The poor will always be with us. Courtesy of state intervention

A nice piece on the way the War on Poverty ensures that there will always be an underclass to justify the demand for a War on Poverty. By Steven Horwitz of Coordination Problem, aka The Austrian Economists.

First, eliminate all minimum-wage and occupational-licensure laws.

These laws cut the bottom rungs of the economic ladder off from those who lack the skills or capital to justify the higher wage or pass the licensing requirements. Minimum-wage laws make it prohibitively expensive to hire lower-skilled workers, preventing them from getting the very basic job skills they need to move up that ladder. Licensure laws were created to shut the poor and nonwhite out of the marketplace, and they have, unfortunately, succeeded.

Second, open up the public schools to competition. Urban public schools are not just ineffective; they are destructive of human capital. Throwing more money at them hasn’t worked, and it’s time to give poor Americans, especially poor families of color, the opportunity to get the education they deserve by making schools actually compete for students.

Finally, end the War on Drugs.

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113 Responses to The poor will always be with us. Courtesy of state intervention

  1. adrian

    is decriminalising drugs meant to end poverty by lowering the cost of living for addicts, or something…?

  2. Token

    The poor will always be with us.

    As will populist tub thumpers offering snake oil solutions to grab power using manufactured anger.

    When will the politics of the centre right be built to address and neutralise this fact (like the way the centre left in the US neutralised the gun rights issue in the 2000s)?

  3. e-girl

    Adrian, I think repealing the drug laws is intended to break the nexus between drug use and serious criminality that comes with prohibition, and also to stop the very large numbers of people, mostly men, in some communities from consequently going to prison. That would, in turn, help to reduce the number of children growing up without both their parents, which the data shows leads to poor outcomes.

    Also, it would reduce the costs and risks or drug use :)

  4. Abraham

    @ Adrian …

    Make an effort to read the article in its totality prior to making disingenuous statements …

    Finally, end the War on Drugs. The culture of violence of the drug war, along with the way that it has driven out legitimate businesses from poor areas, have done a great deal to impoverish Americans, again especially Americans of color. In addition, it has destroyed families by arresting people, disproportionately poor and nonwhite, for something that is a victimless crime. Legalization would take the profit and violence out of the drug trade and make poor urban areas increasingly inhabitable for businesses and families, enhancing upward mobility.

  5. goatjam

    I think that drug illegality issue exacerbates the two problems first mentioned. If you cannot get a job because you have no skills or can’t afford the licence then what else is left for you? When you are bereft of all opportunity then there is always that lure of “easy money” offered by the criminal drug industry.

    As for Token, I have one question for you. Why is it that you leftards so quickly jump to the personal abuse and invective option? Do you even realise that you did not address one point in your mini rant above? No, it’s straight to the insults for you, isn’t it? You don’t do your side any favours when you just act like an abusive ignoramous you know.

    So, keep up the good work!

  6. Brett_McS

    It’s that 0.001% residual which is the excuse for the War on Poverty – which then goes on to create more poverty. Just seen the same effect with ObamaCare.

  7. Empire Strikes Back

    is decriminalising drugs meant to end poverty by lowering the cost of living for addicts, or something…?

    Something. Perhaps something like drastically lowering the cost of (futile) enforcement, currently paid for by non-addicts and non-users. Evidence suggests that the arrest rate for black drug users in the US far exceeds the black usage rate. That is, for whatever reason, the War on Drugs disproportionately harms the prospects of young black men.

    The problem begins with police activity. According to Justice Department data cited in the report, police arrested black youth for drug crimes at more than twice the rate of white youth between 1980 and 2010, nationwide. Yet a 2012 study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that white high-school students were slightly more likely to have abused illegal drugs within the past month than black students of the same age.

    RIFY here. High achieving African-Americans, from Thomas Sowell to the late James Brown have understand that a job is the only ticket out of poverty. A criminal record (for what is often a victimless “crime”), like mandated minimum wage, makes it more difficult for those at the bottom to commence the climb to the top.

    As for Token, I have one question for you. Why is it that you leftards so quickly jump to the personal abuse and invective option?

    Don’t beclown yourself Il CapraMarmellata. Token is about as leftard as Milton Friedman. If you’re going to camp here while Andrew is on holiday, perhaps take the time to familiarise yourself with the furniture.

  8. Bear Necessities

    Minimum wage laws in Australia only led to high paying salary positions for the union officials, employer association reps and Fair Work employees who live off the legislation.

  9. Bear Necessities

    And the legal profession who represent these organisations as well.

  10. ar

    As for Token, I have one question for you. Why is it that you leftards so quickly jump to the personal abuse and invective option?

    LOL…

  11. Abraham

    May I ask a serious question:

    What effect will legalisation of ALL drugs have on usage rates? Will there suddenly be a spike in use or will it remain much the same?

  12. Poor Old Rafe

    There will be a spike but nobody knows how rapidly the situation will improve so the threat of the spike is a massive disincentive to move in that direction.

    Another big problem in the US is the sheer number of people working in the prison industry.

  13. Percy

    War on poverty, war on wealth, war on drugs, education, packaging, t-shirts yada yada yada.
    No rest for the Vanguard.

  14. james

    I would imagine that legalization in theory cuts the gigantic profit margins in the trade by introducing open competition.

    That alone would help to cut the profits available to criminals and as such reduce crime.

    It would need to be full legalization however, the half measures trialled in the U.K only made matters worse.

    Wiping out the black market in weed would be a blessing, even if it meant a small loss in overall productivity with slightly more stoned losers than before.

    The harder drugs are more debatable, there are manifold benefits to legalization of such substances but with downsides as well. It would only take a single death from the new “cleaner” drug to derail the entire project.

    But if it could be achieved…

    No more bikies, massively reduced organised crime, police resources actually used to crack down on real violent thugs.

