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By Harry Browne

I haven't been a fan of Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party politician. But I often admire Harry Browne the writer. This piece gives a nice glimpse of Harry Browne, the uncommon commonsense thinker.

America's crime rate has risen almost continually for the past 30 years. Very little of the great plans to reverse the trend -- whether mandatory sentences or more cops on the beat -- has helped to relieve the worst crime wave in the nation's history.

Is the situation hopeless?

No. America could be much safer -- quickly and dramatically safer. Here are seven ways to bring peace and security to your neighborhood. . . .

1. End the War on Drugs -- to release from prison the marijuana smokers and other non-violent drug offenders serving 15-year and 50-year sentences. They fill up the prisons -- allowing the murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals to go free on early release or plea-bargains, and to terrorize your neighborhood.

2. End the War on Drugs -- to free up law-enforcement resources to fight violent crime, instead of chasing people who may harm themselves but are no threat to us.

3. End the War on Drugs -- to end gang warfare. The Drug War has produced a huge black market, providing untold riches for anyone who will flout the law. This money finances criminal gangs who would be powerless without drug money. Legal drug, tobacco, or alcohol companies don't conduct gang warfare and drive-by shootings, but criminals will do anything to secure a rich monopoly territory.

4. End the War on Drugs -- to reduce police corruption. With so much black-market drug money, criminals easily gain immunity by making weak policemen rich.

5. End the War on Drugs -- to make our schools safer. Brewers and distillers don't recruit children to run drugs or hook other kids on liquor; nor do they give them guns to take to school. Neither would legal drug companies. Before the War on Drugs, the worst schools in Los Angeles were safer than L.A.'s best schools are today.

6. End the War on Drugs -- to end muggings and burglaries by addicts. They would no longer need to steal to support their habits. Illegal drugs selling today for $100 might cost as little as $2, because legal competition -- with no need to circumvent the law -- would drive drug prices down.

7. End the War on Drugs -- to bring back respect for decent behavior. Because nothing can win the Drug War, it is constantly escalated -- destroying more of your liberties with asset forfeiture laws, drug-testing, and monitoring your financial transactions. This has caused too many Americans to disrespect the law itself -- feeling that any kind of law-breaking, victimless or violent, is justified.

Despite these terrible costs, drug use continues unabated. So why do politicians fight so desperately to continue this insane War on Drugs? Could it be the way the War allows them to continually expand their power over our property, our bank accounts, and our private lives?

Understandably, many Americans fear that ending the Drug War would produce hundreds of thousands of addicts, crack babies, children trying drugs, and other evils. _But that's what we have now_. Relegalizing drugs would eliminate the criminal black market -- ending the violence, the incentive to hook children, and the production of bad drugs that destroy people. And addicts could seek medical help openly and inexpensively -- instead of hiding their habits from the law.

While Republicans and Democrats use the Drug War to outbid each other -- using our liberties as the stakes -- Libertarians identify the War on Drugs for what it is: an excuse to make big government bigger.

Libertarians can see how much safer America will be without the nightmare of Prohibition -- just as the crime rate plummeted when alcohol Prohibition ended.

If you want your city, your country, and your children to be safe, help end the insane War on Drugs before it destroys us.

(c) Harry Browne 1998. Harry Browne is a Senior Editor at Liberty magazine, and was the 1996 Libertarian presidential candidate. This article was distributed by LibertyWire, a service of the Harry Browne 2000 Exploratory Committee 2556 Virginia Avenue NW/Suite 101 Washington, DC 20037.

Harry Browne 2000 Exploratory Committee

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17 July, 1998