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Print Page - Ending the Drug War

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Other Stuff => Politics => Topic started by: DavidLeoThomas on January 18, 2009, 19:24:47 EST



Title: Ending the Drug War
Post by: DavidLeoThomas on January 18, 2009, 19:24:47 EST
I'm putting together a list of reasons to end the War on Drugs.  Let me know if there are any I've missed, or if you'd like clarification on any point.

  • Racism/Inequality – disproportionately affects blacks, enforcement is often unequal
  • Productivity – ties up resources (human, otherwise) in enforcement and incarceration
  • Crime – limits access to law enforcement, makes people responsible for enforcing their own property rights, with everything this implies; serves as a funding source for criminals at home and abroad
  • Policing – trust of the populace, a huge resource for effective crime-fighting, is severely undermined - War on Drugs makes the police the enemy of a large portion of the people
  • Finances – lots of money is spent, while forgoing tax revenue
  • Treatment - limits options in drug treatment
  • Foreign Policy - limits options in Afghanistan and Central America
  • Civil Rights – justifies infringements, creates an authoritarian public culture
  • Health - increases risk to drug users due to lack of quality controls


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 18, 2009, 20:18:20 EST
Confusing message - Drugs are bad unless it's alcohol or tobacco. You should even be suspicious of what your doctor is poisoning you with feeding you.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on January 18, 2009, 20:49:46 EST
1.  Incorrect in definition, it's classist, not racist.  It is not because they are black that many people sell drugs, but because they are poor.

2.  Agreed

3.  This seems to be an extension of point two, except for the thin line connecting the war on drugs to self-defense of property.  This makes no sense to me.

4.  Disagree, those people are never going to get along with enforcement.  Sorry, swaggering thugs are going to remain swaggering thugs.

5.  Sure, outgrowth of point two.

6.  Meh, that's a different kettle of fish, and not a direct relative to the concept of the war on drugs.  You can get pretty much anything with a perscription.

7.  Disagree, polemicism ruins the options there, not the actual war on drugs.  To be fair, I doubt Afganistan or Central America are ever going to be real imperial american allies in the long haul.

8.  Most things create more authoritarian states, people tend to -like- authoritarian states.

9.  If there were significant quality controls put in place, and selling controls, an underground market would form almost immediately, 20%+ of the american economy is already underground so it's not like we're dealing with a Northern European/Canadian situation.

I oppose the war on drugs for much different reasons, but I think the list is too long and scattershot to be viable from an argument standpoint, max it out at 5.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: DavidLeoThomas on January 19, 2009, 00:51:00 EST
1.  Incorrect in definition, it's classist, not racist.  It is not because they are black that many people sell drugs, but because they are poor.

What's racist is the hugely different conviction rates between whites and blacks in drug cases.

It's classist as well, for sure.

3.  This seems to be an extension of point two, except for the thin line connecting the war on drugs to self-defense of property.  This makes no sense to me.

For those who use drugs, drugs make up part of their property.  This property is not defended by the law, and so must be defended in other ways (leading to increased violence, as Hobbes predicts).

4.  Disagree, those people are never going to get along with enforcement.  Sorry, swaggering thugs are going to remain swaggering thugs.

"Those people"?

6.  Meh, that's a different kettle of fish, and not a direct relative to the concept of the war on drugs.  You can get pretty much anything with a perscription.

It makes people less likely to admit they use, for one.  It also makes related medical research more cumbersome.

7.  Disagree, polemicism ruins the options there, not the actual war on drugs.  To be fair, I doubt Afganistan or Central America are ever going to be real imperial american allies in the long haul.

We make a lot of enemies when we try to remove people's livelihoods, whatever we may think of them.

8.  Most things create more authoritarian states, people tend to -like- authoritarian states.

Doesn't really undermine the argument, does that?

9.  If there were significant quality controls put in place, and selling controls, an underground market would form almost immediately, 20%+ of the american economy is already underground so it's not like we're dealing with a Northern European/Canadian situation.

Sure, people who still buy from sketchy sources may wind up with bad stuff... but the same is true of any good/service.  We can at least make some basic effort to ensure that people *can* know what they are getting.

I oppose the war on drugs for much different reasons, but I think the list is too long and scattershot to be viable from an argument standpoint, max it out at 5.

Please add yours.  I'll work together whatever I can use, ultimately.  The final form will not be a list.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 19, 2009, 09:16:59 EST
Overall I think it's quite a good list.

As Heq mentioned several of these are related.  "Productivity" and "Finances" are really very similar points - resources are being wasted.  Similarly the health and crime aspects are related.  It's good to mention these things separately though.

I'd mention two further points:
* Personal enjoyment - The current laws attempt to deny people the pleasure they have from taking drugs.
* Long term sustainability - Whatever people think of the law it is unlikely to remain feasible for many more decades to even put up a pretence of drug law enforcement.  Methods of synthesizing drugs on a small scale are getting better all the time.


Quote from: Heq
4.  Disagree, those people are never going to get along with enforcement.  Sorry, swaggering thugs are going to remain swaggering thugs.
Don't agree.  Drug users and drug dealers do not all fit into such stereotypes.  I've known a few casual drug dealers, they're not always the kind of person you expect.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on January 19, 2009, 09:33:19 EST
I know quite a few from my "bad old days" and many of them do fit the stereotype.  They just incarcerated one of my childhood friends, it was most distressing.  However, were drugs legal would such people still end up needing to be removed from society.  I think the answer is yes.  It is a matter of identification for such people to be opposed to "the system", so if they cannot show their virility by opposing it one way they will do it in another.

Anyway, my opposition is from a viability standpoint.

I do dislike authoritarianism, but before making an ethical stand a solid question must be asked "can this be done?"  I have yet to see a theory which shows how crimilizing a thing leads to it ceasing to affect society.  Prohibition did not remove alcohol, and wounded the state badly in many ways.  FDR/Lincoln did not remove freedom, they merely made it's defenders more mobilized.

It is this aspect of mobilization and identification.  If we allow people to identify themselves as drug users it's nearly as bad as allowing them to identify themselves as republicans, so while the thing they are identified as may no longer even be something they desire, it's is part of their identity, so behooves them to do it anyway.  Drug use also falls under the category of "lead them by the nose, but don't push 'em", where people resent being pushed and entrench themselves (I think this applies to pretty much anything though).

So, let us have two case people, those who think the war on drugs is ethical and those who do not.

If you think it is unethical, you oppose the war on drugs.

If you think it is ethical, is it the best way to achieve the goal of removing drugs from society as a whole, or controlling it's distribution?  I think the answer is no, as there are better ways to achieve this goal (H could be effectively gone in a year if America bought Afganistan's and Thailand's poppy fields, as it would become too expensive for initial users, and habitual users would slowly exit society).  It is simply conceptually poor, as it treats all drug users as similar and all drugs as similar, whereas tailored solutions have a much better track record.

Thus even if it is ethically and socially the case that people do want the war on drugs to continue, it should be abandoned as it is not the best way to achieve the goals of the war on drugs.  In short, there is no rational reason why anyone of any set of beliefs would choose it (save for the idea that it's a front for other goals).


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: DavidLeoThomas on January 20, 2009, 12:09:41 EST
I know quite a few from my "bad old days" and many of them do fit the stereotype.  They just incarcerated one of my childhood friends, it was most distressing.  However, were drugs legal would such people still end up needing to be removed from society.  I think the answer is yes.  It is a matter of identification for such people to be opposed to "the system", so if they cannot show their virility by opposing it one way they will do it in another.

Of course "many" of them do fit the stereotype - that's typically why stereotypes arise.  The question is just what percentage.  I'd stipulate that it's well under 50 - and that alone means a huge drop in our prison population.  Those who do other illegal act can be prosecuted for them, which prosecution is made easier by the freeing of resources from the unnecessary prosecutions.

Anyway, my opposition is from a viability standpoint.

I do dislike authoritarianism, but before making an ethical stand a solid question must be asked "can this be done?"  I have yet to see a theory which shows how crimilizing a thing leads to it ceasing to affect society.  Prohibition did not remove alcohol, and wounded the state badly in many ways.  FDR/Lincoln did not remove freedom, they merely made it's defenders more mobilized.

It is this aspect of mobilization and identification.  If we allow people to identify themselves as drug users it's nearly as bad as allowing them to identify themselves as republicans, so while the thing they are identified as may no longer even be something they desire, it's is part of their identity, so behooves them to do it anyway.  Drug use also falls under the category of "lead them by the nose, but don't push 'em", where people resent being pushed and entrench themselves (I think this applies to pretty much anything though).

So, let us have two case people, those who think the war on drugs is ethical and those who do not.

If you think it is unethical, you oppose the war on drugs.

If you think it is ethical, is it the best way to achieve the goal of removing drugs from society as a whole, or controlling it's distribution?  I think the answer is no, as there are better ways to achieve this goal (H could be effectively gone in a year if America bought Afganistan's and Thailand's poppy fields, as it would become too expensive for initial users, and habitual users would slowly exit society).  It is simply conceptually poor, as it treats all drug users as similar and all drugs as similar, whereas tailored solutions have a much better track record.

Thus even if it is ethically and socially the case that people do want the war on drugs to continue, it should be abandoned as it is not the best way to achieve the goals of the war on drugs.  In short, there is no rational reason why anyone of any set of beliefs would choose it (save for the idea that it's a front for other goals).

History has shown that ineffectiveness is rarely enough to get the government to change course.  I intend to attack it from all (accurate) angles.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: joshbrenton on January 20, 2009, 12:27:29 EST
This video might help you find some more supporting evidence. At least I hope it helps.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3025396475247394113


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 20, 2009, 21:30:53 EST
While I find the mere existence of most drugs to be detestable, I am only concerned with whichever route mitigates the negative consequences of drugs the most, which typically consists of minimizing or eliminating people's use of it.  If legalizing drugs in order to grant the government the ability to control and regulate them is the best strategy, so be it, I don't have a particularly good knowledge base to argue the subject anyways.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 21, 2009, 08:34:00 EST
Why do you find their existence detestable?  Do you find the existence of Treacle sponge detestable?  Without drugs people would certainly not be able to get addicted but they also would not be able to get high.  Why do you want to minimize or eliminate people's use of them?  Certainly drugs can be damaging, but need not be so.  Many people use all kinds of recreational drugs incurring few side effects.

I'm reminded of H.L. Mencken who define Puritanism as "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy".


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 21, 2009, 18:13:53 EST
Because I view illegal drugs along with smoking/drinking as universally a source of unhappiness, due to the damage they inflict to the mind and body both of those who use and those who don't, something which I consider to far exceed any benefits they grant.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Psy on January 21, 2009, 18:30:32 EST
Because I view illegal drugs along with smoking/drinking as universally a source of unhappiness, due to the damage they inflict to the mind and body both of those who use and those who don't, something which I consider to far exceed any benefits they grant.
Drugs are a symptom of mass unhappiness not a source, that the masses of the proletariat are unhappy with their life due to their exploitation so a significant number of the proletariat turns to drugs to ease the pain of exploitation.   To put it another way, if you were a peasant and given the choice would you want to be sober or would you like to live in a drug induced haze to hide the nature of your existence from yourself?  It is no coincidence that most armies have rampant drug problems when ever troops have very low moral.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 21, 2009, 19:06:58 EST
Drugs are a symptom of mass unhappiness not a source
No.  They are most definitely a source themselves once they start damaging your body and mind, regardless of why you took them in the first place.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 21, 2009, 19:17:13 EST
Everything's communism with you, isn't it Psy?

I mean, shit, boy! Grow a personality! The single dimension is getting tiring.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Psy on January 21, 2009, 19:18:53 EST
Drugs are a symptom of mass unhappiness not a source
No.  They are most definitely a source themselves once they start damaging your body and mind, regardless of why you took them in the first place.
That would depend on the effect of the drug and how addictive the drug.  For example sugar is a mood alerting drug yet I don't think you would say sugar itself brings unhappiness.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 21, 2009, 20:49:12 EST
Oh, yes it does. Just feed it to the nearest four-year-old and watch your happiness plummet.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 21, 2009, 20:53:39 EST
Drugs are a symptom of mass unhappiness not a source
No.  They are most definitely a source themselves once they start damaging your body and mind, regardless of why you took them in the first place.

What about people who experiment with marijuana out of curiosity, find that they enjoy the effects, and use it responsibly and seldomly?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Psy on January 21, 2009, 21:01:05 EST
Oh, yes it does. Just feed it to the nearest four-year-old and watch your happiness plummet.
Touché but on the other hand the kid probably be pretty happy while their sugar high lasts.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 22, 2009, 01:46:09 EST
Wait for four hours, for the sugar crash.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 22, 2009, 09:19:28 EST
Because I view illegal drugs along with smoking/drinking as universally a source of unhappiness, due to the damage they inflict to the mind and body both of those who use and those who don't, something which I consider to far exceed any benefits they grant.
Well, I certainly don't.  Moderate use of many sorts of drug is not harmful.  In the case of alcohol there is some evidence that it is beneficial for health.  But more to the point I don't consider myself, or anyone else, qualified to make the judgment about whether such things are of benefit overall.  Ultimately we can not tell what enjoyment others gain from them, because we are not them.

Also, try to look at it from a wider perspective.  All forms of enjoyment come with a degree of risk.  A person who enjoys work can become a "workaholic", for example.  Individuals tend to view their own sources of enjoyment as safe and under their control, but view those of others as dangerous.  This is myopic.

From my discussions with you you seem the sort of person who is averse to "artificial" pleasures, drinking, smoking and taking drugs.  You are also averse to the pursuit of wealth.  That's fair enough, and that's your decision.  But whatever pleasure you do decide to take from life they will have their own associated risks.

What I think many people who wish to condemn other people's lives miss is that their own viewpoint is something they enjoy.  They enjoy looking down upon those they see as foolish, those who drink or are materialists, for example.  I've done this myself enough times.  Similarly the wish to control people's lives often comes from a simple desire for power and the kick of exercising it, rather than for any good.

Tim Worstall defined the verb to Bansturbate as "The word – a fusion of “ban” and the term for self-abuse – refers to both the public abuse of the rights of the citizenry as things that some people simply disapprove of are made illegal, and the near-sexual frisson of pleasure gained by those who pass such laws. "


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Psy on January 22, 2009, 09:47:57 EST
Wait for four hours, for the sugar crash.
That usually is fatigue, also the body does require a certain amount of sugar.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 22, 2009, 15:00:51 EST
Well, I certainly don't.  Moderate use of many sorts of drug is not harmful.  In the case of alcohol there is some evidence that it is beneficial for health.  But more to the point I don't consider myself, or anyone else, qualified to make the judgment about whether such things are of benefit overall.  Ultimately we can not tell what enjoyment others gain from them, because we are not them.
Not important.  Their actions impact others, regardless of their wishes.

Also, try to look at it from a wider perspective.  All forms of enjoyment come with a degree of risk.  A person who enjoys work can become a "workaholic", for example.  Individuals tend to view their own sources of enjoyment as safe and under their control, but view those of others as dangerous.  This is myopic.
I view things that are health hazards as bad.  Anything that inflicts health hazards on others without their consent, in a public place no less, should be banned, unless their is a VERY good reason for doing it.

From my discussions with you you seem the sort of person who is averse to "artificial" pleasures, drinking, smoking and taking drugs.
I am averse to things that are severely deleterious to my health and mental state in return for a limited short term gain, if you gain anything at all.  I have no problem with artificial pleasures that do not do that.

You are also averse to the pursuit of wealth.
I am averse to wealth for wealth's sake.  I am only interested in obtaining sufficient money to pursue that which interests me and stave off that which would be injurious to me.

But whatever pleasure you do decide to take from life they will have their own associated risks.
I think that inhaling carcinogens constitutes a higher health hazard than playing a boardgame.


What I think many people who wish to condemn other people's lives miss is that their own viewpoint is something they enjoy.  They enjoy looking down upon those they see as foolish, those who drink or are materialists, for example.  I've done this myself enough times.  Similarly the wish to control people's lives often comes from a simple desire for power and the kick of exercising it, rather than for any good.
No.  It is because I don't want to have to be poisoned whenever I walk to class, have the risk of being run over by a drunkard when I cross the street, or watch people die slowly of cancer, causing pain to themselves, those around them, and those who have to pay their bills, all because some people couldn't find a form of enjoyment that didn't involve injecting hazardous chemicals into their body.

Many behaviors have unpredictable consequences, and could be good or bad, but smoking and drinking can safely be considered to be bad.  They hurt those who use those products, they hurt their friends, they hurt the strangers that they walk and drive by, they are a tremendous burden to society.  I can see that chasing after these products could result in a slippery slope, but there is still a clear distinction between a form of pleasure that inflicts health hazards and displeasure to the person and those around them, and a form of pleasure that doesn't.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 22, 2009, 16:08:45 EST
Well, I certainly don't.  Moderate use of many sorts of drug is not harmful.  In the case of alcohol there is some evidence that it is beneficial for health.  But more to the point I don't consider myself, or anyone else, qualified to make the judgment about whether such things are of benefit overall.  Ultimately we can not tell what enjoyment others gain from them, because we are not them.
Not important.  Their actions impact others, regardless of their wishes.
Fair enough.  But they only require action when they can be shown to impact others.  So, drunkeness when driving a car is an offence, but drinking is not.  The same goes for taking drugs.

Also, try to look at it from a wider perspective.  All forms of enjoyment come with a degree of risk.  A person who enjoys work can become a "workaholic", for example.  Individuals tend to view their own sources of enjoyment as safe and under their control, but view those of others as dangerous.  This is myopic.
I view things that are health hazards as bad.  Anything that inflicts health hazards on others without their consent, in a public place no less, should be banned, unless their is a VERY good reason for doing it.
Well, I agree that inflicting health hazards without consent should be legislated against.

From my discussions with you you seem the sort of person who is averse to "artificial" pleasures, drinking, smoking and taking drugs.
I am averse to things that are severely deleterious to my health and mental state in return for a limited short term gain, if you gain anything at all.  I have no problem with artificial pleasures that do not do that.

You are also averse to the pursuit of wealth.
I am averse to wealth for wealth's sake.  I am only interested in obtaining sufficient money to pursue that which interests me and stave off that which would be injurious to me.
Fair enough.

But whatever pleasure you do decide to take from life they will have their own associated risks.
I think that inhaling carcinogens constitutes a higher health hazard than playing a boardgame.
Yes.  But which a person does is their own personal decision.

What I think many people who wish to condemn other people's lives miss is that their own viewpoint is something they enjoy.  They enjoy looking down upon those they see as foolish, those who drink or are materialists, for example.  I've done this myself enough times.  Similarly the wish to control people's lives often comes from a simple desire for power and the kick of exercising it, rather than for any good.
No.  It is because I don't want to have to be poisoned whenever I walk to class,
That's fair enough.

have the risk of being run over by a drunkard when I cross the street,
That also is quite reasonable.

or watch people die slowly of cancer, causing pain to themselves, those around them, and those who have to pay their bills, all because some people couldn't find a form of enjoyment that didn't involve injecting hazardous chemicals into their body.
That however is a terrible attitude.  You have no right to tell other people what to do because they may cause you emotional distress by disobeying.

Many behaviors have unpredictable consequences, and could be good or bad, but smoking and drinking can safely be considered to be bad.  They hurt those who use those products,
As you admit later that is not always the case.  People can and do enjoy these things in moderation.

they hurt their friends,
A group who select themselves freely.

Don't get me wrong I take this point seriously.  During this past week in between working and reply to stuff here I've being trying to persuade one of my friends not to marry her current boyfriend.  This is not because I have any particular romantic attachment to her but because I think she is being rash.

However, just because my friends may make bad decisions doesn't mean that I want to have any degree of control over their decisions, or that I want others to have control either.  What should be obvious to people (but rarely is) is that such control can never be used wisely.

they hurt the strangers that they walk and drive by,
That's a different sort of matter though.

they are a tremendous burden to society.
That's probably not true, people who die early cost healthcare systems much less.  I pointed you at the evidence for this in a previous discussion.  Besides it still gives the rest of us no moral authority to tell others what to do.

I can see that chasing after these products could result in a slippery slope, but there is still a clear distinction between a form of pleasure that inflicts health hazards and displeasure to the person and those around them, and a form of pleasure that doesn't.
I don't really think that there is.  All pleasures have similar problems, as I mentioned previously work and materialism have their problems, as do other sorts of pleasure such as sexual pleasure or eating for example.  Some of these are not as extreme as drug addiction, but some are.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 22, 2009, 19:27:29 EST
Wait for four hours, for the sugar crash.
That usually is fatigue, also the body does require a certain amount of sugar.

So you're saying that the natural crash after a massive surge isn't a cause for unhappiness?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: DavidLeoThomas on January 22, 2009, 22:57:25 EST
Many behaviors have unpredictable consequences, and could be good or bad, but smoking and drinking can safely be considered to be bad.

Wine, in moderation, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease - which kills many, many more people than drinking.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 23, 2009, 12:00:47 EST
Not important.  Their actions impact others, regardless of their wishes.
Fair enough.  But they only require action when they can be shown to impact others.  So, drunkeness when driving a car is an offence, but drinking is not.  The same goes for taking drugs.
Is it reasonable to believe that drunk people won't operate cars?  I find the concept of intentionally destroying your own ability to make judgements, even when you know that those judgements can hurt not just you, but others, to be detestable.  However, I didn't say that drinking should be banned, merely restricted to minimize the odds of people being able to use it in situations where it could lead to them hurting themselves or others.

I think that inhaling carcinogens constitutes a higher health hazard than playing a boardgame.
Yes.  But which a person does is their own personal decision.
Don't dodge the issue.  You claimed that I was judging smoking was bad on subjective grounds, but the fact that it is far more likely to cause damage to your health, and in a direct manner, indicates that it is objectively a more risky form of pleasure than things like boardgames, which do not.

or watch people die slowly of cancer, causing pain to themselves, those around them, and those who have to pay their bills, all because some people couldn't find a form of enjoyment that didn't involve injecting hazardous chemicals into their body.
That however is a terrible attitude.  You have no right to tell other people what to do because they may cause you emotional distress by disobeying.
That depends on the degree of distress caused, and whether or not it would be reasonable to be distressed by such.  I think it is reasonable to be upset when someone injects themselves with chemicals, which causes 3 things to happen:
1. They slowly die in a painful manner.  This is probably pretty distressing
2. Their family gets to watch them die in a slow and painful manner.  This is also pretty distressing.
3. They wrack up a huge medical bill, which must be paid by their family.  This is distressing, and most likely taxpayers will end up paying for some of the care as well.
Not only that, they had full knowledge that exactly that would happen.

I'm curious.  If someone you cared said they were going to commit suicide right in front of you, would you say "okey dokey, its your personal decision" and let them go ahead with it?  Smoking is like that, except slower, and thus easier to rationalize.


Many behaviors have unpredictable consequences, and could be good or bad, but smoking and drinking can safely be considered to be bad.  They hurt those who use those products,
As you admit later that is not always the case.  People can and do enjoy these things in moderation.
Nicotine is addictive, and thus inherently undermines the judgement of people regarding using it in moderation.  Alcohol undermines people's judgement with regards to everything, including whether or not to moderate Alcohol consumption.  Last time I checked, excluding Die Macher, boardgames are not laced with addictive chemicals that undermine your judgement and make you think that playing a 4 hour game about German politics is a good idea.

they hurt their friends,
A group who select themselves freely.
Not really.  Given that they are, after all, friends, they probably enjoy the other person's company, and this is being either denied or made hazardous to their personal health.

Don't get me wrong I take this point seriously.  During this past week in between working and reply to stuff here I've being trying to persuade one of my friends not to marry her current boyfriend.  This is not because I have any particular romantic attachment to her but because I think she is being rash.

However, just because my friends may make bad decisions doesn't mean that I want to have any degree of control over their decisions, or that I want others to have control either.  What should be obvious to people (but rarely is) is that such control can never be used wisely.
Never?  I think that you are very wrong in that regard.  Despite what Ayn Rand says, people are NOT always in the best position to judge what action is best compared to others.  You shouldn't force your decision down their throats, of course, but nevertheless, if someone is dealing with a situation where their emotions are dominating their better judgement, you are in a position to offer them good advice.


That's probably not true, people who die early cost healthcare systems much less.
No, they die slowly of lung cancer and rack up huge bills.  The damages from drinking also tend to be longterm and expensive.

I pointed you at the evidence for this in a previous discussion.  Besides it still gives the rest of us no moral authority to tell others what to do.

I can see that chasing after these products could result in a slippery slope, but there is still a clear distinction between a form of pleasure that inflicts health hazards and displeasure to the person and those around them, and a form of pleasure that doesn't.
I don't really think that there is.  All pleasures have similar problems, as I mentioned previously work and materialism have their problems, as do other sorts of pleasure such as sexual pleasure or eating for example.  Some of these are not as extreme as drug addiction, but some are.
However, not many of them are addictive on a chemical level, or damage your ability to make sound judgements on a chemical level.  Sexual pleasure would qualify, given that tests have shown quite clearly that people's ability to make judgements are undermined when they are aroused.  However, eating food is less likely, and playing videogames less likely still.  Also, few cause as much physical harm with as little use as smoking and drinking do, but after you factor in the addiction/judgement disruption, smoking/drinking will be even more harmful.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 23, 2009, 16:59:34 EST
Wodan, have you ever tried any drugs?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 23, 2009, 18:57:15 EST
Wodan, have you ever tried any drugs?
Unless you count Aleve and Claritin, not really.  There was that time I mistook Guinness for Coca Cola, but such would hardly count.  For that matter, I almost never eat anything with Caffeine either, though that's more because I think Coffee tastes bad and Soda is unhealthy for other reasons.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 23, 2009, 19:06:38 EST
Wodan, have you ever tried any drugs?

What does that have to do with the price of fish in China?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 23, 2009, 20:05:14 EST
Wodan, have you ever tried any drugs?

What does that have to do with the price of fish in China?

Just wondering how he knows that all drugs cause unhappiness. I happen to know that in at least one case, they do not.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 23, 2009, 20:19:39 EST
Just wondering how he knows that all drugs cause unhappiness. I happen to know that in at least one case, they do not.
I'm curious as to when I started saying that all drugs cause unhappiness, merely that they are more likely to cause unhappiness than happiness, by a large margin, and that such phenomena can be measured fairly directly in the forms of lives lost or ruined by them.  If you honestly think that a single anecdote will sway my opinion in the face of huge statistics, then you should think again.

100s of thousands of people die each year because of smoking, often experiencing tremendous discomfort throughout their lives before hand, injuring those around them both physically, mentally, and financially.  For what?  Cigarettes give minimal actual comfort, for the most part, they simply cause you to suffer when not taking them to alleviate the very problem they caused in the first place.  They do not "calm" people or otherwise stabilize them, they make them more irritable.

Does that really strike you as something that's beneficial to society, that results in more good than harm, or does it look like something that causes endless harm for insignificant gain?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 25, 2009, 02:08:48 EST
I always find it amusing how someone can claim to be an expert on something they know nothing about.

Anyhow,
I'm curious.  If someone you cared said they were going to commit suicide right in front of you, would you say "okey dokey, its your personal decision" and let them go ahead with it?  Smoking is like that, except slower, and thus easier to rationalize.
Someone who? My old granpa who has been unable to take care of himself for the past 2-4ish years? I would have admired him if he had done that.

An artist who had his hands crippled? What does he have left to live for?

And there are lots more examples but i am lazy tonight.

Oh and also, re: smoking. My other granpa had his leg amputated not too long ago. It was that or die of whatever the problem with his leg was, and it was partly caused by heavy smoking.

Most of my family are nonsmokers. Our family rule when he came to visit us was no smoking in the house. It worked out for everyone, he got to smoke and we didnt have to.

He knew the risk and he chose to take it, and thats all there is to it. The rest of us were only as affected by it as we chose to be. This is an important concept, by the way. Drugs, alcohol, other peoples diseases and injuries due to stupidity, you CHOOSE how much you want it to affect you. And if you choose to be deeply agitated by some random stranger who cant control his drinking, or by some crack addict who gets involved with a bad crowd due to his addiction and gets himself killed, then i say you are a bigger idiot than them.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 25, 2009, 10:50:43 EST

He knew the risk and he chose to take it, and thats all there is to it. The rest of us were only as affected by it as we chose to be.

I rarely agree with Ibian, but I am in vehement support of this statement.

P.S. If intoxicated, DO NOT DRIVE! Felt like I should put that out there.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 25, 2009, 15:50:15 EST
He knew the risk and he chose to take it, and thats all there is to it. The rest of us were only as affected by it as we chose to be.
Except when they are not. 

Do you have a choice when the drunk driver runs you over?  Do you have a choice when you are mugged or murdered, an event that has a significantly greater chance of occurring if you live in a district where organized crime caters to drug addicts?  Do you have a choice when you are beaten by your drunken parent?  Do you have a choice about whether or not to feel sad when a relative wastes away in front of you?

This is an important concept, by the way. Drugs, alcohol, other peoples diseases and injuries due to stupidity, you CHOOSE how much you want it to affect you.
Do you have a choice about whether or not to continue taking an addictive drug once you've already started?

You presume that people live in a vacuum.  They don't.  Your choices will affect others, whether you wish to or not.

Furthermore, you seem to hold the right to make all choices as sacred.  However, when that choice impacts others, how far should the rights of one person be extended over another's?

Lets take the Grand Canyon.  Would you remove all the warning signs and barriers, and let all the uninformed/stupid people and curious children plummet to their death?  To me, that is foolish, and causes suffering that could have easily been avoided.  But to you, its better for people to learn the hard way, and if that results in the world being more unpleasant than it was before, so be it.

And if you choose to be deeply agitated by some random stranger who cant control his drinking, or by some crack addict who gets involved with a bad crowd due to his addiction and gets himself killed, then i say you are a bigger idiot than them.
I get upset when some random stranger beats me up because they are drunk, or some crack addict gets involved with a bad crowd and gets ME killed.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 25, 2009, 16:29:41 EST
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Lets take the Grand Canyon.  Would you remove all the warning signs and barriers, and let all the uninformed/stupid people and curious children plummet to their death?
Somewhere on Cypris is a 60 foot deep hole, one of many ancient ruins. There were no signs warning about it. Oddly enough, neither me nor my dad plummeted to our deaths. Can you guess why? Yes, you are correct! It is because we are not bumbling fools who turn our eyes skyward when traversing difficult terrain! Congratulations, you win!

You always have some degree of control over what happens to you. The nature of crime is such that it is mostly weak people it happens to. If you are too addled to notice when someone is stealing from your pocket, then it is your own fault for not paying better attention. I have the principle that if someone can pickpocket me without being noticed, then they deserve whatever they get. It has yet to happen.

Criminals are criminals. Sometimes criminals do drugs. This does not mean the drug itself is to blame for whatever they did, they are. The reason you attack drugs instead of the real problem, namely human nature, is because it seems like an easier enemy than those scary Other People.

So what do you do if you live in a rough neighborhood and you really wish people would stop beating you up all the time? You move. Very simple and straightforward and anyone can do it.

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Do you have a choice when you are beaten by your drunken parent?
One of the things George Carlin has said over the years goes something like this,
"Here is something that nobody has ever said before: "Dad, you really ought to drink more"".

I have said that. I have no reason for including this part other than cracking myself the hell up.

Okay, now for the slightly more serious angle. The booze didn't beat you up, your daddy did. You are just using the alcohol as a scapegoat to explain his violent nature, but the reality is that your old man was just a mean bastard.

Alcohol brings out peoples true natures without all the mental blocks we have built up over the years. If he hadn't been drinking he would probably still have abused you, but then it might have been psychological abuse instead. Pick your poison.

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Do you have a choice about whether or not to feel sad when a relative wastes away in front of you?
Yes. You do. Thats the whole point. The only one who can control how you feel, is you.

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Do you have a choice about whether or not to continue taking an addictive drug once you've already started?
Yes again. The longer you wait the harder it will be to stop, but you knew that before you began. Any problems you get yourself into by taking drugs is of your own making, your own choice. The people who dont have problems controlling their use of drugs should not have to suffer just because you are a weakminded idiot.

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Your choices will affect others, whether you wish to or not.
Ah, no. Not quite. Your choices will affect others if they allow them to.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Blue Boy from Red Country on January 25, 2009, 16:53:32 EST
Wodan, have you ever tried any drugs?

I have... catnip does some nasty stuff to your stomach if you injest it. :P

(I'm not kidding... It's a long story, but I did actually get high off catnip once by accident.)


Seriously, though, I do find this kind of comment offensive. It suggests that people who object to drug use or other destructive diversions are simply being uptight and don't know what they are missing.

I, for one, would not enjoy having my body chemistry dramatically altered. I'm sensitive to the internal rhythms of my body. I'm most comfortable when I'm "centered" and the entirety of my being is in harmony; I'm happiest when I'm at my healthiest. Even if I did find the induced state enjoyable - which is unlikely, since I know from experience that sugar and caffeine "highs" do nothing but give me headaches - it is quite certain that I would be miserable from after-effects.

I have no desire to use drugs. I prefer to enjoy the subtle and the sublime, and substance over style. I find sudden bursts of intense sensations aggravating. Trying to process so much stimulus at once is disorienting and generally leaves me feeling exhausted not satisfied. (Also, I have a completely legal alternative to enhance my mental state where the worst that can happen is sore or stiff joints: meditation.)

I know many people could never appreciate my simplistic and humble lifestyle. (Indeed, many confuse it for austerity and self-denial.) I accept a certain level of indulgence, but I fail to see how drug use can be anything except a needless and destructive indulgence. It concerns me that people would treat recreational drugs as a healthy pasttime and ignore that the vast majority of users suffer greatly.

There are (arguably) many who are too heavy-handed and callous when it comes to drug prevention, but don't assume that those who object to drug use are attempting to deny others of happiness or project their values upon others. Some of us are genuinely concerned about the physical and emotional welfare of our fellow man.



Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 25, 2009, 17:08:40 EST
By their very nature, mind altering substances have to be experienced before you can pretend to know much of anything about them. Asking someone who is against drugs if he has ever tried them is perfectly legitimate.

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I, for one, would not enjoy having my body chemistry dramatically altered. I'm sensitive to the internal rhythms of my body. I'm most comfortable when I'm "centered" and the entirety of my being is in harmony; I'm happiest when I'm at my healthiest. Even if I did find the induced state enjoyable - which is unlikely, since I know from experience that sugar and caffeine "highs" do nothing but give me headaches - it is quite certain that I would be miserable from after-effects.
And here we have an important lesson: People are different. For example, i can drink until i pass out and be fine the next day after i drink a few glasses of water. I have never gotten a headache from drinking and i cant function without something sugary to start the day.

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It concerns me that people would treat recreational drugs as a healthy pasttime and ignore that the vast majority of users suffer greatly.
It concerns me that we have developed a society where blame is more important than responsibility. The people who suffer from drugs, suffer out of their own choice. The drugs are not to blame, they only have themselves to blame for not having the mental fortitude to quit in time. Again, the people who do enjoy drugs should not have to suffer because of idiots who got themselves in trouble.

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There are (arguably) many who are too heavy-handed and callous when it comes to drug prevention, but don't assume that those who object to drug use are attempting to deny others of happiness or project their values upon others. Some of us are genuinely concerned about the physical and emotional welfare of our fellow man.
Ah, but how do you define physical and emotional welfare? As pointed out above, people are different. You cant always use your own standards to judge what is good for others.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Blue Boy from Red Country on January 25, 2009, 17:17:14 EST
An artist who had his hands crippled? What does he have left to live for?

This is such a tragically narrow view of the value of one's life. First of all, few if any people are so one-dimensional that they would not be able to find something else fulfilling. Even in this example, if art was the artist's only passion, they may find ways to adapt (like learning to use their feet) or channel that passion into something else (such as teaching art classes).

Personally, I feel life is always worth living. It may sound corny, but life is a treasure. Rare is the situation where you are irrevocably incapable of appreciating it.

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He knew the risk and he chose to take it, and thats all there is to it. The rest of us were only as affected by it as we chose to be. This is an important concept, by the way. Drugs, alcohol, other peoples diseases and injuries due to stupidity, you CHOOSE how much you want it to affect you. And if you choose to be deeply agitated by some random stranger who cant control his drinking, or by some crack addict who gets involved with a bad crowd due to his addiction and gets himself killed, then i say you are a bigger idiot than them.

I've never been satisfied by this argument.

Most people "know" the risks of their poor decisions, but they don't truly appreciate them. This is because they've failed to properly internalize fact into knowledge; the risks are just buzzing gnats that annoy rather than being genuine deterrents.

Furthermore, you're making the assumption that people make completely independent decisions. This is false; we are all predisposed towards making certain decisions over others. Many end up assuming great risks because they erroneously perceive that risk as being minimal or they have come to believe that the decision is either necessary, the best option, or the lesser of evils.