    9/10ths of the black market removed at once.

    It worked with gambling and mostly worked with prostitution, in theory it could work with drugs if done carefully and with vigilance.

  15. Token

    As for Token, I have one question for you. Why is it that you leftards so quickly jump to the personal abuse and invective option? Do you even realise that you did not address one point in your mini rant above?

    Hahaha, there I was supporting the premise of Rafe’s posting.

    War on poverty, war on wealth, war on drugs, education, packaging, t-shirts yada yada yada.
    No rest for the Vanguard.

    Percy got what I meant.

    I think that drug illegality issue exacerbates the two problems first mentioned. If you cannot get a job because you have no skills or can’t afford the licence then what else is left for you? When you are bereft of all opportunity then there is always that lure of “easy money” offered by the criminal drug industry.

    I understand that point and read the documents JC & Dot posted about the results of decriminalisation in Portugal. Basically, for those who have not been at the Cat long may not realise this topic is discussed often.

  16. Bear Necessities

    Trying to persuade people, at the moment, that the war on drugs is lost is like trying to argue in the 1970′s and 1980′s that the Aboriginal assistance industry was causing a lot more harm than good. You were labelled a racist if you argued from that perspective. I’m not hopeful in the next decade or so that we will move to a legalisation of drug use. There are too many special interests in the drug war who will label you as immoral (e.g. what about the children!!) if you put forward this argument.

  17. Token

    Abraham

    Much the same.

    Won’t price play a part?

    There should be some substitution once the Big Pharma companies move in and use the key active chemicals in new drug blends.

  18. james

    I think we can assume that legalization would lead to a slight uptick in usage rates but:

    1) how do you measure usage rates in a black market commodity?

    2) how many people out there just really really want to shoot up some heroin but don’t because of its legal status? Even with choof we are not talking about a giant increase in the number of stoners, even if individual users find themselves able to use more due to price drops.

  19. Abraham

    Another big problem in the US is the sheer number of people working in the prison industry.

    Do I understand it correctly in should drugs be legalised, there’d be less incarcerations, requiring less prison officers, which their unions won’t allow. Thus, high rates of incarceration indirectly benefit union membership.

  20. adrian

    Legalization would take the profit and violence out of the drug trade

    come on….it is not as if legal products don’t spark violence or don’t make money. i’m a little over all the grandious statements that are made regarding drug legalisation. poverty is a relative concept anyway – it is not as if it will go away from making cocaine legal. drugs are a side issue, a symptom of poverty not necessarly a cause

  21. Empire Strikes Back

    What effect will legalisation of ALL drugs have on usage rates? Will there suddenly be a spike in use or will it remain much the same?

    To the best of my knowledge, no country has embarked on blanket legalisation. As mentioned upthead, Portugal offers evidence for limited decriminalisation. The Cato Institute published this white paper on the Portuguese experience.

    None of the fears promulgated by opponents of Portuguese decriminalization has come to fruition, whereas many of the benefits predicted by drug policymakers from instituting a decriminalization regime have been realized.

    While drug addiction, usage, and associated pathologies continue to skyrocket in many EU states, those problems—in virtually every relevant category—have been either contained or measurably improved within Portugal since 2001. In certain key demographic segments, drug usage has decreased in absolute terms in the decriminalization framework, even as usage across the EU continues to increase, including in those states that continue to take the hardest line in criminalizing drug possession and usage.

  22. .

    ….it is not as if legal products don’t spark violence

    The costs of prohibition outweigh the benefits. That’s the whole point.

  23. .

    I’d also add in the costs of regressive taxes like tariffs and fuel, alcohol and tobacco excise.

    This is not to mention labour on costs such as payroll taxes.

    The government indeed prevents people from rising out of poverty then does them a ‘favour’ by giving them lifetime welfare and creating generational welfare.

  24. Token

    I think we can assume that legalization would lead to a slight uptick in usage rates

    I would expect some very rational people with chronic pain will move from other legal medication to marijuana once it is decriminalised / legalised so the actual change will have noise.

    Elasticities, Token.

    Does anyone who how elastic the drugs are, or are they waiting for data from Colorado & Washington State?

  25. Abraham

    @ Adrian …

    ….it is not as if legal products don’t spark violence.

    Name one legal product responsible for being the cause of similar levels of violence as illicit drugs?

  26. .

    Another thing Token is cross elasticities.

    People will take meth if they can’t get cocaine.

  27. Paul

    Why is it that you leftards so quickly jump to the personal abuse and invective option?

    I’ve never really taken Token to be a “Leftard” (whatever that little gratuitous Americanism means today).

  28. First, eliminate all minimum-wage and occupational-licensure laws.

    Eliminating minimum-wage sounds like an excellent idea because that way you actually can pay people as close to zero as possible and if they don’t like it, they can move on.
    The fact that people in Bangladesh die as a result of factory fires and collapses only echoes events like the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire factory in New York City a hundred years earlier. Provided you pay people as little as possible, they’ll learn to accept increasingly horrible conditions as normal; if they don’t like it, they can move on.

    Let people pull themselves out of poverty. That worked excellently in the 1830s.

  29. Brett_McS

    “Finally, end the war on drugs”.

    I hope that means that the author has worked out that ending the war on drugs is the last thing that should be done, after the innumerable wars on productive manifestations of liberty have been called off.

  30. Jannie

    The mention of da evil “drugs” sure brings out the inner control freak in some alleged libertarians.

    I should add that legalising a drug such as marijuana would probably increase the physical volume of consumption, but could make it healthier to consume. Volume would be refined into hash and oil. Also if it was cheaper it would be an option to consume it inefficiently as a tea type infusion in boiling water, rather than efficiently smoking it. Smoking marijuana is very unhealthy, drinking it as a tea or eating it as a cookie is far better.

