Why we Must Legalise Drugs and Prostitution

27 April 2003 09:34:08
Last week I attacked conservatives for seeking to justify capitalism by reference to some non-existent God’s will and for compromising in their defence of it and attacking businessmen as a result of their self sacrificial ethics. They also sponsor laws banning drugs and prostitution. These make the consequences of ‘sin’ worse and promote crime, as I illustrate below.

Contrary to the conservatives I hold that an individual’s life is his own and that it is therefore up to him what he does with his body and his mind. Laws against drugs and prostitution amount to the nationalisation of the individual by state and are thus fascist. Some conservatives grasp this point yet tremble at the prospect of legalising these activities in consideration of what might become of society. Such fears of the practical results of legalising drugs and prostitution are unjustified, however.

Laws against prostitution don’t stop some men wanting to pay for sex and some women being prepared to offer sex for money — ‘the oldest profession’ has existed in every society and under every type of government in history. Far from protecting vulnerable women, such laws force them under cover … errr … outside the protection of the law. There pimps and clients may rape, beat or otherwise abuse these women with impunity as they would have to declare themselves criminals (forever blackening their records) in seeking intervention by the police or judiciary.

Men’s urges are not discouraged by such laws, especially when these take aim at the women. Instead, they are forced to pay a higher price in order to induce women to bear the aforementioned sufferings that go with the job. Far from “protecting marriages and families” the laws needlessly deprive marriages and families of income and place them at risk if men become the centre of some media expose.

Drug laws are worse. Like prostitution, they prevent producers building a reputation for providing a quality tested commodity and turn the provision of such commodities over to the most dishonest among society. In a free market, brothels could develop reputations for good looking women who underwent regular health checks and drug companies like Pfizer could develop a reputation for providing drugs of a consistent quality. Currently, however, men place their marriages at risk when they take a chance with a street prostitute and drugs can be so diluted or so dirty that an addict cannot know what he’s getting (and needles are notorious sources of disease).

Like prohibition drug laws fail to prevent people indulging in their ‘sin’; they raise the price that must be paid to do so; and, they fuel a crime wave as rival gangs fight for control of the area and as people are forced to commit robberies to fund their habits. Indeed, drugs’ high prices promote prostitution among addicts (or “crack whores”) and make it profitable for dealers to push drugs on kids in schools. Lastly, drug laws underlie the state’s ever-increasing encroachment upon our privacy and property rights. Consider the commission-based “proceeds of crime”—style laws in the US.

Conservatives should be held responsible for the worst defences of freedom, the worst compromises in its name, the worst bashings of all businessmen as a result of the wrongs of a few and for laws that promote crime and moral perversion. A libertarian I am — a conservative I most certainly am not.

Andrew Bates, Libertarianz Party