As an aside, it is not idiotic to be upset when others disrupt you. It may be idiotic to dwell upon it or get excessively angry, but while its affecting someone (or if it is a persistent problem), that person is perfectly justified in being upset and seeking to resolve the displeasurable situation... You'd (presumably) complain if someone started harassing and chastising you; I reserve the right to complain if your drunken debauchery is keeping me up at night. Having a right doesn't justify abusing it.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on January 25, 2009, 17:28:05 EST
By their very nature, mind altering substances have to be experienced before you can pretend to know much of anything about them.

Knowing about their biochemical effects is enough to make a statement about which ones are a bad idea to try. Just like you don't need to experience third-degree burns to say that getting them is a bad idea and a very painful experience.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 25, 2009, 17:41:36 EST
An artist who had his hands crippled? What does he have left to live for?

This is such a tragically narrow view of the value of one's life. First of all, few if any people are so one-dimensional that they would not be able to find something else fulfilling. Even in this example, if art was the artist's only passion, they may find ways to adapt (like learning to use their feet) or channel that passion into something else (such as teaching art classes).
There is an entire famous British play based on the idea. Then they made it into a (pretty decent) movie.

Come to think of it, the guy was paralyzed from the neck down. It had been a while since i saw it.

Personally, I feel life is always worth living. It may sound corny, but life is a treasure. Rare is the situation where you are irrevocably incapable of appreciating it.
Agreed, for the most part. But again, people are different. Maybe you dont have a problem being a burden to society and useless to everyone, sitting on your butt all day and having nurses 50 years younger than you changing your diaper, all the while your brain is dying before your body does, but i plan to either have my doctor kill me or do it myself before i reach that point. Also im not sure i would wanna keep living if i ever lost basic mobility.

I've never been satisfied by this argument.

Most people "know" the risks of their poor decisions, but they don't truly appreciate them. This is because they've failed to properly internalize fact into knowledge; the risks are just buzzing gnats that annoy rather than being genuine deterrents.

Furthermore, you're making the assumption that people make completely independent decisions. This is false; we are all predisposed towards making certain decisions over others. Many end up assuming great risks because they erroneously perceive that risk as being minimal or they have come to believe that the decision is either necessary, the best option, or the lesser of evils.
What you are saying is that people are stupid.

And i agree. Most people are very stupid in a variety of ways. And the only way for stupid people to learn is to suffer the consequences of their actions. Even if you could bail them out every time things almost went wrong for them, they wont appreciate you for it.

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As an aside, it is not idiotic to be upset when others disrupt you. It may be idiotic to dwell upon it or get excessively angry, but while its affecting someone (or if it is a persistent problem), that person is perfectly justified in being upset and seeking to resolve the displeasurable situation... You'd (presumably) complain if someone started harassing and chastising you; I reserve the right to complain if your drunken debauchery is keeping me up at night. Having a right doesn't justify abusing it.
Most of the time people get upset over things they really dont have any business getting upset about. Like our good friend wodan, for example. If he has problems with drugs in his family or among his friends, then it is his family/friends he needs to deal with, not drugs. If he does not have any problems like that then what bloody business is it of his if someone he will never even meet gets high once in a while?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Blue Boy from Red Country on January 25, 2009, 17:41:44 EST
By their very nature, mind altering substances have to be experienced before you can pretend to know much of anything about them. Asking someone who is against drugs if he has ever tried them is perfectly legitimate.

This is like saying you have to get stabbed by a knife before you can appreciate what it'd be like to be to knifed to death. Certainly such an experience would greatly improve your comprehension, but those of us without such experiences can still extrapolate from what have experienced.


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It concerns me that we have developed a society where blame is more important than responsibility. The people who suffer from drugs, suffer out of their own choice. The drugs are not to blame, they only have themselves to blame for not having the mental fortitude to quit in time.

Is it really the drug addicts fault if they lack mental fortitude? I have it in abundance, but I know plenty of people due to the pain they've had to endure lack the ability to weather hardships.

I do agree with you regarding blame versus responsibility. I do expect people to be responsible for their own welfare, but I also expect people to be responsible for helping those cannot help themselves. Also, as much as I would prefer to "live and let live," I honestly feel many lack the wisdom to live responsibly; I cannot stand idly by and pretend they are just living life as they see fit.

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Ah, but how do you define physical and emotional welfare? As pointed out above, people are different. You cant always use your own standards to judge what is good for others.

Physical welfare is pretty simple; I define it as having a body that is functioning in a matter that promotes its continue existence and having the resources to ensure it continues to do so. (For example, having access to enough food to be properly fed.) I see emotional welfare as having stability, responding appropriately to a given situation and having those feeling to pass as opposed to having lingering emotional states that inhibit the ability to experience others - ideally, people should enjoy a state of happiness that promotes continued happiness. This is opposed to having inflated "highs" that ultimately undermine the ability to be happy without the particular stimulus.

Alright... that's enough for now. :P


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 25, 2009, 17:43:19 EST
By their very nature, mind altering substances have to be experienced before you can pretend to know much of anything about them.

Knowing about their biochemical effects is enough to make a statement about which ones are a bad idea to try. Just like you don't need to experience third-degree burns to say that getting them is a bad idea and a very painful experience.

Sure, but if you have never tried any drugs then you really should not be trying to make the harmless stuff illegal, as is far too often the case.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on January 25, 2009, 17:48:29 EST
Sure, but if you have never tried any drugs then you really should not be trying to make the harmless stuff illegal, as is far too often the case.

You can tell what's harmless and what's not just from biochemistry and from studying what it does to other people. Absolutely no need to try anything on yourself.

Oh, and "mental fortitude" does very little when dealing with substances that affect neurochemistry. Just like it won't keep you awake when the anaesthesiologist turns on the isoflurane.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 25, 2009, 17:50:15 EST
By their very nature, mind altering substances have to be experienced before you can pretend to know much of anything about them. Asking someone who is against drugs if he has ever tried them is perfectly legitimate.

This is like saying you have to get stabbed by a knife before you can appreciate what it'd be like to be to knifed to death. Certainly such an experience would greatly improve your comprehension, but those of us without such experiences can still extrapolate from what have experienced.
Please dont do this.

What we have here is a so called logical fallacy and they annoy the bloody hell out of me.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 25, 2009, 17:52:52 EST
Sure, but if you have never tried any drugs then you really should not be trying to make the harmless stuff illegal, as is far too often the case.

You can tell what's harmless and what's not just from biochemistry and from studying what it does to other people. Absolutely no need to try anything on yourself.
Blue boy gets a headache from sugar. Meanwhile i dont get headaches from drinking until i pass out. You very much do need to try this sort of thing for yourself before you can have a halfway decent idea what is and is not safe.

Oh, and "mental fortitude" does very little when dealing with substances that affect neurochemistry. Just like it won't keep you awake when the anaesthesiologist turns on the isoflurane.
For the really hard stuff, it applies before you decide to start taking it. Most drugs dont fall under this category.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 25, 2009, 18:16:02 EST
Sure, but if you have never tried any drugs then you really should not be trying to make the harmless stuff illegal, as is far too often the case.

You can tell what's harmless and what's not just from biochemistry and from studying what it does to other people. Absolutely no need to try anything on yourself.
Blue boy gets a headache from sugar. Meanwhile i dont get headaches from drinking until i pass out. You very much do need to try this sort of thing for yourself before you can have a halfway decent idea what is and is not safe.

Once again, I agree with Ibian. I am not condoning the use of illicit drugs, but I am saying that you don't know what it's like until you try it. Trust me. You may think you do, but you don't.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Hephaestus 16 on January 25, 2009, 18:52:28 EST
Woden, for your arguements I see that you are not going to except the legalisation of drugs of libertarian grounds.  As your arguement is based off minimising human suffering, I will explain how legalising drugs reduces it.

The most obvious may to do this is to minimize use of the drug, the first instinct will be to ban, however that is shown to have no effect, to quote johann hari - independent - 12/07/07
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IDS Error Three: Relaxing the law makes more people use drugs. Between 1972 and 1978, eleven US states decriminalized marijuana possession. So did hundreds of thousands of people rush out to smoke the now-legal weed? The National Research Council found that it had no effect on the number of dope-smokers. None. The people who had always liked it carried on; the people who didn't felt no sudden urge to start.


So if people are going to puff no matter what you do you should make sure they are puffing things that cause at little harm to them as possible - for this regulation or at least labeling is needed - for which the product has to be legal, referrences Johann Hair once again - same article
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IDS Error Two: cannabis 'causes' psychosis. A major study at the University of Cologne and King's College, London published this May showed a much more complex picture, with different chemical constituents of cannabis having different effects. The researchers found that although tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that produces a high, giggly feeling, can trigger psychosis in a very small number of users, another chemical component to cannabis, cannabidinol (CBD), actually inhibits and supresses psychotic symptoms in people suffering from them. CBD is so good at supressing psychotic symptoms that it proved to be more effective than any of the major anti-psychotics currently prescribed by doctors.

Professor Jim van Os suggests a solution: legal cannabis could be easily grown and marketed with high CBD levels, ending the psychotic effect. Indeed, such a drug would actually be helpful for psychotics to smoke. Obviously, it's impossible to do this while cannabis remains in the hands of gangsters and organised crime syndicates - a certainty under prohibition. So it is actually more accurate to say cannabis prohibition causes cannabis psychosis - and legalisation would end it.
Also on that note it its legal they can sign up of rehab without fear of arrest, and rehab will be able to get funding a lot easier as drug addicts are seen as human again.

With harm to the self reduced, no onto harm to others in the community, i.e. crime, if the drug they've gone and got themsleves addicted to is avaliable legally, they will able to get their fix with out having to steal to get the money, because a. they will be able hold down a job and b. drug dealers won't be able to change whatever they want knowing he government has arrested their competition.  Criminals gangs will find themselves devoid of there biggest revenue steam.  Crime will go down. For example (same article again)
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The Cheshire Drug Squad found in the 1980s that the presence of a rare heroin-prescribing clinic on their patch caused an incredible 94 percent drop in theft, burglary and property crimes.

On a national level a useless expence of government will be replace by a gain through taxation of the products. This can be used for tax cuts or welfare spending depending on ideology.

On the international level, the effects of the anti drugs war are even worse, see the latter part of the this article
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http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1176

I conclude this by saying I in no way condone the taking of any mind altering substances, and accepting that they do exist and will continue to do so no matter what action is taken against them, I propose whatever action will reduce the amount of suffering caused.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: DavidLeoThomas on January 25, 2009, 22:49:14 EST
Woden, for your arguements I see that you are not going to except the legalisation of drugs of libertarian grounds.  As your arguement is based off minimising human suffering, I will explain how legalising drugs reduces it.

He said from the outset that he wasn't opposed to legalization if it reduces harm - he's just opposed to use.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 26, 2009, 00:09:57 EST
Woden, for your arguements I see that you are not going to except the legalisation of drugs of libertarian grounds.  As your arguement is based off minimising human suffering, I will explain how legalising drugs reduces it.
He said from the outset that he wasn't opposed to legalization if it reduces harm - he's just opposed to use.
Did I ever say I opposed legalization?  I stated quite clearly that my only concern is the minimization of human suffering.  I also stated that I lacked the knowledge to argue on the specific consequences of legalization, but agreed that most likely if done properly it would result in minimization.  So, if you want to continue arguing with a position that I've never upheld, by all means, continue.

Let me summarize.  If allowing freedom of choice will lead to more net happiness than prohibiting people from doing bad choices, then I support freedom of choice, and vice-versa for prohibition.  Note that for such a calculation regarding prohibition, I believe it important to consider ALL the ramifications that it will have, both with regards to people without choices being less happy, it leading to a slippery slope, and it being overall ineffective at actually prohibiting.

I am a realist, not an idealist.  I go with what works, and have no concern for any alternative.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on January 26, 2009, 03:17:42 EST
What we have here is a so called logical fallacy and they annoy the bloody hell out of me.

I should have started that game, but before I get to the logical fallacies in your arguments I'd have discuss the holes in them that are big enough to drive an aircraft carrier through.

And, please, where's the fallacy and what's the exact type? "You don't have to try drugs on yourself to see why taking them is a bad idea, studying their effects on other people (that includes biochemistry and case studies) is enough to make a qualified statement about that. Just like for pretty much everything that has harmful effects."


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 26, 2009, 03:24:27 EST
Look closer. That reply was not to you.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 26, 2009, 08:32:50 EST
So what do you do if you live in a rough neighborhood and you really wish people would stop beating you up all the time? You move. Very simple and straightforward and anyone can do it.

Lies. I have no capacity to move from my current dwelling. Contract law currently limits my finances such that escaping my lease would likely result in starvation.

Alcohol brings out peoples true natures without all the mental blocks we have built up over the years. If he hadn't been drinking he would probably still have abused you, but then it might have been psychological abuse instead. Pick your poison.

This little paragraph tells me all I need to know regarding your expertise with drugs.

You have none. Please stop pretending otherwise.

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Do you have a choice about whether or not to feel sad when a relative wastes away in front of you?
Yes. You do. Thats the whole point. The only one who can control how you feel, is you.

You might be a robot, but few of the rest of the world have emotions that can be turned off like a tap. "Works for me" isn't a good basis for making socially acceptable decisions.

Sure, but if you have never tried any drugs then you really should not be trying to make the harmless stuff illegal, as is far too often the case.

You can tell what's harmless and what's not just from biochemistry and from studying what it does to other people. Absolutely no need to try anything on yourself.
Blue boy gets a headache from sugar. Meanwhile i dont get headaches from drinking until i pass out. You very much do need to try this sort of thing for yourself before you can have a halfway decent idea what is and is not safe.

Once again, I agree with Ibian. I am not condoning the use of illicit drugs, but I am saying that you don't know what it's like until you try it. Trust me. You may think you do, but you don't.

The funny thing is that use of most illicit drugs actually decreases your ability to know "what it's like" in all aspects. Sure, you know what the internal conscious experience is like, for the most part. But you rarely, if ever, know what it does to your personality, and exterior dealings. The more you're affected, the less likely you are to notice even massive changes.

So, no, I don't have to have first hand experience with mind-altering substances. I've got second hand experience enough. "Harmless" pot has scrambled at least one friend of mine, to the point where conversing with him requires the skills to hold five simultaneous conversations, to keep on top of all the tangents he spins out. It's not psychosis, as Hephaestus might argue against, but a relatively minor disorganisation of the mind. Closer to ADD than schizophrenia.

The fact that he used to be a motor mechanic, and is nearly incapable of such work now, colours my stance quite heavily as you might imagine.

What we have here is a so called logical fallacy and they annoy the bloody hell out of me.

I should have started that game, but before I get to the logical fallacies in your arguments I'd have discuss the holes in them that are big enough to drive an aircraft carrier through.


He's suggesting that the "You have to be stabbed to know what it feels like" line is a fallacy of false analogy.

He's suggesting wrong, though. Unless, Ibian, you care to show reason why you're right?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 26, 2009, 11:17:03 EST
Ditto to what Medivh said.  If you honestly think that people in a rough neighborhood have the available resources and power to move out, or that alcohol brings out people's true nature, you really don't know much of anything.

As for the issue of knowing "what it's like" there is a difference between experience and awareness.  Taking drugs disrupts your ability to think coherently about what you did while taking drugs, ergo you are less likely to understand what happened under such a circumstance.  A scientist observing the physiological effects of the drug will get far better and more accurate evidence.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 26, 2009, 15:16:17 EST
Ditto to what Medivh said.  If you honestly think that people in a rough neighborhood have the available resources and power to move out, or that alcohol brings out people's true nature, you really don't know much of anything.

As for the issue of knowing "what it's like" there is a difference between experience and awareness.  Taking drugs disrupts your ability to think coherently about what you did while taking drugs, ergo you are less likely to understand what happened under such a circumstance.  A scientist observing the physiological effects of the drug will get far better and more accurate evidence.

But someone experiencing it knows whether or not it makes them unhappy. Heroin addicts tend to be unhappy (although, besides overdose, heroin actually has no adverse effect on the body). Occasional marijuana users or occasional social drinkers, much less so.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 26, 2009, 17:15:55 EST
But someone experiencing it knows whether or not it makes them unhappy. Heroin addicts tend to be unhappy (although, besides overdose, heroin actually has no adverse effect on the body). Occasional marijuana users or occasional social drinkers, much less so.
Whether or not they are happy has nothing to do with whether or not they can stop their behavior, which means that they have no control as to whether or not they will end up taking more drugs, which will eventually lead to circumstances that are entirely unhappy.

Also, you'd be surprised at how good people are at convincing themselves that they are happy when they are not.  I just read two 10 page articles on the subject for class, for that matter.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 26, 2009, 18:07:52 EST
But someone experiencing it knows whether or not it makes them unhappy. Heroin addicts tend to be unhappy (although, besides overdose, heroin actually has no adverse effect on the body). Occasional marijuana users or occasional social drinkers, much less so.
Whether or not they are happy has nothing to do with whether or not they can stop their behavior, which means that they have no control as to whether or not they will end up taking more drugs, which will eventually lead to circumstances that are entirely unhappy.

Not all drugs are physically addictive by any means. And for people who are psychologically addicted, I feel to see how that's different from any other addiction.

Quote
Also, you'd be surprised at how good people are at convincing themselves that they are happy when they are not.  I just read two 10 page articles on the subject for class, for that matter.

What's the difference?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 26, 2009, 18:33:01 EST
Not all drugs are physically addictive by any means. And for people who are psychologically addicted, I feel to see how that's different from any other addiction.
I'm concerned with drugs that are chemically addictive, and those that inordinately addictive on a psychological level.




Quote
Also, you'd be surprised at how good people are at convincing themselves that they are happy when they are not.  I just read two 10 page articles on the subject for class, for that matter.
What's the difference?
Experience and awareness are not the same, we are just used to assuming that they are.  As for evaluating past feeling accurately, that's even more problematic.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 26, 2009, 19:30:26 EST
Ditto to what Medivh said.  If you honestly think that people in a rough neighborhood have the available resources and power to move out, or that alcohol brings out people's true nature, you really don't know much of anything.

As for the issue of knowing "what it's like" there is a difference between experience and awareness.  Taking drugs disrupts your ability to think coherently about what you did while taking drugs, ergo you are less likely to understand what happened under such a circumstance.  A scientist observing the physiological effects of the drug will get far better and more accurate evidence.

But someone experiencing it knows whether or not it makes them unhappy. Heroin addicts tend to be unhappy (although, besides overdose, heroin actually has no adverse effect on the body). Occasional marijuana users or occasional social drinkers, much less so.

No they don't. I've, as a child, assumed that when I've stayed up late that I was happy about it. Turns out that the lack of sleep was clouding my judgement, and that my mood was brittle to the point of snapping at everything and everyone.

I no longer assume that I know everything about my own state. I do have a fair guess, due to the fact that I can work environmental factors in to my analysis. Analysing one's current internal state is not something that drug users are known for, meditating on how we're all part of a universal consciousness notwithstanding.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 26, 2009, 19:53:50 EST
So you dont even know how you feel. No wonder you are such a jerkass. Meditation might be worth trying, but blueboy can probably tell you more about that if you care.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 26, 2009, 20:23:09 EST
So you dont even know how you feel. No wonder you are such a jerkass. Meditation might be worth trying, but blueboy can probably tell you more about that if you care.
At least we know that we don't know.  You don't know that you don't know, and that puts you in a significantly less enviable position. 

It has been shown that people will label the exact same physiological phenomena as being one emotion in one context and a different emotion in another context.  See people experience instinctive feelings in reaction to certain situations, but they aren't aware of what they are, and use the context of the situation to establish them.

In short, there is a difference between feeling something, and believing you feel something, and yes, this can be tested scientifically.

Another experiment had people dip their hands in painfully cold water for a while, then 1 group got to remove their hands, while the others had to shift their hands to another pool of water that was marginally less cold, but still painful, and for a significant amount of time as well.  The second group would label the experience as less painful, even though when both groups were asked about the pain felt throughout, the second group reported more total pain.

In short, people are not able to properly evaluate past experiences, tending to evaluate them based on the pain at the peak and end, rather than the total pain inflicted.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 26, 2009, 20:43:02 EST
*sigh* here we go again, the same old circus where people pretend to know all sorts of things about me.

Introspection is something i do a lot of. I know exactly how i feel, and why i feel the way i do. But neither you nor Medivh will admit believing me when i say that, so i guess ill take my leave here. It was a good run for once.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 26, 2009, 20:45:38 EST
I don't have time to make a good response right now, I just want to say that, despite our agreement in this argument, Ibian being a jackass doesn't represent me. I respect that you don't want to try drugs, I just feel that there are a greater number of motivations for drug use than you give credit for.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 26, 2009, 22:37:14 EST
*sigh* here we go again, the same old circus where people pretend to know all sorts of things about me.

Introspection is something i do a lot of. I know exactly how i feel, and why i feel the way i do. But neither you nor Medivh will admit believing me when i say that, so i guess ill take my leave here. It was a good run for once.
Prove it.  Do you think I care for unprovable anecdotes when I have actual scientific evidence that indicates the contrary?  Scientists have shown that people can and usually are incredibly unreliable when it comes to being accurate with their introspections.  Why should I believe that you are somehow the exception?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on January 27, 2009, 02:54:23 EST
*sigh* here we go again, the same old circus where people pretend to know all sorts of things about me.

The only thing necessary to know is that you're a human. If you happen to be something else (e.g. AI, alien or sapient non-human Earth creature), I apologize.

Quote
Introspection is something i do a lot of. I know exactly how i feel, and why i feel the way i do.

Introspection, like any other thought process, happens in your brain (if you're human), and is therefore subject to all the quirks and limitations of that organ. And that's a long list, even if you just limit it to things that are still fairly easy to comprehend (that's the electrochemical and maybe the cellular level for anyone who didn't spend a decade or so studying neurology and psychiatry).


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: DavidLeoThomas on January 27, 2009, 12:17:36 EST
*sigh* here we go again, the same old circus where people pretend to know all sorts of things about me.

The only thing necessary to know is that you're a human. If you happen to be something else (e.g. AI, alien or sapient non-human Earth creature), I apologize.

Improper use of statistics.  Just because X is true of *most* people does not mean it is true of *this* person.  There is a lot of individual variability.

It is true that *many* people think they have a good understanding of their emotional states and do not.  I wouldn't feel comfortable stating with confidence *in either direction* regarding Ibian without systematic testing *of Ibian*.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on January 27, 2009, 12:33:40 EST
I would pithily counter that there may not be such a thing as internal emotional states or dialogue.

I keep a pack of behavorists locked in my backyard for just such questions, and I'm sure I have a copy of Walden II around here.

That being said I think most people are phenominalogical zombies.  I like to alternated between that and blatant solipsism.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 27, 2009, 15:42:24 EST
There was once a club in Cambridge university called the "Apostles".  Members referred to themselves as "real" and to non-members as "phenomena".

I have a feeling that to Wodan and Heq we are all phenomena.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 27, 2009, 17:04:32 EST
All I know is that sitting around with my boys every once in a while (we're talking about once a month at the MOST) and putting back a few fatties is fun times.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 27, 2009, 18:47:25 EST
I'm sure it is. To you and your boys. I'm pretty sure that the outside changes would probably shock you (although probably not enough to get you to stop) were you to come into knowledge of them, though.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 27, 2009, 19:28:14 EST
I'm sure it is. To you and your boys. I'm pretty sure that the outside changes would probably shock you (although probably not enough to get you to stop) were you to come into knowledge of them, though.

Sitting around, listening to music, watching movies, eating junk food and playing light-up frisbee? Admittedly, not the healthiest activity, but I exercise every day, so I can give myself a break one night. We never drive, so I don't see the harm.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 27, 2009, 19:53:03 EST
It's not the harm that you personally cause that I'm talking about. Were I to interact with you in person on a regular basis, I'd have a fairly good idea of your personality. I've mastered this in the past to the point where I can go so far as to predict the thoughts of a close friend successfully once or twice.

If I were to then meet you while you were high, and list the differences, and get you to list the differences you see in yourself, the lists would be entirely different from each other. You'd think I was overestimating, I'd think you were underestimating.

If you were to then see a video of your actions, you'd probably still think I was overestimating, but by a much lower margin. None of us know what we're doing precisely because we're biased. Mind altering substances increase that bias.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 27, 2009, 19:54:38 EST
It's not the harm that you personally cause that I'm talking about. Were I to interact with you in person on a regular basis, I'd have a fairly good idea of your personality. I've mastered this in the past to the point where I can go so far as to predict the thoughts of a close friend successfully once or twice.

If I were to then meet you while you were high, and list the differences, and get you to list the differences you see in yourself, the lists would be entirely different from each other. You'd think I was overestimating, I'd think you were underestimating.

If you were to then see a video of your actions, you'd probably still think I was overestimating, but by a much lower margin. None of us know what we're doing precisely because we're biased. Mind altering substances increase that bias.

Ah, I misinterpreted your point. I thought you were talking about harm that could be caused by that altered state. I realize that the state is different, but I think that experience is important for understanding. I also wonder what's wrong with having that bias.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Andrei on January 27, 2009, 22:08:29 EST
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Bringerofpie
Wodan, have you ever tried any drugs?
Unless you count Aleve and Claritin, not really.  There was that time I mistook Guinness for Coca Cola, but such would hardly count.
Do you mean to tell me you've only drunk alcohol once? And it was that swill known as guiness?

Trust me, you need to get wobbly-legged vomit-spewing drunk at least once in your life. It's a very interesting experience. It's also why I can no longer bear whisky (though I didn't like it much to begin with).

Also, there is excellent beer out there. In my experience, Irish beer sucks by and large, but with Czech, Belgian or German beer, it's hard to go wrong (although possible, see Wernesgrüner).


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 27, 2009, 23:07:26 EST
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Bringerofpie
Wodan, have you ever tried any drugs?
Unless you count Aleve and Claritin, not really.  There was that time I mistook Guinness for Coca Cola, but such would hardly count.
Do you mean to tell me you've only drunk alcohol once? And it was that swill known as guiness?
I was like 10 at the time.  I took a gulp of it, realized that it was not Coca-Cola, and spent the next hour or so waiting for the horrible taste to go away.

Trust me, you need to get wobbly-legged vomit-spewing drunk at least once in your life. It's a very interesting experience.
Sticking your hand in a woodchipper is also an interesting experience.

Besides that, I am under 21, have no interest in bars or their atmosphere, and I spend every day with a permanent hangover anyways.

To be specific, I've had a headache since May.  It alternates between hurting a little and hurting a fucking lot.  I also remain very prone to being nauseous, including if I haven't eaten in a few hours, or if I eat too fast, or if I eat the wrong things.

Frankly, I suspect that I am just really sensitive to pain, and that as a result, things that most people don't even notice are constantly present and uncomfortable to me.  Sometimes I wonder if that's how hypochondriacs feel.

Nevertheless, I don't feel adding a drunken headache to my normal headache, along with cold induced headaches, because I'd probably have a brain aneurysm or something.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 28, 2009, 03:12:08 EST
It's not the harm that you personally cause that I'm talking about. Were I to interact with you in person on a regular basis, I'd have a fairly good idea of your personality. I've mastered this in the past to the point where I can go so far as to predict the thoughts of a close friend successfully once or twice.

If I were to then meet you while you were high, and list the differences, and get you to list the differences you see in yourself, the lists would be entirely different from each other. You'd think I was overestimating, I'd think you were underestimating.

If you were to then see a video of your actions, you'd probably still think I was overestimating, but by a much lower margin. None of us know what we're doing precisely because we're biased. Mind altering substances increase that bias.

Ah, I misinterpreted your point. I thought you were talking about harm that could be caused by that altered state. I realize that the state is different, but I think that experience is important for understanding. I also wonder what's wrong with having that bias.

I'm attempting to refute the point that "you can't know what a mind altering drug is like until you take one" by putting forth evidence for the point "you can't know what a mind altering drug is like".


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 28, 2009, 07:17:00 EST
So it seems to be people who are naturally sickly or otherwise frail who are against drugs and alcohol. No surprise there. That still doesnt explain why you guys are against other people using it.

Oh and Medivh, the entire point of mind altering substances, is to alter your mind. Your complaint is that it works as advertised.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on January 28, 2009, 07:40:29 EST
So it seems to be people who are naturally sickly or otherwise frail who are against drugs and alcohol. No surprise there. That still doesnt explain why you guys are against other people using it.

Oh and Medivh, the entire point of mind altering substances, is to alter your mind. Your complaint is that it works as advertised.

Wow. The level of fallacy and wrong packed into five sentences is... Wow. Not the best attempt I've seen, but it's right up there in the top 10.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 28, 2009, 13:59:03 EST
Ibian has made many of the arguments I would make for me.

However, a few points I think need making....

Firstly, to make things absolutely clear, I drink quite often.  I have been drunk quite often, I also smoke pot from time to time.  I have had several gins while composing this post (which has taken all of yesterday evening and quite a bit of the night).

Quote from: wodan46
I'm curious as to when I started saying that all drugs cause unhappiness, merely that they are more likely to cause unhappiness than happiness, by a large margin, and that such phenomena can be measured fairly directly in the forms of lives lost or ruined by them.
Quote from: DavidLeoThomas
He said from the outset that he wasn't opposed to legalization if it reduces harm - he's just opposed to use.
Quote from: Bringerofpie
But someone experiencing it knows whether or not it makes them unhappy. Heroin addicts tend to be unhappy (although, besides overdose, heroin actually has no adverse effect on the body). Occasional marijuana users or occasional social drinkers, much less so.
Quote from: wodan46
If allowing freedom of choice will lead to more net happiness than prohibiting people from doing bad choices, then I support freedom of choice
It seems that many folks here are convinced that drugs cause more happiness than unhappiness.  I'm not so convinced.

Throughout my life I have known only two non-drinkers.  I can't say that the thousands of others I have known who drink from time-to-time were made sad by it or destined to become addicts.

In our "hedonistic calculus" we have a scales.  On one side we can put the injuries and deaths caused by drug use.  On the other we can put the pleasure people like myself and Ibian gain from it.  To some extent the first side -the evils- can be measured, though much of that side is purely subjective.  The second side, the benefits, how can that be measured?  The answer of course is that it can't.  This is one of the key problems with vulgar utilitarianism. (Notice how this applies to the Smoking thread too).

All we can do is to give people the ability to choose for themselves what they find pleasurable.  We can't take on the task of judging the overall utilities - it is impossible.  What we can reasonably do though is to prevent the externalities, the effect of the behaviour of one person on others.

When Wodan writes....
Quote from: wodan46
At least we know that we don't know.  You don't know that you don't know, and that puts you in a significantly less enviable position. 
I think he is probably right.  I think he's probably right about the psychological experiment he describes too, I've heard about that one before.  But, in both cases these things do not aide his argument.  These things show that pleasure is mysterious.  They do not show that pleasure induced by drugs is uniquely different and knowable.  Given that how plausible is it that people can judge the pleasure of others?

I agree with Wodan when he says:
Quote from: wodan46
Despite what Ayn Rand says, people are NOT always in the best position to judge what action is best compared to others
But, as far as I know Ayn Rand never said this, that said I haven't read her much.  The point that Classical Liberals have long made is not that a person necessarily knows what is best for themselves.  The point is that another cannot reliably know what is better for someone else.

So, Wodan, I agree with your next line...
Quote from: wodan46
You shouldn't force your decision down their throats, of course, but nevertheless, if someone is dealing with a situation where their emotions are dominating their better judgement, you are in a position to offer them good advice.
Note that taking this viewpoint drugs should not be banned.

Which brings me to this...
Quote from: Ibian
The people who suffer from drugs, suffer out of their own choice. The drugs are not to blame, they only have themselves to blame for not having the mental fortitude to quit in time.
I agree to some extent.  But, like "Social Darwinists" while talking mental fortitude you miss a lot.

What we should do when thinking about this is to look squarely at the alternative.  Let's say we take the view that people do not choose to take drugs.  Even the first choice is somehow not a free choice.  Well, in that case we can ban drugs, that though brings up the problem I describe above, doing so would not necessarily be positive even on crude utilitarian basis.  Alternatively we could consider drug use and the problems brought with it to be nothing to do with the drug user (even when it clearly is).  Taking this approach society or the state must provide to counteract the harmful effects of the drug user's habit.

The problem with this should be clear.  If society is successful then it removes the natural penalties for drug use, while retaining the pleasures.  The rest of society absorbs these penalties, to the cost of each individual member.

If though society continues to allow drug abuse to penalize the user in some way then things are very different.  People who are genetically "weak" may be eliminated, this though is not really at all significant.  What is significant though is that individuals are encouraged to become educated.  If there is a cost to drug abuse then people are likely to act to avoid incurring that cost.  (Notice, I'm not saying that drug users should take the whole cost, I agree with subsidized drug rehab, I'm saying they should take some of the cost).  If there isn't then people are unlikely to do that.  Without that spur the knowledge is not likely to ever come into existence in the first place.

What we should look at is not the "Social Darwinist" aspect, but more the "Informational Darwinist" aspect.  Though with information the process of evolution isn't really much like natural selection except in a very few cases.

Consider if a person knows much about the drugs currently in use.  He knows what drugs are "bad" overall and what drugs are not (ignoring for now that this is impossible).  That person becomes the dictator of drug policy for the world and bans all the bad drugs.  In that case for a while things will be very good for us all.  However, new drugs will be discovered.  When this happens people will not know what to do.  They will have become accustomed to not having to make those sorts of decisions for themselves.  It is likely that they will not even bother to try to understand what is or is not a drug.  This is one of the situations for which Hayek wrote that reason "is not all-powerful and that the belief that it can become its own master and control its own development may yet destroy it".

Quote from: wodan46
Do you have a choice when the drunk driver runs you over?
Quote from: wodan46
Alcohol undermines people's judgement with regards to everything, including whether or not to moderate Alcohol consumption.
Quote from: wodan46
Is it reasonable to believe that drunk people won't operate cars?  I find the concept of intentionally destroying your own ability to make judgements, even when you know that those judgements can hurt not just you, but others, to be detestable.
I think what you are missing here is that a person's judgment is not particularly clouded before they start drinking.  Hence they can be blamed for what happens once they do, and will take efforts to prevent themselves succumbing to such temptations.

I have being drunk hundreds of times.  I have never driven while drunk though.  Achieving this is simple, I leave my house by taxi or on foot.

That said I think the US attitude to drink driving is poor.  In the UK if you are caught you face a stiff penalty.  This is one of the few cases where British law provides a sensible penalty to offenders.  I was shocked when I went to the US and saw how people behaved there.  The problem though is not the principle but the punishment, if real punishments were handed out for drunk driving it would end very quickly.

Quote from: Hephaestus 16
to quote johann hari - independent - 12/07/07
If you're going to make a positive case for drug legalization then quote someone else.  Johann Hari often gets his facts wrong.  That said I don't think he's wrong in the pieces you are quoting.

Quote from: Ibian
Quote from: Blue Boy from Red Country
Quote from: Ibian
An artist who had his hands crippled? What does he have left to live for?

This is such a tragically narrow view of the value of one's life. First of all, few if any people are so one-dimensional that they would not be able to find something else fulfilling. Even in this example, if art was the artist's only passion, they may find ways to adapt (like learning to use their feet) or channel that passion into something else (such as teaching art classes).
There is an entire famous British play based on the idea. Then they made it into a (pretty decent) movie.

Come to think of it, the guy was paralyzed from the neck down. It had been a while since i saw it.
There are two films.  One is "My Left Foot".  The other is "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly".


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 28, 2009, 14:08:18 EST
Quote from: Andrei
Irish beer sucks by and large, but with Czech, Belgian or German beer, it's hard to go wrong (although possible, see Wernesgrüner).
Yes.  I don't know where the Irish brewers got a reputation for good beers from.  That said I drink Guinness quite often, it really is better in Ireland.  I expect because people drink so much of it the stock gets rotated frequently, and the beer in the pipe doesn't go off.

Unfortunately in Britain most beer is quite bad these days.  You have so search out the good stuff.  In Ireland they've started to stock German Weissbiers in some bars which is nice.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 28, 2009, 15:12:59 EST
Quote from: Andrei
Irish beer sucks by and large, but with Czech, Belgian or German beer, it's hard to go wrong (although possible, see Wernesgrüner).
Yes.  I don't know where the Irish brewers got a reputation for good beers from.  That said I drink Guinness quite often, it really is better in Ireland.  I expect because people drink so much of it the stock gets rotated frequently, and the beer in the pipe doesn't go off.

Unfortunately in Britain most beer is quite bad these days.  You have so search out the good stuff.  In Ireland they've started to stock German Weissbiers in some bars which is nice.