  31. Abraham

    @ Andrew Rollason

    Let people pull themselves out of poverty.

    Now you’re getting it …

  32. Brett_McS

    @ Andrew Rollason

    if they don’t like it, they can move on.

    I think we have a convert!

  33. Brett_McS

    @ Jannie

    So, the first thing we should do is legalize drugs, retaining for now the bureaucratic controls of actually productive manifestations of liberty? Because nothing goes together like chronic unemployment and psychoactive drugs.

  34. .

    Let people pull themselves out of poverty. That worked excellently in the 1830s.

    Yes it did.

    Fires are becuase of a lack of a minimum wage?

    Do you realise Finns and Swedes don’t have one? Where are their fires?

  35. Empire Strikes Back

    The fact that people in Bangladesh die as a result of factory fires and collapses

    What is the relevance of this statement to minimum-wage and occupational-licensure laws? Are you implying mandated minimum wage is a causal factor in industrial fire risk? Do you have actuarial data to support this?

  36. .

    I know ESB. These claims are utterly hysterical. The Hindenburg crashed because of a lack of organised labour rights too, I suppose?

  37. Adam D

    Do you realise Finns and Swedes don’t have one?

    What? Since when? How has that worked out for them? I am in favour of removing the minimum wage but thought it to be simply an academic exercise not one that would ever pass the political test. I am intrigued…

  38. Empire Strikes Back

    The Hindenburg crashed because of a lack of organised labour rights too, I suppose?

    Close, but no cigar Dot. The latest research suggests the hydrogen ignited because Abbott666.

    The great-grand-daughter of the bloke who lived next door to Herb Morrison in the late 30s claims that what he really said was:

    and it’s falling on the mooring-mast and all the folks agree that this is terrible Tony Abbott’s fault…Oh, the humanity…

  39. Boambee John

    As long as “poverty” is defined in relative terms (percent of median income) not absolute terms (ability to afford shelter, food, clothing, household necessities) it will always be with us, and so (importantly to them) will be the parasites of the “poverty industry”.

    Under the present definition, if the Abbott government changed social security to guarantee an income at exactly the present poverty line for all, the effect would be to raise the median income, so increasing the number living in “poverty”. This is because the new “poverty line” would not only encompass all those previously under the old poverty line, but also a lot who were just above it. repeating the does would exacerbate the “problem” more.

    Under the present definition, the simplest way to reduce the number below the “poverty line” would be to reduce the median income by lowering incomes at the top of the scale (absolute incomes,which are used to measure median income, not after tax incomes).

    As the government has little control over private sector incomes, its best action would be to limit the maximum income paid from taxpayer funds. Set public servant (and politician) incomes at a maximum of (say) five times median income, and apply the same limit to all NGOs that receive taxpayer funding.

    The median income of the nation would drop, as would the “poverty line”, reducing the number living in relative poverty.

    An additional benefit would be the move of many employees of the “poverty industry” into other areas seeking higher incomes, as they see that they can no longer “do well by doing good”. Those genuinely interested in helping the actual poor (Salvos, I’m cheering for you) would continue to provide their voluntary services, improvement all around!

  40. jupes

    What effect will legalisation of ALL drugs have on usage rates?

    There will be more addicts. There will be younger addicts. There will be more pschotic episodes of violence fuelled by drugs. There will be more stoners. More people will be able to keep their drug habit on the dole and will become unemployable. There will be more workplace and road accidents caused by drugs.

    Other than that it will all be good.

  41. Abraham

    Dot …

    Interesting to see how the countries without any minimum wages seem to also be the most prosperous. I wonder how Hammy and Co would rationalise this interesting little fact?

  42. .

    There are two sets of costs and two sets of benefits jupes – however you are only looking at one of these sums.

    The costs of drug prohibition outweigh the benefits.

  43. nerblnob

    I’m curious like Abraham about legalising drugs. I’m also a bit cautious about studies of post legalisation that start from s position of advocacy.

    Then there’s what I might call the “thalidomide” problem. When a legal drug is shown to have unwelcome and nasty side effects, and pretty much every recreational drug does to some extent, there is a public outcry to ban it. Was it not dime process like that which led to the banning of heroin and LSD?

  44. nerblnob

    Dime = some. Swipe keyboard.

  45. jupes

    The costs of drug prohibition outweigh the benefits.

    Yes a society of junkies and stoners would be a vast improvement.

  46. .

    Society? No. There would be a small increase in use.

    The US could release half of their prison population.

  47. Abraham

    Jupes …

    There will be more addicts.

    So what you are saying is there are masses of prospective users patiently waiting for the Government to legalise drugs before they indulge themselves, because as law-abiding citizens they refuse to engage in illegal drugs?

    I wonder how many people are thinking to themselves “If only drugs were legal …”

  48. Abraham

    Dot …

    The US could release half of their prison population.

    Refer to Rafe’s comment 09:59

    Another big problem in the US is the sheer number of people working in the prison industry.

    The prison unions won’t allow it.

  49. Notafan

    What if all recreational were legal but the fact that prohibitions exist for driving or in the work place etc would that be enough to discourage more taking up use?

  50. .

    This is a report funded by the US DOJ.

    https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/191856.pdf

    Drug Prices

    There seems little doubt that the combination of source area programs, interdiction and domestic law enforcement have successfully increased the price of illicit drug products to levels that are many times higher than would otherwise prevail. Cocaine, heroin and marijuana are basically agricultural products that quire minimal inexpensive chemical processing. If it were not for law enforcement, they might sell for prices that are comparable to aspirin. Instead, users pay many times the price of aspirin for typical doses.

    Hence why the costs outweigh the benefits of drug prohibition: prohibition creates inventives for violent organised crime to exist.

