls.

  12. “…if the wall/nationalized healthcare/longer prison sentences saves only one child, then it is worth it.”

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!!

    Expand to wall/nationalized healthcare/longer prison sentences/more licenses for how to properly use a screwdriver/physician’s permission to scratch your own asshole/speech control/thought control/exhaling and farting control to prevent globabble warmerterering/lung flute (cheap plastic flute) control, and we are getting even closer!

    To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/ ? This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

  13. The real question isn’t whether we should oppose securing the border because doing so won’t solve the problem of x, y, and z. The real question is whether we oppose securing the border as an end in itself.

    If you oppose securing the border because you like illegal immigration, then you should say so and make the case for that. I happen to think that cheap labor is a fantastic resource, and I’d love to see it come flooding across the border for the same reason I think cheap oil is good for the economy and having more of it available for less is better.

    I don’t think cheap oil should need to sneak across the border through the deserts at night. I want it to come here legally. I feel the same way about cheap labor–it should be free to come here legally. We don’t need to abandon border security to accomplish that. In fact, if we want an open and expansive immigration policy, public support for that probably depends on securing the border first.

    If that’s the case, then people who are arguing against securing the border are arguing against the necessary prerequisite for an open and expansive legal immigration policy.

    1. But, but, but they’re stealing jobs that Americans don’t want!

      1. And the laws of supply and demand magically don’t apply to the labor market.

        1. It is different in that the new labor creates both supply and demand. Probably more supply than demand. Grows the pie. There aren’t a fixed number of jobs out there. Illegals create value when they work, and they create demand when they buy stuff. The economy isn’t static.

          1. Yeah man agreed… I for one would favor (if either side has to be favored, which I don’t think is true or good either) low-skilled workers over high-skilled workers, because low-skilled workers do NOT agitate for special protections for them!

            See https://reason.com/archives/201…..ts#comment and the below comment that I’ve recycled…

            “Government: you can’t do dentistry here” … Yes, exactly! And WHY is that? Because dentists have the money and time with which to lobby (and hoot and holler in other ways) for protection of their racket, and limit the competition that they might face. Concentrated benefits and diffuse costs of special interests, as usual.

            I notice that my lawn-mower-dude from Stanstanstanistan does NOT lobby for more protection of HIS racket… Which is why I would take this bullshit about wanting more high-skill immigrants and fewer low-skill immigrants, and stand it on its head, exactly inverting it… Reward the people who do NOT lobby to fuck us all over! And then open up our doctor-lawyer-dentist-etc. schools for more admissions and fewer bullshit standards… WHY in the HELL does my dentist need to know about the Krebs Cycle anyway… And let my lawn-mower dude study and practice up, and do my teeth for me!

            1. because low-skilled workers do NOT agitate for special protections for them!

              I am unsure of whether or not you are being sarcastic here, but this is totally untrue. There are scores of examples of popular labor champions who organized low skilled workers for government legislation. Half the fucking roads in California are named after Cesar Chavez, a man doing exactly that.

              Indeed, if you get down to the bottom of Dem/GOP arguments for and against immigration, you see that this is key to their strategies. Democrats want to import a bunch of poor people to become voters for their socialist programs, and the GOP wants to restrict exactly that.

              Personally, I think the best avenue is a much more permissive guest worker program, while making it much harder to become a citizen. Nevertheless, even if we have a mass population of non-citizens, there will still be agitators agitating for higher minimum wages, welfare for the poor, and so on.

              1. Agreed all around, you’re right, I had forgotten about labor unions and min-wages and stuff…

                Licenses, degrees, credentials, and board certifications to protect the rich!

                Min wages and labor unions to protect the poor!

                Would be nice to ditch them all (or more properly, ditch the MANDATES around all of them) and allow individual freedom for once…

        2. “And the laws of supply and demand magically don’t apply to the labor market.”

          Or the housing market.

          And big government foreigners won’t vote for more big government when they get here because Magic Dirt.

    2. You’re spot on Ken. I don’t have a problem with border security per se. I think the wall is probably a giant waste of money, and less effective than just increasing freedom (legalize drugs and labor and you stem the tide of gang violence crossing the border). But I have no problem with keeping known violent criminals from entering our country, nor should any sane person.

      I would take it even a step further. Immigration for labor is not equivalent to naturalization, nor should it be. Separate the two. Allow MORE immigration of labor with no access to welfare and no automatic path to citizenship. If the Republicans put forward a guest worker bill like this, it would be a political winner for them because a lot of Dems would vote against the very thing they say they want if it doesn’t necessarily increase their voter rolls.