Just be glad you don't live in the U.S.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 28, 2009, 22:22:03 EST
Firstly, to make things absolutely clear, I drink quite often.  I have been drunk quite often, I also smoke pot from time to time.  I have had several gins while composing this post (which has taken all of yesterday evening and quite a bit of the night).
You need to learn to type/think faster then.  The longest post I've made here was about 1 or 2 hours to write.

It seems that many folks here are convinced that drugs cause more happiness than unhappiness.  I'm not so convinced.

Throughout my life I have known only two non-drinkers.  I can't say that the thousands of others I have known who drink from time-to-time were made sad by it or destined to become addicts.
Irrelevant.  Lets say that there was a cool new pair of shoes, but it had the critical defect that 1% of the population is allergic to it, and will violently explode if they put it on.  Would you say that the shoe should be allowed on the market, because its cool, and most people can handle it?

In our "hedonistic calculus" we have a scales.  On one side we can put the injuries and deaths caused by drug use.  On the other we can put the pleasure people like myself and Ibian gain from it.  To some extent the first side -the evils- can be measured, though much of that side is purely subjective.  The second side, the benefits, how can that be measured?  The answer of course is that it can't.  This is one of the key problems with vulgar utilitarianism. (Notice how this applies to the Smoking thread too).
It isn't that hard.  Ask yourself off hand whether or not 10 million people having an alcohol use disorder, and about 100 thousand people dying of alcohol or alcohol related problems, with more being injured, is worth it so that 50 million people can get a buzz every once and a while.

All we can do is to give people the ability to choose for themselves what they find pleasurable.  We can't take on the task of judging the overall utilities - it is impossible.  What we can reasonably do though is to prevent the externalities, the effect of the behaviour of one person on others.
The number of driving accidents, assaults, and rapes due to alcohol are considerable.


I think he is probably right.  I think he's probably right about the psychological experiment he describes too, I've heard about that one before.  But, in both cases these things do not aide his argument.  These things show that pleasure is mysterious.  They do not show that pleasure induced by drugs is uniquely different and knowable.  Given that how plausible is it that people can judge the pleasure of others?
We don't need to.  Alcohol kills a ton of people, injures a ton more, and inflicts nasty disorders on even more than that.  That, alone, is enough reason to ban the product, and its hard to believe that people getting a little buzz will make up for all the misery and death, stuff which can be observed and quantified.

Also, its pretty easy to judge the pleasure of others.  You use a scientific instrument called asking.  Kahneman came up with a system that allowed him to track people's reported happiness over the day, and compare it to how happy they evaluated themselves overall when asked at the end of the test, and observe that self-evaluations were inconsistent with self reports.


But, as far as I know Ayn Rand never said this, that said I haven't read her much.  The point that Classical Liberals have long made is not that a person necessarily knows what is best for themselves.  The point is that another cannot reliably know what is better for someone else.
If someone else wishes to throw themselves off a cliff, then I think you do.  There are situations where you can know reliably enough.  When a drug is abused by millions of people, leading to physical and mental damage of all shapes and sizes, then it is reasonable to conclude that people aren't making good judgments, and that restrictions should be placed.

Quote from: wodan46
You shouldn't force your decision down their throats, of course, but nevertheless, if someone is dealing with a situation where their emotions are dominating their better judgement, you are in a position to offer them good advice.
Note that taking this viewpoint drugs should not be banned.
Did I say they should be banned?  Also, a drug-addled person insisting that they are happy and that taking drugs was the best idea is an example of a person not in a position to accurately judge their wellbeing.


What we should do when thinking about this is to look squarely at the alternative.  Let's say we take the view that people do not choose to take drugs.  Even the first choice is somehow not a free choice.  Well, in that case we can ban drugs, that though brings up the problem I describe above, doing so would not necessarily be positive even on crude utilitarian basis.  Alternatively we could consider drug use and the problems brought with it to be nothing to do with the drug user (even when it clearly is).  Taking this approach society or the state must provide to counteract the harmful effects of the drug user's habit.

The problem with this should be clear.  If society is successful then it removes the natural penalties for drug use, while retaining the pleasures.  The rest of society absorbs these penalties, to the cost of each individual member.

If though society continues to allow drug abuse to penalize the user in some way then things are very different.  People who are genetically "weak" may be eliminated, this though is not really at all significant.  What is significant though is that individuals are encouraged to become educated.  If there is a cost to drug abuse then people are likely to act to avoid incurring that cost.  (Notice, I'm not saying that drug users should take the whole cost, I agree with subsidized drug rehab, I'm saying they should take some of the cost).  If there isn't then people are unlikely to do that.  Without that spur the knowledge is not likely to ever come into existence in the first place.
That spur would never encourage people to investigate in the first place.  We can see this is true in the real world, where despite their being large costs to taking drugs, and despite people clearly showing that they wish to stop taking them, they relapse because they lack the mental fortitude

What we should look at is not the "Social Darwinist" aspect, but more the "Informational Darwinist" aspect.  Though with information the process of evolution isn't really much like natural selection except in a very few cases.

Consider if a person knows much about the drugs currently in use.  He knows what drugs are "bad" overall and what drugs are not (ignoring for now that this is impossible).  That person becomes the dictator of drug policy for the world and bans all the bad drugs.  In that case for a while things will be very good for us all.  However, new drugs will be discovered.  When this happens people will not know what to do.  They will have become accustomed to not having to make those sorts of decisions for themselves.  It is likely that they will not even bother to try to understand what is or is not a drug.  This is one of the situations for which Hayek wrote that reason "is not all-powerful and that the belief that it can become its own master and control its own development may yet destroy it".
I do not advocate such a situation, and have not even advocated the banning of drugs, something you fail to notice.

Furthermore, your statements are clearly incorrect, because we do not have such a dictator of drug policy, which means that people have been given the option to make decisions for themselves, and they've made bad ones, ones which they can't revoke even if they want to because of the addictive properties of the drugs over-riding their knowledge that the drug is hurting them.

I think what you are missing here is that a person's judgment is not particularly clouded before they start drinking.  Hence they can be blamed for what happens once they do, and will take efforts to prevent themselves succumbing to such temptations.
I think being an alcoholic means by definition you don't have a choice, even when you have just arrived at the bar.  And alcohol is the least addictive drug of the ones we discuss.

I have being drunk hundreds of times.  I have never driven while drunk though.  Achieving this is simple, I leave my house by taxi or on foot.
Not everyone has the same strength of character.  Saying that I trust you with a gun is different from trusting a random stranger with a gun.  Unless their is the evidence to the contrary, I would not trust the random stranger with a gun.  The same is true for any behavior with a high potential for danger, such as drinking.

That said I think the US attitude to drink driving is poor.  In the UK if you are caught you face a stiff penalty.  This is one of the few cases where British law provides a sensible penalty to offenders.  I was shocked when I went to the US and saw how people behaved there.  The problem though is not the principle but the punishment, if real punishments were handed out for drunk driving it would end very quickly.
That is something I would support.  That is the kind of thing I have been advocating, not actually banning.  My concern is first the elimination of hazards to others, second, the elimination of directly dangerous hazards to the actual participants, and lastly protecting participants from uncontrollable long term addictions, which will eventually add up into directly dangerous hazards.  The first can be done with things like stiff punishments for drunk driving.  The second can be done with things like setting a drink limit, or testing someone's blood alcohol level after having a certain number of drinks.  The third is basically things like Alcoholics Anonymous.  Warning against binge drinking falls between 2 and 3.  The 4 threats from alcohol that are of greatest importance are binge drinking, alcoholism, drunken driving, and drunken assaults sexual or otherwise.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on January 28, 2009, 23:16:42 EST
Alcohol keeps America from imploding and provides a social lubricant.

More importantly, without alcohol life would be both more boring and the common masses would have less to look forward to.  Weed makes people into insipid hippies who don't bathe, so I'll let them continue to drink even if it endangers my life, as I would way rather interact with an erratic alcoholic then a "deep" pothead, and certainly don't want the commoners all up in arms and reading political pieces.

Real progress requires we keep the poor and illiterate drunk and at home.  I'm all for raising a new crop of citizens, but let's be clear that the old crop needs to be managed and prohibition simply does not work.

As a side note, the heaviest drinking countries also tend to be the best at innovation, and while my innovating drug of choice is sleep dep, booze will do in a pinch.  As an example, native americans didn't drink and they were still in the stone age in the 1500s, greeks drank a lot, and they had functioning democracies and philosophies long before the knuckle-draggers elsewhere.

Understand that by adding stability you strip innovation, so some disharmony and suffering is going to be needed for overall progress, unless you're willing to give me the keys to the genetic bank and the right to control the genetics of the entire population.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 29, 2009, 11:31:06 EST
I think you are turning a blind eye to the many people that suffer, often heavily, often fatally, because of alcohol.  The majority don't, but when the minority still includes millions of people, it has to be recognized that efforts must be taken to assist them.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 29, 2009, 12:08:41 EST
Quote from: Andrei
Irish beer sucks by and large, but with Czech, Belgian or German beer, it's hard to go wrong (although possible, see Wernesgrüner).
Yes.  I don't know where the Irish brewers got a reputation for good beers from.  That said I drink Guinness quite often, it really is better in Ireland.  I expect because people drink so much of it the stock gets rotated frequently, and the beer in the pipe doesn't go off.

Unfortunately in Britain most beer is quite bad these days.  You have so search out the good stuff.  In Ireland they've started to stock German Weissbiers in some bars which is nice.


Just be glad you don't live in the U.S.
If you looks really hard there is some good beer in the US.  Mostly where bars brew their own as a special.  Shiner Bock is okay, but not great.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on January 29, 2009, 12:12:33 EST
wodan-  Yes, and?

Some people eat way too much candy, yet we don't ban candy.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: DavidLeoThomas on January 29, 2009, 12:34:58 EST
I think you are turning a blind eye to the many people that suffer, often heavily, often fatally, because of alcohol.  The majority don't, but when the minority still includes millions of people, it has to be recognized that efforts must be taken to assist them.

I don't think anyone disagrees with you there - clearly alcohol does tremendous  harm to some, and I think most people here like to help their fellow human beings.  That said, there's certainly disagreement about the form such help should take (governmental restrictions, governmental assistance, private charity, individual assistance...).


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 29, 2009, 14:14:01 EST
wodan, exactly what is your plan to help people with alcohol/drug issues?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 29, 2009, 14:44:12 EST
I thought this passage from G.K.Chesterton is an interesting note on this thread and the one on smoking.  It is comparing the more democratic government in Britain in the early 20th century with past aristocracy...

They have given us into the hands of the new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evenings; and they know no songs.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 29, 2009, 15:35:07 EST
wodan-  Yes, and?

Some people eat way too much candy, yet we don't ban candy.
How many people die of eating too much candy, or suffer substantial physical damage from candy?  How many people are addicted chemically or otherwise to candy?  How many people kill other people because of candy influencing their mental states?

Put simply, smoking/drinking is a lot more of a direct risk to oneself and to those around you than candy is.

wodan, exactly what is your plan to help people with alcohol/drug issues?
Whatever works, without causing even more severe problems elsewhere.  Have I ever advocated anything else?

For alcohol, I'd start by lowering the drinking age, but increasing the punishments to drunk driving.  I'd encourage acceptance of drinking, especially in groups, but restrict excessive binge drinking, especially when done alone or with strangers.  The message would be "alcohol is ok in small amounts, bad in large amounts".

Smoking, I do not view as acceptable to any degree, so my objective will be to prevent new people from starting.  As for people who already smoke, the best tactic would not be outright elimination, but to simply encourage them to smoke less.  One thing that should be strongly discouraged is smoking in the presence of children, which qualifies both as a major health hazard to a developing child, but also is the most common cause of smoking.  One fun idea might be making the general public pay a Lung Cancer tax to care for smokers or just for the hell of it, decreasing it as the smoking population decreases, something tells me that this is probably a terrible idea, but it would be unique approach.

Pot, dunno, I view it as dangerously addictive, but like Alcohol, a small amount is harmless, so the question is whether or not if legalized one could successfully minimize overuse of it.

Illegal drugs like Cocaine are more problematic.  They tend to be very dangerous, very addictive, and associated with poor regions.  Legalizing and restricting would be no better than being illegal.  Dunno.

Once again, I advocate what works, and all of what is written above could easily be wrong, because my knowledge base regarding the subject is limited.



Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 29, 2009, 16:06:10 EST
wodan-  Yes, and?

Some people eat way too much candy, yet we don't ban candy.
How many people die of eating too much candy, or suffer substantial physical damage from candy?  How many people are addicted chemically or otherwise to candy?  How many people kill other people because of candy influencing their mental states?

Put simply, smoking/drinking is a lot more of a direct risk to oneself and to those around you than candy is.
I don't know about killing other people, but millions of people in the United States are addicted to candy and suffer substantial physical damage and die of eating it. Or really, food in general.

See: Heart disease

Quote
Pot, dunno, I view it as dangerously addictive, but like Alcohol, a small amount is harmless, so the question is whether or not if legalized one could successfully minimize overuse of it.


With all due respect, that shows that you know very little about pot. I've known hundreds of full-on stoners and I've known them to quit cold-turkey on a day's notice.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 29, 2009, 18:54:54 EST
I don't know about killing other people, but millions of people in the United States are addicted to candy and suffer substantial physical damage and die of eating it. Or really, food in general.

See: Heart disease
1. Very few people are physically addicted to candy or excessive eating.  Furthermore, most overweight people are such not because they eat subtantially more food than others, but because the food they eat is of poor quality, often due to the limited availability of good foods, or because the food is presented in large portions.
2. Unlike smoking, eating is related to a critical human need, and is thus critically necessary in proper proportions, whereas smoking is of little or no use in any quantity for good health.
3. Excessive consumption of foods will generally not endanger others to remotely the same degree that things like smoking and alcohol do.

With all due respect, that shows that you know very little about pot. I've known hundreds of full-on stoners and I've known them to quit cold-turkey on a day's notice.
Then why do so many pot users show up at abuse clinics?

Remember, even if the vast majority of people can use a product without ruining their life, that can still mean trouble.  Wiki says "It is estimated that about four percent of the world's adult population (162 million) use cannabis annually and 0.6 percent (22.5 million) daily".  The majority of the latter category probably falls into the area of addiction.  Read the first full paragraph of this article, the one where the figure was derived from: http://www.unodc.org/pdf/WDR_2006/wdr2006_chap2_biggest_market.pdf


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: DavidLeoThomas on January 29, 2009, 19:19:27 EST
With all due respect, that shows that you know very little about pot. I've known hundreds of full-on stoners and I've known them to quit cold-turkey on a day's notice.
Then why do so many pot users show up at abuse clinics?

Substantially more than show up to Gamblers Anonymous?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 29, 2009, 19:36:42 EST
Substantially more than show up to Gamblers Anonymous?
Yes.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: rogue-kun on January 29, 2009, 21:07:28 EST
Then why do so many pot users show up at abuse clinics?

Court orders, as any level of uses is considered abuse, even where they are not actually impacting the lives doing it.  Were as alcohol, and gambling use required much higher levels to get the same order.

The number one reason of legislating the use, people can accout seek out help when the need it, with out getting labled a felon (and hence losing access to all governmental benfits, and in some states voting rights). Propure studies on use can be done. can be brought into the taxible market rather than black market.

and non of this effect DUI laws.

basical it allows it to be treated as a health issue it is, and frees up sinficant legal resoeces. 

Quote from: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm
Among the State prison inmates in 2000: [..,]  -- about a fifth were sentenced for a drug crime (21%)

[...]

Conviction Offense

    * Half of jail inmates in 2002 were held for a violent or drug offense, almost unchanged from 1996.
    * Drug offenders, up 37%, represented the largest source of jail population growth between 1996 and 2002.
    * More than two-thirds of the growth in inmates held in local jails for drug law violations was due to an increase in persons charged with drug trafficking.

[...]

 Comparing Federal and State prison inmates [...] In 2000, an estimated 57% of Federal inmates and 21% of State inmates were serving a sentence for a drug offense; [...] drug offenders accounted for 59% of the growth in Federal prisons.




Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 29, 2009, 22:15:25 EST
I don't know about killing other people, but millions of people in the United States are addicted to candy and suffer substantial physical damage and die of eating it. Or really, food in general.

See: Heart disease
1. Very few people are physically addicted to candy or excessive eating.  Furthermore, most overweight people are such not because they eat subtantially more food than others, but because the food they eat is of poor quality, often due to the limited availability of good foods, or because the food is presented in large portions.

Considering that marijuana is not physically addictive, that's a moot point.

With all due respect, that shows that you know very little about pot. I've known hundreds of full-on stoners and I've known them to quit cold-turkey on a day's notice.
Then why do so many pot users show up at abuse clinics?

Remember, even if the vast majority of people can use a product without ruining their life, that can still mean trouble.  Wiki says "It is estimated that about four percent of the world's adult population (162 million) use cannabis annually and 0.6 percent (22.5 million) daily".  The majority of the latter category probably falls into the area of addiction.  Read the first full paragraph of this article, the one where the figure was derived from: http://www.unodc.org/pdf/WDR_2006/wdr2006_chap2_biggest_market.pdf

[/quote]

But how many of those people have "ruined lives?"


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 29, 2009, 22:43:23 EST
Considering that marijuana is not physically addictive, that's a moot point.
That is debatable.

But how many of those people have "ruined lives?"
Dunno.

Court orders, as any level of uses is considered abuse, even where they are not actually impacting the lives doing it.  Were as alcohol, and gambling use required much higher levels to get the same order.
Good point.  Overall, I'm neutral on marijuana, I don't think it is as harmless as its supporters depict, nor do I think it is as dangerous as its opponents depict.

Regarding legalization, I agree that legalizing marijuana may make it easier to control, and diminishing its consequences.  However, it can't be treated lightly.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Andrei on January 30, 2009, 12:44:28 EST
Quote from: wodan46
Unlike smoking, eating is related to a critical human need, and is thus critically necessary in proper proportions, whereas smoking is of little or no use in any quantity for good health.
Well... smoking, much like drinking or smoking pot is in part a way to deal with stress (which is why I always get a kick when they are linked with masculinity, as not being able to deal with stress is certainly one of the least virile things there are).

This is an useful, perhaps even critical, function. You can argue that it's not the best way to do it, to which I'd reply that there are many sub-optimal ways of dealing with hunger too.

Quote from: Current
I thought this passage from G.K.Chesterton is an interesting note on this thread and the one on smoking.  It is comparing the more democratic government in Britain in the early 20th century with past aristocracy...
Which reminds me of a quote whose author I've forgotten:
The past will always have its charm, and the future its promise, it is only the present no one ever likes.

Had Mr.Chesterton lived in the days of the old unhappy lords, he would have railed against those... to hell with nostalgics is what I usually say.

Quote from: Current
If you looks really hard there is some good beer in the US.  Mostly where bars brew their own as a special.  Shiner Bock is okay, but not great.
Yeah, some micro-breweries make good stuff, but it's hard to find and you have to try a lot of swill before finding good ones. Never tried Shiner Bock.

In general, european beers are a safe bet, canadian/US beers are only good for getting drunk, latin-american and asian beers are at most good as mouthwash (no swallowing).

I really wish bars would start stocking up on good generic beer. Kronenbourg and Beck's are my mainstays for at-home drinking, but I've never found them in bars.

A lot of bars have good specialty beers, but they're expensive as hell, whereas their generic beer is muddy water.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: rogue-kun on January 30, 2009, 15:23:35 EST
Quote from: wodan46
Unlike smoking, eating is related to a critical human need, and is thus critically necessary in proper proportions, whereas smoking is of little or no use in any quantity for good health.
Well... smoking, much like drinking or smoking pot is in part a way to deal with stress.
But when it comes to fighting stress, they're as effective as: chewing bubble gum, playing hacky sack, or twirling a coin among your fingers. It is the act, not the substance that provides the stress release.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 30, 2009, 15:41:00 EST
Quote from: Current
I thought this passage from G.K.Chesterton is an interesting note on this thread and the one on smoking.  It is comparing the more democratic government in Britain in the early 20th century with past aristocracy...
Which reminds me of a quote whose author I've forgotten:
The past will always have its charm, and the future its promise, it is only the present no one ever likes.

Had Mr.Chesterton lived in the days of the old unhappy lords, he would have railed against those... to hell with nostalgics is what I usually say.
The passage I quote is from a poem called "The Secret People".  The rest of the poem consists of railing against the past aristocracy.

My point though in quoting that was that people filled with pity and puritanism are not necessarily good rulers.  Historically they often haven't being, Oliver Cromwell would be an example.  Good intentions do not necessarily lead to good results.

Quote from: Current
If you looks really hard there is some good beer in the US.  Mostly where bars brew their own as a special.  Shiner Bock is okay, but not great.
Yeah, some micro-breweries make good stuff, but it's hard to find and you have to try a lot of swill before finding good ones.
Yes.

Never tried Shiner Bock.
It's OK.  You'd never drink it in a bar in Europe though.

In general, european beers are a safe bet
It depends.  In Britain and Ireland a lot of rubbishy european beer is sold.  Much of it is brewed in mainland europe especially for the market.  It's "German" because its from Germany, but it tastes like Budweiser.

There's quite a lot of this in France too I think.

canadian/US beers are only good for getting drunk, latin-american and asian beers are at most good as mouthwash (no swallowing).
I think the Japanese beer "Kirin" is quite good.  Apart from that I mostly agree with you.

I really wish bars would start stocking up on good generic beer. Kronenbourg and Beck's are my mainstays for at-home drinking, but I've never found them in bars.
I quite like those too.  You can't get them in bars either though, so I drink Erdinger or Paulaner.  When I'm in Britain I drink the real ales.

A lot of bars have good specialty beers, but they're expensive as hell, whereas their generic beer is muddy water.
Yes.  I have enough money to buy the specialty beers though.  That said, unlike you I don't get to do any interesting maths.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on January 30, 2009, 15:41:48 EST
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
It seems that many folks here are convinced that drugs cause more happiness than unhappiness.  I'm not so convinced.

Throughout my life I have known only two non-drinkers.  I can't say that the thousands of others I have known who drink from time-to-time were made sad by it or destined to become addicts.
Irrelevant.  Lets say that there was a cool new pair of shoes, but it had the critical defect that 1% of the population is allergic to it, and will violently explode if they put it on.  Would you say that the shoe should be allowed on the market, because its cool, and most people can handle it?
Yes.  But only if the vendor of the shoes clearly warned the customers about the problem.

Notice we have a very similar situation with peanuts.  Simply because some people are allergic to peanuts doesn't mean that everyone should be denied them.  (I am one of the people with that allergy).

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
In our "hedonistic calculus" we have a scales.  On one side we can put the injuries and deaths caused by drug use.  On the other we can put the pleasure people like myself and Ibian gain from it.  To some extent the first side -the evils- can be measured, though much of that side is purely subjective.  The second side, the benefits, how can that be measured?  The answer of course is that it can't.  This is one of the key problems with vulgar utilitarianism. (Notice how this applies to the Smoking thread too).
It isn't that hard.  Ask yourself off hand whether or not 10 million people having an alcohol use disorder, and about 100 thousand people dying of alcohol or alcohol related problems, with more being injured, is worth it so that 50 million people can get a buzz every once and a while.
To begin with I don't really agree with your framing of the problem.  In what community of 50 million people are they 10 million people who have an "alcohol use disorder"?  I doubt even Ireland has statistics like that.

I don't really agree with you anyway.  On crudely utilitarian criteria we still do not know if the 50 million people enjoying themselves are enjoying themselves more than those who are suffering.  We cannot look into the minds of others.

Notice also that weighing up the benefits and costs is much more complex than it appears at first glance.  Any change to the law, or behaviour of society, regarding drink will have further effects.  It is not as simply that those who once enjoyed a drink occasionally will do nothing with their time instead.  Neither will those who would have become alcoholics necessarily become otherwise like normal people.

As a result it is not as simple as removing the weight representing the evils of alcohol from one side of our scales and removing the weight representing it's benefits from the other.  Whatever decision is taken will have further consequences.  New weights will be placed on both sides of the scales.  Even if we could know the sizes of the first set of weights, how can we know the sizes of the second?

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
All we can do is to give people the ability to choose for themselves what they find pleasurable.  We can't take on the task of judging the overall utilities - it is impossible.  What we can reasonably do though is to prevent the externalities, the effect of the behaviour of one person on others.
The number of driving accidents, assaults, and rapes due to alcohol are considerable.
Yes.  These are reasons for taking steps to prevent the externalities, they are not reasons though to limit choice.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
I think he is probably right.  I think he's probably right about the psychological experiment he describes too, I've heard about that one before.  But, in both cases these things do not aide his argument.  These things show that pleasure is mysterious.  They do not show that pleasure induced by drugs is uniquely different and knowable.  Given that how plausible is it that people can judge the pleasure of others?
We don't need to.  Alcohol kills a ton of people, injures a ton more, and inflicts nasty disorders on even more than that.  That, alone, is enough reason to ban the product, and its hard to believe that people getting a little buzz will make up for all the misery and death, stuff which can be observed and quantified.
As I said above, from a strictly utilitarian perspective it may be "hard to believe that getting a little buzz will make up for all the misery and death".  But that doesn't mean that it isn't true.

Even from the viewpoint of preventing harm to others it cannot be throughly justified.  Since it is not known if the ban would have further effects.

Also, the simplistic approach of writing laws in order to prevent harm cannot really be defended itself.  Consider the best way of removing harm for humans, which would remove it once and for all, would be to ban reproduction.  That way no further generations of humans would exist to suffer harm.  (Simplistic utilitarianism suffers from similar flaws)

Quote from: wodan46
Also, its pretty easy to judge the pleasure of others.  You use a scientific instrument called asking.  Kahneman came up with a system that allowed him to track people's reported happiness over the day, and compare it to how happy they evaluated themselves overall when asked at the end of the test, and observe that self-evaluations were inconsistent with self reports.
That doesn't really solve the problems that are in question here.  Asking people how happy they are can be used to tell if people in some particular experiment are happy.  How though could that be achieved for all of society?

The question is not at all simple.  For example, if a group of people, a random "sample" of society are presented with some task or other then a scientist could measure how happy or sad it made them by means of a survey.  This though does not tell the scientist if the people who do this task are happy in wider society.  Because the group that do the task are not necessarily a random sample of society.

So, how plausible is it really to find out if the banning of some particular thing makes people happy?

Also, it is subject to two further problems.  Firstly, there is the obvious question of "who says"?  If societies are to ban things that have vaguely defined "social harm", then who judges that harm?  And on what grounds do they judge it?  Secondly, we risk putting ourselves inside the box of French rationality.  If only the rational and sound is permitted then how is experimentation possible?  I don't think that experimentation with drugs has ever helped progress very much (except perhaps for a few writers).  But in general experimentation has being beneficial.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
But, as far as I know Ayn Rand never said this, that said I haven't read her much.  The point that Classical Liberals have long made is not that a person necessarily knows what is best for themselves.  The point is that another cannot reliably know what is better for someone else.
If someone else wishes to throw themselves off a cliff, then I think you do.
I fail to see why.  Can a person not view their life as "not worth living"?

Quote from: wodan46
There are situations where you can know reliably enough.  When a drug is abused by millions of people, leading to physical and mental damage of all shapes and sizes, then it is reasonable to conclude that people aren't making good judgments, and that restrictions should be placed.
No it isn't.  For the reasons I mention above.

Also, why do you think that is people "aren't making good judgements" then "restrictions should be placed"?  The one certainly doesn't follow from the other.  You have to justify why you think a restrictions should be put in place because of bad judgements.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
You shouldn't force your decision down their throats, of course, but nevertheless, if someone is dealing with a situation where their emotions are dominating their better judgement, you are in a position to offer them good advice.
Note that taking this viewpoint drugs should not be banned.
Did I say they should be banned?  Also, a drug-addled person insisting that they are happy and that taking drugs was the best idea is an example of a person not in a position to accurately judge their wellbeing.
But that brings up the problem I mention above, who exactly is able to accurately judge the wellbeing of others?  Are some elite of superhumans to be chosen for this task?

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
What we should do when thinking about this is to look squarely at the alternative.  Let's say we take the view that people do not choose to take drugs.  Even the first choice is somehow not a free choice.  Well, in that case we can ban drugs, that though brings up the problem I describe above, doing so would not necessarily be positive even on crude utilitarian basis.  Alternatively we could consider drug use and the problems brought with it to be nothing to do with the drug user (even when it clearly is).  Taking this approach society or the state must provide to counteract the harmful effects of the drug user's habit.

The problem with this should be clear.  If society is successful then it removes the natural penalties for drug use, while retaining the pleasures.  The rest of society absorbs these penalties, to the cost of each individual member.

If though society continues to allow drug abuse to penalize the user in some way then things are very different.  People who are genetically "weak" may be eliminated, this though is not really at all significant.  What is significant though is that individuals are encouraged to become educated.  If there is a cost to drug abuse then people are likely to act to avoid incurring that cost.  (Notice, I'm not saying that drug users should take the whole cost, I agree with subsidized drug rehab, I'm saying they should take some of the cost).  If there isn't then people are unlikely to do that.  Without that spur the knowledge is not likely to ever come into existence in the first place.
That spur would never encourage people to investigate in the first place.  We can see this is true in the real world, where despite their being large costs to taking drugs, and despite people clearly showing that they wish to stop taking them, they relapse because they lack the mental fortitude
I agree that people lack mental fortitude in making these decisions.  However, were they do be protected entirely from the consequences of their actions then they would not have any reason to show any fortitude whatsoever.

My point was not just about the decisions a person takes once they are addicted, but also the decisions taken before.  If there is little cost attached to becoming addicted, or if the potential is not even understood, then people will not take efforts to inform themselves about problems with things they take.  It is the problem of moral hazard.

An example of this would be the history of Native Americans and Aborigines.  In many instances when these groups were first introduced to alcohol a great many of them became alcoholics.  The westerner who sold them that alcohol though did not have the same problem.  Why?  There are many possible explanations.  I think it is likely (and so do some who study the subject) that these people had little prior experience of addictive drugs (they knew of psychoactive drugs but often not addictive ones).  They had not seen addiction before and were not aware of the perils of it.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
What we should look at is not the "Social Darwinist" aspect, but more the "Informational Darwinist" aspect.  Though with information the process of evolution isn't really much like natural selection except in a very few cases.

Consider if a person knows much about the drugs currently in use.  He knows what drugs are "bad" overall and what drugs are not (ignoring for now that this is impossible).  That person becomes the dictator of drug policy for the world and bans all the bad drugs.  In that case for a while things will be very good for us all.  However, new drugs will be discovered.  When this happens people will not know what to do.  They will have become accustomed to not having to make those sorts of decisions for themselves.  It is likely that they will not even bother to try to understand what is or is not a drug.  This is one of the situations for which Hayek wrote that reason "is not all-powerful and that the belief that it can become its own master and control its own development may yet destroy it".
I do not advocate such a situation, and have not even advocated the banning of drugs, something you fail to notice.
Fair enough.

Quote from: wodan46
Furthermore, your statements are clearly incorrect, because we do not have such a dictator of drug policy, which means that people have been given the option to make decisions for themselves, and they've made bad ones, ones which they can't revoke even if they want to because of the addictive properties of the drugs over-riding their knowledge that the drug is hurting them.
My point is that were the decisions made for individuals by some dictator the situation may be far worse than it is today in the long term.  Let's suppose, for example, that a strict drug enforcement policy in the US had made the entire US free of drugs and alcohol for the past sixty years.  Suppose then that some enterprising individual invents bathtub methamphetamine, a drug that the authorities are not able to eradicate.  Can you imagine what would happen next?  How would a nation of individuals who understand addiction only as a textbook concept behave?  They would be in the same situation as the Native Americans I mention above.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
I think what you are missing here is that a person's judgment is not particularly clouded before they start drinking.  Hence they can be blamed for what happens once they do, and will take efforts to prevent themselves succumbing to such temptations.
I think being an alcoholic means by definition you don't have a choice, even when you have just arrived at the bar.  And alcohol is the least addictive drug of the ones we discuss.
Well, I don't know if that's true even of alcoholics.  However, I wasn't really commenting about alcoholics, I was talking about people in general.  Perhaps it would be wise to have a law preventing alcoholics from driving.  But the general situation is nothing like as dangerous as you make out.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
I have being drunk hundreds of times.  I have never driven while drunk though.  Achieving this is simple, I leave my house by taxi or on foot.
Not everyone has the same strength of character.
I wouldn't say it takes any strength of character.  What it takes is some money.

Quote from: wodan46
Saying that I trust you with a gun is different from trusting a random stranger with a gun.  Unless their is the evidence to the contrary, I would not trust the random stranger with a gun.  The same is true for any behavior with a high potential for danger, such as drinking.
Well, I see your point of view.  Do you think that being drunk in public should be prohibited because of the risk of violence from drunkeness?  I don't think it is really that dangerous.  I don't have any fundamental problem with the idea of banning a particular risk in public places (such as handguns).  But I think that to do this there must be a good justificiation showing that the benefits outweigh the costs.  I've never seen that sort of justification for alcohol.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
That said I think the US attitude to drink driving is poor.  In the UK if you are caught you face a stiff penalty.  This is one of the few cases where British law provides a sensible penalty to offenders.  I was shocked when I went to the US and saw how people behaved there.  The problem though is not the principle but the punishment, if real punishments were handed out for drunk driving it would end very quickly.
That is something I would support.  That is the kind of thing I have been advocating, not actually banning.  My concern is first the elimination of hazards to others, second, the elimination of directly dangerous hazards to the actual participants, and lastly protecting participants from uncontrollable long term addictions, which will eventually add up into directly dangerous hazards.  The first can be done with things like stiff punishments for drunk driving.  The second can be done with things like setting a drink limit, or testing someone's blood alcohol level after having a certain number of drinks.  The third is basically things like Alcoholics Anonymous.  Warning against binge drinking falls between 2 and 3.  The 4 threats from alcohol that are of greatest importance are binge drinking, alcoholism, drunken driving, and drunken assaults sexual or otherwise.
Fair enough.  I would point out though that "binge drinking" by itself is not really a threat.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on January 30, 2009, 17:36:06 EST
Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Irrelevant.  Lets say that there was a cool new pair of shoes, but it had the critical defect that 1% of the population is allergic to it, and will violently explode if they put it on.  Would you say that the shoe should be allowed on the market, because its cool, and most people can handle it?
Yes.  But only if the vendor of the shoes clearly warned the customers about the problem.

Notice we have a very similar situation with peanuts.  Simply because some people are allergic to peanuts doesn't mean that everyone should be denied them.  (I am one of the people with that allergy).
However, what would you do if every store sold food laced with peanuts?  Or if every store sold food laced with peanuts, except for a few who didn't, but charged prices twice as high for their food.  Unless you left in concert, the cost of you leaving would be less than the cost of them lowering prices, so they will keep them high.


Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
It isn't that hard.  Ask yourself off hand whether or not 10 million people having an alcohol use disorder, and about 100 thousand people dying of alcohol or alcohol related problems, with more being injured, is worth it so that 50 million people can get a buzz every once and a while.
To begin with I don't really agree with your framing of the problem.  In what community of 50 million people are they 10 million people who have an "alcohol use disorder"?  I doubt even Ireland has statistics like that.
No, I mean that out of the US population, 50 million drink, and 10 million of the drinkers have an alcohol use disorder.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
The number of driving accidents, assaults, and rapes due to alcohol are considerable.
Yes.  These are reasons for taking steps to prevent the externalities, they are not reasons though to limit choice.
Limiting the externalities will require limiting choice.

Quote from: Current
I don't really agree with you anyway.  On crudely utilitarian criteria we still do not know if the 50 million people enjoying themselves are enjoying themselves more than those who are suffering.  We cannot look into the minds of others.

Notice also that weighing up the benefits and costs is much more complex than it appears at first glance.  Any change to the law, or behaviour of society, regarding drink will have further effects.  It is not as simply that those who once enjoyed a drink occasionally will do nothing with their time instead.  Neither will those who would have become alcoholics necessarily become otherwise like normal people.

As a result it is not as simple as removing the weight representing the evils of alcohol from one side of our scales and removing the weight representing it's benefits from the other.  Whatever decision is taken will have further consequences.  New weights will be placed on both sides of the scales.  Even if we could know the sizes of the first set of weights, how can we know the sizes of the second?

Quote from: wodan46
We don't need to.  Alcohol kills a ton of people, injures a ton more, and inflicts nasty disorders on even more than that.  That, alone, is enough reason to ban the product, and its hard to believe that people getting a little buzz will make up for all the misery and death, stuff which can be observed and quantified.
As I said above, from a strictly utilitarian perspective it may be "hard to believe that getting a little buzz will make up for all the misery and death".  But that doesn't mean that it isn't true.