  51. Abraham

    Notafan …

    Drug use ought to be regulated similarly as alcohol use. Use it to your heart’s content, but if you act like a d***head or endanger someone else, then face the legal consequences. Quiet simple.

  52. There will be more addicts. There will be younger addicts. There will be more pschotic episodes of violence fuelled by drugs. There will be more stoners. More people will be able to keep their drug habit on the dole and will become unemployable. There will be more workplace and road accidents caused by drugs.

    Other than that it will all be good.

    And this is the problem. One of the reasons alcohol was so demonised – albeit legal – in the 19th and early 20th centuries was that it was the legal heroin of its day. Alcohol abuse ruined families, had transgenerational effects, fuelled crime (especially domestic violence) and had other ill-effects on the social fabric.

    Banning it didn’t work, though.

    Cannabis has clear links with the development of psychosis, one study positing an almost-uniform 8 year gap between first use of cannabis (at any age) and subsequent first psychotic episode. We simply don’t know enough about THC to be as clear about its other posited effects, such as a potential link with the autism epidemic.

    We also don’t know enough about many other drugs to say with any certainty that they’re safe for regular human consumption. The opiates are pretty well studied; that leaves only about a thousand other substances to go …

    We already have enough problems with prescription drug abuse. Why make it worse with drugs about which we know so little?

  53. Empire Strikes Back

    We already have enough problems with prescription drug abuse. Why make it worse with drugs about which we know so little?

    You assume relaxation of prohibition results in increased usage. The Portuguese experience contradicts this.

  54. Mr Rusty

    Boambee John
    #1142420, posted on January 9, 2014 at 11:44 am:

    Under the present definition, the simplest way to reduce the number below the “poverty line” would be to reduce the median income by lowering incomes at the top of the scale (absolute incomes,which are used to measure median income, not after tax incomes).

    As the government has little control over private sector incomes, its best action would be to limit the maximum income paid from taxpayer funds. Set public servant (and politician) incomes at a maximum of (say) five times median income, and apply the same limit to all NGOs that receive taxpayer funding.

    Ha!Ha! That is easily the best way to “win” the “war on poverty”!

    Just pull this suggestion out every time some do-gooder, bleeding-heart, compassionista arcs up and watch as “poverty” is somehow miraculously “eradicated” within a couple of months (more via the concept of omission and a seeming unwillingness to use it as a political battering ram to demonise the other side.)

  55. Jannie

    Most of the “research” into Cannabis, particularly research commissioned by conservative sources, is crap. Cannabis research is a money tree to some academics, much the same as CAGW research, but only if you have the predetermined politically correct conclusions. The vested interests in opposing Cannabis provide rivers of gold to those dishonest enough to abandon rational science and sell their butts for stable employment.

  56. Zatara

    Would you let a stoned person fix the brakes on the family car? Because if drugs are legalized it is going to be damned difficult to prevent it.

    Would you like to to be the first business owner or manager taken to court for terminating a stoner at work?

    How the elephant in the room? All those professions/trades which now require drug tests, and implicitly demand absolute non drug use? That’s absolute as in 24/7/365. Comfortable with a pilot slipping a little cannabis oil in his tea to “take the edge off” before shooting that instrument approach to minimums at a high traffic airport?

    Unfortunately, this has the odor of one of those “screw it, lets just do it and be over it” situations where people weary of fighting the good fight over an issue they don’t think affects them directly.

    IMO, as with so many other issues these days the Rule of Unintended Consequences and a true/realistic application of the Rule of Cause and Effect are being ignored here.

  57. Empire Strikes Back

    Enough of the drug debate, how about the minimum-wage and occupational-licensure laws. Is there any chance that labour market deregulation can/will occur under a socialist-lite Abbott government?

    Does he have the intent, cojones and political capital?

  58. .

    Would you let a stoned person fix the brakes on the family car? Because if drugs are legalized it is going to be damned difficult to prevent it.

    Except their employer would tell them to go home and give them a warning. If it affect them badly enough your car won’t operate properly.

    People don’t turn up drunk – because they like not being fired.

  59. .

    IMO, as with so many other issues these days the Rule of Unintended Consequences and a true/realistic application of the Rule of Cause and Effect are being ignored here.

    No, you are saying people will be outraged if someone fires a stoned employee – which happens already.

    Your examples are so hypothetical they are unrealistic. They simply aren’t in context of what happens now.

  60. stackja

    Philippa Martyr
    #1142511, posted on January 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Increase Cannabis use then we will see! May cut down on the welfare budget! Less survivors! Of course like alcohol there will be collateral damage. But who are we to try and stop stupidity?

  61. Empire Strikes Back

    All those professions/trades which now require drug tests, and implicitly demand absolute non drug use? That’s absolute as in 24/7/365. Comfortable with a pilot slipping a little cannabis oil in his tea to “take the edge off” before shooting that instrument approach to minimums at a high traffic airport?

    Why of course. Just the other day whilst boarding a VA flight, the cockpit door was ajar. I noticed the F/O had a bottle of Lagavulin 16yo sitting on centre consult behind the go-levers. One assumes if cocaine was decriminalised he would cut a couple of rails on the glare-shield too. I presume hoovering the marching powder becomes a “vital actions” item.

  62. Zatara

    Dot, my examples are not hypothetical at all.

    I said nothing about outrage. What I was acknowledging in the court case example was the difficulties associated withBurden of Proof. Proof is extremely easy in alcohol cases. Just as it is extremely difficult in drug cases.

    And you forgot to address the case where the conditions of ones employment absolutely forbid drug use at any time. Generally by Federal law.

  63. stackja

    Liberty Quotes
    “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” — Milton Friedman

  64. Empire Strikes Back

    “See, if you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That’s literally true.”