      1. “Allow MORE immigration of labor with no access to welfare and no automatic path to citizenship. ”

        Won’t someone think of the children?

        No, really. Think of the children.

        Once people live here, they have kids, then it’s all boo hoo hoo, we can’t make little Timmy leave the country. Then of course we can’t make little Timmy’s mommy and daddy leave! And what about gammah? Surely we have to let her come to the US!

        Once they’re here, there’s either a pathway to citizenship, or not. Probably the former.

        But consider the latter.

        That’s the Saudi Arabian model – import an unenfranchised servant class, who are allowed to stay as long as they properly serve their citizen masters.
        A society of people with political rights, living off the labor of those who don’t.

        “Libertopia”

        How many countries like that look very free to you?

    3. “The real question isn’t whether we should oppose securing the border because doing so won’t solve the problem of x, y, and z. ”

      If Matt were a journalist instead of a propagandist, he’d argue that some of Trump’s rhetoric for the wall is rhetoric that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, instead of launching into his own rhetoric that “therefore walls bad”.

  14. Lessons from alcohol prohibition [get] lost in [every] conversation [about policy].

    FIFY

    1. The biggest lesson from the Prohibition should be that the government needs a constitutional amendment to ban products and services. Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional.

      1. So it would be morally just if it was done by constitutional amendment?

        1. morally? No, but it would finally be legal under our Constitutional Democratic Republic.

          Right now The Controlled Substances Act is immoral and illegal.

          Baby steps sometimes.

          1. Baby steps toward what? Democratic totalitarianism?

            1. Baby steps that gets the USA to reign in more unconstitutional laws.

  15. In a January 8 prime-time border security speech so unpersuasive that only 2 percent of Quinnipiac poll respondents said it changed their minds

    Well, duh! After so much has been said about this issue lately, what remained to be said that could change anyone’s mind?

    1. Isn’t that better than the 0% of the people Reason writers change the minds of?

      1. That’s not fair. Reason has changed a lot of minds around here about Trump.

        Reason worked very hard to convert their reader to Trump haters, and with their dishonest propaganda, converted many to Trump supporters.

        They certainly helped convert me.

        For about six months after the God Emperor descended the Holy Escalator, every Reason article had at least one comment “Why do you keep making me defend Trump?”

        The Lying Media made Trump. Which makes his continued destruction of them all the more satisfying.

  16. Ken Burns, even while promoting his documentary Prohibition in 2011, could not see parallels to the drug war, telling Reason’s Nick Gillespie, “No, I think it’s less to that. Alcohol is used by every culture since there have been human beings. Drugs are a subcultural thing.”

    We have come a long way as a country since then in belatedly deploying prohibition analysis to policy conversations about marijuana, to the point where one-quarter of Americans now live in states where recreational use is legal. But we seem to be going the opposite direction on harder substances,

    How much duh could you have in 1 blog entry? Don’t you see it’s about how popular the substance is? MJ became popular enough to be allowed, like booze! Tobacco’s becoming unpopular enough to be banned!

    1. This was predicted in the 90s. Pot will be legal. Tobacco illegal. It was predicted by a guy who gave a talk to judges on the subject.

      1. The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States

        by Charles Whitebread, Professor of Law, USC Law School

        A Speech to the California Judges Association 1995 annual conference

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    Drug Prohibition is socialism for criminals. Says Milton Friedman. Besides we learned that from Alcohol Prohibition.

  19. There was a time when it was actually worth engaging libertarian arguments. These days, they’ve become so off the wall nobody wants to engage them anymore, they just want to punch them in the face for being annoying.

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  21. Reason has a blind spot when it comes to illegal immigrants.

    1. They have a sweet spot for corporate profits.

  22. The “it shouldn’t matter where you’re born” advocacy for illegal immigration is one of the most progressive, and stupidest, arguments possible.
    You’re essentially saying that each person is the result of spontaneous creation when born. Family history and investment, genetic or otherwise, becomes meaningless. Every person is a tabula rosa of identity.
    Thus, concepts such as inheritance taxes (or total confiscation), to the lesser extreme, and Platonian communal/state parentage, to a greater extreme, are legit.
    Is this really principled libertarianism?
    Contrary to making an anarchist (and let’s remember how originally anarchism and communism were almost indistinguishable and inextricably linked… oh, but you deny the concept of originality, so nevermind) claim, in the context where nation states and polities exist, you’re making the most extreme state supremacist possible.