Even from the viewpoint of preventing harm to others it cannot be throughly justified.  Since it is not known if the ban would have further effects.

Also, the simplistic approach of writing laws in order to prevent harm cannot really be defended itself.  Consider the best way of removing harm for humans, which would remove it once and for all, would be to ban reproduction.  That way no further generations of humans would exist to suffer harm.  (Simplistic utilitarianism suffers from similar flaws)
You call me the utilitarian, but you say that it is acceptable for thousands to die in order to allow others to find happiness.  See, ALL decisions are utilitarian, including the current choice by society, the only question is if they are good or bad.  Non-current choices are admittedly harder to evaluate than current choices, but that does not mean we should forgo change forever.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Also, its pretty easy to judge the pleasure of others.  You use a scientific instrument called asking.  Kahneman came up with a system that allowed him to track people's reported happiness over the day, and compare it to how happy they evaluated themselves overall when asked at the end of the test, and observe that self-evaluations were inconsistent with self reports.
That doesn't really solve the problems that are in question here.  Asking people how happy they are can be used to tell if people in some particular experiment are happy.  How though could that be achieved for all of society?

The question is not at all simple.  For example, if a group of people, a random "sample" of society are presented with some task or other then a scientist could measure how happy or sad it made them by means of a survey.  This though does not tell the scientist if the people who do this task are happy in wider society.  Because the group that do the task are not necessarily a random sample of society.
It was an observational study, not an experiment.  The people in the study continued about their day to day lives, the only change being occasionally noting or actively storing in memory how they felt.  It is indeterminate how much of an impact on their happiness such would have, but it is probably minimal.

Quote from: Current
So, how plausible is it really to find out if the banning of some particular thing makes people happy?
How is it plausible to find out the ramifications for any decision?  Do you decide not to make decisions ever and stick with what you got?  Or do you try your best to improve your lot?

Quote from: Current
Also, it is subject to two further problems.  Firstly, there is the obvious question of "who says"?  If societies are to ban things that have vaguely defined "social harm", then who judges that harm?  And on what grounds do they judge it?
So murder and the like is ok?  Society is going to have to define some things as sufficiently harmless and others as sufficiently harmful, there is no way to escape this.

Quote from: Current
Secondly, we risk putting ourselves inside the box of French rationality.  If only the rational and sound is permitted then how is experimentation possible?
Experimentation, if done in an orderly manner, is rational and sound.  Experimenting with something harmful is risky, but occasionally has to be done.  This is going from a science perspective, not an everyday society perspective.

Quote from: Current
I fail to see why.  Can a person not view their life as "not worth living"?
Yes.  However most people with suicidal tendencies are not thinking rationally, blowing their current problems out of proportion with the bigger picture.

Quote from: Current
Also, why do you think that is people "aren't making good judgements" then "restrictions should be placed"?  The one certainly doesn't follow from the other.  You have to justify why you think a restrictions should be put in place because of bad judgements.
If people aren't making good judgments consistently, then it is in society's motivation to put restrictions, in order to eliminate bad choices, which in turn results in less harm.

Quote from: Current
But that brings up the problem I mention above, who exactly is able to accurately judge the wellbeing of others?  Are some elite of superhumans to be chosen for this task?
If by elites, you mean scientists using scientific evidence derived not from 1 individual judging their wellbeing, but many individuals judging their wellbeing, and cross-referencing them to determine what genuinely benefits wellbeing in people and what doesn't, then yes.


Quote from: Current
I agree that people lack mental fortitude in making these decisions.  However, were they do be protected entirely from the consequences of their actions then they would not have any reason to show any fortitude whatsoever.
Good thing I don't advocate such.  I only advocate protecting people from irreversible consequences.  Putting a safety sign in front of a cliff is different from forbidding people from walking down stairs.  People will learn that behaving carelessly near elevated surfaces can lead to injury, without being too dead to apply that learning.

Quote from: Current
My point was not just about the decisions a person takes once they are addicted, but also the decisions taken before.  If there is little cost attached to becoming addicted, or if the potential is not even understood, then people will not take efforts to inform themselves about problems with things they take.  It is the problem of moral hazard.

An example of this would be the history of Native Americans and Aborigines.  In many instances when these groups were first introduced to alcohol a great many of them became alcoholics.  The westerner who sold them that alcohol though did not have the same problem.  Why?  There are many possible explanations.  I think it is likely (and so do some who study the subject) that these people had little prior experience of addictive drugs (they knew of psychoactive drugs but often not addictive ones).  They had not seen addiction before and were not aware of the perils of it.
That example is invalid because Native Americans did not know of the perils of it, whereas we actively inform people in school of it. 

Quote from: Current
My point is that were the decisions made for individuals by some dictator the situation may be far worse than it is today in the long term.  Let's suppose, for example, that a strict drug enforcement policy in the US had made the entire US free of drugs and alcohol for the past sixty years.  Suppose then that some enterprising individual invents bathtub methamphetamine, a drug that the authorities are not able to eradicate.  Can you imagine what would happen next?  How would a nation of individuals who understand addiction only as a textbook concept behave?  They would be in the same situation as the Native Americans I mention above.
No, they would not, because they would have been forewarned of the addiction dangers, and both families, communities, and the government would move to contain the addiction before it spreads.  It would be more difficult if the drug didn't cause people to behave oddly immediately, but in a society where no drugs are present, the sudden introduction of drug addled people will be even more of a red flag.

Quote from: Current
Well, I don't know if that's true even of alcoholics.  However, I wasn't really commenting about alcoholics, I was talking about people in general.  Perhaps it would be wise to have a law preventing alcoholics from driving.  But the general situation is nothing like as dangerous as you make out.
For most people yes.  The law protects minorities though, even at the expense of the majority.

Quote from: Current
I wouldn't say it takes any strength of character.  What it takes is some money.
???

Quote from: Current
Well, I see your point of view.  Do you think that being drunk in public should be prohibited because of the risk of violence from drunkeness?  I don't think it is really that dangerous.  I don't have any fundamental problem with the idea of banning a particular risk in public places (such as handguns).  But I think that to do this there must be a good justificiation showing that the benefits outweigh the costs.  I've never seen that sort of justification for alcohol.
Hence why banning binge drinking or drunk driving can be justified, as they qualify as sufficiently dangerous to themselves and others, but banning regular drinking would not be as justifiable.

Quote from: Current
Fair enough.  I would point out though that "binge drinking" by itself is not really a threat.
People die of binge drinking.  Is dying not a threat?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on January 30, 2009, 18:53:36 EST
Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Irrelevant.  Lets say that there was a cool new pair of shoes, but it had the critical defect that 1% of the population is allergic to it, and will violently explode if they put it on.  Would you say that the shoe should be allowed on the market, because its cool, and most people can handle it?
Yes.  But only if the vendor of the shoes clearly warned the customers about the problem.

Notice we have a very similar situation with peanuts.  Simply because some people are allergic to peanuts doesn't mean that everyone should be denied them.  (I am one of the people with that allergy).

However, what would you do if every store sold food laced with peanuts?  Or if every store sold food laced with peanuts, except for a few who didn't, but charged prices twice as high for their food.  Unless you left in concert, the cost of you leaving would be less than the cost of them lowering prices, so they will keep them high.
"What if we lived in an alternate reality" is not really useful. It always annoys me when people cant come up with meaningful real world analogies. Also car analogies just on principle.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: rogue-kun on January 30, 2009, 19:13:25 EST
Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Irrelevant.  Lets say that there was a cool new pair of shoes, but it had the critical defect that 1% of the population is allergic to it, and will violently explode if they put it on.  Would you say that the shoe should be allowed on the market, because its cool, and most people can handle it?
Yes.  But only if the vendor of the shoes clearly warned the customers about the problem.

Notice we have a very similar situation with peanuts.  Simply because some people are allergic to peanuts doesn't mean that everyone should be denied them.  (I am one of the people with that allergy).

However, what would you do if every store sold food laced with peanuts?  Or if every store sold food laced with peanuts, except for a few who didn't, but charged prices twice as high for their food.  Unless you left in concert, the cost of you leaving would be less than the cost of them lowering prices, so they will keep them high.
"What if we lived in an alternate reality" is not really useful. It always annoys me when people cant come up with meaningful real world analogies. Also car analogies just on principle.

the Reason noone can come up with a "believable" alternative analogy, because it so unbelieved that smoking is to spray toxins in others non consensual face in public locations.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on January 31, 2009, 01:01:19 EST
Wodan, the answer in the aboroginal case in Canadaland and western US is actually not found in the knowledge base, but in the same kettle of fish you find everywhere esle.  Most of the societies were glut and famine structures, and many of the people doing the drinking were part of the social caste whom had little to no oversight.

Kinda like why the british upper class in the 1800-early 1900s was so debauched, no real fear of reprecussion.  Take any class-based system, give them a new vice and watch the havok unfold.

As a side note on other stress-busters.

Hackey sac?

Seriously?

Maybe if you are stoned, but even then, gah.  Smoking has the big advantage of being economically a really, really good value, it weighs in at .07$ per minute, which is about as good as it gets for consumtive amusement.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: rogue-kun on January 31, 2009, 03:22:14 EST
As a side note on other stress-busters.

Hackey sac?

Seriously?

Maybe if you are stoned, but even then, gah.  Smoking has the big advantage of being economically a really, really good value, it weighs in at .07$ per minute, which is about as good as it gets for consumtive amusement.

The point is the repetive motion of playing. Replace with with bouncing a ball off a wall if you want.

and most of the one I mention are free per minute which is even better.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on January 31, 2009, 10:04:28 EST
Yeah, but they suck ;p

Really, "chewing bubble gum, playing hacky sack, or twirling a coin among your fingers" is not as good a stress reliever as smoking, unless the coin is old or made of precious metal and you're giving a speech to some poor person on how they have no right to complain abou the government.

Smoking is as much about the image and the social aspect as anything else, much as drinking is.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on January 31, 2009, 11:59:17 EST
My main stress relievers are working out and playing guitar. 


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 01, 2009, 01:31:19 EST
Mine was shooting zombies in L4D.  Unfortunately, due to how my keyboard if is positioned, my shoulder muscle keeps getting strained, and I finally strained it too much to play a game like that.

Overall though, I tend to never be in very much stress.  I am confident in my abilities, and in my capability at handling the occasional setback to my daily routine.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 03, 2009, 11:25:47 EST
What Michael Phelps should have said about recent events (http://www.theagitator.com/2009/02/01/a-letter-id-like-to-see-but-wont/).


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 03, 2009, 14:49:48 EST
What Michael Phelps should have said about recent events (http://www.theagitator.com/2009/02/01/a-letter-id-like-to-see-but-wont/).
Look, frankly, I'd prefer to ban Smoking and Alcohol before I would ban Marijuana.  Nevertheless, Marijuana is quite capable of causing people to become addicts, and quite capable of then causing them to die from its use.

Also, the pot those politicians smoked back in the 60s and 70s?  That pot was nowhere near as strong or as dangerous as modern pot.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on February 03, 2009, 21:40:26 EST
What Michael Phelps should have said about recent events (http://www.theagitator.com/2009/02/01/a-letter-id-like-to-see-but-wont/).
Look, frankly, I'd prefer to ban Smoking and Alcohol before I would ban Marijuana.  Nevertheless, Marijuana is quite capable of causing people to become addicts, and quite capable of then causing them to die from its use.

No one has ever been reported to overdose on marijuana.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on February 03, 2009, 22:27:42 EST
Or cigarettes, but we regulate ciggies so 5 year olds can't have them.

I mean, just because you can't do something really stupid in the short term does not mean it's not long term disabling, and potheads clearly lose thier taste in music and start liking the Phish, or worse, the Beatles.  I'd legalize it for anyone over 18 (essentially the case in Canada) just because it hasn't been shown to be dangerous, but the current in vogue attitude in politics is "when in doubt be afraid" so we'll see more enviromental and OMG drugs are death hullabaloo.

Panicking about drugs makes people feel they are doing something anyway, rather then actually assuming their are some underlying issues at play.  It's just another form of people distracting themselves, drugs are a pet issue of some, others like illegal immigration, and still others like to march for the enviroment.  Think of how awful it would be if the government took away these pet issues and actually included people in a real way in the decision making process.  Horrifying.

(Note:  I was of the third group, and no I am not disillusioned, I still think Air Quality issues and sustainability are major issues, but panick-driven fuss-busses are for frosh)


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on February 04, 2009, 03:09:31 EST
No one has ever been reported to overdose on marijuana.

People rarely overdose on nicotine, either. Smoking is still quite deadly.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 04, 2009, 09:45:29 EST
What Michael Phelps should have said about recent events (http://www.theagitator.com/2009/02/01/a-letter-id-like-to-see-but-wont/).
Look, frankly, I'd prefer to ban Smoking and Alcohol before I would ban Marijuana.  Nevertheless, Marijuana is quite capable of causing people to become addicts, and quite capable of then causing them to die from its use.
Well, as the article mentions, why not ban professional American football, it is much more dangerous to those who participate?

Also, the pot those politicians smoked back in the 60s and 70s?  That pot was nowhere near as strong or as dangerous as modern pot.
Actually, that's why I stopped smoking the stuff myself.  It's unpleasant these days, even two years ago it was OK.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 04, 2009, 09:49:31 EST
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Irrelevant.  Lets say that there was a cool new pair of shoes, but it had the critical defect that 1% of the population is allergic to it, and will violently explode if they put it on.  Would you say that the shoe should be allowed on the market, because its cool, and most people can handle it?
Yes.  But only if the vendor of the shoes clearly warned the customers about the problem.

Notice we have a very similar situation with peanuts.  Simply because some people are allergic to peanuts doesn't mean that everyone should be denied them.  (I am one of the people with that allergy).
However, what would you do if every store sold food laced with peanuts?  Or if every store sold food laced with peanuts, except for a few who didn't, but charged prices twice as high for their food.  Unless you left in concert, the cost of you leaving would be less than the cost of them lowering prices, so they will keep them high.
As Ibian points out this is rather theoretical.  (And Rogue-kun, you've got the wrong thread).

If only a few stores sold food suitable for me then I would have to pay the prices that those stores charge.  However this isn't the case, and I don't think that it would be even in an alternate universe where peanuts are a staple food.  Even very few people buying a product supplies it with a market.  The local supermarket I shop in supplies all sorts of odd foods that are probably bought by very small proportions of the population.

Also, many of those products that supermarkets sell are exactly similar to the pair of shoes you theorise about above.  Some people are allergic to eggs, milk, fish, gluten, rice or alcohol.

My point here, which was related to our drugs discussion not the one about smoking, is that just because these things are dangerous to some doesn't necessarily mean they should be banned.  If all foods were banned that could make some person ill then no food could be sold.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
It isn't that hard.  Ask yourself off hand whether or not 10 million people having an alcohol use disorder, and about 100 thousand people dying of alcohol or alcohol related problems, with more being injured, is worth it so that 50 million people can get a buzz every once and a while.
To begin with I don't really agree with your framing of the problem.  In what community of 50 million people are they 10 million people who have an "alcohol use disorder"?  I doubt even Ireland has statistics like that.
No, I mean that out of the US population, 50 million drink, and 10 million of the drinkers have an alcohol use disorder.
Really, do you have a cite for that?

What do you mean 50 million people in the US drink?  ~300 million people live in the US.  Are you saying there are 250 million tea-totallers?

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
The number of driving accidents, assaults, and rapes due to alcohol are considerable.
Yes.  These are reasons for taking steps to prevent the externalities, they are not reasons though to limit choice.
Limiting the externalities will require limiting choice.
But only though in the specific situations where externalities are involved.  Not in any general case.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
I don't really agree with you anyway.  On crudely utilitarian criteria we still do not know if the 50 million people enjoying themselves are enjoying themselves more than those who are suffering.  We cannot look into the minds of others.

Notice also that weighing up the benefits and costs is much more complex than it appears at first glance.  Any change to the law, or behaviour of society, regarding drink will have further effects.  It is not as simply that those who once enjoyed a drink occasionally will do nothing with their time instead.  Neither will those who would have become alcoholics necessarily become otherwise like normal people.

As a result it is not as simple as removing the weight representing the evils of alcohol from one side of our scales and removing the weight representing it's benefits from the other.  Whatever decision is taken will have further consequences.  New weights will be placed on both sides of the scales.  Even if we could know the sizes of the first set of weights, how can we know the sizes of the second?

Quote from: wodan46
We don't need to.  Alcohol kills a ton of people, injures a ton more, and inflicts nasty disorders on even more than that.  That, alone, is enough reason to ban the product, and its hard to believe that people getting a little buzz will make up for all the misery and death, stuff which can be observed and quantified.
As I said above, from a strictly utilitarian perspective it may be "hard to believe that getting a little buzz will make up for all the misery and death".  But that doesn't mean that it isn't true.

Even from the viewpoint of preventing harm to others it cannot be throughly justified.  Since it is not known if the ban would have further effects.

Also, the simplistic approach of writing laws in order to prevent harm cannot really be defended itself.  Consider the best way of removing harm for humans, which would remove it once and for all, would be to ban reproduction.  That way no further generations of humans would exist to suffer harm.  (Simplistic utilitarianism suffers from similar flaws)
You call me the utilitarian, but you say that it is acceptable for thousands to die in order to allow others to find happiness.  See, ALL decisions are utilitarian, including the current choice by society, the only question is if they are good or bad.  Non-current choices are admittedly harder to evaluate than current choices, but that does not mean we should forgo change forever.
To begin with I didn't call you a utilitarian.  Earlier you were making a utilitarian type of argument, so I pointed out the flaws in it,now you're making another one.  I didn't even call myself a utilitarian, and I wouldn't.

My point is that here you make two contradictory arguments.  I did not say that "it is acceptable for thousands to die in other to allow others to find happiness" (though I certainly think that it is).  My point about this comparison is that it cannot be known.  A utilitarian cannot know if -on the basis of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number"- it is better for a few thousand people to die.

Later though you make a "minimize harm" argument, this is a whole different thing.  Let's say that harm should be minimized in general, discounting increased happiness as a justification.  In this case I think that you must agree that compulsory sterilization of the entire human race is called for.  Doing so may cause much unhappiness, but no harm.  Doing so would prevent all harm from ever occurring in the future.

My point here was not to say that I think crude utilitarianism justifies societies treatment of alcohol.  I'm criticizing crude utilitarianism itself.  The scales cannot be understood, we do not know the social harm or the benefit.  Neither can we tell what the social harm or benefit of a ban or something similar would be.  Citing a crude "least harm" doesn't help either, since it can't be defended.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Also, its pretty easy to judge the pleasure of others.  You use a scientific instrument called asking.  Kahneman came up with a system that allowed him to track people's reported happiness over the day, and compare it to how happy they evaluated themselves overall when asked at the end of the test, and observe that self-evaluations were inconsistent with self reports.
That doesn't really solve the problems that are in question here.  Asking people how happy they are can be used to tell if people in some particular experiment are happy.  How though could that be achieved for all of society?

The question is not at all simple.  For example, if a group of people, a random "sample" of society are presented with some task or other then a scientist could measure how happy or sad it made them by means of a survey.  This though does not tell the scientist if the people who do this task are happy in wider society.  Because the group that do the task are not necessarily a random sample of society.
It was an observational study, not an experiment.  The people in the study continued about their day to day lives, the only change being occasionally noting or actively storing in memory how they felt.  It is indeterminate how much of an impact on their happiness such would have, but it is probably minimal.
Fair enough.  I don't think though it really affects what I'm saying.  Any attempt to investigate the effect of a ban would be an experiment.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
So, how plausible is it really to find out if the banning of some particular thing makes people happy?
How is it plausible to find out the ramifications for any decision?
It depends on the situation.  My point is that in the case of bans it is not plausible.

Quote from: wodan46
Do you decide not to make decisions ever and stick with what you got?  Or do you try your best to improve your lot?
Well, of course, in my own life I try my best to improve my lot.  But this is a different sort of question, it is about society which is something that cannot be thought of as being similar to a single person's life.  In this situation we as a society must stick with what we have got.  As John Stuart Mill said there is never a cause for the law to prevent a person taking actions deliberately and freely that may cause harm to themselves.  To say that we should try in this case ignores the obvious impossibility of the task.  It is like saying that we should try to fly by flapping our arms.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Also, it is subject to two further problems.  Firstly, there is the obvious question of "who says"?  If societies are to ban things that have vaguely defined "social harm", then who judges that harm?  And on what grounds do they judge it?
So murder and the like is ok?  Society is going to have to define some things as sufficiently harmless and others as sufficiently harmful, there is no way to escape this.
Well, I agree to some extent that we must define things which are "sufficiently harmful".  Murder though is not a matter of any vaguely defined "social harm".  It is a matter of quite clear harm to an individual by another.  As it is a crime against an individual it is no less of a crime against society.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Secondly, we risk putting ourselves inside the box of French rationality.  If only the rational and sound is permitted then how is experimentation possible?
Experimentation, if done in an orderly manner, is rational and sound.  Experimenting with something harmful is risky, but occasionally has to be done.  This is going from a science perspective, not an everyday society perspective.
I don't think you can really draw a clean distinction.  Science happens within society and useful experimentation happens outside science.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
I fail to see why.  Can a person not view their life as "not worth living"?
Yes.  However most people with suicidal tendencies are not thinking rationally, blowing their current problems out of proportion with the bigger picture.
Well, that's certainly possible.  As I said, the point is that a person does not reliably know what is best for another.  Simply because someone has chosen to commit suicide doesn't tell you that they have done so for spurious reasons.

Certainly I would agree with trying to talk to someone suicidal rationally.  However there is no justification for interfering.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Also, why do you think that is people "aren't making good judgements" then "restrictions should be placed"?  The one certainly doesn't follow from the other.  You have to justify why you think a restrictions should be put in place because of bad judgements.
If people aren't making good judgments consistently, then it is in society's motivation to put restrictions, in order to eliminate bad choices, which in turn results in less harm.
Are you saying that people's choices should not be their own?  I think you are, and I disagree entirely.

I suppose you may disagree with the next paragraph as a philosophical position, fair enough.  But, as I explained above there is no way that society can put in place restrictions that will certainly be effective, there is no way of understanding the scales of crude utilitarianism.

Let's say an individual is informed about some decision.  Then that individual fails to make a good judgement about their own welfare when making it.  Clearly this has nothing to do with society.  None of us have any right to interfer here, that is a matter of basic human freedom.  To claim that they do is to say that the individual is the slave of society.  It is saying that a person has no private affairs that even their enjoyments that affect only themselves must be undertaken to benefit society.  You may say this only affects drugs, but I don't see why.  If, for example, hip-hop music could be shown to harm people's intelligence wouldn't that mean that it should be restricted since it would harm society.  No pleasure would be safe.

Each of us must be servants to society certainly, but that doesn't mean that all of our actions, even those affecting only ourselves must be undertaken to benefit society.  This attitude reminds me of a Tudor king who noticed that people had hobbies.  He declared that every man's hobby must be archery so that he can take part in war for the kingdom.

If an individual is not free to enjoy himself or herself as they please then apply that to society.  What is the point of any person working for society?  I'm sure that a society could be very productive if all pleasures that could possibly be damaging were removed.  But, what would be the purpose of that productivity.  The original Puritans said it was to serve God, what do the modern ones say?

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
But that brings up the problem I mention above, who exactly is able to accurately judge the wellbeing of others?  Are some elite of superhumans to be chosen for this task?
If by elites, you mean scientists using scientific evidence derived not from 1 individual judging their wellbeing, but many individuals judging their wellbeing, and cross-referencing them to determine what genuinely benefits wellbeing in people and what doesn't, then yes.
That is rather like saying "Right turns are very difficult, hence no ordinary person will ever be able to perform one entirely correctly, so a professional stunt driver should be employed whenever a right turn is required".

What you are proposing here is a sort of farm for human beings.  You consider Scientists to be the only people capable of judging happiness.  That a person can never be responsible enough to look after themselves.  What you are saying here is that scientists should keep the rest of us as a farmer keeps his cattle.  An aristocracy of scientists would then be the only people allowed really to think or to experiment.  The rest of us would be put into whatever pen they deem appropriate for us.

The flaws in this view should be obvious.  Science could not possibly deduce what makes people happy in every relevant situation.  It could not predict the future and understand the effect of the decisions forced on others.  The utilitarian scales I mentioned still cannot be balanced.  So, even in general issues like drugs it can't provide any certainty.  Secondly, in such a scientist run farm how could any meaningful individual happiness be achieved when what is individual could not be studied?  People treated as cattle must be happy as cattle are. Lastly, how could science as a movement ever survive that power and remain science?  Clearly it would not, power corrupts.

(Notice that in the above I could have said "sheep" and "flock", which tells you where these ideas originate).

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
I agree that people lack mental fortitude in making these decisions.  However, were they do be protected entirely from the consequences of their actions then they would not have any reason to show any fortitude whatsoever.
Good thing I don't advocate such.  I only advocate protecting people from irreversible consequences.  Putting a safety sign in front of a cliff is different from forbidding people from walking down stairs.  People will learn that behaving carelessly near elevated surfaces can lead to injury, without being too dead to apply that learning.
Communicating information about potentially harmful activities is something I certainly agree with.  That of course doesn't guarantee that irreversible consequences are prevented.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
My point was not just about the decisions a person takes once they are addicted, but also the decisions taken before.  If there is little cost attached to becoming addicted, or if the potential is not even understood, then people will not take efforts to inform themselves about problems with things they take.  It is the problem of moral hazard.

An example of this would be the history of Native Americans and Aborigines.  In many instances when these groups were first introduced to alcohol a great many of them became alcoholics.  The westerner who sold them that alcohol though did not have the same problem.  Why?  There are many possible explanations.  I think it is likely (and so do some who study the subject) that these people had little prior experience of addictive drugs (they knew of psychoactive drugs but often not addictive ones).  They had not seen addiction before and were not aware of the perils of it.
That example is invalid because Native Americans did not know of the perils of it, whereas we actively inform people in school of it.
Well, that's part of my point.  At the time in Europe schools and parents taught about the perils of alcohol.  Also they taught elaborate handwriting and taught children not to swear.  I think it is likely that the reason people listened and understood about the perils of alcohol was that they saw the evidence.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
My point is that were the decisions made for individuals by some dictator the situation may be far worse than it is today in the long term.  Let's suppose, for example, that a strict drug enforcement policy in the US had made the entire US free of drugs and alcohol for the past sixty years.  Suppose then that some enterprising individual invents bathtub methamphetamine, a drug that the authorities are not able to eradicate.  Can you imagine what would happen next?  How would a nation of individuals who understand addiction only as a textbook concept behave?  They would be in the same situation as the Native Americans I mention above.
No, they would not, because they would have been forewarned of the addiction dangers, and both families, communities, and the government would move to contain the addiction before it spreads.  It would be more difficult if the drug didn't cause people to behave oddly immediately, but in a society where no drugs are present, the sudden introduction of drug addled people will be even more of a red flag.
People generally do not learn something unless they can see a reason why they will need the information.  People would not necessarily become "drug addled" immediately.  Trying to remove drugs from society entirely is like trying to balance a ball on the top of a hill.  At some point the ball will fall.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Well, I don't know if that's true even of alcoholics.  However, I wasn't really commenting about alcoholics, I was talking about people in general.  Perhaps it would be wise to have a law preventing alcoholics from driving.  But the general situation is nothing like as dangerous as you make out.
For most people yes.  The law protects minorities though, even at the expense of the majority.
Yes.  I don't see any need to change it though.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
I wouldn't say it takes any strength of character.  What it takes is some money.
???
???

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Well, I see your point of view.  Do you think that being drunk in public should be prohibited because of the risk of violence from drunkeness?  I don't think it is really that dangerous.  I don't have any fundamental problem with the idea of banning a particular risk in public places (such as handguns).  But I think that to do this there must be a good justificiation showing that the benefits outweigh the costs.  I've never seen that sort of justification for alcohol.
Hence why banning binge drinking or drunk driving can be justified, as they qualify as sufficiently dangerous to themselves and others, but banning regular drinking would not be as justifiable.
You think binge drinking should be banned?  How on earth is that like drunk driving?  What threat does it pose to others?

I've done it hundreds of times.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Fair enough.  I would point out though that "binge drinking" by itself is not really a threat.
People die of binge drinking.  Is dying not a threat?
Only to those involved.  As I've said above that is no justification for the involvement of society or anyone else.

As a final note....
What you seem to be saying here is that only scientists can tell a person what they enjoy.  If they tried to do that themselves they might get it wrong.  Also, that people cannot be trusted to be safe with drink or drugs.  If this is true then isn't it reckless to let them vote?  Surely that job should fall to some more sensible agent?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on February 04, 2009, 11:39:30 EST
Random tangential question: What is intelligence? It seems like getting a clear definition of that term could help solve a lot of the issues here.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on February 04, 2009, 13:15:47 EST
Two jerky side notes:

1.  Native Americans were well aware of the problems with alcohol and there were even religious movements (Handsome Lake) with significant followings which exorted people to be tea-tollers.  One of the problems was that the upper classes had little reason not to indulge, see inherited power: Problems related with.

2.  Responsable science would mean no Nicola Tesla, and I will not have him dissed!  He was like an onion of awesome, beneath each layer of awesome lurked another layer of awesome.

3.  I am feeling exceptionally childish today, as I have made off with an accounting's Diet Pepsis.  They made the mistake of asking me a question, and have been charged without their knowledge.  Good day sirs!


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 04, 2009, 17:48:10 EST
Well, as the article mentions, why not ban professional American football, it is much more dangerous to those who participate?
Gee, maybe because it isn't chemically addictive?  Unless you want to say that football players keep playing football because after being hit in the face too many times, they've lost the ability to make intelligent decisions.  Frankly, the fact that they chose to play football already indicates that, but the important thing is that football is not addictive.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 04, 2009, 17:57:57 EST
2.  Responsable science would mean no Nicola Tesla, and I will not have him dissed!  He was like an onion of awesome, beneath each layer of awesome lurked another layer of awesome.
Nicolai Tesla is indeed awesome.  The spirit of his work is carried out to this day by Troy Hurtubise, who also wavers between genuine inventions that have been proven to work and insane gibbering about death rays.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on February 04, 2009, 18:11:56 EST
Well, as the article mentions, why not ban professional American football, it is much more dangerous to those who participate?
Gee, maybe because it isn't chemically addictive?  Unless you want to say that football players keep playing football because after being hit in the face too many times, they've lost the ability to make intelligent decisions.  Frankly, the fact that they chose to play football already indicates that, but the important thing is that football is not addictive.

Ah, now I see where you're coming from. You're refusing to look at this issue from the other side. Football is fun! That's why people choose to play it. Just because you don't see the merits of it doesn't mean that they don't exist.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on February 04, 2009, 19:02:56 EST
Adrenaline and all those other fun chemicals are not addictive?

Just because they are natural does not mean they are harmless.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on February 04, 2009, 19:10:46 EST
Well, as the article mentions, why not ban professional American football, it is much more dangerous to those who participate?
Gee, maybe because it isn't chemically addictive?  Unless you want to say that football players keep playing football because after being hit in the face too many times, they've lost the ability to make intelligent decisions.  Frankly, the fact that they chose to play football already indicates that, but the important thing is that football is not addictive.

And, and I think this is the important bit myself, you can't force football on others. People who want to not play football don't even have to avoid a specific place. Sure, there'll be complaints that some idiot's wandering on the field, but he never has to pick up the ball..

Non-smokers do not have this ability. Even ignoring SHS for a second, unfiltered smoke directly off the cigarette leaks into the atmosphere for every second that a cigarette is lit and not being dragged on.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 04, 2009, 19:39:14 EST
Ah, now I see where you're coming from. You're refusing to look at this issue from the other side. Football is fun! That's why people choose to play it. Just because you don't see the merits of it doesn't mean that they don't exist.
I was referring to professional football, and those who decide to have a career in it, despite the fact that the majority of those who do will fail, and of those who do, they can enjoy having a severely shortened life expectancy and poor health.  Anyone who makes the decision to try and play football professionally is probably being very foolish, unless they don't have any other skills and are truly good.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on February 04, 2009, 20:28:10 EST
Medivh, by the same argument, could one then not also ban brain rotting trash such as -insert jam band who washes infequently here, and espouses political views- or something like cops, both of which are a much greater annoyance in my daily life.

Nor can I insist people read a book, though I might like to, and I assure you common stupidity and intellectual laziness are much worse for society and my life then smoking could ever be.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 04, 2009, 20:55:09 EST
As Ibian points out this is rather theoretical.  (And Rogue-kun, you've got the wrong thread).
Smoking is inescapable and everywhere in some areas with regards to pubs, and thus hardly theoretical.


Really, do you have a cite for that?

What do you mean 50 million people in the US drink?  ~300 million people live in the US.  Are you saying there are 250 million tea-totallers?
Nevermind.  61% drink at least once a year.  The number of who drink often is lower, and the number who abuse drinking lower still, but it is still likely substantial.

Quote from: Current
But only though in the specific situations where externalities are involved.  Not in any general case.
Smoking is a case of a clear externality.  Furthermore, virtually all activities have externalities to some extent.

Quote from: Current
My point is that here you make two contradictory arguments.  I did not say that "it is acceptable for thousands to die in other to allow others to find happiness" (though I certainly think that it is).  My point about this comparison is that it cannot be known.  A utilitarian cannot know if -on the basis of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number"- it is better for a few thousand people to die.
So, because it is impossible to know the results of a decision, we should not make decisions?  Any decision you make is going to be inherently utilitarian whether you like it or not, and based off a world with imperfect information.

Quote from: Current
Later though you make a "minimize harm" argument, this is a whole different thing.  Let's say that harm should be minimized in general, discounting increased happiness as a justification.  In this case I think that you must agree that compulsory sterilization of the entire human race is called for.  Doing so may cause much unhappiness, but no harm.  Doing so would prevent all harm from ever occurring in the future.
Compulsory sterilization would result in 0 happiness, which is both lower than current, and lower than the desired goal.  It would also create great unhappiness now and be unfeasible from a practical standpoint.  So, no.

I have wondered if its possible to implement sterilization without completing screwing up a society or falling down a slippery slope.  One imagined scenario being that all people contribute DNA to a pool, and all babies are test tube babies derived from the top-most 10% of the pool, with those doing the choosing being subjected to double blind tests.  That could work without destroying a society in theory, but would require a restructuring of society first, which is an unreasonable and untenable requirement.

Quote from: Current
My point here was not to say that I think crude utilitarianism justifies societies treatment of alcohol.  I'm criticizing crude utilitarianism itself.  The scales cannot be understood, we do not know the social harm or the benefit.  Neither can we tell what the social harm or benefit of a ban or something similar would be.  Citing a crude "least harm" doesn't help either, since it can't be defended.
So, you go with the never make decisions approach, or would you prefer a dartboard?  Those decisions would still be utilitarian.  Even deciding not to make utilitarian decisions is utilitarian.

You can't escape that people must make decisions based on limited information.  So long as we do that, we should attempt to make the best decisions possible, by studying the information to the highest degree possible.


Quote from: Current
Fair enough.  I don't think though it really affects what I'm saying.  Any attempt to investigate the effect of a ban would be an experiment.
That is true.  So?  The alternative is to observe the happiness levels smokers, former smokers, and nonsmokers, but would be difficult to determine whether or not a third variable influences the situation.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
So, how plausible is it really to find out if the banning of some particular thing makes people happy?
How is it plausible to find out the ramifications for any decision?
It depends on the situation.  My point is that in the case of bans it is not plausible.
That's your opinion, which I do not find plausible.  In fact, with your words "it depends on the situation", you are indicating that some situations do have plausible ramifications.  How do you determine which are and which aren't, without stooping to my level?

Quote from: Current
Well, of course, in my own life I try my best to improve my lot.  But this is a different sort of question, it is about society which is something that cannot be thought of as being similar to a single person's life.  In this situation we as a society must stick with what we have got.  As John Stuart Mill said there is never a cause for the law to prevent a person taking actions deliberately and freely that may cause harm to themselves.
Why, why, and why?

Quote from: Current
To say that we should try in this case ignores the obvious impossibility of the task.  It is like saying that we should try to fly by flapping our arms.
Seeing as restricting people from making wrong choices is standard parenting, you would make an interesting parent.  I guess when your child walks off a ledge and goes splat, no point in stopping them?

And yes, I have no problem with the concept of Society viewing citizens as children on certain things.  When children grow up and show they know better, they can handle their own decisions.  Until then, their parents have a vested interest in protecting them, especially since the foolishness is due to inexperience and not actual lack of talent by the child.  Society can and should do the same things, WITHIN REASON.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
So murder and the like is ok?  Society is going to have to define some things as sufficiently harmless and others as sufficiently harmful, there is no way to escape this.
Well, I agree to some extent that we must define things which are "sufficiently harmful".  Murder though is not a matter of any vaguely defined "social harm".  It is a matter of quite clear harm to an individual by another.  As it is a crime against an individual it is no less of a crime against society.
Says who?  Since when could you draw defining lines and I can't?  Murder is wrong, but blowing toxic gas in someone's face isn't?  Keeping a toddler from walking off a cliff is good parenting, but a government prohibiting people from using credit cards with hidden fees isn't?