    ― Milton Friedman

  65. Zatara

    Empire, I take your point and but would point out that the situation you described of a flight crew member being intoxicated continues to happen, although not so blatantly.

    The differences between the drugs and the alcohol are that one is easier to detect which is good if you have Capt X the alcoholic on the fight deck and bad if you have Capt Z the cannabis oil user. On the other hand, Capt x can piss in a bottle 24 hours later and no one will be the wiser. Not so for Capt Z who went the cannabis route.

    My points?

    Drug use is less detectable and just as dangerous as alcohol use.

    “Legalizing” drugs will still only effectively legalize it for certain members of the population, the ones that do not have professional roles which continue to forbid drug use. Thus the idea that legalization is going to help people up the employment ladder doesn’t ring completely true

  66. rickw

    My Latvian neighbour arrived in Australia in the 50′s with nothing. He worked menial jobs and then brought himself a shovel, trowel and wrench and became a “plumber”. He worked for what people were willing to pay him. He owns his own house and his kids all went to university and got good jobs. At that time, no trade certification and effectively no minimum wage.

    End the war on drugs, definitely, as long as you end the war on guns at the same time. Somehow most can’t manage to agree with this, despite the regulation of guns being of about the same vintage as the regulation of drugs, and it would seem to have been just as ineffective.

  67. .

    It does Zatara if you read the article. We’re not talking about crane operators being allowed to ingest bath salts through legislative force.

  68. .

    My Latvian neighbour arrived in Australia in the 50′s with nothing. He worked menial jobs and then brought himself a shovel, trowel and wrench and became a “plumber”.

    In modern Australia, he would be a criminal for not getting a trade cert.

  69. Empire Strikes Back

    This:

    Capt x can piss in a bottle 24 hours later and no one will be the wiser. Not so for Capt Z who went the cannabis route.

    Contradicts this:

    Drug use is less detectable and just as dangerous as alcohol use.

    And

    Thus the idea that legalization is going to help people up the employment ladder doesn’t ring completely true

    I can’t see the nexus between incapacitated flight crew and a third generation welfare recipient who can’t get a job because:

    - his labour isn’t worth the minimum legislated hourly rate;
    - he doesn’t have a union ticket and a Cert II in Workplace Garbology; and
    - he has a criminal conviction for smoking a joint.

  70. Driftforge

    In modern Australia, he would be a criminal for not getting a trade cert.

    In a turn up for the books I just had an international visitor express surprise that you don’t require a degree to become a farmer in Australia, like they do back at home.

    I hesitate to mention this if only because it might spark a ‘bright idea’ somewhere…

  71. Notafan

    And we would have a legal system where being affected by drugs and/or alcohol in the commission of an offence would be an aggravating factor? I like the idea of legal and taxed like alcohol and tobacco with employers having the right to enforce no drug contracts with regular screening etc

  72. Zatara

    Empire,

    Suffice to say that “end the war on drugs” isn’t as easy as just signing the repeal of a law. It is a very complex issue and one in which important aspects haven’t been widely considered yet.

    Put simply, there are professions in which drug use is prohibited by law and when one enters those professions one accepts that they will be drug tested.

    However, imagine Joe’s Auto Repair, Bruce’s Electric Service, and Sheila’s Roofing deciding that the only way to protect themselves from liability is to make the same policy, drug test or no job. To my mind that constitutes unreasonable search and seizure and I am opposed to it on that principle, but I can see why they will want it to do it, just as I can see their insurance company demanding it.

    I see a raft of further legislation to deal with these and many other unforeseen aspects of legalization none of which will be good for the business owner and so no, I don’t see this doing good things for job-seekers at all.

  73. jupes

    So what you are saying is there are masses of prospective users patiently waiting for the Government to legalise drugs before they indulge themselves, because as law-abiding citizens they refuse to engage in illegal drugs?

    Yep. No doubt in my mind that there are plenty of people who wouldn’t think of consorting with criminals and spending huge amounts to buy heroin or cocaine today, but would be tempted to visit the legal opium den / drug emporium to try that two dollar hit of heroin or one dollar blast from the crack pipe, because it’s cheaper than booze and what could possibly go wrong?

    I wonder how many people are thinking to themselves “If only drugs were legal …”

    … and cheap. Fucking heaps.

  74. jupes

    The US could release half of their prison population.

    Wow. That’s a recipe for a just and decent society.

    More junkies, more stoners and more crims on the street. Ever wonder why libertarians don’t attract a lot of votes Dot?

  75. brc

    I recommend reading Ben Eltons book ‘High Society’ for an introduction to the ideas behind drug legalization. Now Elton is a grade a Lefty but drug legalisation is the only area where the left actually want less government, so sme of them have produced good arguments.

    The only line I remember from the book is ‘would you really care if one more addict got high if it meant your grandma nearer got robbed in broad daylight again?’

    As already noted, so many people can only see one side of the cost/benefit story here. They see the shocking proeprty crime rates in Australia and think that nothing can be done. But it can. They aren’t stealing all that stuff to build an investment portfolio or to open a 2nd hand store. A person on the dole can afford all the basic necessities except for their weekend high. Personally I could care less if a bunch of people in Inala are getting stoned in the park as long as they stop stealing my stuff. The airline pilot stuff is just scaremongering – doing those jobs under influence is already illegal and that wouldn’t change. There is nothing extra preventing an airline pilot abusing prescription drugs right now, except for the threat of losing their job.

    The basic strategy has to be a phased approach and there has to be supporting legislation, testing and all the other things that currently happen around alcohol consumption. I would think controlled, regulated doses of cannabis, easily available, would cut into the demand for things like meth. Every beer you buy is a controlled, regulated dose, and accordingly mid-strength beer outsells the harder stuff now. There is no reason to suggest that the same thing wouldn’t happen with cannabis.

