Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reason Magazine: Legalize Drugs, Gambling and Prostitution

Reason Magazine is at the cutting edge of libertarian writing in the US. In his article Nick Gillespie argues about legalizing drugs and while we're at it, the other vices too: (read)

Legalizing the world's oldest profession probably wasn't what Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, meant when he said that we should never allow a crisis to go to waste. But turning America into a Sin City on a Hill could help President Obama pay for his ambitious plans to overhaul health care, invest in green energy, and create gee-whiz trains that whisk "through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour." More taxed vices would certainly lead to significant new revenue streams at every level. That's one of the reasons 52 percent of voters in a recent Zogby poll said they support legalizing, taxing and regulating the growth and sale of marijuana. Similar cases could be made for prostitution and all forms of gambling.

In terms of economic stimulation and growth, legalization would end black markets that generate huge amounts of what economists call "deadweight losses," or activity that doesn't contribute to increased productivity. Rather than spending precious time and resources avoiding the law (or, same thing, paying the law off), producers and consumers could more easily get on with business and the huge benefits of working and playing in plain sight.
This is a no brainer. All this stuff goes on anyway, why not be open about it? Here in Vancouver, vice is largely ignored, due to lack of police resources. There are marijuana cafes and casinos. I knew a person who was a Crown litigator, and he told me that the Vancouver Police have an unwritten rule for prostitutes, they can solicit in designated areas, and will only get arrested, if they street walk in areas deemed off limits. Also, there are escort classified ads in free weekly newspapers, right out in the open. So you have to think, why not just go all the way and legalize these vices, and then tax and regulate it?

UPDATE: I'm pleasantly surprised by the traffic that this post has generated. This afternoon, I have gotten over 100 hits on it from New Zealand, to Pakistan, to the UK, and across the US and Canada. Welcome to my site!

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