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Experimentation, if done in an orderly manner, is rational and sound.  Experimenting with something harmful is risky, but occasionally has to be done.  This is going from a science perspective, not an everyday society perspective.
I don't think you can really draw a clean distinction.  Science happens within society and useful experimentation happens outside science.
Not what I meant.  I meant that experimenting is useful if dangerous from a scientific standpoint, but experimenting conventionally is usually just stupid and dangerous.  For example, finding out what happens when you walk into a highway is experimenting.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Yes.  However most people with suicidal tendencies are not thinking rationally, blowing their current problems out of proportion with the bigger picture.
Well, that's certainly possible.  As I said, the point is that a person does not reliably know what is best for another.  Simply because someone has chosen to commit suicide doesn't tell you that they have done so for spurious reasons.

Certainly I would agree with trying to talk to someone suicidal rationally.  However there is no justification for interfering.
I strongly disagree.  While not assured, I believe that it is possible to be reliable enough.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
If people aren't making good judgments consistently, then it is in society's motivation to put restrictions, in order to eliminate bad choices, which in turn results in less harm.
Are you saying that people's choices should not be their own?  I think you are, and I disagree entirely.
Yes.

Quote from: Current
Let's say an individual is informed about some decision.  Then that individual fails to make a good judgement about their own welfare when making it.  Clearly this has nothing to do with society.  None of us have any right to interfer here, that is a matter of basic human freedom.
The first sentence is key.  The circumstances in which government intervenes are when it can be expected with reliability that an average person will NOT be informed sufficiently to make a decent decision.  There is difference between protecting someone from their stupidity, and protecting someone from their ignorance.  Granted, most people are both ignorant and stupid, so yeah.

Quote from: Current
To claim that they do is to say that the individual is the slave of society.  It is saying that a person has no private affairs that even their enjoyments that affect only themselves must be undertaken to benefit society.  You may say this only affects drugs, but I don't see why.  If, for example, hip-hop music could be shown to harm people's intelligence wouldn't that mean that it should be restricted since it would harm society.  No pleasure would be safe.
No, because there is much less in the way of evidence to show that hip-hop music is harmful.  Yes, I know there is a slippery slope, but that doesn't change the fact that different threats have different degrees of evidence supporting them.

Also "affect only themselves"?  Did you miss the part where I talked about how directly drugs affect others, which is why they can be justifiably banned whereas other things affect others in less tangible and measurable ways, and thus require far more evidence?

Quote from: Current
Each of us must be servants to society certainly, but that doesn't mean that all of our actions, even those affecting only ourselves must be undertaken to benefit society.  This attitude reminds me of a Tudor king who noticed that people had hobbies.  He declared that every man's hobby must be archery so that he can take part in war for the kingdom.

If an individual is not free to enjoy himself or herself as they please then apply that to society.  What is the point of any person working for society?  I'm sure that a society could be very productive if all pleasures that could possibly be damaging were removed.  But, what would be the purpose of that productivity.  The original Puritans said it was to serve God, what do the modern ones say?
Since when have I opposed happiness?  In fact, I have opposed cigarettes and alcohol specifically BECAUSE they undermine happiness.

Elimination of things that cause more unhappiness than happiness is a good thing, unless the very elimination of those things would cause more unhappiness.  Also, banning a thing does not eliminate it, and banning a something might result in even more unhappiness as well.  That is why, while I dislike cigarettes and alcohol, I don't advocate banning them, instead, slowly eliminating them step by step.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
If by elites, you mean scientists using scientific evidence derived not from 1 individual judging their wellbeing, but many individuals judging their wellbeing, and cross-referencing them to determine what genuinely benefits wellbeing in people and what doesn't, then yes.
That is rather like saying "Right turns are very difficult, hence no ordinary person will ever be able to perform one entirely correctly, so a professional stunt driver should be employed whenever a right turn is required".
Except that it is nothing like saying that.  Being able to make a decision like that is well within what humans are able to do reliably.  Being able to accurately psychoanalyze themselves is a case in which a person is less reliable than a group of scientists, who are themselves still fairly inaccurate.

Quote from: Current
You consider Scientists to be the only people capable of judging happiness.
No.  In fact, the way they judge happiness is by asking the people.

Quote from: Current
That a person can never be responsible enough to look after themselves.
No.  Merely that uninformed people can't.  If a person wants to be responsible for themselves, then they should become informed.  Until they are liable to hurt themselves.

Also, keep in mind that you are trying to shove me down the slippery slope.  The interference is only for extreme cases.

Quote from: Current
The flaws in this view should be obvious.  Science could not possibly deduce what makes people happy in every relevant situation.  It could not predict the future and understand the effect of the decisions forced on others.
No, which is why it doesn't force itself into every decision.  Its willingness to interfere should be equal to its level of deduction/prediction, which means that it should only handle the blatant cases.


Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Good thing I don't advocate such.  I only advocate protecting people from irreversible consequences.  Putting a safety sign in front of a cliff is different from forbidding people from walking down stairs.  People will learn that behaving carelessly near elevated surfaces can lead to injury, without being too dead to apply that learning.
Communicating information about potentially harmful activities is something I certainly agree with.  That of course doesn't guarantee that irreversible consequences are prevented.
You missed the point.  In the cliff case, not only is information being communicated that the cliff is dangerous, but you are also being physically prevented from walking off the cliff.  However, for the staircase, only the warning is justifiable.


Quote from: Current
People generally do not learn something unless they can see a reason why they will need the information.
How about telling them that if they don't have the information, they will make a stupid decision and die?

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
For most people yes.  The law protects minorities though, even at the expense of the majority.
Yes.  I don't see any need to change it though.
The minority is people who can't handle alcohol, or who are hurt by those who can't handle alcohol.  So no, they aren't being protected.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Hence why banning binge drinking or drunk driving can be justified, as they qualify as sufficiently dangerous to themselves and others, but banning regular drinking would not be as justifiable.
You think binge drinking should be banned?  How on earth is that like drunk driving?  What threat does it pose to others?
The exact same threats to oneself and others that regular drinking does, except more?

Quote from: Current
I've done it hundreds of times.
And some people can.  Not important.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
People die of binge drinking.  Is dying not a threat?
Only to those involved.  As I've said above that is no justification for the involvement of society or anyone else.
So it is of no importance to society that its members are diminishing in number?  Also, see prior statement that binge drinking can lead to the same negative externalities as before, except more so.

Quote from: Current
What you seem to be saying here is that only scientists can tell a person what they enjoy.
No, that is not what I am saying.  I am saying that in regards to the effects of being drug addled, a scientist can judge better than a drug addled person whether or not it is beneficial to their overall happiness.  I did not say that carries over to decisions that don't involve being ignorant or drug addled.

Quote from: Current
Also, that people cannot be trusted to be safe with drink or drugs.
Yes, because they kill themselves and others.  Lack of trust does not justify banning though.

Quote from: Current
If this is true then isn't it reckless to let them vote?  Surely that job should fall to some more sensible agent?
Not the same situation, and you know it.  It is best to let them vote because it is better than restricting.  The same is not true for other situations.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on February 05, 2009, 03:04:49 EST
Medivh, by the same argument, could one then not also ban brain rotting trash such as -insert jam band who washes infequently here, and espouses political views- or something like cops, both of which are a much greater annoyance in my daily life.

Nor can I insist people read a book, though I might like to, and I assure you common stupidity and intellectual laziness are much worse for society and my life then smoking could ever be.

Does every bar within your area play -insert jam band who washes infrequently here, and espouses political views-? If so, you might have a point, if you can show health complications. I'd start with the infrequent washing. Stupidity, I agree, is a problem. Fortunately it's a mainly genetic/memetic disease, and can be contained. Eventually. Cops... where to start? That's not even a wrong analogy.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on February 05, 2009, 23:40:07 EST
Ah, I forget that ya'all are city folk.

There is exactly one bar in my town, and they have line dancing.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on February 05, 2009, 23:59:01 EST
Ah...

Er...

Nice knowing you, then... :P


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 06, 2009, 11:00:40 EST
Ah, I forget that ya'all are city folk.

There is exactly one bar in my town, and they have line dancing.
I understand now why you consider some people phenomenological zombies.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 06, 2009, 12:52:01 EST
Ah, now I see where you're coming from. You're refusing to look at this issue from the other side. Football is fun! That's why people choose to play it. Just because you don't see the merits of it doesn't mean that they don't exist.
I was referring to professional football, and those who decide to have a career in it, despite the fact that the majority of those who do will fail, and of those who do, they can enjoy having a severely shortened life expectancy and poor health.  Anyone who makes the decision to try and play football professionally is probably being very foolish, unless they don't have any other skills and are truly good.
But, so what?  It is their decision.

It is quite similar to becoming a drug addict.  If a player signs a contract to play a season of professional American Football he has a very high chance of injuring himself.  Many professional sportspeople are in the same position.

My point is that the drug addict and the professional sports player are in a similar position.  At some time they can decide if they wish to follow some path.  The drug taker decided to overindulge in drugs before he or she became an addict.  You may say that an addict has no powers of decision, I would disagree, but the person who became the addict certainly has such powers.  The same is true of sportspeople.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 06, 2009, 15:31:10 EST
But, so what?  It is their decision.
Yes, it is.  However, that was not what I was talking about.  Bringerofpie suggested that professional football has merits.  I suggested that for the vast majority of people, it results in unemployment, and for the lucky few, a 20 year drop in life expectancy.  Sometimes both.

It is quite similar to becoming a drug addict.  If a player signs a contract to play a season of professional American Football he has a very high chance of injuring himself.  Many professional sportspeople are in the same position.

My point is that the drug addict and the professional sports player are in a similar position.  At some time they can decide if they wish to follow some path.  The drug taker decided to overindulge in drugs before he or she became an addict.  You may say that an addict has no powers of decision, I would disagree, but the person who became the addict certainly has such powers.  The same is true of sportspeople.
Except that it is nothing like becoming a drug addict, because the drug literally makes you want to have more of it, while the sport figuratively makes you want to have more of it.  Literal versus figurative is a large difference.

An addict has no powers of decision because they are an addict.  An addict has severely reduced free will, so to speak.  The vast majority of people, once they become addicted to smoking, will be unable to not be smoking addicts.  Alcohol addiction hits a much smaller fraction of its users, but has many more users, and it inflicts much more damage to you in the short term.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on February 06, 2009, 19:49:30 EST
Not specific enough. What is this "damage" that you think alcohol inflicts on one?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 06, 2009, 20:30:32 EST
Not specific enough. What is this "damage" that you think alcohol inflicts on one?
Um, alcoholism?  Which screws you up physically and mentally, as well as potentially destroying your social life and economic wellbeing?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Blue Boy from Red Country on February 06, 2009, 20:43:56 EST
Not specific enough. What is this "damage" that you think alcohol inflicts on one?

Excessive alcohol consumption leads to a lot of physical ailments and social problems.

Alcohol is a toxin - in fact, in any form other than ethanol, alcohol is down right lethal. It stresses the body to filter out copious amounts of alcohol; the liver is hit particularly hard since its responsible for filtering the blood. This stress will wear out the body, reducing energy levels and prematurely aging a person.

As for the social dimension, alcohol depresses judgment; this impairs an individuals ability to act responsible or response appropriately. Someone who is drunk on a regular basis is at great risk to doing something "damaging" to their relationships and social standing, such as expressing harsh and critical opinions, cheating on a partner, violating social norms, or even committing a crime. Also, alcoholics, like any addict, also become withdrawn; they have become so absorbed in their drive to "get their fix" that they are unable to focus their energies on even the day-to-day stuff such as going to work and taking care of family.

The majority of people never suffer ill effects from alcohol (at least not substantially) because they never consume more than the body and mind are able to properly cope with.



Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on February 06, 2009, 21:26:50 EST
wodan, that kind of broad generalizations are not useful at all. What you are doing is broadcasting a fear message, not communicating useful information.

Excessive alcohol consumption leads to a lot of physical ailments and social problems.
Anything can be abused. A hammer can build a house or murder a family, but the hammer itself is not inherently good or bad.

Alcohol is a toxin
Yes, and that is exactly why people enjoy it. This in itself is not enough.

It stresses the body to filter out copious amounts of alcohol; the liver is hit particularly hard since its responsible for filtering the blood. This stress will wear out the body, reducing energy levels and prematurely aging a person.
In excessive quantities, yes. If you only drink a few times a month, no, not to any meaningful degree. In fact, a glass of red wine a day is said to be healthy and prolong life.

As for the social dimension, alcohol depresses judgment; this impairs an individuals ability to act responsible or response appropriately. Someone who is drunk on a regular basis is at great risk to doing something "damaging" to their relationships and social standing, such as expressing harsh and critical opinions, cheating on a partner, violating social norms, or even committing a crime.
Perhaps in Puristan, but there are a great many places in the world where alcohol is a critical component of social norms and socializing. Depends where you live and who you associate with.

As for crime, i have said it before even though most of you wont buy it, but what alcohol does is remove the mental blocks we have built up over the years. Alcohol is not a cause of crime, the criminal is.

Also, alcoholics, like any addict, also become withdrawn; they have become so absorbed in their drive to "get their fix" that they are unable to focus their energies on even the day-to-day stuff such as going to work and taking care of family.
As we have already covered, anything can be abused.

The majority of people never suffer ill effects from alcohol (at least not substantially) because they never consume more than the body and mind are able to properly cope with.
Yes, and for that very reason the majority should not have to suffer because of a weak minority. People who have issues with alcohol should of course be able to get help, but laws that affect the rest of us negatively should not be made just because of them.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 06, 2009, 23:34:31 EST
wodan, that kind of broad generalizations are not useful at all. What you are doing is broadcasting a fear message, not communicating useful information.
If by broad generalizations, you mean statements of the typical effects of alcoholism, a problem which affects a substantial number of people, then yes.

Anything can be abused. A hammer can build a house or murder a family, but the hammer itself is not inherently good or bad.
Except that the Hammer, after using it to hammer in a few nails, doesn't suggest that you hammer your family as well.  That is the problem of Alcohol.  In small doses, it has little or no negative consequences, doesn't interfere with you mentally, and isn't addictive.  However, once you start drinking too much, the reverse for each occurs, and it snowballs.  You can't make good judgments about how much to drink because you are already drinking too much.

Also, there are many alcoholics, and few hammer murderers. 

Alcohol is a toxin
Yes, and that is exactly why people enjoy it. This in itself is not enough.

It stresses the body to filter out copious amounts of alcohol; the liver is hit particularly hard since its responsible for filtering the blood. This stress will wear out the body, reducing energy levels and prematurely aging a person.
In excessive quantities, yes. If you only drink a few times a month, no, not to any meaningful degree. In fact, a glass of red wine a day is said to be healthy and prolong life.
Once again, we are talking about Alcoholics, which are specifically people who do drink to excessive quantities, and who exist in fairly large numbers.  Note how on several occasions, I've emphasized that alcohol should not be banned, and in fact should be legalized to those 18 and older, but that binge-drinking, or otherwise drinking too much, should be targeted instead.

As for the social dimension, alcohol depresses judgment; this impairs an individuals ability to act responsible or response appropriately. Someone who is drunk on a regular basis is at great risk to doing something "damaging" to their relationships and social standing, such as expressing harsh and critical opinions, cheating on a partner, violating social norms, or even committing a crime.
Perhaps in Puristan, but there are a great many places in the world where alcohol is a critical component of social norms and socializing. Depends where you live and who you associate with.
Actually, I think that you will find alcoholics are not able to function to nearly the extent that normal people can.

As for crime, i have said it before even though most of you wont buy it, but what alcohol does is remove the mental blocks we have built up over the years. Alcohol is not a cause of crime, the criminal is.
And your proof for this massive assumption, which goes against mountains of evidence to the contrary, is where?

Alcohol doesn't not remove your mental blocks, it removes your mental inhibitions, meaning that when you choose to drink alcohol, you are basically choosing to destroy your ability to make sound judgements.  While alcohol is still like to be the cause of the crime in the sense that without it, the crime would not have occurred, it is still solely the fault of the drinker.  That, we can be in agreement on.

The vital difference, however, is that you presume that people who commit drunken crimes are naturally prone to commit crimes, but in actuality, virtually anyone could be prone to a drunken crime, regardless of how nice they are normally.

Also, alcoholics, like any addict, also become withdrawn; they have become so absorbed in their drive to "get their fix" that they are unable to focus their energies on even the day-to-day stuff such as going to work and taking care of family.
As we have already covered, anything can be abused.
But not with the regularity and the underlying chemical causes that alcohol has.

The majority of people never suffer ill effects from alcohol (at least not substantially) because they never consume more than the body and mind are able to properly cope with.
Yes, and for that very reason the majority should not have to suffer because of a weak minority. People who have issues with alcohol should of course be able to get help, but laws that affect the rest of us negatively should not be made just because of them.
So I guess you are for killing disabled people and senile old people?  Because that it the inevitable conclusion of your attitude.  People who can't care for themselves aren't really people, they're just useless sinkholes of society's resources, and they should be tossed away for the garbage they are.

The only difference between those people and the alcoholics is that with the alcoholics, you can potentially help them help themselves, but the disabled and old will always need your help.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Blue Boy from Red Country on February 07, 2009, 11:29:35 EST
Quote from: Ibian link=topic=4250.msg94443#msg94443 date=1233973610

[quote author=Blue Boy from Red Country link=topic=4250.msg94442#msg94442 date=1233971036
Alcohol is a toxin
Yes, and that is exactly why people enjoy it. This in itself is not enough.

[/quote]

Riiiight....

I don't know about you, but I presume most sane people would - if given the choice - prefer to enjoy the pleasing mind-altering affects of alcohol without dealing with the unpleasantries of hangovers and the like. People don't enjoy alcohol because of its toxicity; they are just willing to accept it because they view the benefits as greatly outweighing the toxic effects.



Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: DavidLeoThomas on February 07, 2009, 13:10:39 EST
in fact, in any form other than ethanol, alcohol is down right lethal.

This is a broken argument.  They're chemically different, and therefore have different chemical effects.  It's like panicking about there being CO2 in your house, because CO is lethal. 

Now, I'm not saying "this bit of your rhetoric is wrong, therefor you are wrong", I just have trouble with broken arguments.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on February 07, 2009, 13:46:54 EST
Quote
Quote from: Ibian link=topic=4250.msg94443#msg94443 date=1233973610

[quote author=Blue Boy from Red Country link=topic=4250.msg94442#msg94442 date=1233971036
Alcohol is a toxin
Yes, and that is exactly why people enjoy it. This in itself is not enough.


Riiiight....

I don't know about you, but I presume most sane people would - if given the choice - prefer to enjoy the pleasing mind-altering affects of alcohol without dealing with the unpleasantries of hangovers and the like. People don't enjoy alcohol because of its toxicity; they are just willing to accept it because they view the benefits as greatly outweighing the toxic effects.


Well, let me know when you invent Soma then.

Hangovers is not the only thing this "toxin" does (i have reservations about that classification), it also gives the pleasant buzz people drink for. You cant have one without the other.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 08, 2009, 02:24:54 EST
Well, let me know when you invent Soma then.

Hangovers is not the only thing this "toxin" does (i have reservations about that classification), it also gives the pleasant buzz people drink for. You cant have one without the other.
Did you even read what he said?  He stated that if there was a hypothetical drug that gave the positive benefits of alcohol without being toxic, then people would drink it instead.  People do NOT drink alcohol because it is toxic, which is what you indicated.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on February 08, 2009, 04:56:39 EST
"What if we lived in an alternate reality" is still not useful. There is no such drug, so "given the choice, " is a stupid thing to say until such time as there is.

And yes, they do.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on February 08, 2009, 10:39:35 EST
Part of the seductive nature of alcohol is it's self-destructive aspects.  People enjoy thinking they are wilder and more dangerous then they actually are, and vicariously by drinking hard liquor and talking in a slow and gritty manner, they envision themselves as Clint Eastwood.  The idea of not caring about the consequences makes them feel like they are rebelling and free and saying "fuck you" to life and all the world's worries.

The illusionary self should not be underestimated, and often holds more sway over an individual then their real traits.

Myself, I feel a kinship to Roberto Duran whenever I drink my pattented "Whitey Can't Handle It" liquor, then later on in the evening I can look at the bottle of swill and wonder why I don't just buy good liquor and utter "No Mas", but at least I don't live down a flight of stairs.

Also, if you haven't tried drinking in a luchador mask, you're missing the very point of what makes it so awesome.  Sober people would find it significantly less fun.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 09, 2009, 09:44:18 EST
I think the self-destructive aspect of it is much more prevalent in Catholic countries and religious countries.  I was brought up by lapsed Anglicans in a village composed almost entirely of lapsed Anglicans.

The Church of England have an attitude to sin once described by Eddie Izzard:
Churchgoer: "Vicar, I have done many bad things."
Vicar: "Well, so have I."
Churchgoer: "What shall I do?"
Vicar: "Well, drink five Bloody Marys and you won't remember."

In societies where guilt is associated with minor transgressions there becomes much more of a thrill in it.  I've noticed this a lot in Ireland which is mostly Catholic and where people took religion seriously until about ten years ago.  I was talking to one of my friends who is a lapsed Catholic.  He explained to me that after he did bad things he felt guilty about them.  But the guilt itself would be quite enjoyably vicarious.

The attitude of religions and other moralists seem to be all tied up with time too.  As Anatole France said, "If the hangover preceded the inebriation, drunkenness would be a virtue."


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on February 09, 2009, 14:14:57 EST
Current, guilty as charged.

Until recently in the country of Newfoundland all the schools were run by the churches.  Who needs darwinian theory when you can say the Lord's Prayer in four langauges?

Heaven is probably staffed by mexican workers anyway, so I want to be able to speak with the help.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on February 09, 2009, 14:37:28 EST
Heaven is probably staffed by mexican workers anyway, so I want to be able to speak with the help.

No no no.

In heaven, the cops are English, the mechanics German, the cooks French, the lovers Italian, and everything is organized by the Swiss.

In hell, the cops are German, the mechanics are French, the cooks English, the lovers Swiss, and everything is organized by Italians.

So, no matter where you'll end up, you better start learning a whole bunch of languages. :P



Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on February 09, 2009, 14:57:19 EST
Well, as long as the french waiters are ninja waiters, i suppose. That way you wont have to learn that annoying language either.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on February 09, 2009, 15:40:09 EST
"In heaven you know all languages."
"Even Chinese?"
"Hell no, that shit's CRAZY! It's all 'Ching, chong, wing wong!'"


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 09, 2009, 17:39:00 EST
I'll post in a couple of days a reply to the long post from Wodan.

Until then a nice article (http://dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/83737/Drug-adviser-dismisses-Ecstasy-risk) in the Daily Express about drugs.  I entirely agree with Professor Nutt.



Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Blue Boy from Red Country on February 12, 2009, 19:36:29 EST
I'll post in a couple of days a reply to the long post from Wodan.

Until then a nice article (http://dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/83737/Drug-adviser-dismisses-Ecstasy-risk) in the Daily Express about drugs.  I entirely agree with Professor Nutt.



I fail to see the equivalence of the two additions.

First, those with an addiction to horse riding are suffering from a purely emotional addition; they're relying on it exclusively for pleasure, but there aren't any chemicals that are creating an artificial, physical dependency that will interfere with their ability to function.

Secondly, someone who rides carefully will do little or no harm to themselves while enjoying themselves; the same cannot be said of drugs as they are proven to slowly degrade a person's health. Death and injuries from horse back riding, meanwhile, are accidents that are dependent on many factors incidental to "consumption." Many die from drug overdoses that involve nothing more than enjoying the drug too much.

Ecstasy may not be as hazardous as feared, but it'll take more than one nutty professor to convince me there's such thing as a drug that doesn't have side-effects - especially not one with more potent effects.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 13, 2009, 07:58:30 EST
I'll post in a couple of days a reply to the long post from Wodan.

Until then a nice article (http://dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/83737/Drug-adviser-dismisses-Ecstasy-risk) in the Daily Express about drugs.  I entirely agree with Professor Nutt.



I fail to see the equivalence of the two additions.

First, those with an addiction to horse riding are suffering from a purely emotional addition; they're relying on it exclusively for pleasure, but there aren't any chemicals that are creating an artificial, physical dependency that will interfere with their ability to function.
What does that have to do with the question?  Why is if something is a "physical" or "emotional" dependency important?

Secondly, someone who rides carefully will do little or no harm to themselves while enjoying themselves; the same cannot be said of drugs as they are proven to slowly degrade a person's health. Death and injuries from horse back riding, meanwhile, are accidents that are dependent on many factors incidental to "consumption." Many die from drug overdoses that involve nothing more than enjoying the drug too much.
What's the difference?  Horse riders face a probability of serious injury as do some who take ecstasy.  Drugs pose that probability and the possibility of slowly degrading a person's health.  What is the difference between that and a sport like rugby or american football which also involves both possibilities?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 13, 2009, 09:33:05 EST
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
As Ibian points out this is rather theoretical.  (And Rogue-kun, you've got the wrong thread).
Smoking is inescapable and everywhere in some areas with regards to pubs, and thus hardly theoretical.
Your original point was about Peanuts, not smoking.  You asked "What if every place served food laced with peanuts".  The point I and Ibian were making is that this rather theoretical.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Really, do you have a cite for that?

What do you mean 50 million people in the US drink?  ~300 million people live in the US.  Are you saying there are 250 million tea-totallers?
Nevermind.  61% drink at least once a year.  The number of who drink often is lower, and the number who abuse drinking lower still, but it is still likely substantial.
I'm surprised only 61% drink, I've only met a couple of tea-totallers in my whole life.  The US is a different country I suppose.  All I was trying to point out here is that you were exaggerating.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
But only though in the specific situations where externalities are involved.  Not in any general case.
Smoking is a case of a clear externality.
It depends on what aspect of it you're talking about.  The smoke that pollutes the world environment, which we all share, that is an externality.  So is smoke being emitted from one premises onto another premises.  However smoking within a premise where everyone present has chosen to be present and could avoid the place, this is not an externality.

My point though was not about smoking, but about drink and drugs.  To prevent accidents caused by drunk driving it is appropriate to ban drunk driving.  It is not defensible though to ban drinking.

Quote from: wodan46
Furthermore, virtually all activities have externalities to some extent.
Yes.  That doesn't mean that virtually all activities should be banned.  In each case a judgement can be made on the scale of the externality.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
My point is that here you make two contradictory arguments.  I did not say that "it is acceptable for thousands to die in other to allow others to find happiness" (though I certainly think that it is).  My point about this comparison is that it cannot be known.  A utilitarian cannot know if -on the basis of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number"- it is better for a few thousand people to die.
So, because it is impossible to know the results of a decision, we should not make decisions?
Quote from: wodan46
So, you go with the never make decisions approach, or would you prefer a dartboard?
In this case it is not appropriate for government or society to make a decision and force that decision on all the populace.  It is a case where individual decisions are appropriate.

Quote from: wodan46
Those decisions would still be utilitarian.  Even deciding not to make utilitarian decisions is utilitarian.
Quote from: wodan46
Any decision you make is going to be inherently utilitarian whether you like it or not, and based off a world with imperfect information.
Yes.  What I'm saying here is that crude utilitarianism is not *itself* truly utilitarian.  This point is something many of the early utilitarians accepted.  John Stuart Mill took roughly the same position as I do.

As long ago as 1799 G.H.Von Berg wrote "How can there be definite limit to the supreme power if an indefinite general happiness, left to its judgement, is to be the aim?"

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Later though you make a "minimize harm" argument, this is a whole different thing.  Let's say that harm should be minimized in general, discounting increased happiness as a justification.  In this case I think that you must agree that compulsory sterilization of the entire human race is called for.  Doing so may cause much unhappiness, but no harm.  Doing so would prevent all harm from ever occurring in the future.
Compulsory sterilization would result in 0 happiness
Yes.  However, you justified this action on the basis of minimising harm rather than utilitarianism.  My point here is that the philosophy of minimising harm is contradictory to utilitarianism.

Quote from: wodan46
I have wondered if its possible to implement sterilization without completing screwing up a society or falling down a slippery slope.  One imagined scenario being that all people contribute DNA to a pool, and all babies are test tube babies derived from the top-most 10% of the pool, with those doing the choosing being subjected to double blind tests.  That could work without destroying a society in theory, but would require a restructuring of society first, which is an unreasonable and untenable requirement.
I agree that this would not be a reasonable thing to do.

Consider also the "topmost 10%" argument that you make.  Genetics does not really give us a basis for deciding that topmost 10%.

Quote from: wodan46
You can't escape that people must make decisions based on limited information.  So long as we do that, we should attempt to make the best decisions possible, by studying the information to the highest degree possible.
Of course not.  What we are talking about here is not that decisions are to be made, but rather who is to make them.  You are arguing for making these decisions at the level of the society and the state.  I am arguing for allowing individuals to take them themselves.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Fair enough.  I don't think though it really affects what I'm saying.  Any attempt to investigate the effect of a ban would be an experiment.
That is true.  So?  The alternative is to observe the happiness levels smokers, former smokers, and nonsmokers, but would be difficult to determine whether or not a third variable influences the situation.
Yes.  Smokers are not a random part of the population, they select themselves.  Neither are former smokers a random group.  You cannot know that by denying smoking to the smokers they will necessarily become happier, even if the non-smokers are happier than the smokers.  You also cannot know the situation for each individual, whether a particular person will be happier.

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So, how plausible is it really to find out if the banning of some particular thing makes people happy?
How is it plausible to find out the ramifications for any decision?
It depends on the situation.  My point is that in the case of bans it is not plausible.
That's your opinion, which I do not find plausible.
Well, why don't you find it plausible?  How are we to solve the problems which I've outlined in earlier posts?

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In fact, with your words "it depends on the situation", you are indicating that some situations do have plausible ramifications.  How do you determine which are and which aren't, without stooping to my level?
History helps a lot.  So does looking at motivations.  The class of situations I'm thinking of where ramifications can be predicted are punishments for crimes. 

We can be fairly confident that the possibility of a murder being imprisoned will deter those wishing to murder.  We can't be sure it will deter them enough of course.  This situation is far simpler than that of assessing the abstract utilitarian happiness.

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Well, of course, in my own life I try my best to improve my lot.  But this is a different sort of question, it is about society which is something that cannot be thought of as being similar to a single person's life.  In this situation we as a society must stick with what we have got.  As John Stuart Mill said there is never a cause for the law to prevent a person taking actions deliberately and freely that may cause harm to themselves.
Why, why, and why?
For the same reasons I gave in previous posts.

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To say that we should try in this case ignores the obvious impossibility of the task.  It is like saying that we should try to fly by flapping our arms.
Seeing as restricting people from making wrong choices is standard parenting, you would make an interesting parent.  I guess when your child walks off a ledge and goes splat, no point in stopping them?
Well, it's a different question if it's a child isn't it.

Quote from: wodan46
And yes, I have no problem with the concept of Society viewing citizens as children on certain things.
It's not a situation that is in any way comparable.  To begin with Society is not in the same situation that a parent is in.  A parent has much more understanding of the world the child lives in than that child does itself.  A society does not have better understanding of the world each of its members lives in than that member does.  The exact opposite is true, an individual knows far more about his or her own life than society does.  We have no reason to think that a collection of adults have a better understanding of an individuals circumstances than that individual themselves.

Even if it is the case that a beneficial intervention could be made what society is doing is treating its members like children.  It is not surprising that this behaviour makes them behave like children.  People protected from dangers by bans will expect a ban to protect them from each and every danger they encounter.  Obviously this cannot be provided.

Lastly, a parent is likely to have it's childs best interests at heart.  Do the whores who inhabit our parliaments have our best interests at heart?  Clearly not.  In political reality bans are a tool to buy votes.  Politicians have no reason to ban things "within reason".  If it is expedient to ban ridiculous things they will do so if its garners them votes, funds or influence.  For example, much of the original reason for banning cannabis was to prevent hemp from competing against other materials in the textiles business.

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So murder and the like is ok?  Society is going to have to define some things as sufficiently harmless and others as sufficiently harmful, there is no way to escape this.
Well, I agree to some extent that we must define things which are "sufficiently harmful".  Murder though is not a matter of any vaguely defined "social harm".  It is a matter of quite clear harm to an individual by another.  As it is a crime against an individual it is no less of a crime against society.
Says who?  Since when could you draw defining lines and I can't?  Murder is wrong, but blowing toxic gas in someone's face isn't?  Keeping a toddler from walking off a cliff is good parenting, but a government prohibiting people from using credit cards with hidden fees isn't?
I'm not saying that you can't draw dividing lines, I'm disagreeing with where you place those dividing lines.

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Experimentation, if done in an orderly manner, is rational and sound.  Experimenting with something harmful is risky, but occasionally has to be done.  This is going from a science perspective, not an everyday society perspective.
I don't think you can really draw a clean distinction.  Science happens within society and useful experimentation happens outside science.
Not what I meant.  I meant that experimenting is useful if dangerous from a scientific standpoint, but experimenting conventionally is usually just stupid and dangerous.  For example, finding out what happens when you walk into a highway is experimenting.
Finding out what happens when you walk into a highway is experimenting and is dangerous.  However, that doesn't mean that all experimentation that happens in wider society is necessarily dangerous.

As I was saying elsewhere all businesses are a form of experimentation.  When the entrepreneur is successful he or she doesn't necessarily know why they are successful, as Heq mentions.  Similarly, people constantly experiment with cooking, with architecture, or with "lifestyle".  I would say that most experimentation goes on outside of the formal channels of science.  We distant observers cannot differentiate the useful from the useless.

I'm not arguing that experimenting with drugs is useful, I don't think that it is.  However, this is a general principle that we must protect from erosion.

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Yes.  However most people with suicidal tendencies are not thinking rationally, blowing their current problems out of proportion with the bigger picture.
Well, that's certainly possible.  As I said, the point is that a person does not reliably know what is best for another.  Simply because someone has chosen to commit suicide doesn't tell you that they have done so for spurious reasons.

Certainly I would agree with trying to talk to someone suicidal rationally.  However there is no justification for interfering.
I strongly disagree.  While not assured, I believe that it is possible to be reliable enough.
I wasn't perhaps clear about what I mean.  I would try to persuade someone out of suicide in almost all cases, unless perhaps they are terminally ill.  I may interfere to the extent that is lawful.  I would not though assault them or steal from them in pursuit of the aim of preventing their suicide.

As I said above I disagree that another can really know something like this reliably.  What I should add though is that you must not only think of your own reliability in this task when making the decision.  What you are doing in this discussion is agreeing to a general course of action, one that could be taken up by anyone.  You would be doing the same thing if you restrained someone in practice.  The question is not whether or not you can make the decisions it's whether or not anyone can make the decision.

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If people aren't making good judgments consistently, then it is in society's motivation to put restrictions, in order to eliminate bad choices, which in turn results in less harm.
Are you saying that people's choices should not be their own?  I think you are, and I disagree entirely.
Yes
How do you defend that view?

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Let's say an individual is informed about some decision.  Then that individual fails to make a good judgement about their own welfare when making it.  Clearly this has nothing to do with society.  None of us have any right to interfer here, that is a matter of basic human freedom.
The first sentence is key.  The circumstances in which government intervenes are when it can be expected with reliability that an average person will NOT be informed sufficiently to make a decent decision.  There is difference between protecting someone from their stupidity, and protecting someone from their ignorance.  Granted, most people are both ignorant and stupid, so yeah.
Well, how are they ignorant?  I have never met a single drug taker who was unaware of the risks of what they were doing.  Where is this supposed ignorance?

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To claim that they do is to say that the individual is the slave of society.  It is saying that a person has no private affairs that even their enjoyments that affect only themselves must be undertaken to benefit society.  You may say this only affects drugs, but I don't see why.  If, for example, hip-hop music could be shown to harm people's intelligence wouldn't that mean that it should be restricted since it would harm society.  No pleasure would be safe.
No, because there is much less in the way of evidence to show that hip-hop music is harmful.  Yes, I know there is a slippery slope, but that doesn't change the fact that different threats have different degrees of evidence supporting them.
Yes, but evidence is irrelevant in the long run.  Thinks about what happens once society accepts that governments can prohibit what science has indicated is harmful.  Governments would set about systematically corrupting science to give the results they want it to give.

You are expecting governments to behave sensibly and in the interest of the public, that is far too much to ask.