    Would I go buy some dope if it were legal tomorrow? Probably not. But if I did, it would only be replacing a bottle of red on a Friday night. Those horrified about legalisation have to realize that everyone who wants to get high is currently doing so.

  76. .

    So jupes you want to lock people up for being stoners?

    You’re like the Presbyterian al Qaida.

  77. Empire Strikes Back

    However, imagine Joe’s Auto Repair, Bruce’s Electric Service, and Sheila’s Roofing deciding that the only way to protect themselves from liability is to make the same policy, drug test or no job. To my mind that constitutes unreasonable search and seizure and I am opposed to it on that principle, but I can see why they will want it to do it, just as I can see their insurance company demanding it.

    This regime already exists. It exists because historically some people fronted for work incapacitated; sometimes pissed, sometimes stoned. Testing exists because the rotten apples have spoiled it for everyone else, but the test is voluntarily consented to in the employment contract. You are comparing this with harassment by agents of the state. I’m not persuaded of the equivalence. I also fail to see how relaxation of drug regulation will change the status quo with regards to workplace testing. It happens today, it will continue tomorrow.

    brc:

    Those horrified about legalisation have to realize that everyone who wants to get high is currently doing so.

    The Portuguese experience suggests you are correct.

  78. jupes

    So jupes you want to lock people up for being stoners?

    So Dot are you suggesting that half the prison population of the US are in there for being stoners?

    You sound like a fundamentalist libertarian.

  79. Percy

    This thread should be a lesson for Abbott and co. Put through IR legislation changes while simultaneously opening a public debate re drug legalisation. IR would pass with nary a complaint against it.

  80. Empire Strikes Back

    Percy
    #1142710, posted on January 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    ;)

  81. Zatara

    “This regime already exists. …….. but the test is voluntarily consented to in the employment contract.”

    I’m not convinced that regime is as widespread as you suggest particularly in the less skilled worker jobs. For one thing cannabis stays in your system for up to a month. But perhaps I am confused, are you saying that if Bruce smoked pot 2 weeks ago while on holidays and he tested positive at work today you are going to fire him? How are you to determine when he ingested the drug?

    Or did he sign a contract not to do drugs at all and submit to testing to prove it? Which, once you get by the unreasonable search issue, is completely supportable given that it is illegal anyway. But what happens when it is legal? How do you maintain your drug free workplace?

    Because once it’s legal people are going to do drugs, I mean that’s the idea right? And so we are right back to them not being able to get or keep jobs because of doing the drugs, not whether it’s illegal to do the drugs or not.

    Saying that legalizing drugs will improves the employment chances of the less skilled doesn’t wash.

    Understand that I’m not arguing against legalization of drugs per se. I am arguing that there are many aspects of legalization which have been not thought through. That there is no such thing as blanket legalization when some are still not allowed, by law or contract, to partake. That while alcohol and drugs are both intoxicants, one’s intoxication level on alcohol can be determined on the spot via breathalyzer but immediate intoxication level on drugs is extremely difficult to determine and require blood or urine testing. Along with that comes the fun of setting intoxication standards for a myriad of drugs and defending those standards. And the establishment of myriad committees, commissions, tribunals, soviets, whatever to debate all those things and the continuing costs of them and the court cases resulting.

  82. Driftforge

    The poor will always be with us.

    Interesting claim.

    Probably true except in frontier cases, with a surfeit of freely available land an minimal societal costs.

    Root causes of ongoing poor? Inability to delay gratification, leading to an inability to accumulate wealth. Insufficient access to a reasonable share of the natural bounty of community, due to parasitic loads – which includes a minimum wage.

  83. .

    FFS jupes

    “crims on the street”

    Some people in the US are in gaol for LIFE because of the three strikes law…for non violent, victimless crimes.

    It is a great tragedy.

  84. .

    are you suggesting that half the prison population of the US are in there for being stoners?

    Nope.

    The violent crime around drugs wouldn’t exist to a large extent because of the incetivisation to supply under prohibition.

    This far outweighs the costs of the inoxicative effects of drugs which can be blamed for violence.

  85. Empire Strikes Back

    I’m not convinced that regime is as widespread as you suggest particularly in the less skilled worker jobs

    We can assume, given testing is currently legal, that the regime is as widespread as it needs to be.

    Because once it’s legal people are going to do drugs, I mean that’s the idea right?

    No, see Portugal.

    How do you maintain your drug free workplace?

    If that’s what your business requires, the same way you do today. Nothing changes.

    I am arguing that there are many aspects of legalization which have been not thought through

    Fair point. This subject has been done to death throughout the developed world. I’m confident all the contingencies have been explored, but given few jursidictions have decriminalised/legalised, we lack experienced reality.

    one’s intoxication level on alcohol can be determined on the spot via breathalyzer

    This measures alcohol/blood ratio. It is not possible to measure “intoxication”. The BAC is an indicator. Ever noticed how two blokes of similar mass can consume the same amount of piss and yet exhibit entirely different behaviour?

    I understand your concerns, but I think you’re over complicating it.

  86. Zatara

    “This measures alcohol/blood ratio. It is not possible to measure “intoxication”. The BAC is an indicator.”

    Yes, which is why I said:

    “Along with that comes the fun of setting intoxication standards for a myriad of drugs and defending those standards. And the establishment of myriad committees, commissions, tribunals, soviets, whatever to debate all those things and the continuing costs of them and the court cases resulting.”

    Of course one can cross a line on a map and the standard for intoxication expressed as BAC changes. Or even in the same State jurisdiction if Federal law applies. These things are far from universal and are constantly legislated back and forth. And that is for just one drug, alcohol. Almost the closest thing to a perpetual money making machine and pubic time waster the legal beagles will ever find.

  87. .

    Poor?