    1. Location, like family name and inherited property, is a birthright. Your place of birth belongs to you, and automatically grants you membership in the larger community. This is the only rationale behind birthright citizenship, and why an exception had to be explicitly detailed (not specifically enough, apparently).
      But if you want to argue that the US belongs to the world, that lineage should play no role in determining residency, thus it doesn’t matter what side of the “imaginary line” one is born on – then at least address some of the above issues.

    2. Wow, that is some stew ya got boiling there! Anarchism and communism are the same? Well OK, communism where “the state withers away” maybe, sure… But this latter flavor of communism has NEVER existed! WILL never exist with human nature being what it is! And anarchism immediately gets replaced by the baddest-assed gang of thugs that replaces it, since anarchism has NO power to suppress these thugs… so we’re really talking about unicorns = griffons here, it’s pretty meaningless…

      Well OK then… But those of us who want LESS Government Almighty excessive over-regulation of the border are now in favor of “…the most extreme state supremacist possible” arrangements?

      I can NOT follow your logic at ALL!!!

      1. You don’t follow any logic, sqrlsy. You emote infantile gibberish.

        1. In fairness, this was one of your more lucid posts.
          Your point about anarchism – that it simply leads to more warlords – is correct (see: Makhno).
          Otherwise, you’re going with “no true Scotsman”
          What you call excessive over regulation of the border, I suspect, amounts to any control over the border at all – which negates the concept of a nation state or polity altogether. Then you’re just back to unrestrained warlords.
          So, since nation states and polities do exist, those “imagery lines” do exist and do have meaning. Your attempts to avoid that lead to state supremacist, progressive denial of history, positions.

          1. No, there’s a middle ground. I’m not in favor of ZERO border control. I’m scarcely aware of anyone who holds that extreme of a border policy.

            What we have now is extreme, though. One of my best pieces of evidence is here:

            https://reason.com/archives/201…..wall-of-bu “Trump Is Building a Wall of Bureaucracy”? Where we see that Where we see that Trump and his bureaucrats are jumping on any and every excuse that they can find, to turn rule-following non-American residents into illegal subhumans, via any route that they can find! To thwart Congress, which would NOT cut back LEGAL immigration as much as Trump wants!76

            1. Shika is a dishonest zealot. Linking to her articles isn’t a legitimate point.

              The US accepted 1.25 million legal immigrants in 2017, a number steadily rising from 990k in 2013 to spike at 1.8 million in 2016.

              So accepting more legal immigrants than any other country in the world is extreme? There’s an argument there, but not in the direction you’d like.

  23. When you’re forced to compare the regulation of immigration, with the prohibition of alcohol, you’ve lost the argument.

    1. “Humans are consumable goods. The Plutocrats need more profits.”

  24. I disagree, respectfully, with Nick Gillespie; alcohol is NOT a SUBCULTURAL drug. In America, and many cultures, alcohol is fully a part of mainstream culture; the drug of choice. The re-legaliztion of alcohol, following Prohibition, led directly to Harry Anslinger putting “the drug war” into play. Anslinger faced losing funding for his department in charge of alcohol suppression, turned to marijuana, cocaine and heroin as reasons to push for all out war on people of color (yes, he was a racist- he mentored Joe Arpaio). He threatened every government in the world to follow his jihad, or lose U.S. funding, if they did not follow suit. He threatened Mexico with a cut off of all pain medication if they did not enact his draconian laws and policies.
    See: “Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari; it is a fascinating story. Harry Anslinger directed the murder of Billie Holiday; and the drug war has nothing to do with drugs.

  25. And the same week Trump was grousing about how much he wanted to stop “chain Immigration”, he was arranging for his wife’s parents to come here- via chain immigration.

  26. Mea culpa; it was Ken Burns, to Nick Gillespie re: alcohol being sub cultural

  27. “You want fewer bodies in the desert and lower profit margins for criminal gangs? Legalize more of the people seeking work and safety in the United States. Prohibition kills.”

    Mexico has much more violent crime, political corruption, political assassination, and support for big government.

    Import Mexico
    Become Mexico

    Countries are people.

    People kill. People commit crime.

    America has the peace, freedom, and prosperity it has because Americans made it that way.

    Import Not Americans
    Become Not America

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  32. Well, unless you can get them all together and can use a bomb. Hmmm, sayyyy, are there are any places you can think of where central planners are collected together?

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