Quote from: wodan46
Also "affect only themselves"?  Did you miss the part where I talked about how directly drugs affect others, which is why they can be justifiably banned
Affecting others does not justify a ban.  It justifies laws limiting that effect on others, such laws do not require bans.

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Each of us must be servants to society certainly, but that doesn't mean that all of our actions, even those affecting only ourselves must be undertaken to benefit society.  This attitude reminds me of a Tudor king who noticed that people had hobbies.  He declared that every man's hobby must be archery so that he can take part in war for the kingdom.

If an individual is not free to enjoy himself or herself as they please then apply that to society.  What is the point of any person working for society?  I'm sure that a society could be very productive if all pleasures that could possibly be damaging were removed.  But, what would be the purpose of that productivity.  The original Puritans said it was to serve God, what do the modern ones say?
Since when have I opposed happiness?  In fact, I have opposed cigarettes and alcohol specifically BECAUSE they undermine happiness.
My point here refers to the duty you put on the individual for the sake of wider society.  You say that the individual must sacrifice those things that may only affect them but may cause harm to wider society later.  This does not only include cigarettes and alcohol but also many other pass-times.  For example, a woman who spends too long tending her garden and not enough time working may be doing wider society a disservice.

You make the individual the slave of society.  You do oppose happiness because you don't recognise that most things that make individuals happy come at a price to society.

Quote from: wodan46
Elimination of things that cause more unhappiness than happiness is a good thing, unless the very elimination of those things would cause more unhappiness.  Also, banning a thing does not eliminate it, and banning a something might result in even more unhappiness as well.  That is why, while I dislike cigarettes and alcohol, I don't advocate banning them, instead, slowly eliminating them step by step.
You haven't shown though that cigarettes or alcohol do undermine happiness.  Neither have you shown what effect changing the law about them would have.  Nor have you shown a way to "slowly eliminate them" that would certainly improve happiness.

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If by elites, you mean scientists using scientific evidence derived not from 1 individual judging their wellbeing, but many individuals judging their wellbeing, and cross-referencing them to determine what genuinely benefits wellbeing in people and what doesn't, then yes.
That is rather like saying "Right turns are very difficult, hence no ordinary person will ever be able to perform one entirely correctly, so a professional stunt driver should be employed whenever a right turn is required".
Except that it is nothing like saying that.  Being able to make a decision like that is well within what humans are able to do reliably.  Being able to accurately psychoanalyze themselves is a case in which a person is less reliable than a group of scientists, who are themselves still fairly inaccurate.
It's hardly about "psychoanalysis" is it?  Besides, if a person wants to psychoanalyze themselves they can go to a psychoanalyst.

I don't think you are right to say that scientists can know this in every case.  It is a problem of how far the scientist stands from the person making the decision.  The scientist may have better tools, more knowledge and intelligence.  But, the scientist does not know the local particulars of the person involved.

It is like the whole question of a communist planned economy.  An economic planning committee can certainly be setup from experts with more knowledge and possibly more intelligence than any one business could have.  However, it could not comprehend the local element.

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You consider Scientists to be the only people capable of judging happiness.
No.  In fact, the way they judge happiness is by asking the people.
Cannot a person ask themselves that question?  I think that they can.  My point is that you are only taking the answer seriously if a scientist gives it.

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That a person can never be responsible enough to look after themselves.
No.  Merely that uninformed people can't.  If a person wants to be responsible for themselves, then they should become informed.  Until they are liable to hurt themselves.
Well, give me some evidence then for the supposition that people are uninformed.

Quote from: wodan46
Also, keep in mind that you are trying to shove me down the slippery slope.  The interference is only for extreme cases.
Alcohol or cannabis are hardly extreme cases.  You are already on a slippery slope, I am merely pointing out the gradient.  Why not ban theatre next for example (or it's modern equivalent TV), it is a frivoulous pass-time, that's what Oliver Cromwell did.

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The flaws in this view should be obvious.  Science could not possibly deduce what makes people happy in every relevant situation.  It could not predict the future and understand the effect of the decisions forced on others.
No, which is why it doesn't force itself into every decision.  Its willingness to interfere should be equal to its level of deduction/prediction, which means that it should only handle the blatant cases.
Maybe if the public really are involved.  If the condition some individual imposes on himself is all that is at stake then it is different.  In that case there is no argument even if science proves that interference could be beneficial.  For the reasons I have given in other posts.

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Good thing I don't advocate such.  I only advocate protecting people from irreversible consequences.  Putting a safety sign in front of a cliff is different from forbidding people from walking down stairs.  People will learn that behaving carelessly near elevated surfaces can lead to injury, without being too dead to apply that learning.
Communicating information about potentially harmful activities is something I certainly agree with.  That of course doesn't guarantee that irreversible consequences are prevented.
You missed the point.  In the cliff case, not only is information being communicated that the cliff is dangerous, but you are also being physically prevented from walking off the cliff.  However, for the staircase, only the warning is justifiable.
Read what you said above, you suggested putting a sign in front of a cliff not physically preventing people from walking off it.

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People generally do not learn something unless they can see a reason why they will need the information.
How about telling them that if they don't have the information, they will make a stupid decision and die?
That's what we do today in schools regarding drugs.  It doesn't work.  In fact schools tell their pupils they will really need maths and english, that doesn't mean that all pupils put effort into learning them.

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I think what you are missing here is that a person's judgment is not particularly clouded before they start drinking.  Hence they can be blamed for what happens once they do, and will take efforts to prevent themselves succumbing to such temptations.
I think being an alcoholic means by definition you don't have a choice, even when you have just arrived at the bar.  And alcohol is the least addictive drug of the ones we discuss.
Well, I don't know if that's true even of alcoholics.  However, I wasn't really commenting about alcoholics, I was talking about people in general.  Perhaps it would be wise to have a law preventing alcoholics from driving.  But the general situation is nothing like as dangerous as you make out.
For most people yes.  The law protects minorities though, even at the expense of the majority.
Yes.  I don't see any need to change it though.
The minority is people who can't handle alcohol, or who are hurt by those who can't handle alcohol.  So no, they aren't being protected.
I've ressurected the full text of the above conversation in all its insane glory.

People who can't handle their alcohol have a choice about whether they drink or not.  Before they have started drinking they are in full possession of their faculties.  They are not being disadvantaged here.  If they misbehave when drunk and are charged with crimes then that is their problem.  This is the sensible step that the law takes to prevent such a problem.

Are you saying that alcohol should be banned because a drinker could commit a crime while drunk?  A person could commit that crime anyway.  We could prevent that by locking everyone up in a huge jail.  Why not?  It would cut crime.

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Hence why banning binge drinking or drunk driving can be justified, as they qualify as sufficiently dangerous to themselves and others, but banning regular drinking would not be as justifiable.
You think binge drinking should be banned?  How on earth is that like drunk driving?  What threat does it pose to others?
The exact same threats to oneself and others that regular drinking does, except more?
Well, what threat does regular drinking pose to others?  If a person is not drunk or driving surely the answer is none whatsoever.

What threat does binge drinking pose to others?  Only if it is in a public situation may it pose a threat.  For that reason it is sensible to have laws against public drunkenness, but not drunkenness per se.

Whatever threat is poses to the individuals doing it is entirely their business and no business of ours.

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I've done it hundreds of times.
And some people can.  Not important.
I don't think I am particularly special.  My friends have done it hundreds of times with me.  I've witnesses thousands of people doing it every week.

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People die of binge drinking.  Is dying not a threat?
Only to those involved.  As I've said above that is no justification for the involvement of society or anyone else.
So it is of no importance to society that its members are diminishing in number?  Also, see prior statement that binge drinking can lead to the same negative externalities as before, except more so.
Is suicide something that should be banned?  Should a person be prevented from killing themselves because it causes the population of a society to drop by one?  Clearly not and the same is true of any other decision that may cause death.  I'm sure you don't disagree with Nascar or American Football or any dangerous sport like that.  Whether a person decides to do something dangerous that may cause their death is their business.

Certainly I agree there are negative externalities.  But that is a reason to tackle the externalities not the activities themselves.  What you are suggesting is like shutting down a factory to stop it polluting when you could simply require the factory owners to take steps to stop the pollution.

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What you seem to be saying here is that only scientists can tell a person what they enjoy.
No, that is not what I am saying.  I am saying that in regards to the effects of being drug addled, a scientist can judge better than a drug addled person whether or not it is beneficial to their overall happiness. 
How can a scientist ascertain this?  Surely not by asking?  How then?

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I did not say that carries over to decisions that don't involve being ignorant or drug addled.
Why not?  What's the difference?

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Also, that people cannot be trusted to be safe with drink or drugs.
Yes, because they kill themselves and others.  Lack of trust does not justify banning though.

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If this is true then isn't it reckless to let them vote?  Surely that job should fall to some more sensible agent?
Not the same situation, and you know it.  It is best to let them vote because it is better than restricting.  The same is not true for other situations.
You may think that it isn't the same situation but what is your argument for that?  What you are saying is that outside the polling booth the individual is not responsible to make decisions, so aristocracy of scientists should restrict their decisions.  Why then is the same not true inside the polling booth?  Surely some aristocracy of scientists should restrict their decisions their too?

My point here is that you are a person who trusts authority but not the private individual.  I've known many people like that.  They often start out as democrats.  Eventually though the logic of their views take over and they become supporters of aristocracy.  I expect that in time the same will happen to you.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 13, 2009, 11:20:50 EST
I'll post in a couple of days a reply to the long post from Wodan.

Until then a nice article (http://dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/83737/Drug-adviser-dismisses-Ecstasy-risk) in the Daily Express about drugs.  I entirely agree with Professor Nutt.
The great Mr.Eugenides chimes in on this subject (http://mreugenides.blogspot.com/2009/02/jacqui-smith-rebukes-drugs-adviser.html).


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on February 13, 2009, 12:14:12 EST
I am amazed at your patience.

Even so, i think this can more or less be boiled down to the following:

You, Current, think that people should be responsible for their own decisions and the consequences of their actions, while wodan thinks that everyone should be protected from doing anything dangerous ever, and failing that should be protected from the consequences of their actions.

The old responsibility vs blame game. I think rather than going through incredibly lengthy exchanges like you just did, it might be more useful to find out why blamers feel the way they do. Logic only works when the debaters are arguing from similar axiomatic premises.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: jerseycajun on February 13, 2009, 13:02:15 EST
"Not the same situation, and you know it.  It is best to let them vote because it is better than restricting.  The same is not true for other situations."

Like current, I would like to know why as well, if one is to accept your arguments about individuals' incapability.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 13, 2009, 17:08:21 EST
I am amazed at your patience.
We are all Determinators.  Well, at talking.

You, Current, think that people should be responsible for their own decisions and the consequences of their actions, while wodan thinks that everyone should be protected from doing anything dangerous ever, and failing that should be protected from the consequences of their actions.
In case you didn't notice, I specified that people should be protected from irrevocable/severely dangerous choices.  Hence my Cliff vs. Staircase example.  It is reasonable to put not just a warning sign, but an actual barrier blocking access, to a Cliff, because if someone falls off a Cliff, they don't learn from their mistake because they are now a bloody smear, but for a staircase, there isn't adequate justification for any warning, unless if its really steep or slippery, in which case a sticker would be acceptable.

Similarly, when someone takes a drug, the drug undermines their ability to make decisions as it addicts them, whereupon, even if they learned that the drug was unhealthy and even if they didn't want to take it, they would no longer be able to.  Hence, the decision was irrevocable, and over time can lead to severe danger.

That doesn't mean a drug should be banned, it should simply be denied to minors, who are more vulnerable to addiction and take greater damage from it, it should have extensive warnings, you should be required to obtain a permit to take it equivalent to a driver's license, and there should be clear limits on how much you are allowed to have at once.


The old responsibility vs blame game. I think rather than going through incredibly lengthy exchanges like you just did, it might be more useful to find out why blamers feel the way they do. Logic only works when the debaters are arguing from similar axiomatic premises.
I believe that denying choices which have a strong likelihood of depriving a person of future choices is reasonable if the loss of choice can be clearly demonstrated to happen.  By denying that choice, you give them access to more, which is good.  Since this is potentially vulnerable to slippery slope-ish stuff, the choice should not be denied, but merely restricted and made difficult to access.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: jerseycajun on February 13, 2009, 17:26:53 EST

I believe that denying choices which have a strong likelihood of depriving a person of future choices is reasonable if the loss of choice can be clearly demonstrated to happen.  By denying that choice, you give them access to more, which is good.  Since this is potentially vulnerable to slippery slope-ish stuff, the choice should not be denied, but merely restricted and made difficult to access.


And what if future choice isn't as important to that person than current choice?  What then?  Can you objectively state that your judgment between the two is superior to theirs for everything you would try to prevent them from choosing?  If so, why?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 13, 2009, 18:05:34 EST
If so, why?
Because beliefs based on evidence taken from studies and experiments, judged by dozens of experts in the field, is better than a belief based on personal anecdotes.

Once again, my attitude is towards moderation.  If you strawman my theory into demanding to take over every choice, you are being unfair.  The choices being taken away are restricted to only the most irrevocable and dangerous, as judged by a group of experts who specialize in that field.  Yes, it is possible that could slide down a slippery slope, but that will never happen so long as the media remains open and the public remains active.

If neither of those last things are true, then no government or corporation can possibly safe the public from itself.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on February 13, 2009, 18:09:44 EST
Science doesnt apply to subjective topics. Get over it.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 13, 2009, 18:13:40 EST
Science doesnt apply to subjective topics. Get over it.
You are simply wrong.  So long as it can be measured, Science applies, and subjective topics can be measured.  The most common tool of measurement is asking people questions.  Sure, it isn't going to be as perfect as the hard sciences, but even the hard sciences have tools that can prove to be not just be unreliable, but to be focused on the wrong paradigm.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ibian on February 13, 2009, 18:19:39 EST
By definition, subjective things can not be objectively measured.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 13, 2009, 18:45:43 EST
By definition, subjective things can not be objectively measured.
Except that they can.  They just can't be measured perfectly.  Which is just as well, because we can't measure objective things perfectly either.

For example, let's say you take a poll of people asking them to rate their overall happiness on a scale from 1 to 10.  You have just measured their reported happiness.  This may not accurately match colloquial definitions of happiness, but it is a measure.  Through repeated measuring and attempts, you can eventually come up with measurements that DO match colloquial definitions to an acceptable degree.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: jerseycajun on February 13, 2009, 19:22:53 EST
By definition, subjective things can not be objectively measured.
Except that they can.  They just can't be measured perfectly.  Which is just as well, because we can't measure objective things perfectly either.

For example, let's say you take a poll of people asking them to rate their overall happiness on a scale from 1 to 10.  You have just measured their reported happiness.  This may not accurately match colloquial definitions of happiness, but it is a measure.  Through repeated measuring and attempts, you can eventually come up with measurements that DO match colloquial definitions to an acceptable degree.

I would say along the lines of "far from perfectly", otherwise there is no distinction between subjective and objective and it all becomes one or the other.

Such a poll has no ability to measure why the person is happy or not.  People often cannot even put a finger on why exactly they are or are not happy.  Sometimes you just are and sometimes you just aren't.  Some people get depressed by rainy weather or winter weather, others find comfort in it.  Ask how happy people are all you want.  Saying you can glean reliable meaning out of it in order to justify public policy is sheer hubris.  Much of what you say, I find smacks of hubris, actually.

Not everything is quantifiable, and happiness is one of them.

By the way, I'll be taking a break from these boards and all boards while I concentrate on doing something that really does make me happy - my art.  I need a vacation from these discussions.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 13, 2009, 20:06:51 EST
People often cannot even put a finger on why exactly they are or are not happy.  Sometimes you just are and sometimes you just aren't.  Some people get depressed by rainy weather or winter weather, others find comfort in it.  Ask how happy people are all you want.  Saying you can glean reliable meaning out of it in order to justify public policy is sheer hubris.  Much of what you say, I find smacks of hubris, actually.
Everything you just said was full of hubris, in the belief that the human mind is something beyond our reach.

Also, what you said doesn't prove anything really.  Some people get depressed by rainy weather and others like it.  How does that have anything to do with measuring their reported happiness, or comparing their reported happiness to their biological signals, or comparing either of those to the resultant behavior that follows?

For example, I just reread an article for class dealing with an experiment where people at a bar were offered free beer (they had a very good volunteer rate).  They were asked to drink a beer referred to as the MIT mix, and rate how they thought it tasted.  The drink was actually a normal beer, but with small amounts of balsamic vinegar mixed in.  There were 3 groups, 1 group which was never told about the vinegar, 1 group which was told about the vinegar BEFORE drinking it, and another group was told AFTER they drank it, but before they gave it a rating.  Here are the rough ratings for the groups:

Never  |||||||||||||||||||||||
After   |||||||||||||||||||
Before |||||||

Now can you honestly tell me that no knowledge can be gleaned from an experiment such as this?  To me, this experiment strongly indicates that people are marginally willing to rate down a drink they've enjoyed after they've been told something nasty was in it, but will strongly rate down the drink if they were told before hand.  This indicates that the knowledge of what's in the drink is independent of ratings of the drink, and that moreover, knowledge of what's in a drink cause people to report it tasting differently than they would otherwise.

Even if the experiment was flawed, you simply keep trying, over and over, in countless different situations, again and again, until the models of human behavior begin to be more accurate at predicting future human behavior in societally relevant situations.

Of course, you don't need to do a lot of experiments to show that a drug addict enjoys life less, and has less control over their actions, then someone who takes drugs but isn't addicted, or who doesn't take drugs at all.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 15, 2009, 14:38:00 EST
Remember, the scientific method is a myth created to make science sound more formal.  All that science requires is the ability predict future events based on the measure of past events.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: jerseycajun on February 15, 2009, 16:33:48 EST
Remember, the scientific method is a myth created to make science sound more formal.  All that science requires is the ability predict future events based on the measure of past events.

Quick aside:  Have you studied hard sciences at higher levels at all?  Received any instruction from professors of science studies like physics, chemistry, or higher math?  If you don't mind me asking, what is your background in these fields?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 15, 2009, 17:51:41 EST
Remember, the scientific method is a myth created to make science sound more formal.  All that science requires is the ability predict future events based on the measure of past events.

Quick aside:  Have you studied hard sciences at higher levels at all?  Received any instruction from professors of science studies like physics, chemistry, or higher math?  If you don't mind me asking, what is your background in these fields?
Why should that be relevant?  I was defining the full arc of science in the broadest sense possible.  Yes, there are those in the "hard" sciences who insist that anything else doesn't qualify, but that is unfair.

When I said that the scientific method is a myth, I meant such in that scientists have never followed it as rule of law.  In fact, much of that has been discovered scientifically is done by accident, and only after is the scientific methodology applied.  One way to put it is that great discoveries are not followed by the scientist saying "eureka", but by "huh, that's funny".

The Scientific Method, as it is described by Wikipedia:

Scientific method refers to bodies of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[1] A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.[2]

Let's review: Can emotions be observed?  Yes.  Can inquiry into emotions be done on empirical grounds?  Yes.  Can emotions be measured?  Yes.  Hence, emotions can be studies under the guidelines of the much vaunted scientific method.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: jerseycajun on February 15, 2009, 18:22:20 EST
I am astounded that in two posts, you have both dismissed the scientific method as myth and then held it up as justifying your theories.

I was responding to the dismissal.  I have nothing yet to say on your application of the scientific method to this scenario.  I was just wondering what the background of a person who claimed it was myth, was.  Now I'm curious how these two posts aren't contradictory.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on February 15, 2009, 19:19:59 EST
Well, I read the first one as sarcastic. But it's hard to tell in text.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 16, 2009, 01:46:18 EST
I am astounded that in two posts, you have both dismissed the scientific method as myth and then held it up as justifying your theories.

I was responding to the dismissal.  I have nothing yet to say on your application of the scientific method to this scenario.  I was just wondering what the background of a person who claimed it was myth, was.  Now I'm curious how these two posts aren't contradictory.
To clarify, the scientific method, as it is popularly depicted, is a myth created by scientists to appease an already distrusting public.  This is because the public are morons, and scientists must make science appear to be clean and distinct from its main rivals, when in actuality, science has always been quite messy. Then again, some scientists like to believe that science is clean and that messy science is un-needed. However, most of science's greatest discoveries are accidents that resulted when trying to find something else.  Afterwards, those accidents are put under more traditional scientific scrutiny.  However, if scientists admitted to this, then the public would argue that they are no different from religious zealots and philosophers and pseudo-scientists, because the public are all retards.

To put it another way, a scientist admitting that the scientific method is more of a general guideline than an actual rule would be treated by the public the same way a person in a debate admitting that their argument isn't perfect.

Well, I read the first one as sarcastic. But it's hard to tell in text.
Internet is fun like that.  Full of sarcasm and idiocy, often impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 16, 2009, 12:06:02 EST
Every once in a while this has to happen...  I mostly agree with what Wodan has said here.  Subjective science is not oxymoronic, I am not disagreeing with Wodan because I think that science can only be objective.  In fact, as I said recently, I think that the ideas that science must be numerical and empirical on the large scale is essentially scientistic.  As I wrote in a recent thread (http://www.ireadthis.org/index.php?topic=4258.msg94464#msg94464).  I'm disagreeing with him for other reasons.

Wodan is also correct that there has never being a fixed "scientific method".  In fact many changes have happened in that regard in the last few years.  Look up the "falsifiability criterion" vs "fallibility criterion" debate.

The old responsibility vs blame game. I think rather than going through incredibly lengthy exchanges like you just did, it might be more useful to find out why blamers feel the way they do. Logic only works when the debaters are arguing from similar axiomatic premises.
Not really.  I have being arguing with Wodan on his own turf as it were.  I've accepted his premise of utilitarianism and progressed from there.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 16, 2009, 14:18:02 EST
Thankies.

By the way, from my perspective, I believe that I'M the one who advocates freedom, and the destruction of things that restrict freedom.  The difference is that I believe that freedom to choose between two equally bad fates is not the kind of freedom that people speak of colloquially, nor is it the one that people desire.

Perhaps a better way of putting it is that I believe that people have a right to opportunity, or in short, the right to make meaningful choices.

Hence, the choice between "do not have a place to meet with friends, eat, and drink" or "spend hours inside an enclosed environment full of toxic smoke" is to me an unacceptable breach of ones freedoms.  This is reasonable given that it results in only a limited restriction on ones freedom to inhale toxic gas in order to slowly kill yourselves and those around you, and also reasonable in part because such a freedom had no meaningful connection to the pub's functioning anyways.

In short, the freedom to peacefully abide in a semi-public place and use its services over-rides the freedom to randomly inflict harm to those in the semi-public place, and it is in fact questionable as to whether or not one should be allowed to randomly inflict harm to those in a semi-public place unless the others sign forms indicating a willingness to endure such.

The key thing is that a Pub is a Public place.  Moreover, regardless of its actual status, it is most definitely required to adhere to city building laws and saftey standards.  Previously, that included stuff such as fire escapes.  Now smoking has been added.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 16, 2009, 14:57:17 EST
By the way, from my perspective, I believe that I'M the one who advocates freedom, and the destruction of things that restrict freedom.  The difference is that I believe that freedom to choose between two equally bad fates is not the kind of freedom that people speak of colloquially, nor is it the one that people desire.

Perhaps a better way of putting it is that I believe that people have a right to opportunity, or in short, the right to make meaningful choices.
I realise that you believe yourself to be a supporter of freedom.  However, what I'm arguing is that you are not supporting policies of freedom.

Hence, the choice between "do not have a place to meet with friends, eat, and drink" or "spend hours inside an enclosed environment full of toxic smoke" is to me an unacceptable breach of ones freedoms.
Obviously though you do have a choice of a place to meet with your friends to eat and drink, you could do that in your own home.  Within your home you could ban your friends from smoking.

This is reasonable given that it results in only a limited restriction on ones freedom to inhale toxic gas in order to slowly kill yourselves and those around you, and also reasonable in part because such a freedom had no meaningful connection to the pub's functioning anyways.
I'm not particularly concerned here with the freedom of the smokers.  They can smoke elsewhere, as you say.  I'm concerned that the proprietors of the establishments involved have had the rule imposed upon them by government.

Government had no place applying that rule.  If we agree to government creating this sort of rule then what about others of the same sort.  Suppose for example that the government discover that it would be in the public interest if your house were used as a runway.  They then apply a rule that says that the land of your house is only permitted to be used for that purpose.  So they knock down your house and chuck you out.  Is that acceptable?

What you are doing is demanding a petty privilege in the present and incurring huge danger for the future.

In short, the freedom to peacefully abide in a semi-public place and use its services over-rides the freedom to randomly inflict harm to those in the semi-public place, and it is in fact questionable as to whether or not one should be allowed to randomly inflict harm to those in a semi-public place unless the others sign forms indicating a willingness to endure such.
Well, if all you are proposing is changing the laws on signs I would not object to that.

The key thing is that a Pub is a Public place.
As I said at the beginning of this thread a pub is not a public place, it is open to the public.  Haven't you ever seen anyone "barred" from a pub who gets thrown out as soon as he walks in.

Moreover, regardless of its actual status, it is most definitely required to adhere to city building laws and saftey standards.  Previously, hat included stuff such as fire escapes.
Yes.

Now smoking has been added.
It's not the same thing though, as has been pointed out earlier.  The point here is that there is no option.  Nobody wants to visit a pub with an inadequate fire escape, people do want to visit ones that permit smoking.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on February 16, 2009, 18:49:39 EST
Government had no place applying that rule.  If we agree to government creating this sort of rule then what about others of the same sort.  Suppose for example that the government discover that it would be in the public interest if your house were used as a runway.  They then apply a rule that says that the land of your house is only permitted to be used for that purpose.  So they knock down your house and chuck you out.  Is that acceptable?

It already exists, reasonable or not. Eminent domain and all that. The government is usually required to pay above market cost for the property and improvements, though.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 16, 2009, 19:42:41 EST
Hence, the choice between "do not have a place to meet with friends, eat, and drink" or "spend hours inside an enclosed environment full of toxic smoke" is to me an unacceptable breach of ones freedoms.
Obviously though you do have a choice of a place to meet with your friends to eat and drink,
My assumption, which is supported by fact, is that meeting at places that do not smoke is prohibitively difficult.

Government had no place applying that rule.  If we agree to government creating this sort of rule then what about others of the same sort.  Suppose for example that the government discover that it would be in the public interest if your house were used as a runway.  They then apply a rule that says that the land of your house is only permitted to be used for that purpose.  So they knock down your house and chuck you out.  Is that acceptable?
Yes, the government is allowed to do that, under eminent domain, which was enshrined in the constitution.  However, you can use that money to buy a better house, so its all good.

Similarly, Pubs are located in cities, and are thus expected to follow building codes given by the city, which include things like fire escapes.  Including smoking isn't much of a stretch. 

What you are doing is demanding a petty privilege in the present and incurring huge danger for the future.
Decisions can have consequences.  Some of them are severe.  You know what we should do?  Ban all decisions ever.  Or you know, perhaps we have to realize that the world isn't perfect, there are shades of grey, and we should just deal with it, albeit with care.

YOU are the one demanding that the petty privilege of smoking in enclosed places regularly used by non-smokers for other purposes override the dangers of smoking in an enclosed place.  I'm sorry, but the right to do frivolous things in places that you don't need to does not over-ride other people's right to not be endangered by such things.  If it wasn't frivolous, or is normally done at the place, or wasn't dangerous, then there'd be more of an argument.

In short, the freedom to peacefully abide in a semi-public place and use its services over-rides the freedom to randomly inflict harm to those in the semi-public place, and it is in fact questionable as to whether or not one should be allowed to randomly inflict harm to those in a semi-public place unless the others sign forms indicating a willingness to endure such.
Well, if all you are proposing is changing the laws on signs I would not object to that.
Such is what I would consider a reasonable compromise given the circumstances.  Smoking still remains a major health hazard that in my eyes should be restricted in Pubs the same way other major health hazards are, but a compromise is good for now.

The key thing is that a Pub is a Public place.
As I said at the beginning of this thread a pub is not a public place, it is open to the public.  Haven't you ever seen anyone "barred" from a pub who gets thrown out as soon as he walks in.
And running around in public naked will get you thrown in jail just as easily.

Now smoking has been added.
It's not the same thing though, as has been pointed out earlier.  The point here is that there is no option.  Nobody wants to visit a pub with an inadequate fire escape, people do want to visit ones that permit smoking.
Who says that no one wants to?  People just accept having a fire escape as the status quo, even it weren't required, many would still go.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 17, 2009, 06:56:35 EST
Government had no place applying that rule.  If we agree to government creating this sort of rule then what about others of the same sort.  Suppose for example that the government discover that it would be in the public interest if your house were used as a runway.  They then apply a rule that says that the land of your house is only permitted to be used for that purpose.  So they knock down your house and chuck you out.  Is that acceptable?

It already exists, reasonable or not. Eminent domain and all that. The government is usually required to pay above market cost for the property and improvements, though.
Eminent domain or compulsory purchase is in many ways different.  It gives government the power to take land, and as you say they are normally required to give compensation for it.  That is an overt method by which the government control private property.  It isn't one I agree with, but neither do I think that it's particularly dangerous, because it is overt.

Laws however, are a covert way of achieving the same ends.  My point is that if limiting rules can be placed over an item of property then government can become the effective owner without the need to overtly take the property.  Or they can affect significantly how that property is used.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 17, 2009, 11:05:02 EST
Hence, the choice between "do not have a place to meet with friends, eat, and drink" or "spend hours inside an enclosed environment full of toxic smoke" is to me an unacceptable breach of ones freedoms.
Obviously though you do have a choice of a place to meet with your friends to eat and drink,
My assumption, which is supported by fact, is that meeting at places that do not smoke is prohibitively difficult.
My point was that you can do it in your own home.

Government had no place applying that rule.  If we agree to government creating this sort of rule then what about others of the same sort.  Suppose for example that the government discover that it would be in the public interest if your house were used as a runway.  They then apply a rule that says that the land of your house is only permitted to be used for that purpose.  So they knock down your house and chuck you out.  Is that acceptable?
Yes, the government is allowed to do that, under eminent domain, which was enshrined in the constitution.  However, you can use that money to buy a better house, so its all good.
See the reply I gave to Medivh.

Also, "Eminent Domain" requires that the government give compensation.  The production of laws that limit the usage of property does not.  As I said above suppose for example that the government discover that it would be in the public interest if your house were used as a runway.  If we accept the idea that the government can create laws that limit arbitrarily the usage of other peoples property then the government need not pay you for your house.  Rather than use eminent domain they could create a new specific law saying that your house could only be used for the purpose of a runway.

In my view governments cannot be trusted with eminent domain laws.  I think they certainly can't be trusted with these laws.

Similarly, Pubs are located in cities, and are thus expected to follow building codes given by the city, which include things like fire escapes.  Including smoking isn't much of a stretch. 
Yes it is.  For a start does following the building code affect the customer the pub gets?  Smoking bans bankrupt pubs.

What you are doing is demanding a petty privilege in the present and incurring huge danger for the future.
Decisions can have consequences.  Some of them are severe.  You know what we should do?  Ban all decisions ever.  Or you know, perhaps we have to realize that the world isn't perfect, there are shades of grey, and we should just deal with it, albeit with care.
I certainly agree that we need to make decisions and that their are shades of grey.  However, I don't think this is a "shade of grey".

YOU are the one demanding that the petty privilege of smoking in enclosed places regularly used by non-smokers for other purposes override the dangers of smoking in an enclosed place.  I'm sorry, but the right to do frivolous things in places that you don't need to does not over-ride other people's right to not be endangered by such things.  If it wasn't frivolous, or is normally done at the place, or wasn't dangerous, then there'd be more of an argument.
This has very little to do with those questions.  I'm not saying that "the petty privilege of smoking in enclosed places regularly used by non-smokers for other purposes override the dangers of smoking in an enclosed place".  You are missing the a very important group here - Proprietors.  What I'm saying is that whether it does or does not is for individuals to decide.  It is not for government to make decisions on, it is a matter for a private decision.

Those who do not like places that permit smoking are perfectly free not to visit them.

In short, the freedom to peacefully abide in a semi-public place and use its services over-rides the freedom to randomly inflict harm to those in the semi-public place, and it is in fact questionable as to whether or not one should be allowed to randomly inflict harm to those in a semi-public place unless the others sign forms indicating a willingness to endure such.
Well, if all you are proposing is changing the laws on signs I would not object to that.
Such is what I would consider a reasonable compromise given the circumstances.  Smoking still remains a major health hazard that in my eyes should be restricted in Pubs the same way other major health hazards are, but a compromise is good for now.
Well, fair enough.  If it's only the signage that has to change I'm OK with that.

The key thing is that a Pub is a Public place.
As I said at the beginning of this thread a pub is not a public place, it is open to the public.  Haven't you ever seen anyone "barred" from a pub who gets thrown out as soon as he walks in.
And running around in public naked will get you thrown in jail just as easily.
Yes.  That sort of law is certainly a subject for public debate.  However that doesn't mean that public spaces, such as roads or parks are the same as private ones which are open to the public.

Note that nudity is legal (and often mandatory) in a naturist colony where the rules of the colony hold sway.  It is in truly public spaces, such as roads where rules created by government must hold sway.  That doesn't necessarily mean though that government must rule on what happens on private property.  Some law is obviously necessary, but it is not the same situation as a public place.

Now smoking has been added.
It's not the same thing though, as has been pointed out earlier.  The point here is that there is no option.  Nobody wants to visit a pub with an inadequate fire escape, people do want to visit ones that permit smoking.
Who says that no one wants to?  People just accept having a fire escape as the status quo, even it weren't required, many would still go.
Well, I suppose they may.  I've never seen any evidence of it though.  Smokers and publicans however often complain about the smoking ban.

Also, what if a pub actually announced to it's guests that it didn't meet fire regulations and was dangerous to enter but continued to operate?  Is that really unacceptable?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 17, 2009, 11:27:20 EST
I know this isn't to me, but I think some comments on it are needed...

I am amazed at your patience.
We are all Determinators.  Well, at talking.
Ooo.  What's a Determinator?

You, Current, think that people should be responsible for their own decisions and the consequences of their actions, while wodan thinks that everyone should be protected from doing anything dangerous ever, and failing that should be protected from the consequences of their actions.
In case you didn't notice, I specified that people should be protected from irrevocable/severely dangerous choices.  Hence my Cliff vs. Staircase example.  It is reasonable to put not just a warning sign, but an actual barrier blocking access, to a Cliff, because if someone falls off a Cliff, they don't learn from their mistake because they are now a bloody smear,
I fail to see why access to a cliff should be blocked just because people can walk off it.  Surely whether or not it is blocked is up to the owner.  I don't think this is a comparable situation.

but for a staircase, there isn't adequate justification for any warning, unless if its really steep or slippery, in which case a sticker would be acceptable.

Similarly, when someone takes a drug, the drug undermines their ability to make decisions as it addicts them, whereupon, even if they learned that the drug was unhealthy and even if they didn't want to take it, they would no longer be able to.  Hence, the decision was irrevocable, and over time can lead to severe danger.
That isn't true.  Drinking an alcoholic drink doesn't make a person an alcoholic.  Neither does taking cocaine or heroin make a person an addict.  Certainly it may undermine judgment, but many things may do that, tiredness for example.

Addictions are things that are built up over time by prolonged use.  We can't say that a person who has had one drink is unable to make decisions for himself, that clearly isn't true.

That doesn't mean a drug should be banned, it should simply be denied to minors, who are more vulnerable to addiction and take greater damage from it,
Yes.

it should have extensive warnings, you should be required to obtain a permit to take it equivalent to a driver's license, and there should be clear limits on how much you are allowed to have at once.
Why?  People already know the dangers, warnings aren't necessary.

I love the idea of a license.  I want to tell people "I'm a fully licensed drunkard".  Wodan, you should be a comedian.

be clear limits on how much you are allowed to have at once.
Why?  For the purposes of driving laws that is certainly necessary, but otherwise, why?

The old responsibility vs blame game. I think rather than going through incredibly lengthy exchanges like you just did, it might be more useful to find out why blamers feel the way they do. Logic only works when the debaters are arguing from similar axiomatic premises.
I believe that denying choices which have a strong likelihood of depriving a person of future choices is reasonable if the loss of choice can be clearly demonstrated to happen.  By denying that choice, you give them access to more, which is good.  Since this is potentially vulnerable to slippery slope-ish stuff, the choice should not be denied, but merely restricted and made difficult to access.
Who is to judge all of this though?

As Harold MacMillan once said "We have not overthrown the divine right of kings to fall down for the divine right of experts."


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 17, 2009, 12:09:44 EST
What worries me about this discussion is not the utilitarianism people are quoting.  Rather it's the dependence on democracy and on experts....