    This is worse.

    http://rt.com/usa/life-prison-without-parole-694/

    A liberal justice system hands out harsh punishments when necessary.

    A snippet from the article:


    Seventy-nine percent of the non-violent offenders serving life sentences without parole were convicted of non-violent drug crimes.

    Overall, the ACLU calculates that $1.8 billion is spent to hold these prisoners for life.

    About 65 percent of the prisoners identified in the report are African-American. In Louisiana, that proportion goes up to 91 percent.

    “The racial disparity can result from disparate treatment at every stage of the criminal justice system, including stops and searches, points of arrest, prosecutions and plea negotiations, trials, and sentencing,” attorney Jennifer Turner, who authored the report and corresponded with more than 600 prisoners, told The Nation. “In Louisiana, it may also have to do with how prosecutors wield their enormous discretion in deciding whether to charge defendants as habitual offenders.”

    From Drug War Facts Dot Org

    America could release 55,000 prisoners tomorrow.


    Federal: On Dec. 31, 2012, there were 196,574 sentenced prisoners under federal jurisdiction. Of these, 99,426 were serving time for drug offenses, 11,688 for violent offenses, 11,568 for property offenses, and 72,519 for “public order” offenses (of which 23,700 were sentenced for immigration offenses, 30,046 for weapons offenses, and 17,633 for “other”).

    State: On Dec. 31, 2011, there were 1,341,797 sentenced prisoners under state jurisdiction. Of these, 222,738 were serving time for drug offenses, of whom 55,013 were merely convicted for possession. There were also 717,861 serving time for violent offenses, 249,574 for property offenses, 142,230 for “public order” offenses (which include weapons, drunk driving, court offenses, commercialized vice, morals and decency offenses, liquor law violations, and other public-order offenses), and 9,392 for “other/unspecified”.

    Source: E. Ann Carson and Daniela Golinelli, “Prisoners in 2012: Trends in Admissions and Releases, 1991-2012″ (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2013), NCJ243920, Table 5, p. 3, and Appendix Table 10, p. 43.

  88. .

    e-girl #1142155, posted on January 9, 2014 at 9:13 am
    Adrian, I think repealing the drug laws is intended to break the nexus between drug use and serious criminality that comes with prohibition, and also to stop the very large numbers of people, mostly men, in some communities from consequently going to prison. That would, in turn, help to reduce the number of children growing up without both their parents, which the data shows leads to poor outcomes.

    That’s a benefit I did not consider – but how very important.

  89. Tator

    Zatara,
    As one experienced in testing for BAC and also observing faculty impairments required for South Australian DUI laws, there is one obvious way around the intoxication level judgement and that is have a zero level tolerance for all intoxicating substances. This they have already in Road Traffic laws here in SA where just the mere presence of THC or Meth amphet is cause for prosecution. Plus for prescribed vehicle types like heavy vehicles and taxis, the drivers must also have zero BAC. You will find most industrial drug testing is carried out under OH&S legislation which has huge teeth here in SA and probably most other states due the the recent wall to wall ALP state governments. I have known people in the transport industry to be summarily dismissed for failing a drug test at Roxby Downs on a BHP site, even though they were working for an independent contractor.

  90. Zatara

    Understood Tator. Obviously zero tolerance is zero tolerance and is a clear policy.

    However, what that does is effectively make more employers ban drug use entirely as the THC will still show in a workers system when he gets back to work his 3 week annual leave if he smoked a joint on the first day of it. Zero tolerance means he is fired then. So, we are back to creating more employers which effectively become drug free workplaces by policy if not law and thus even more jobs which discriminate against drug users, legal or not.

    Again, not a net gain for employment especially of drug users.

  91. jupes

    Some people in the US are in gaol for LIFE because of the three strikes law…for non violent, victimless crimes.

    And many more are in there for violent crimes. You want to release half the prison population of the US.

    Now that would be a great tragedy.

  92. jupes

    The violent crime around drugs wouldn’t exist to a large extent because of the incetivisation to supply under prohibition.

    So what would the violent crims do in your legalised drug utopia Dot, become law abiding drug dealers selling drugs for 100% cheaper than they do now? Maybe get a labouring job?

    Ever consider that maybe – just maybe – they are violent crims first, drug dealers second?

  93. jupes

    This far outweighs the costs of the inoxicative effects of drugs which can be blamed for violence.

    Though maybe not in the Drugaddledville of your dreams.

  94. Token

    That would, in turn, help to reduce the number of children growing up without both their parents, which the data shows leads to poor outcomes.

    It is this reason I found my mind being opened to re-thinking the war against drugs. I see so many challenges, but this is an end worth targeting.

    I posted on another thread demographics on the perpetrators of crime and you’ll see too many are males in the 16-25 band. That means the boys are sucked into the system and stay for life.

    I’ve heard people talk about one of the “benefits” of conscription in the 40s to 60s is that it kept young men in the period at most risk of falling into that life doing something productive. I am against conscription, but do believe that decriminalising / legalising drugs is not the only step necessary.

  95. jupes

    America could release 55,000 prisoners tomorrow.

    So the US only has 110,000 prisoners. I thought they had a lot more than that.

  96. .

    Ever consider that maybe – just maybe – they are violent crims first, drug dealers second?

    Then they ought to be punished. We don’t know what they would have done – but less of them would have committed violent crimes if the incentives were taken away.

    We know for a fact the murder rate in the US doubled, then halved, as alcohol prohibition was enforced and then abolished.

    jupes #1142896, posted on January 9, 2014 at 5:11 pm
    This far outweighs the costs of the inoxicative effects of drugs which can be blamed for violence.

    Though maybe not in the Drugaddledville of your dreams.

    No, this is demonstrably true and has been shown to be so many times in theory and with solid empirical evidence you wilfully choose to ignore.

    And many more are in there for violent crimes. You want to release half the prison population of the US.

