January 04, 2006

The Things We Do for Drugs

More depressing news: a young actor, Lillo Brancato, Jr., took part in what he claims he thought was a small crime: breaking and entering. A gun battle ensued, and another man was killed. Says Brancato:

“If I would have known, I wouldn’t have allowed him in my car,” Brancato said. “Imagine, we get pulled over and I get caught with an armed felon in my car. Since I’ve been in the movies, it would have instantly drawn attention.”

Brancato said he might take the witness stand at trial to tell the jury “how horrible I feel about my stupidity.”

Stephen at Crime Blog wonders about Brancato's sincerity; I wonder how plausible it was that he attempted to burglarize an occupied apartment on the understanding that he and his accomplice were unarmed.

The motive? Apparently drug-related.

I know Jeff Harrell took a lot of grief for this impassioned post about the evils of addiction to drugs. I gave him some grief myself. And I'm still a libertarian who thinks a lot of the secondary evils of drug use will disappear if they are legalized. But the kernel of truth in Jeff's diatribe is this: no food junkie or television junkie or credit card junkie ever killed someone else by accident in pursuit of their chosen compulsion.

We cannot say the same about either alcohol or street drugs (though perhaps, accounting for crimes of passion, we can say it about sex and love addiction).

There is no cost-free public policy to be had, one way or the other.

Posted by Attila Girl at January 4, 2006 03:13 PM | TrackBack

I am ambivalent about drugs and drug policy, and believe that the two major effects of the federal war on drugs has been to 1) militarize law enforcement and 2) provide a sick parody of current agricultural policy by raising the street price of drugs and make the illict trade hugely profitable.

However, I cannot subscribe to the "victimless crime" view of drug use, nor to the libertarian "my body" one either. Drug use is not victimless, it destroys people. If it were only the users, then I could shrug and say "you pays your money, and you makes your choice." Drug use harms and destroys people around the users as well, including people not even connected to the user by family or social ties.

So while in favor of decriminalization of drugs, I cannot support any plan that would channel my tax dollars towards people's self destruction and mayhem, so no state provided fixes in my universe. Nor can i support any attitude that excuses acts committed under the influence of drugs, or in pursuit of them.

On the other hand, if drug producers were engaged in a legal business, then the liability lawyers could have a crack at them.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at January 4, 2006 06:07 PM

But when one considers what we spend on this ineffective (and Constitutionally destructive) "war on drugs," we could pay for a hell of a lot of rehab clinics with the same number of dollars.

Minimize the damand, and the supply will go down.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 4, 2006 06:22 PM

Or demand, either way. Let's minimize both. (Too lazy to go fix it!)

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 4, 2006 08:21 PM

And here I thought you were making some subtle point... "damn demand?"

And I don't buy the financial shifting argument (but if we spent the same amount...) I didn't like it at all in the early nineties when people were talking about the "Peace Dividend" because the same people were claiming we were bankrupting our children's future with a military we could not afford.

Oh, so the money we can't afford on defense should be instead spent on social programs? If we can't afford it, we can't. Afford. It.

My ex had a similar theory in her personal finances. If she decided against buying an item that we couldn't afford, that meant that she could instead spend the same amount of money we didn't have on something else.

Anyway, that is not the whole gist of my objection, although not spending the money at all and letting taxpayers keep it, or else having it devolve from the Feds to state and local government is more appealing to me. Transferring the funds from trying vainly to stop the traffic and simply spending it on the results of the traffic doesn't appeal to me. And any social engineering solution is probably going to involve me subsidising a person's habit and another person's treatment.

It'd be a lot tidier if hard drugs made you feel really great for about ten seconds and then killed you. And caused the corpse to diasappear.

Oh well. Maybe we should set up an island somewhere for druggies, offer a free one way ticket to it to anyone on demand, and impose the death penalty on anybody distributing drugs anywhere off that island.

And if anyone is going to accuse me of being hard hearted, yeah, okay. I've seen way too many people destroyed to weep for abstract victims. Right now my inclination would be a hands of, laissez faire approach. It isn't illegal, all other criminal penalties apply, and nobody spends a dime of tax money on it again.

Which I know is unrealistic and unworkable.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at January 4, 2006 09:12 PM

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