Wodan you often try to argue from the point of view of democracy.  If we have an effective free press and a watchful electorate then politicians will not be able to abuse their positions.  This argument could be used against any law.  It could be argued, for example, that the police should be permitted to shoot whomever they like.  This would much simplify law enforcement, when capital punishment is necessary it could be enacted on the spot.  The taxpayer would save a fortune.  Such a policy though would be reckless even in the presence of a free press and a watchful electorate.  No matter how diligent the electorate were they would not be able to make an opinion on every case involving the law.  What is more the electorate would have no particular reason to be diligent.  The same is the case with drug policy.

You have made this "free press and watchful electorate" argument several times.  What you seem to be saying is that if these things were to come about then principles are no longer needed.  Once the electorate are good and the press are good then limitations on government power are unnecessary.  I disagree with you here on three points.  Firstly, as I said in the above paragraph no electorate could be sufficiently vigilent.  Secondly, though you're point is circular.  As I understand it you are a psychology undergraduate.  Let's say that the US government decide to introduce a law to euthanase all psychology students.  The government claim to have evidence that doing so would be beneficial for the nation overall.  How should a person who does not believe in principle but believes in a "free press and watchful electorate" behave here?  Well, he can't say that "in principle" it is wrong to kill psychology students.  Neither could he accept the free press making the same argument, and without any information about the subject the press would be unable to make any other argument.  The electorate mostly are not psychology students and have no reason to care about their fate.  Let's suppose they all think that same way though, rejecting principles and praising democracy.  Well, they cannot oppose the measure on the basis of principles.  So the logical conclusion is that the psychology students must die.  The point I'm making here is that opposing measures in principle is what democratic accountability is all about. 


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: jerseycajun on February 17, 2009, 13:22:07 EST
Quote from: Current link=topic=4250.msg94694#msg94694
I fail to see why access to a cliff should be blocked just because people can walk off it.  Surely whether or not it is blocked is up to the owner.  I don't think this is a comparable situation.

Interesting side note for those who haven't been, the largest hole in the world (and I'm not dismissing it - it's a supremely impressive and awe-inspiring hole I think just about anyone should try to see in their lifetime), the Grand Canyon, while it does have periodic railings here and there, is largely without protective barriers for the large majority of the Rim Trail and for the entirety of the highly popular Bright Angel Trail as well as others.  Both trails take you right up against fatal drops.  I'm rather glad that there is no obstruction to the natural view, however.  In response to the lack of railing, I became more aware of my environment and more cautious as well.  I was able to take in things more vividly.  Besides which, the size of the barrier you'd have to use in order to protect the terminally careless would have to be rather large and ungainly, and people wouldn't be able to enjoy the canyon to it's fullest as they'd have to recess the barrier away from the edge which would keep folks from seeing what's below the horizon.  Even where there were barriers, say at a drive-by overlook I was at on our first day there, a parent let their child sit on the stone wall barrier separating them from the canyon beyond.

One moment of humor worthy of the failblog, and I'm not making this up, was when I was passing a rare part of the trail that had a guardrail, and at the point just after the guardrail ended, there was an outcropping of rock jutting out over the edge by about 20 to 25 feet, flat and with a sign out on the edge.

Seeing as how the railing ended just there, I figured the sign was there to point out some natural feature on the horizon.

I realized after walking out onto the ledge to get close enough to read it, the sign was a warning not to go past the railing because people had died looking out over the rock I was standing on and falling off.  It was then that I noticed that the rock itself was actually in a state of cracking where the cracks had been filled (presumably by park workers) with cement.  Yes, I beat a hasty retreat and got back on the trail.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 17, 2009, 17:10:15 EST
Who is to judge all of this though?
Um, you are?   How exactly are we under the divine rule of experts if we ourselves elected them in the first place?

The alternative, making all judgements oneselves, without the contribution of the net knowledge of society, would end horribly, because not even a person with 200 IQ can handle all the judgements they need to make in their life.  Society is built upon the concept of inter-reliance, to the point that we are dependent on others for virtually all of our basic needs with only the most limited capacity of dealing with them ourselves.  Yet it still works anyways, funny thing that.

See, that's the thing you don't get.  There are two choices, accept that society is based on socialism and utilitarianism, or pretend that it isn't, whereupon you will soon fail to have a society at all.

Wodan you often try to argue from the point of view of democracy.  If we have an effective free press and a watchful electorate then politicians will not be able to abuse their positions.
They can.  They will simply have a higher turnover rate.

This argument could be used against any law.  It could be argued, for example, that the police should be permitted to shoot whomever they like.  This would much simplify law enforcement, when capital punishment is necessary it could be enacted on the spot.  The taxpayer would save a fortune.
Such a law would clearly undermine the goals of society.  Furthermore, the vast majority of people, in a watchful society with an effective free press, would realize this, and get rid of any politician who attempts to implement such.

Superior knowledge/awareness does not justify extreme actions, and those with access to such will recognize that as a given.

No matter how diligent the electorate were they would not be able to make an opinion on every case involving the law.
So?  The system is never intended to be perfect, so long as it functions and can avoid falling down the slippery slope.  No counter-system offered has been able to do the same.

What is more the electorate would have no particular reason to be diligent.
If they truly didn't, then would their really be a problem?  Problems arise only arise when they should be diligent but aren't.

You have made this "free press and watchful electorate" argument several times.  What you seem to be saying is that if these things were to come about then principles are no longer needed.
No.  Once those things come about, principles would become stronger and more protected than ever.

Once the electorate are good and the press are good then limitations on government power are unnecessary.
No.  Once the electorate and the press are good, then limitations on government power will be accepted as the only reasonable thing.

Firstly, as I said in the above paragraph no electorate could be sufficiently vigilent.
Completely vigilant, no.  Sufficiently vigilant, yes.  Government is already quite heavily watched, and does quite often have even high ranking officials get nailed with indictments and the like.  That's with a population wasting their zeal on sports and religion rather than politics.

Secondly, though you're point is circular.  As I understand it you are a psychology undergraduate.
Decision Science, anyways.

Let's say that the US government decide to introduce a law to euthanase all psychology students.  The government claim to have evidence that doing so would be beneficial for the nation overall.  How should a person who does not believe in principle but believes in a "free press and watchful electorate" behave here?
Such is irrelevant, because a person not believing in principle but believing in a free press and watchful electorate is going to be a very rare commodity.

Well, he can't say that "in principle" it is wrong to kill psychology students.
Um, why wouldn't he?

Let me make this clear.  Believing in free press and watchful electorate does not mean you stop believing in any form of limits on what government can and can't do.  In fact, because of the presence of such elements, the government will be more limited in their capacity to do such unlawful things anyways.

To clarify, the government should be protecting opportunity, not liberty.  However, opportunity requires a degree of liberty to exist at all, and a pretty substantial one at that.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must all be covered.  I see no reason why frivilous liberties should be permitted when it is clear that they can destroy both life, the pursuit of happiness, and even other liberties.


Neither could he accept the free press making the same argument, and without any information about the subject the press would be unable to make any other argument.
What are you even talking about now?

The electorate mostly are not psychology students and have no reason to care about their fate.
So?  They care about people's freedoms being undermined for no explained gain, which indirectly causes harm to them through an overall weakening of society, but also directly threatens that their freedoms could be taken as well.

Let's suppose they all think that same way though, rejecting principles and praising democracy.
Once again, this is a very bipolar and improbable society you are talking of.  Almost as bipolar as the society you advocate, which values liberty above all else, including the pursuit of happiness, life, and other liberties.

The point I'm making here is that opposing measures in principle is what democratic accountability is all about.
Yes, and that is contrary to my points how?  My whole point is that a free press and watchful electorate give the people the tools they need to hold a democracy accountable to their principles.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: jerseycajun on February 17, 2009, 19:06:29 EST
Um, you are?   How exactly are we under the divine rule of experts if we ourselves elected them in the first place?

You're placing the burden of judgment onto an elite group with no more or less trust than those living under monarchies used to trust kings to do likewise.  If they are the experts, who are we to question them, when we hired them to use their expert judgment?  Or if we rely on the press, who are we to question them?  Unless they're being overtly corrupt, one would have to assume that because they are experts and we are not, their expert opinion is unassailable much in the same way that the king's word was unassailable, regardless of how they got the job.

The alternative, making all judgements oneselves, without the contribution of the net knowledge of society, would end horribly, because not even a person with 200 IQ can handle all the judgements they need to make in their life.  Society is built upon the concept of inter-reliance, to the point that we are dependent on others for virtually all of our basic needs with only the most limited capacity of dealing with them ourselves.  Yet it still works anyways, funny thing that.

See, that's the thing you don't get.  There are two choices, accept that society is based on socialism and utilitarianism, or pretend that it isn't, whereupon you will soon fail to have a society at all.

Socialization and cooperation is indeed a basic and natural need for society to exist.  Socialization en-mass and by force is not.

Can't help but relish the irony that what you're saying with that last sentence falls right in line with Bush apologists claims that "9/11 changed everything" and to believe otherwise was to be living in denial.  I didn't accept it when it came from them, and I don't accept it now.  We're talking about political paradigms, not projectile physics, here.

I'm also reminded of the line "There are two groups of people: those that catalog people into two groups and those that don't".

If they truly didn't, then would their really be a problem?  Problems arise only arise when they should be diligent but aren't.

Diligence requires similar scope of knowledge over government the likes of which you claim individuals are incapable of processing, or at least a very high degree of such.

Also, how would they know the difference if they have to outsource that diligence to a third party (a 'virtuous' press).  Who watches the press to make sure they're doing their job properly?  (see watchmen problem below)

No.  Once those things come about, principles would become stronger and more protected than ever.
What principles?  The principles of majority rule?

No.  Once the electorate and the press are good, then limitations on government power will be accepted as the only reasonable thing.
This still requires that one or more particular institutions to first become "pure".  The trick is always, to take an appropriate line from an upcoming film: "Who watches the Watchmen?"  The press is an intermediary required to be pure in order for this vision to function.  Who makes sure, for example, that they are being honest?  Do we form another group to watch over them?  And who makes sure that they're doing their job?  Etc, etc, ...

Completely vigilant, no.  Sufficiently vigilant, yes.  Government is already quite heavily watched, and does quite often have even high ranking officials get nailed with indictments and the like.  That's with a population wasting their zeal on sports and religion rather than politics.

Sufficiently perhaps at a very local scale of government, where everyone knows everyone else.  At the level of national governments?  Not a snowball's chance, unless perhaps we're talking about the nation of Andorra.

So?  They care about people's freedoms being undermined for no explained gain, which indirectly causes harm to them through an overall weakening of society, but also directly threatens that their freedoms could be taken as well.

History is replete with examples of majority groups not giving two hoots over minority abuse as long as they're spared of it.  What stops this from happening in your society?  People are generally only threatened when it's their own liberty and life at stake and have a bad history of tolerating minority injustice.  It is, regretfully, one of many human fallibilities that plagues all societies, free or otherwise.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 17, 2009, 22:18:56 EST
Um, you are?   How exactly are we under the divine rule of experts if we ourselves elected them in the first place?

You're placing the burden of judgment onto an elite group with no more or less trust than those living under monarchies used to trust kings to do likewise.  If they are the experts, who are we to question them, when we hired them to use their expert judgment?
That is a circular argument.  You are presuming that they are experts, and thus we should trust their judgement.  However, they are presumed to be experts so long as they generate results.  If they stop generating results, this does not mean that we can't understand their expert judgements, its means they stopped generating results and thus are failures that should be replaced with those who can.

Or if we rely on the press, who are we to question them?
Same thing.  Hold them accountable based on their ability to generate results.  So long as the public desires it, the press will have the power to uncover the actions of those in power.  The press has sufficient grassroots power that even if the upper echelons become corrupt, they can't dominate as occurs in other corporate systems.  However, if the public doesn't care, no amount of grassroots will matter.



Unless they're being overtly corrupt, one would have to assume that because they are experts and we are not, their expert opinion is unassailable much in the same way that the king's word was unassailable, regardless of how they got the job.
Why?  What's our motivation to do that?

Perhaps you misunderstand.  I said a watchful public, not a subservient and cowardly one.

A watchful public will NOT take an expert's opinion for granted unless it consistently works, and same for the media.  They judge their experts not on their titles but upon their results, while the media uncovers any results that are hidden, and the underground media uncovers any results the regular media hid themselves.

Socialization and cooperation is indeed a basic and natural need for society to exist.  Socialization en-mass and by force is not.
Depends on your definition of that.  I have advocated nothing more than the protection of people's basic freedoms.  I just value the freedom to not be starving greater than the freedom to breath toxic gas in people's faces.

Can't help but relish the irony that what you're saying with that last sentence falls right in line with Bush apologists claims that "9/11 changed everything" and to believe otherwise was to be living in denial.  I didn't accept it when it came from them, and I don't accept it now.  We're talking about political paradigms, not projectile physics, here.
Once again, the government I advocate does not have anywhere near the power you imply, nor is it capable of slipping to that level.  This is because the system will be full of cynical people specifically watching the government to make sure it doesn't slip to that level.

If they truly didn't, then would their really be a problem?  Problems arise only arise when they should be diligent but aren't.

Diligence requires similar scope of knowledge over government the likes of which you claim individuals are incapable of processing, or at least a very high degree of such.
How so?  People don't need to know the entire scope of government in order to deal with it.  Just as there are various groups of experts within the government, there will be various groups of people outside government who monitor specific groups of experts to see whether or not they generate desirable outputs.

Also, how would they know the difference if they have to outsource that diligence to a third party (a 'virtuous' press).  Who watches the press to make sure they're doing their job properly?
Because the press is a special case.  Even if all the news organizations joined into a small number of groups run by rich CEOs, it would be impossible from them to suppress the news that the people wish to know of, thanks to underground media.  You do not see similar things occur in other businesses.

What principles?  The principles of majority rule?
No, that's what YOU advocate, remember.  Majority of smokers over-rides minority of non-smokers, after all.  Majority rule WITH minority protection is a better deal.

No.  Once the electorate and the press are good, then limitations on government power will be accepted as the only reasonable thing.
This still requires that one or more particular institutions to first become "pure".
No, it doesn't.  Why would it require a field to become pure?  You assume that anything that isn't pure is doomed to slide down the slippery slope of corruption and good intentions, but if that were true, we'd have been screwed a long time ago.  It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough that corruption can't exceed a certain degree without counter-corruption forces moving to stop it.


The press is an intermediary required to be pure in order for this vision to function.  Who makes sure, for example, that they are being honest?  Do we form another group to watch over them?  And who makes sure that they're doing their job?  Etc, etc, ...
Once again, they do not need to be pure for it to work.

See, you seem to believe that relying on Free Market Forces will magically solve everything, and that it will put bad corporations out of commission and let good ones take their place.  It doesn't.  On the other hand, Free Political Forces can come up with adequate solutions for most problems if people are reasonably diligent in their activity on the subject.  Once again, it isn't a question of smarts, its a question of awareness.  If people paid half as much attention to politics as they did to football, we wouldn't have nearly as much corruption.

Also, if people are incapable of forming a functional government, as you seem to be claiming, then they are even less able to form a functional free market system.  The government system has several clear advantages regarding tendency towards corruption and consolidation of power that the free market does not.

Sufficiently perhaps at a very local scale of government, where everyone knows everyone else.  At the level of national governments?  Not a snowball's chance, unless perhaps we're talking about the nation of Andorra.
How so?  People don't need to know everything, just the cliff notes version of the big issues, and additional knowledge on a specific issue that matters to them.

So?  They care about people's freedoms being undermined for no explained gain, which indirectly causes harm to them through an overall weakening of society, but also directly threatens that their freedoms could be taken as well.

History is replete with examples of majority groups not giving two hoots over minority abuse as long as they're spared of it.  What stops this from happening in your society?
The political awareness of the majority, and the political activity of the minority.  Which is going to do a damn better job than your system ever will at protecting minorities.

People are generally only threatened when it's their own liberty and life at stake and have a bad history of tolerating minority injustice.  It is, regretfully, one of many human fallibilities that plagues all societies, free or otherwise.
More and more, it seems as though you believe that people are mostly dullards, that no society can work, and that its everyone for themselves, at least someone will win that way.  That's a rather pessimistic attitude to hold.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: jerseycajun on February 18, 2009, 01:05:34 EST
That is a circular argument.  You are presuming that they are experts, and thus we should trust their judgement.  However, they are presumed to be experts so long as they generate results.  If they stop generating results, this does not mean that we can't understand their expert judgements, its means they stopped generating results and thus are failures that should be replaced with those who can.

I'm the one using circular arguments?  The government will be good if the press is good, the press will be good if the people want good news reporting, and I'm going out on a limb that the part of your idea to get the people to want good news reporting is to use the government to get them to want good news reporting.  Now, I freely admit that last bit was speculation, so I invite you to correct it if necessary.

And what of false positives?  Correlation does not equate to causation.  Bad results may have nothing to do with a particular policy or it may have everything to do with it.  If people are perceptive enough to understand and differentiate what is or is not causing complex and chaotic relationships and thereby correctly judge whether or not the expert has judged correctly, then what do they need the expert for?

Same thing.  Hold them accountable based on their ability to generate results.  So long as the public desires it, the press will have the power to uncover the actions of those in power.  The press has sufficient grassroots power that even if the upper echelons become corrupt, they can't dominate as occurs in other corporate systems.  However, if the public doesn't care, no amount of grassroots will matter.

Same response as above.



Why?  What's our motivation to do that?

Perhaps you misunderstand.  I said a watchful public, not a subservient and cowardly one.

A watchful public will NOT take an expert's opinion for granted unless it consistently works, and same for the media.  They judge their experts not on their titles but upon their results, while the media uncovers any results that are hidden, and the underground media uncovers any results the regular media hid themselves.

Results are often misleading, and complex issues are easily spun to the masses.  There is a natural human predilection to accept the easy answer when perhaps the truth is often more complicated.  If a majority of the people had a handle on the complexities of such things they wouldn't need to rely on experts.

Depends on your definition of that.  I have advocated nothing more than the protection of people's basic freedoms.  I just value the freedom to not be starving greater than the freedom to breath toxic gas in people's faces.

We don't have to go over again how our ideas of freedom differ rather dramatically.  We don't need to get into that again now.

Once again, the government I advocate does not have anywhere near the power you imply, nor is it capable of slipping to that level.  This is because the system will be full of cynical people specifically watching the government to make sure it doesn't slip to that level.

I thought cynicism was poisonous to your ideal government working.  You were prepared to lay a good deal of blame of government failure on us cynical libertarians/classical liberals for our cynicism.  I suppose since you don't want Papa bear levels of cynicism or Mamma Bear levels of the same, that you must mean baby bear's "just right" cynical attitude and to get 51 of the people to share that nuanced understanding.  Consistently.  What am I missing here?

How so?  People don't need to know the entire scope of government in order to deal with it.  Just as there are various groups of experts within the government, there will be various groups of people outside government who monitor specific groups of experts to see whether or not they generate desirable outputs.


Because the press is a special case.  Even if all the news organizations joined into a small number of groups run by rich CEOs, it would be impossible from them to suppress the news that the people wish to know of, thanks to underground media.  You do not see similar things occur in other businesses.[/quote]

I haven't known underground media to carry meaningful influence except in the harshest of times, such as under an occupation.  And again, now you've shifted the keystone responsibility from the press back to the public, who will magically want the press to do more incisive, thoughtful reporting because...

No, that's what YOU advocate, remember.  Majority of smokers over-rides minority of non-smokers, after all.  Majority rule WITH minority protection is a better deal.

Absolutely without question I agree with your last sentence there.  The rest of it however...  There is no positive right to be provided with a smoke-free bar.  There is no infringement of any majority or minority.

No.  Once the electorate and the press are good, then limitations on government power will be accepted as the only reasonable thing.
  Again, the keystone of an "improved" public has yet to be procured.  Explain how you plan to get a large percentage of the people into being better at doing these things.

No, it doesn't.  Why would it require a field to become pure?  You assume that anything that isn't pure is doomed to slide down the slippery slope of corruption and good intentions, but if that were true, we'd have been screwed a long time ago.  It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough that corruption can't exceed a certain degree without counter-corruption forces moving to stop it.
.

This setup does not appear to be where stable equilibrium rests.  You've just shifted the institution needed to be predominantly and significantly pure to be the public itself.  Explain how you aim to achieve this.

Once again, they do not need to be pure for it to work.

But somebody does.  A lot of somebodys.  Whether it's the press or the public, or the elected officials and the attendant bureaucracy.

See, you seem to believe that relying on Free Market Forces will magically solve everything, and that it will put bad corporations out of commission and let good ones take their place.  It doesn't.  On the other hand, Free Political Forces can come up with adequate solutions for most problems if people are reasonably diligent in their activity on the subject.  Once again, it isn't a question of smarts, its a question of awareness.  If people paid half as much attention to politics as they did to football, we wouldn't have nearly as much corruption.

Smarts would be required, most certainly, as the subjects which the experts are dealing with are complex.  In order to know whether or not they're truly doing a good job would require a more complex understanding of several subjects for the reason I mentioned earlier.  Results can be easily deceiving for those who lack complex understanding.

Also, I would have hoped you would have remembered from past conversations that neither I nor Current have ever said things would be magically solved in the free market.  We both acknowledge problems will continue to exist.  Why falsely attribute this to us when you would no doubt balk if we made the claim that you believed that your plan was a panacea?

Also, if people are incapable of forming a functional government, as you seem to be claiming, then they are even less able to form a functional free market system.  The government system has several clear advantages regarding tendency towards corruption and consolidation of power that the free market does not.

The requirements for centralized government to work are not the same for the free market.  Apples and oranges.

How so?  People don't need to know everything, just the cliff notes version of the big issues, and additional knowledge on a specific issue that matters to them.

They need to know enough to judge complex issues competently and assign blame correctly lest they be misled by opportunists and erroneously demand the wrong things of the next link in the chain - the media.  That doesn't come with simple or cursory understandings.

The political awareness of the majority, and the political activity of the minority.  Which is going to do a damn better job than your system ever will at protecting minorities.

I'll bet 9,000 invisible elves to your 5,000 that my political philosophy can beat up your political philosophy.

More and more, it seems as though you believe that people are mostly dullards, that no society can work, and that its everyone for themselves, at least someone will win that way.  That's a rather pessimistic attitude to hold.

The fact that people are fallible doesn't speak to their intelligence, as even the intelligent can and often are fallible and weak in their own way.  Why you equate this with being a dullard, doesn't make any sense.  So no, I'm not accusing people of being "mostly dullards", or anyone in particular for that matter.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 20, 2009, 00:55:02 EST
I'm the one using circular arguments?  The government will be good if the press is good, the press will be good if the people want good news reporting, and I'm going out on a limb that the part of your idea to get the people to want good news reporting is to use the government to get them to want good news reporting.  Now, I freely admit that last bit was speculation, so I invite you to correct it if necessary.
No, that is your responsibility.  Getting the government to do so, even excluding the circularity issue, would be... difficult.  There is a reason they don't teach politics in school.  On the other hand, they don't teach basic financial responsibility in school either, which is a bit more important than learning which river Washington crossed for the umpteenth time, or completing another meaningless test.

And what of false positives?  Correlation does not equate to causation.  Bad results may have nothing to do with a particular policy or it may have everything to do with it.  If people are perceptive enough to understand and differentiate what is or is not causing complex and chaotic relationships and thereby correctly judge whether or not the expert has judged correctly, then what do they need the expert for?
The expert, if they are really so expert, should be able to argue their case, and explain why it isn't their fault.  More likely, there will be a high turnover in experts.  It won't be very efficient or reliable, but it beats the alternatives.  Remember, my judging criteria for ideas is which one results in us being the least screwed, not which one magically brings us to happy-land.

Results are often misleading, and complex issues are easily spun to the masses.  There is a natural human predilection to accept the easy answer when perhaps the truth is often more complicated.
That is correct.  However, if people insist on always taking the "easy" way, then I wouldn't expect much of a government based off of them.  That's why its so important for people to learn that they can't just take the easy way.

If a majority of the people had a handle on the complexities of such things they wouldn't need to rely on experts.
No.  Even if they did understand that easy answers aren't the best, that doesn't mean they instantly gain knowledge of the issue.

We don't have to go over again how our ideas of freedom differ rather dramatically.
Yes.  You think that a person having the choice between being a slave or being dead is better than taking away those choices and giving them better ones, because taking away choices is wrong.  While taking away choices could potentially lead to nasty situations, so long as the public is well informed, there will be strong limits on what choices can be taken away.  Even if not, it still beats the alternatives.

It's like saying that because a fire is dangerous and could spread, you should instead freeze to death.

I thought cynicism was poisonous to your ideal government working.
No, its mandatory.

You were prepared to lay a good deal of blame of government failure on us cynical libertarians/classical liberals for our cynicism.  I suppose since you don't want Papa bear levels of cynicism or Mamma Bear levels of the same, that you must mean baby bear's "just right" cynical attitude and to get 51 of the people to share that nuanced understanding.  Consistently.  What am I missing here?
The difference between constructive and destructive criticism.  Your criticism is destructive, it doesn't seek a way to fix government, it simply gives up and abandons it.  My criticism is constructive, it recognizes that the government is seriously flawed, and that as such it is necessary that it be fixed.

I haven't known underground media to carry meaningful influence except in the harshest of times, such as under an occupation.  And again, now you've shifted the keystone responsibility from the press back to the public, who will magically want the press to do more incisive, thoughtful reporting because...
Given that underground media helped get Obama elected, I'm not buying it.  Perhaps you have a different definition for what qualifies.  My point was that in a democracy, independent media will keep organized media honest, or at least keep people aware.  The internets is very helpful for that.

The public doesn't want incisive, thoughtful, reporting, because they don't believe that they can affect the issues.  This is a product based somewhat in reality, but somewhat on the presence of people like you spouting your destructive criticism about how 1 vote can't change anything.  If people are told they can't change anything, then why should they care about what they hear, wouldn't they rather hear sweet nothing before returning to their usual inanities?

So I ask you to join people like me, and rally the people out of destructive cynicism (government sucks, I can't do anything) to constructive cynicism (government sucks, but I can change it).

Absolutely without question I agree with your last sentence there.  The rest of it however...  There is no positive right to be provided with a smoke-free bar.  There is no infringement of any majority or minority.
Positive right?  Is right to not have your health damaged qualify?

Let's say that instead of smoking, if you entered a pub and were the wrong race, people would punch you and call you rude names.  Under your attitude, majority rules, and the minority gets to suck it up and deal.

Again, the keystone of an "improved" public has yet to be procured.  Explain how you plan to get a large percentage of the people into being better at doing these things.
Look in the mirror.  People like me and you are.  People who are politically motivated can act as catalysts to get others motivated as well.  It isn't so much making a key stone as putting down the seeds for a grassroots movement.  Once we get it going, soon not just us but many others will be put in the hard work.


This setup does not appear to be where stable equilibrium rests.  You've just shifted the institution needed to be predominantly and significantly pure to be the public itself.  Explain how you aim to achieve this.
I don't need to.  Why does the public need to be pure?  They just need to be willing to work and to change themselves.  They don't need to become saints, they just need to stop being stagnant.  Becoming saints isn't doable.  Getting them to abandon stagnation is more feasible.


But somebody does.  A lot of somebodys.  Whether it's the press or the public, or the elected officials and the attendant bureaucracy.
Why?  It doesn't need to be pure, it just needs to be willing to do work, and willing to change.  So long as those two factors are true, it will self-correct itself, it is self-stabilizing in a way that the Free Market could never hope to be.  Such is already true.  Our government has been in deeper corruption in the past than it has in the present.  It is hard to believe then, that corruption is some kind of unstoppable entropy.

Also, I would have hoped you would have remembered from past conversations that neither I nor Current have ever said things would be magically solved in the free market.  We both acknowledge problems will continue to exist.  Why falsely attribute this to us when you would no doubt balk if we made the claim that you believed that your plan was a panacea?
Because your entire philosophy is rooted in the concept?  Over and over, you insist that the bad corporations will be replaced by better ones thanks to market forces, over and over, you deny the basic realities of the world.

The requirements for centralized government to work are not the same for the free market.  Apples and oranges.
How so?  They are both affected by corruption.  One of them can keep corruption at tolerable levels.  The other simply builds up corruption until the system suffers catastrophic failure and slowly puts it back together again, at least until it suffer one failure too many.

They need to know enough to judge complex issues competently and assign blame correctly lest they be misled by opportunists and erroneously demand the wrong things of the next link in the chain - the media.  That doesn't come with simple or cursory understandings.
They do have the knowledge to handle complex issues competently.  Its just that different groups of people focus on different issues, and they are the ones who act as political action groups and rally other people.

I'll bet 9,000 invisible elves to your 5,000 that my political philosophy can beat up your political philosophy.
My system attempts to protect minorities.  Yours... doesn't.  If you don't have power, you get left to rot in the name of natural selection.  Survival of the fittest, or more accurately, survival of those who had the most pre-accumulated power.

The fact that people are fallible doesn't speak to their intelligence, as even the intelligent can and often are fallible and weak in their own way.  Why you equate this with being a dullard, doesn't make any sense.  So no, I'm not accusing people of being "mostly dullards", or anyone in particular for that matter.
Your insistence that they can't put in the effort to form a functional government, because they can't even form a cursory understanding of the issues, seems to indicate precisely that.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 20, 2009, 14:04:04 EST
I've being busy recently, I haven't had much time for this discussion.  I have time though for a few remarks on the rule of experts.

In the 1930s and 40s there was much discussion about rule of experts in the UK.  There is a good discussion about it in F.A.Hayek's book "The Road to Serfdom".

Experts will always be needed in the process of government.  Some laws require expert input.  For example laws on radio emissions, a topic which I've being consulted on in the past in a minor way.  That doesn't mean though that experts can make overall decisions and force them upon the populace.  For example, no amount of expert reports on the dangers of taking Heroin to those who take it can justify banning it's sale.

Think for a while about what greater use of experts would entail.  You say above:
Quote from: wodan46
How exactly are we under the divine rule of experts if we ourselves elected them in the first place?
Surely you are not proposing to replace the election of politicians with the election of experts.  Consider what the two groups do.  An elected representative ostensibly serves his (or her) electorate.  He or she puts together a campaign on many issues of interest to that electorate.  Then once in office the representative ostensibly attempts to further the interests of those who put him in office.  This is obviously a generalists job, not a specialists job.  An experts job is of a different type.  An expert studies one particular field and attempts to become very familiar and knowledgeable about it.  An expert does not usually learn how to make impressive speeches.

I see no way for parliaments to be filled with "experts".  Electorates don't want experts, if they wanted them they would elect them.  If the government requested that electorates choose experts they would be ignored.  If a government were to make further use of experts it could not be by electing them into office.  Rather they must act as advisors to elected politicians or governments.

For example, consider a law that arbitrates.  A government official comes to someone like me and says "what level of interference in X band should a normal electronic device be permitted to emit".  I could then investigate the problem and give an opinion.  In this case a rule of some sort is necessary because an externality is involved, radio pollution.  Whether I "get results" in this task is not difficult to assess.  If interference continues to be a problem then it could be argued that I did my job badly.  It could also be demonstrated if I over estimated the extent of the problem and request an interference limit that is too low.

The situation is entirely different though for a law that orders people on what they can do.  This was the original subject of the thread, the prohibition of drugs.  Consider two "experts" on the drugs question.  One argues that prohibition is necessary, the other that it is detrimental.  How can we assess these two experts?  Recall that the reason for the ban is the overall public good, something which can not really be objectively assessed.  It could possibly be assessed by questionnaires as you mention, but this is not currently done.  More to the point though there is no means of comparison, there is no way of showing "results".  Since we live in countries where drugs are banned we do not know what the world would be like without that ban, we have no way of accessing that parallel universe.  (Small countries that permit some drugs do not provide much evidence either).  I mentioned this problem earlier.

Those who support the ban can point at the detrimental effect of drugs.  That though is not in question.  They cannot answer the relevant point which thoroughgoing utilitarians ask which is: Is the ban beneficial overall?  Neither can their opponents.

How then can the issue be solved?  The answer is by returning to first principles.

What is the difference between banning some trade and permitting it?  If a trade is permitted then people do not have to take part in it, they can choose for themselves taking their own circumstances into consideration.  If a trade is banned this choice is not available.  As we've established no collective decision about this subject can be made.  However, individual decisions can be made.

Quote from: wodan46
The alternative, making all judgements oneselves, without the contribution of the net knowledge of society, would end horribly, because not even a person with 200 IQ can handle all the judgements they need to make in their life.  Society is built upon the concept of inter-reliance, to the point that we are dependent on others for virtually all of our basic needs with only the most limited capacity of dealing with them ourselves.  Yet it still works anyways, funny thing that.
Certainly society depends on inter-reliance.  That doesn't mean though that it requires the rule of experts or arbitrary bans.

Individual decisions are not necessarily worse than ones made by elected governments.  Both individuals and governments can employ experts.  Both can get second opinions on the views of those experts.  There are many books, newspaper articles and TV programmes written about drugs for example.  Anyone who wishes to be informed on the subject can inform themselves.  Individuals can imitate the successful strategies of others.

The point you have missed here is that simply because the state does not make decisions doesn't mean that decisions are not made.  What is means is that decisions are made by wider society.  It is this form of decision making that allows the net knowledge of society to be used.  Statist decision making allows only the knowledge of a few at the top to be used.  Democracy only permits us to change who those few are.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 20, 2009, 14:36:43 EST
That doesn't mean though that experts can make overall decisions and force them upon the populace.
Given that the populace is responsible for which experts are in a position to make decisions, they are hardly "forcing" them.

Surely you are not proposing to replace the election of politicians with the election of experts.
No.  In fact, just look at what you said later:
For example, consider a law that arbitrates.  A government official comes to someone like me and says "what level of interference in X band should a normal electronic device be permitted to emit".  I could then investigate the problem and give an opinion.  In this case a rule of some sort is necessary because an externality is involved, radio pollution.  Whether I "get results" in this task is not difficult to assess.  If interference continues to be a problem then it could be argued that I did my job badly.  It could also be demonstrated if I over estimated the extent of the problem and request an interference limit that is too low.
In short, politicians are not experts themselves, nor would I expect them to be.  Their job is to pick experts and coordinate their actions, doing so based on what they believe the public wants, if they want to get re-elected, anyways.  Politicians are managers and coordinators.  This is part of why our political process isn't really as bad as most people make it out to be.  During a campaign, politicians have to be very good at managing and coordinating the experts working for them in order to get elected.  Once elected, their job is to do the same thing.  People complain about politicians never really talking about the issues, but even after being elected, the politicians are never really supposed to get in the nitty gritty details of the issues anyways.

The situation is entirely different though for a law that orders people on what they can do.  This was the original subject of the thread, the prohibition of drugs.
Interesting, given that I have no interest in prohibiting drugs, and have said so from the start, because doing so is a poor attitude to take, and is hardly effective at getting rid of drugs anyways.  Do not confuse me wanting to get rid of drugs with wanting to ban them.

Consider two "experts" on the drugs question.  One argues that prohibition is necessary, the other that it is detrimental.  How can we assess these two experts?  Recall that the reason for the ban is the overall public good, something which can not really be objectively assessed.
You have a point there.  Let's legalize murder.  After all, we can't objectively show that it really hurts the overall public good?

It could possibly be assessed by questionnaires as you mention, but this is not currently done.  More to the point though there is no means of comparison, there is no way of showing "results".  Since we live in countries where drugs are banned we do not know what the world would be like without that ban, we have no way of accessing that parallel universe.  (Small countries that permit some drugs do not provide much evidence either).  I mentioned this problem earlier.

Those who support the ban can point at the detrimental effect of drugs.  That though is not in question.  They cannot answer the relevant point which thoroughgoing utilitarians ask which is: Is the ban beneficial overall?  Neither can their opponents.
If the ban is effective, then yes, it will probably be good.  Sure, some people will be unhappy about their right to damage themselves and those around them, but they can join the people unhappy about not being allowed to murder everyone.  Granted, banning is problematic for reasons already discussed.

How then can the issue be solved?  The answer is by returning to first principles.

What is the difference between banning some trade and permitting it?  If a trade is permitted then people do not have to take part in it, they can choose for themselves taking their own circumstances into consideration.  If a trade is banned this choice is not available.  As we've established no collective decision about this subject can be made.  However, individual decisions can be made.
People don't have a choice to take a part in it.  You don't seem to recognize that free market situations are hardly free, and that a corporation or a drug taking away people's choices is no better than a government doing it, and usually much worse.  You assume that the removal of government restrictions will result in more choice, but in actuality, it will lead to choice being smothered altogether.

Certainly society depends on inter-reliance.  That doesn't mean though that it requires the rule of experts or arbitrary bans.
Who says they are arbitrary?