    Now that would be a great tragedy.

    About half are in for drug related offences. Obviously we’d only let go the non violent offenders. My best guess is from the stats I found, that more than half of the drug related offenders are non-violent.

    You fail to mention that people are lifers for stealing and also they incarcerate people for “vice” and “drunkenness”.

  97. jupes

    … evidence you wilfully choose to ignore.

    You mean like Singapore and Amsterdam?

  98. Jannie

    Jupes, the suggestion a significant proportion of incarcerated prisoners in the US are there for a drug related crime is fairly easy to demonstrate, depending on the definitions you use it could be much higher. A lot of stuff is on the internet, including the US DoJ. The definition obviously includes people busted for using or dealing, but should include some other categories of crime, such as theft, violence and fraud committed by addicts looking for drug money. They are generally all at the lower end of the distribution and usage networks.

    But like the man said, the Government protects the big drug cartels, and marginalises and endangers the cottage industry and ‘grow yer own’ user. Nobody gives more committed self interested support for the prohibitionist approach than organised crime.

  99. rickw

    Zatara,

    This is how company drug policies typically work:

    - There will be “identified” positions, roles where impairment due to drugs or alcohol could result in injury or death (eg. machine or plant operators).

    - There will be “other” positions where impairment due to drugs or alcohol will not result in death or injury.

    Different limits will be applied to both groups, typically zero for the first, and something higher for the others.

    The testing regime will typically consist of:

    - Pre employment (usually both drug and alcohol)
    - Random (alcohol on a frequent basis, drug on a less frequent basis)
    - Cause Based (following an accident, or upon suspicion of the individual being impaired, both alcohol and drugs).

    Testing regimes will typically consist of “screening”, eg. a breath over BAC meter, and then a definitive method, urine, blood or BAC via breathing straw.

    Individuals usually have the ability to vounteer that they have an issue with either drugs or alcohol, this typically doesn’t jeapordise employment but may result in re-deployment and appropriate treatment / counselling.

    This is all happening and right now, condition of employment, and is well embedded in heavy industry or industries where there is potential for serious industrial accidents. (I work in industrial safety so I have plenty of exposure to this.)

    Overall I would say that having ZERO Government involvement in this area and leaving it to industry would be an entirely more sensible approach. Industries approach is much more nuanced and fit for purpose in my view.

  100. Tator

    Jannie,
    was looking at some drug user statistics earlier today from the UNSW. They do a national survey and the last one I could access was 2012 which stated most crimes that involve illicit drug users are either thefts or other dishonesty /property crimes, violent crime was around 7% of the total crimes committed.

  101. Tator

    Token,
    That age group of 18 to 29 year olds is also the main offender group in SA for drink driving offences as well with double the number caught than the next age group which is 30-39 year olds. Correlates with studies that show that the risk taking centre of the brain does not mature until around 28-30 ish in males and this age group takes too many risks in many areas such as driving, substance abuse and violence whether under the effect of one intoxicating substance or many.

  102. Percy

    Individuals usually have the ability to vounteer that they have an issue with either drugs or alcohol

    Working in Mining, this is fairly standard practice. Voluntary testing with no repercussions (other than maybe some unpaid leave) encourages anyone that has used or had a big night before work to test themselves prior to site entry. Very rarely anyone sneaks onto a site with anything in their system as the punishment is generally severe.

    I can’t see how this would change with legalisation as the industry basically already assumes people are using, they just want to ensure nobody is unduly affected at work.

  103. Jannie

    Tator, no argument. I try to avoid arguments using stats in general, and I prefer principles. Criminal statistics are so easily manipulated that they can support almost any ideological position, and do.

  104. Name one legal product responsible for being the cause of similar levels of violence as illicit drugs?

    Alcohol.

  105. .

    jupes
    #1142919, posted on January 9, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    … evidence you wilfully choose to ignore.

    You mean like Singapore and Amsterdam?

    Amsterdam (Holland) includes euthenasia in homicide stats.

    Singapore kills people so they can’t buy or sell stuff that might fry their brain. Is it for their own good?

    You are being hysterical. Australia had virtually no drug laws before WWI. There was no drug problem, and very little drug related crime.

    Our crime statistics got worse after we signed onto the UN treaty on prohibition of narcotics.

  106. I am the Walrus, koo koo k'choo

    Name one legal product responsible for being the cause of similar levels of violence as illicit drugs?

    Not disagreeing with Yobbo here, but taking a different interpretation: it’s not the drugs that cause the violence, it’s the gang wars between thugs seeking control of the associated supply chains.

    Legalise them, regulate them, treat usage and addiction as a health issue: much of the violence will go away.

    Also, I can’t see how usage would spike upon legalisation. Your idiot nephew can get any drug that he wants as it is, for not very much money. Those who want to use are using. They only effect of criminalisation is to ensure that the profits are funelled to the most violent criminals.

    Good one, Tory twits.

  107. Infidel Tiger

    Name one legal product responsible for being the cause of similar levels of violence as illicit drugs?

    Gun, knife, pen, car, vagina.

  108. Infidel Tiger

    I was reading about prohibition the other night. I thought it was really nice that not only did the US Government ban booze, but it also deliberately adulterated alcohol in order to kill its citizens. What a fucked up country. Easily the most shameful event in American history.

  109. .

    but it also deliberately adulterated alcohol in order to kill its citizens

    It was for their own good though.

  110. Abraham

    Yobbo and IT …

    Name one legal product responsible for being the cause of similar levels of violence as illicit drugs?

    What I meant is – and my apology for not articulating it clearer – is the trade in drugs results in gangs competing for turf by means of violence. It is the competition for profit which manifests itself through acts of violence which affects society. No other legal product (tobacco or even alcohol) results in competitors decapitating each other.

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