Saturday, December 4, 2010

Don't dump your moral problems on the legal system!

I came across this blog post about Four Loko today on Modeling Behavior, where Adam succinctly summed it up:
This is because while the regulation is ostensibly about caffeinated beer, as Robin Hanson argues, it’s actually about regulating a “particular vaguely-imagined classes of people”. Politicians want to regulate Four Loko drinkers, not caffeinated beer.
So yeah, kids are drinking Four Loko and getting pretty drunk and caffeinated. When I was 22 we used to do these things called Jagger bombs where we gulped down a shot of Jaggermesiter and a half red bull in like 2 seconds. Other times we simply drank a 20oz Rockstar and then took a couple of shots of cheap vodka before going out. Really, it's no different. 

People like getting fucked up, they really do. The problem of substance use is a purely moral one, and it's mind-numbing that this country still insists on trying to use the legislative system to tackle moral issues. I mean, people are free to try to legislate things they find unsightly away. People are also free to make the retirement age 40 and provide free housing for everyone. Neither is going to work.

This is one of the reasons I would support legalization of all drugs. I don't want kids hooked on heroin any more than the next person, but I think using legal prohibition to control that is largely an exercise in futility. Some drug being legal will not automatically mean that people are going to run into the pharmacies in droves to buy it. Alcohol is legal and you don't see people--other than college students--stumbling around drunk all day and night. Your coworkers probably don't show-up to the office after downing half a pint of vodka, either. And seriously, I doubt the productivity lost to new cases of intoxication will even compare to the productivity lost to gossip websites and online shopping.

Yes,  drugs can be addictive and all that, but that's what education and medical treatment is for. To be honest, I don't really think that legislators are really so concerned about the people's safety, I think they are really just afraid that someone, somewhere, is getting fucked-up and enjoying it. Especially if that someone is young, poor or brown.

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