Individual decisions are not necessarily worse than ones made by elected governments.  Both individuals and governments can employ experts.  Both can get second opinions on the views of those experts.  There are many books, newspaper articles and TV programmes written about drugs for example.  Anyone who wishes to be informed on the subject can inform themselves.  Individuals can imitate the successful strategies of others.
Actually, individuals often do not have that capacity.  They are restricted by their situation.

The point you have missed here is that simply because the state does not make decisions doesn't mean that decisions are not made.  What is means is that decisions are made by wider society.  It is this form of decision making that allows the net knowledge of society to be used.  Statist decision making allows only the knowledge of a few at the top to be used.  Democracy only permits us to change who those few are.
Actually, prohibiting the state from making decisions means that corporations and drugs will make those decisions for us instead, except that this time, the general public will have much less control over the decision makers than they would if the state were the one making them.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 20, 2009, 15:58:48 EST
That doesn't mean though that experts can make overall decisions and force them upon the populace.
Given that the populace is responsible for which experts are in a position to make decisions, they are hardly "forcing" them.
It is being forced on those members of the population who do not agree with the decision.

Besides, as you point out later we are not really discussing experts making governmental decisions directly.

Surely you are not proposing to replace the election of politicians with the election of experts.
No.  In fact, just look at what you said later:
For example, consider a law that arbitrates.  A government official comes to someone like me and says "what level of interference in X band should a normal electronic device be permitted to emit".  I could then investigate the problem and give an opinion.  In this case a rule of some sort is necessary because an externality is involved, radio pollution.  Whether I "get results" in this task is not difficult to assess.  If interference continues to be a problem then it could be argued that I did my job badly.  It could also be demonstrated if I over estimated the extent of the problem and request an interference limit that is too low.
In short, politicians are not experts themselves, nor would I expect them to be.  Their job is to pick experts and coordinate their actions, doing so based on what they believe the public wants, if they want to get re-elected, anyways.  Politicians are managers and coordinators.
I agree with you there.

This is part of why our political process isn't really as bad as most people make it out to be.  During a campaign, politicians have to be very good at managing and coordinating the experts working for them in order to get elected.  Once elected, their job is to do the same thing.  People complain about politicians never really talking about the issues, but even after being elected, the politicians are never really supposed to get in the nitty gritty details of the issues anyways.
There is a difference between a willingness to discuss something and delegation of the issue.  Politicians often do not even discuss the delegation.

The situation is entirely different though for a law that orders people on what they can do.  This was the original subject of the thread, the prohibition of drugs.
Interesting, given that I have no interest in prohibiting drugs, and have said so from the start, because doing so is a poor attitude to take, and is hardly effective at getting rid of drugs anyways.  Do not confuse me wanting to get rid of drugs with wanting to ban them.
Haven't you have at various times in this thread argued in favour of bans?  At least in principle.

What do you mean by "wanting to get rid of drugs"?  What you said previously was:
Quote from: wodan46
I dislike cigarettes and alcohol, I don't advocate banning them, instead, slowly eliminating them step by step.
If you are advocating taking steps to these ends that involve coercion then that is just as bad as advocating a ban.

Consider two "experts" on the drugs question.  One argues that prohibition is necessary, the other that it is detrimental.  How can we assess these two experts?  Recall that the reason for the ban is the overall public good, something which can not really be objectively assessed.
You have a point there.  Let's legalize murder.  After all, we can't objectively show that it really hurts the overall public good?
Since it affects the private good it clearly affects the public good.  Did you read the paragraph I wrote above this one.  In that I offered an example of a situation that involved the private good.  In that I demonstrated how we *can* understand that situation.

It could possibly be assessed by questionnaires as you mention, but this is not currently done.  More to the point though there is no means of comparison, there is no way of showing "results".  Since we live in countries where drugs are banned we do not know what the world would be like without that ban, we have no way of accessing that parallel universe.  (Small countries that permit some drugs do not provide much evidence either).  I mentioned this problem earlier.

Those who support the ban can point at the detrimental effect of drugs.  That though is not in question.  They cannot answer the relevant point which thoroughgoing utilitarians ask which is: Is the ban beneficial overall?  Neither can their opponents.
If the ban is effective, then yes, it will probably be good.
How can you tell?  What tool do you have apart from your judgment?

I certainly disagree with you in utilitarian terms, I've seen drugs produce great happiness.  That is just my judgment though.

Sure, some people will be unhappy about their right to damage themselves and those around them, but they can join the people unhappy about not being allowed to murder everyone.
There is though a clear difference here.  It is necessary for social interaction to be possible for there to be a law against murder.  The law against murder is one that relates to the behaviour of one person towards another.  In this situation a judgment must be made.  This is not the situation with drug laws.

Unlike the situation with drug laws the particulars can be investigated, as with the radio regulation example I gave.  We can look at what happens when a murderer gets away with their crime for example.

How then can the issue be solved?  The answer is by returning to first principles.

What is the difference between banning some trade and permitting it?  If a trade is permitted then people do not have to take part in it, they can choose for themselves taking their own circumstances into consideration.  If a trade is banned this choice is not available.  As we've established no collective decision about this subject can be made.  However, individual decisions can be made.
People don't have a choice to take a part in it.  You don't seem to recognize that free market situations are hardly free, and that a corporation or a drug taking away people's choices is no better than a government doing it, and usually much worse.  You assume that the removal of government restrictions will result in more choice, but in actuality, it will lead to choice being smothered altogether.
A drug cannot take away a persons choice.  Even an addict has a choice, as demonstrated by those who choose to quit.

However, even if that were not the case look at the situation before addiction takes place.  A person who is not an addict has to spend quite a long period taking a drug in order to become an addict.  Do they have a choice in this? Of course they do.

Similarly, those who decide to take recreational drugs but never become addicted make that choice quite freely.

Certainly society depends on inter-reliance.  That doesn't mean though that it requires the rule of experts or arbitrary bans.
Who says they are arbitrary?
There are many other things that could be banned rather than drugs.  There are many extreme sports that are more dangerous and many sports not even classed as extreme that are more dangerous.

Individual decisions are not necessarily worse than ones made by elected governments.  Both individuals and governments can employ experts.  Both can get second opinions on the views of those experts.  There are many books, newspaper articles and TV programmes written about drugs for example.  Anyone who wishes to be informed on the subject can inform themselves.  Individuals can imitate the successful strategies of others.
Actually, individuals often do not have that capacity.  They are restricted by their situation.
Certainly they are.  The same though is true of governments.  As I showed above the expert trying to prove that some ban or other is best for the public has very little solid evidence.

If a person does not have the ability to make decisions in situations like this then bans will not help him or her much.  Life is full of situations that require the examination of evidence and decision making.  A person who cannot do this cannot be helped much if at all by bans.  I suspect that the effect of such bans is not to help people who are rash but rather the reverse.  Individuals are shielded from the effects of poor decisions they make, so they never learn the important skill of making careful decisions.

What you can't get away from is that in a democracy the people must make decisions.  If they don't make them personally then they must make them in the polling booth.  If a person make a rash decisions with their own life or their own money then they feel the effects themselves.  This provides a strong reason not to do these things.  However the polling booth does not provide such feedback.

The point you have missed here is that simply because the state does not make decisions doesn't mean that decisions are not made.  What is means is that decisions are made by wider society.  It is this form of decision making that allows the net knowledge of society to be used.  Statist decision making allows only the knowledge of a few at the top to be used.  Democracy only permits us to change who those few are.
Actually, prohibiting the state from making decisions means that corporations and drugs will make those decisions for us instead, except that this time, the general public will have much less control over the decision makers than they would if the state were the one making them.
Corporations may make decisions.  I have yet to meet a drug that is capable of making decisions.

What I'm advocating here is that people make decisions for themselves.  I fail to see what could be more democratic than that.  What you are arguing for is take decisions through several layers of indirection for no good reasons.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 20, 2009, 20:43:22 EST
It is being forced on those members of the population who do not agree with the decision.
If they had wished, they could have countered.  They snooze, they lose.  It is something common to both our systems that people, if they choose to do nothing, will get nothing.

There is a difference between a willingness to discuss something and delegation of the issue.  Politicians often do not even discuss the delegation.
???

Haven't you have at various times in this thread argued in favour of bans?  At least in principle.

If you are advocating taking steps to these ends that involve coercion then that is just as bad as advocating a ban.
I said that I want to get rid of drugs, not that I wish to ban drugs.  What part of that do you fail to understand?  If banning drugs would get rid of them, I would advocate doing so.  However, it would not, and it would instead cause many negative side affects so I don't.  Restrictions, on the other hand, how you to reduce the use of the drug, while not causing the negativeness of outright banning a choice.  Similarly, if taking away a freedom would cause more problems than it solves, I would not advocate such occurring.

You have a point there.  Let's legalize murder.  After all, we can't objectively show that it really hurts the overall public good?
Since it affects the private good it clearly affects the public good.  Did you read the paragraph I wrote above this one.  In that I offered an example of a situation that involved the private good.  In that I demonstrated how we *can* understand that situation
Why?  Explain to me why the private good can be evaluated objectively, but the public good can't.  Explain to me how murder, which takes away a private good, disrupts the public good, but debilitating drugs, which also take away a private good, do not somehow disrupt the public good.

If the ban is effective, then yes, it will probably be good.
How can you tell?  What tool do you have apart from your judgment?

I certainly disagree with you in utilitarian terms, I've seen drugs produce great happiness.  That is just my judgment though.
And statistics show that drugs ruin hundreds of thousands of lives.

Let's review a smoker.  They spew toxic gas.  This causes suffering and unpleasantness to anyone near them.  The toxic gas damages their lungs, giving them a high chance of getting lung cancer.  Lung cancer means you will suffer years of pain and a weakened body.  This will also result in large medical bills, which will be shouldered not just by them, but by their family, and society as well to an unpredictable extent.  Their family will also be unhappy mentally from watching a relative slowly die.

All of those are negative things.  All of those are also either scientific facts, or common sense notions that would in all probability be supported by surveys.  I am not exerting arbitrary judgment, but one based in evidence, that while somewhat subjective, has little reason to be suspected as false.  Smoking clearly causes many bad things.  You, on the other hand, can only offer personal anecdotes as evidence that smoking causes good things. 

It is necessary for social interaction to be possible for there to be a law against murder.
Who says?  That's just your opinion.  We can't go around basing laws on opinions, can we?

The law against murder is one that relates to the behaviour of one person towards another.
And drugs, in no way whatsoever, have effects on the behaviour of one person towards another?  Hell, plenty of people are murdered specifically because a drug impacted the other person's better judgment.

Unlike the situation with drug laws the particulars can be investigated, as with the radio regulation example I gave.  We can look at what happens when a murderer gets away with their crime for example.
Once again, why?  I fail to see the difference between them at all.  Why can you investigate the particulars of radio regulation and murder but not drugs?  At best, one could say that it is harder to investigate the particulars of drugs, but that hardly justifies not investigating them at all.

A drug cannot take away a persons choice.  Even an addict has a choice, as demonstrated by those who choose to quit.
The latter does not prove the former.  The latter only proves that some people retain the ability to make choices after taking the drug, it does not prove that all can.  Reports by many former addicts indicate that they did not have the choice, and only through the help of others and society were they able to quit.

Let's say that there was a drug that will kill you, but only if you are one of the weakest 10% of the human population.  Should we legalize it, saying that it only kills weaklings, and that if they wanted to live, they should have been stronger?

A person who is not an addict has to spend quite a long period taking a drug in order to become an addict.
That is plainly and simply false.  Prove it.

There are many other things that could be banned rather than drugs.  There are many extreme sports that are more dangerous and many sports not even classed as extreme that are more dangerous.
The difference is that sports do not directly impact your ability to make decisions, and drugs do.  Remember, once again, I do not advocate banning drugs, merely restricting them to minimize harm.  I would also advocate restrictions on dangerous sports.

Certainly they are.  The same though is true of governments.  As I showed above the expert trying to prove that some ban or other is best for the public has very little solid evidence.
How so?  I showed precisely how the experts can gather solid evidence, albeit the evidence would only be strong enough for restrictions, not bans, and bans are not good for the public anyways.

If a person does not have the ability to make decisions in situations like this then bans will not help him or her much.  Life is full of situations that require the examination of evidence and decision making.  A person who cannot do this cannot be helped much if at all by bans.
Which is why I don't advocate bans.

I suspect that the effect of such bans is not to help people who are rash but rather the reverse.  Individuals are shielded from the effects of poor decisions they make, so they never learn the important skill of making careful decisions.

What you can't get away from is that in a democracy the people must make decisions.  If they don't make them personally then they must make them in the polling booth.  If a person make a rash decisions with their own life or their own money then they feel the effects themselves.  This provides a strong reason not to do these things.  However the polling booth does not provide such feedback.
The problem is that the consequences of those decisions are often irrevocable.  Even if the person has "learned their lesson", they may be bankrupt, addicted, or dead.

Also, you seem to presume that people are incapable of learning things without doing them.  Is your opinion of humanity that low?

Corporations may make decisions.  I have yet to meet a drug that is capable of making decisions.
I think you will find that drug-addled people make very different decisions than those same people do when not drug addled.  Hence, the change in the decision is a product of the drug, hence the drug caused the decision.

What I'm advocating here is that people make decisions for themselves.  I fail to see what could be more democratic than that.
What you seem to not understand is that the environment you advocate would result in people being deprived of the ability to make decisions for themselves by corporations.  Removal of government will result in less choice, not more, unless your idea of choice involves things like choosing between slavery or death.

For example, let's say that a corporation owns all access to water in the area.  They charge exorbitant prices for it.  You have the choice between paying the exorbitant price, or death.  In the real world, the choices aren't quite as dramatic, but they are of the same nature.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: jerseycajun on February 21, 2009, 00:43:48 EST
No, that is your responsibility.

If by this you are suggesting that individuals take responsibility to help their fellow man out to make better life choices, this is no different from the challenges I suggest must be faced by individual interaction over government action.  With caveat, I concede this to degree - see further down for more on that.

The expert, if they are really so expert, should be able to argue their case, and explain why it isn't their fault.  More likely, there will be a high turnover in experts.  It won't be very efficient or reliable, but it beats the alternatives.  Remember, my judging criteria for ideas is which one results in us being the least screwed, not which one magically brings us to happy-land.

I can argue 'till I'm blue in the face why I believe the current "stimulus" package is worse than the alternatives, and provide explicit reasons why, but lots of people will still fall into the "well we've got to do something right now" and "it's better than the alternatives", even though I've laid out why it's not.  My points usually remain un-addressed.

That is correct.  However, if people insist on always taking the "easy" way, then I wouldn't expect much of a government based off of them.  That's why its so important for people to learn that they can't just take the easy way.

How do they learn in this fashion?  They learn it through people like you and me interacting on a daily basis with people.  Yet, if we have this much power to change people's minds over this (and to make a positive statement of approval, I do agree that we have a great deal of power individually to change minds - not in a world-changing sense but in a local, limited way), how is it that it becomes so impossible to convince them to do more for one another on a more personal level to solve problems instead of trying to convince them that government is the solution to the problem in many of these cases?  I agree we have the power to convince, to change minds, and even to affect the behavior of others for the better.  Why waste that on convincing them to look towards an impersonal third party to solve these problems?  Why not encourage them to use their innate creativity, talents and assets directly and lead by example?  Skip the middle man, so to speak?

In one way, you're saying we have great individual power to generate positive change through individual example, enough to elicit positive political change nationally, presumably through convincing a majority of people to see this through, but you also have mocked the suggestion that people can be convinced to use whatever time, talent and treasure they have for the benefit of others and affect meaningful change.  These two messages are similar in that they do not require a complex understanding (different from being able to judge whether or not an expert is telling you the truth on a complex issue - more on that later), only an understanding of ones' self.  This appears to be paradoxical.
No.  Even if they did understand that easy answers aren't the best, that doesn't mean they instantly gain knowledge of the issue.

Conceded.  However, in a sense this bolsters my point.  Example: I am knowledgeable enough in structural engineering to provide an educated opinion to the layman over structural engineering issues.  I am also knowledgeable enough that if I possessed a character flaw inclined towards deception, I could use that ability to change one or two minor facts that have significant importance to the overall analysis, presenting a convincing, but also completely misleading result.  You might say, "Well, there are other experts who will not be deceptive", and this would be true, but the ability to ascertain which of us is more trustworthy is crippled to the public in general because they do not have the specific knowledge to tell the difference.  In this way, even subjects of hard science like physics may be made more into matters of subjective opinion than rigorous analysis regarding the formation of public policy.


Yes.  You think that a person having the choice between being a slave or being dead is better than taking away those choices and giving them better ones, because taking away choices is wrong.  While taking away choices could potentially lead to nasty situations, so long as the public is well informed, there will be strong limits on what choices can be taken away.  Even if not, it still beats the alternatives.

It's like saying that because a fire is dangerous and could spread, you should instead freeze to death.

You know, sometimes talking with you is like being in the movie "Groundhog Day".  Except that instead of living the same day over and over again where you're the only one with an understanding that there is no tomorrow, everyone has no knowledge of yesterday or that there ever was one.

No fire equals no government, to take the analogy in this way.  No government equals anarchy, and because Current and I have laid out rather clearly where legitimate and illegitimate actions of government lie, that we do in fact recognize that the fire is necessary.  We're bickering over where that line is, not that the fire is or isn't necessary.  If you use this canard against us again, at least for me, it will be ignored because I can't think of any accidental way in which you could wrongly use this accusation over and over again when we've repeatedly corrected you on it.

The difference between constructive and destructive criticism.  Your criticism is destructive, it doesn't seek a way to fix government, it simply gives up and abandons it.  My criticism is constructive, it recognizes that the government is seriously flawed, and that as such it is necessary that it be fixed.

I don't see it as destructive.  I see natural limitations of what government is good for or useful as before becoming more destructive than useful.

The public doesn't want incisive, thoughtful, reporting, because they don't believe that they can affect the issues.  This is a product based somewhat in reality, but somewhat on the presence of people like you spouting your destructive criticism about how 1 vote can't change anything.  If people are told they can't change anything, then why should they care about what they hear, wouldn't they rather hear sweet nothing before returning to their usual inanities?

So I ask you to join people like me, and rally the people out of destructive cynicism (government sucks, I can't do anything) to constructive cynicism (government sucks, but I can change it).

If my intent was to cause destructive criticism out of abject cynicism, I wouldn't bother wasting my time voting.  But I still vote, and I encourage others to do the same.  Do you still think this is destructive?  I advocate realistic voting.  That doesn't mean abdicating the responsibility of voting, but it does put a limit on unrealistic or perhaps dangerous expectations of what government should/can do.  As for what that last part means, we're obviously going to disagree, but I do believe in voting as civic duty and with a sense of responsibility.

Positive right?  Is right to not have your health damaged qualify?

Let's say that instead of smoking, if you entered a pub and were the wrong race, people would punch you and call you rude names.  Under your attitude, majority rules, and the minority gets to suck it up and deal.

As long as there's an explicit warning of such things going on inside, that there would be no misunderstanding of what was in store for you if you enter (excluding actions that deprive negative rights, where there is clear intent to deprive someone of a negative right- like beating someone because of their skin color vs., and in contrast to experiencing a negative side effect of someone exercising their negative rights - I understand this is a rather abstract concept, and I'll explain it further if you need clarification on the differences) - then there is no violation of rights, no.

Look in the mirror.  People like me and you are.  People who are politically motivated can act as catalysts to get others motivated as well.  It isn't so much making a key stone as putting down the seeds for a grassroots movement.  Once we get it going, soon not just us but many others will be put in the hard work.

Agreed, but see above response.

I don't need to.  Why does the public need to be pure?  They just need to be willing to work and to change themselves.  They don't need to become saints, they just need to stop being stagnant.  Becoming saints isn't doable.  Getting them to abandon stagnation is more feasible.

I'll concede this point with caveat.  The information gap still exists, between the people who elect the people who pick the experts with whom they trust to form policy - even between the people we elect and the experts, unless we elect experts directly, in which case an information gap still exists.  This creates a potentially large minority of people who will be affected by uses of perhaps well meaning (or perhaps not, it all depends) government force that restricts a legitimate use of individual liberty for erroneous ends.

Such is already true.  Our government has been in deeper corruption in the past than it has in the present.  It is hard to believe then, that corruption is some kind of unstoppable entropy.

Not unstoppable in the sense that you can starve corruption of what it craves most - the ability to control that which it has no business controlling - by limiting the size and scope of government actions.

Because your entire philosophy is rooted in the concept?  Over and over, you insist that the bad corporations will be replaced by better ones thanks to market forces, over and over, you deny the basic realities of the world.

We're defending the idea of human liberty is an irreducible political end unto itself (the infringement upon others' negative rights notwithstanding ), and the idea that living in it is better than living without it, warts and all.  (Note to Current: I know I'm speaking on both our behalf's here, so if you want to clarify any differences you have, I'd welcome them).

Politically speaking, we're not out to objectively structure a better society using politics as the means.  Ergo, from just the political perspective, the objective is liberty and individual rights.  From a non-political perspective, the objective is to encourage people to use the same mechanism as you describe earlier and usethat liberty to form a better society.

How so?  They are both affected by corruption.  One of them can keep corruption at tolerable levels.  The other simply builds up corruption until the system suffers catastrophic failure and slowly puts it back together again, at least until it suffer one failure too many.

Don't think I can accept the dynamics and results you're taking for granted here without a great deal of work on your part to demonstrate it.

They do have the knowledge to handle complex issues competently.  Its just that different groups of people focus on different issues, and they are the ones who act as political action groups and rally other people.

They would also have to have the ability to discern the veracity of people claiming to be experts on the particulars of their expertise in order to be able to discern an honest expert from dishonest ones.  Again, the same information gap that is used as criticism against libertarian styled thought hampers voter ability to discern whether their leadership is not simply using experts dishonestly, but convincingly against them - where the consequences will affect you whether you were able to see through the dishonest expert or not.

My system attempts to protect minorities.  Yours... doesn't.  If you don't have power, you get left to rot in the name of natural selection.  Survival of the fittest, or more accurately, survival of those who had the most pre-accumulated power.

Smokers are a minority.  The right to freedom of assembly is a negative right, whether assembly is in a hall or in a place of business.  I do not believe that you really mean what you just said in light of these things.

Your insistence that they can't put in the effort to form a functional government, because they can't even form a cursory understanding of the issues, seems to indicate precisely that.

I believe the requirement people need to know in order to have functional government is minimal, just not the form of government you envision.  Because the form of government you envision requires judgments on being able to determine the veracity and honesty of others who hold an advantage in specific and most assuredly extra-cursory knowledge.  Or worse, on the judgment of others' ability to do the same.

Please note, as a post-script, that I have conceded a few points here.  Understand what the limitations of these concessions actually mean.  I encourage you to ask me if for clarification as to what I said does mean, because there are some rather nuanced subtopics popping up all over the place that require careful explanation in order to avoid misunderstanding.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 22, 2009, 03:22:28 EST
Please note, as a post-script, that I have conceded a few points here.  Understand what the limitations of these concessions actually mean.  I encourage you to ask me if for clarification as to what I said does mean, because there are some rather nuanced subtopics popping up all over the place that require careful explanation in order to avoid misunderstanding.
Such is life.  I just keep repeating myself in different ways, in hopes of eventually clarifying my perspective, and you do the same.  Maybe, at some point, we will actually be arguing with each other and not what we think the other is arguing.

I can argue 'till I'm blue in the face why I believe the current "stimulus" package is worse than the alternatives, and provide explicit reasons why, but lots of people will still fall into the "well we've got to do something right now" and "it's better than the alternatives", even though I've laid out why it's not.  My points usually remain un-addressed.
Realize that I know the stimulus package is going to be a pile of pork.  That said, it is reasonable to believe that such pork could both create jobs while fixing problems.  Forget the federal government, do you have any idea how starved the state and local governments are for money to run things like education?

How do they learn in this fashion?  They learn it through people like you and me interacting on a daily basis with people.  Yet, if we have this much power to change people's minds over this (and to make a positive statement of approval, I do agree that we have a great deal of power individually to change minds - not in a world-changing sense but in a local, limited way), how is it that it becomes so impossible to convince them to do more for one another on a more personal level to solve problems instead of trying to convince them that government is the solution to the problem in many of these cases?  I agree we have the power to convince, to change minds, and even to affect the behavior of others for the better.  Why waste that on convincing them to look towards an impersonal third party to solve these problems?  Why not encourage them to use their innate creativity, talents and assets directly and lead by example?  Skip the middle man, so to speak?

In one way, you're saying we have great individual power to generate positive change through individual example, enough to elicit positive political change nationally, presumably through convincing a majority of people to see this through, but you also have mocked the suggestion that people can be convinced to use whatever time, talent and treasure they have for the benefit of others and affect meaningful change.  These two messages are similar in that they do not require a complex understanding (different from being able to judge whether or not an expert is telling you the truth on a complex issue - more on that later), only an understanding of ones' self.  This appears to be paradoxical.
...valid point.  Funny, though, that you should talk about cutting out the middleman.  That's what the Marxists advocate.  That is because they fail to realize how important the middle-men are to getting the system running.  A system with middle-men may be corrupt, but a system without middle-men will be even more corrupt.

That is the thing you seem to be missing.  Removal of government will not eliminate the problems of having a government, it will simply create pseudo-government entities which are off the books and thus less subject to checks and balances than a regular government is.

Government is not good, it is merely the least of all possible evils.  It is done not because it is desirable, but because any other choice would result in an even worse situation.

While I think we are in agreement that the people must become more proactive, my perspective is that even with them being more proactive, an official government is still more desirable than an unofficial one, and understand, we WILL be getting one or the other.

Conceded.  However, in a sense this bolsters my point.  Example: I am knowledgeable enough in structural engineering to provide an educated opinion to the layman over structural engineering issues.  I am also knowledgeable enough that if I possessed a character flaw inclined towards deception, I could use that ability to change one or two minor facts that have significant importance to the overall analysis, presenting a convincing, but also completely misleading result.  You might say, "Well, there are other experts who will not be deceptive", and this would be true, but the ability to ascertain which of us is more trustworthy is crippled to the public in general because they do not have the specific knowledge to tell the difference.  In this way, even subjects of hard science like physics may be made more into matters of subjective opinion than rigorous analysis regarding the formation of public policy.
If the public become more active, many of them will become what could be described as partial experts.  They along with the media, will act to check the experts and each other.  So long as there is enough pro-activity, it prevents disruption from occurring.  While you might say that it would just lead to the deceiving types becoming more pro-active as well, the problem is that in an environment of high activity, it becomes more difficult for them to cover their tracks.

No fire equals no government, to take the analogy in this way.  No government equals anarchy, and because Current and I have laid out rather clearly where legitimate and illegitimate actions of government lie, that we do in fact recognize that the fire is necessary.  We're bickering over where that line is, not that the fire is or isn't necessary.  If you use this canard against us again, at least for me, it will be ignored because I can't think of any accidental way in which you could wrongly use this accusation over and over again when we've repeatedly corrected you on it.
Because you propose the elimination of large tracts of government, which will be replaced by large tracts of unofficial government, which will be directly controlled by corporations and private interest groups where before they could only exert influence indirectly.  Perhaps a better analogy is that the choice is between to have a central fire, or to give people torches to carry around, then hope they don't smack you with them, or accidentally start a forest fire, or use the offer of warmth as a method of coercion.

I don't see it as destructive.  I see natural limitations of what government is good for or useful as before becoming more destructive than useful.
And you maintain a destructive attitude to the remainder.  Much of which I think could be constructive if people actually tried to help it out.

If my intent was to cause destructive criticism out of abject cynicism, I wouldn't bother wasting my time voting.  But I still vote, and I encourage others to do the same.  Do you still think this is destructive?  I advocate realistic voting.  That doesn't mean abdicating the responsibility of voting, but it does put a limit on unrealistic or perhaps dangerous expectations of what government should/can do.  As for what that last part means, we're obviously going to disagree, but I do believe in voting as civic duty and with a sense of responsibility.
Ok.

As long as there's an explicit warning of such things going on inside, that there would be no misunderstanding of what was in store for you if you enter (excluding actions that deprive negative rights, where there is clear intent to deprive someone of a negative right- like beating someone because of their skin color vs., and in contrast to experiencing a negative side effect of someone exercising their negative rights - I understand this is a rather abstract concept, and I'll explain it further if you need clarification on the differences) - then there is no violation of rights, no.
What difference.  How is getting poisoned any different from getting beaten?  Either case, you are being deprived of your health.

I'll concede this point with caveat.  The information gap still exists, between the people who elect the people who pick the experts with whom they trust to form policy - even between the people we elect and the experts, unless we elect experts directly, in which case an information gap still exists.  This creates a potentially large minority of people who will be affected by uses of perhaps well meaning (or perhaps not, it all depends) government force that restricts a legitimate use of individual liberty for erroneous ends.
Potential that can be minimized.

Not unstoppable in the sense that you can starve corruption of what it craves most - the ability to control that which it has no business controlling - by limiting the size and scope of government actions.
The government has grown over the years, yet is has not become more corrupt, if anything, it is less corrupt than it was a century ago.  My point still stands.  According to your claims about the nature of corruption, our government should have been long gone decades ago in a sea of total corruption.

We're defending the idea of human liberty is an irreducible political end unto itself (the infringement upon others' negative rights notwithstanding ), and the idea that living in it is better than living without it, warts and all.  (Note to Current: I know I'm speaking on both our behalf's here, so if you want to clarify any differences you have, I'd welcome them).
You have advocated policies that would grant Liberty at the expense of Life, which leads to the loss of Liberty, and you would grant Liberty at the expense of the Pursuit of Happiness, which would lead to the Liberty becoming meaningless, and you would grant Liberty at the expense of Liberty even.  Your Liberty won't fill hungry stomachs, it won't give people meaningful choices, and it won't let them seek happiness, it will instead create an environment where the strong prey on the weak at will.  As such, I care not for protecting it.  I am willing to trade your valueless Liberty for REAL Liberty.  Yes, my Liberty is more unstable, and runs the vulnerability that it will undermine itself into nothing, but at least it had a chance for real value.  Also note that most of my policies lead to relatively little loss of your form of Liberty.  A few restrictions there, a few tariffs there.  I hardly advocate large government.  I advocate an efficient overhaul of government.  For example, I believe that it is feasible for the government to provide universal healthcare and welfare and social security without increasing taxes and without going into a deficit.  It has the money, it just needs the voters to help it.  And no, something like universal healthcare would never be implemented by community groups of the nature you describe.

My system attempts to protect minorities.  Yours... doesn't.  If you don't have power, you get left to rot in the name of natural selection.  Survival of the fittest, or more accurately, survival of those who had the most pre-accumulated power.

Smokers are a minority.  The right to freedom of assembly is a negative right, whether assembly is in a hall or in a place of business.  I do not believe that you really mean what you just said in light of these things.
What is your point?  In your system, minorities have no source of relief if the majority feels like kicking their ass, while mine at least offers some safeguards against that.



Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on February 23, 2009, 12:33:53 EST
Liberty is not the freedom to be happy, nor is it inherantly valued only for it's ability to bring happiness.  Liberty (except for pure utilitarians) is valuable simply for being liberty.

In fact, from a teleological or existential position, liberty is vastly more important to the human experience then life or happiness.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 23, 2009, 14:26:42 EST
Liberty is not the freedom to be happy, nor is it inherantly valued only for it's ability to bring happiness.  Liberty (except for pure utilitarians) is valuable simply for being liberty.
Why?  What do you even mean when you say "simply for being liberty"?  To me, Liberty is simply the opportunity to take meaningful choices.  In an environment where you are denied that, you don't have Liberty, or at least as much of it.

In fact, from a teleological or existential position, liberty is vastly more important to the human experience then life or happiness.
The only reason any of you like liberty is as a source of happiness, because happiness has no meaning if you do not have the opportunity for less happy choices as well.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Blue Boy from Red Country on February 23, 2009, 22:15:25 EST
In fact, from a teleological or existential position, liberty is vastly more important to the human experience then life or happiness.
The only reason any of you like liberty is as a source of happiness, because happiness has no meaning if you do not have the opportunity for less happy choices as well.

We all have our "sacred cows," things that we hold in high esteem and view as essential to a meaningful human existence.

Personally, I do not see Liberty as being essential to human existence. This is largely, however, because I feel every human being has the potential to "liberate" themselves in a way yet at the same time no one is truly free... Its a rather paradoxical viewpoint that would take quite a bit of time to explain...

Nonetheless, allow me to reiterate a point I made earlier in this thread regarding the choice to use drugs. Those who suffer from drug addiction are typically too ignorant and/or desperate to be aware that they have options other than the escapism provided my drugs. Though technically they did choose to use the drugs and could have stopped or limited their use, they are unlikely to do so without intervention.

Consider this metaphor... A blind old man is out in the wilderness during the winter and is suddenly from his guide in a horrible snow storm. Ambling down a hill, he comes across a decrepit and filthy hovel where he manages to shelter himself from the cold, but becomes rather ill in the process... What's at the top of the hill? A forest ranger's cabin that would anyone with vision would have spotted right away.

The point? Just because options exist doesn't mean people are even aware of them, let alone willing and able to choose them.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 24, 2009, 08:27:34 EST
In fact, from a teleological or existential position, liberty is vastly more important to the human experience then life or happiness.
The only reason any of you like liberty is as a source of happiness, because happiness has no meaning if you do not have the opportunity for less happy choices as well.

We all have our "sacred cows," things that we hold in high esteem and view as essential to a meaningful human existence.
I'll let Heq argue this one.

Personally, I do not see Liberty as being essential to human existence. This is largely, however, because I feel every human being has the potential to "liberate" themselves in a way yet at the same time no one is truly free... Its a rather paradoxical viewpoint that would take quite a bit of time to explain...
That's a common view.  I'd agree with you to some extent.  We are all dependent on others.

Nonetheless, allow me to reiterate a point I made earlier in this thread regarding the choice to use drugs. Those who suffer from drug addiction are typically too ignorant and/or desperate to be aware that they have options other than the escapism provided my drugs. Though technically they did choose to use the drugs and could have stopped or limited their use, they are unlikely to do so without intervention.

The point? Just because options exist doesn't mean people are even aware of them, let alone willing and able to choose them.
Do you have any evidence that drug addicts are so ignorant?  I've met many many drug users (some of whom were probably addicts) and I've never found one who didn't know that what they were doing was dangerous.

Also, this is partly a consequence of the ban.  Every smoker knows cigarettes are bad for them, it says on the packet.  The dangers of alcohol are well known too.  Drug sellers though, who are outside the law, have no obligation to provide these warnings.  That said, given many decades of public education and propaganda about the dangers of drugs I find it implausible that anyone doesn't know.  I think anyone who has missed all of that is not someone the government are in a position to help anyway.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 24, 2009, 14:57:01 EST
Nonetheless, allow me to reiterate a point I made earlier in this thread regarding the choice to use drugs. Those who suffer from drug addiction are typically too ignorant and/or desperate to be aware that they have options other than the escapism provided my drugs. Though technically they did choose to use the drugs and could have stopped or limited their use, they are unlikely to do so without intervention.

The point? Just because options exist doesn't mean people are even aware of them, let alone willing and able to choose them.
Do you have any evidence that drug addicts are so ignorant?  I've met many many drug users (some of whom were probably addicts) and I've never found one who didn't know that what they were doing was dangerous.
Did Blue Boy say otherwise?  He said that they were too ignorant and/or desperate to be aware of other choices, he did not say that they incorrectly gauge the choice's danger.  That's fairly likely though, most people assume that they are far better than the average person at resisting both the addictive and the deleterious effects of drugs, or for that matter anything else.  So stop throwing anecdotes that don't even counter the question, and stop wasting our time and energy.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on February 24, 2009, 15:15:05 EST
Welllp, I was just making a referance to source claim on differing philosophies.

I'm more inclined towards Teleology then Existentialism, but here's a quick toss up.

Teleological argument for the neccessity of freedom.

Teleology rotates around the idea that to be a good X we must figure out what it is that an X does.  A Hammer is a good hammer when I can use it to drive nails or smash my neighbour's skull in, similiarly, a person is a good person when they do what a person exists to do.  Because we don't seem to have a conscious maker (at least not one of whom we can ask questions), teleology then steps into the realm of what is the unique things we do.

We're not uniquely rational, we do seem to be uniquely self-aware, and we do seem to be self-controlled to a much better degree then other beasts, thus, a good human is one who is thinking, self-aware, and self-deterministic.

This kind of thinking is old Skool Greek, but is fairly common around the world (probably the most held belief system), and is usually interpeted as the state of being morally culpable (which requires freedom).  This often bleeds into the idea of faith, as only a rational, free creature can submit.  It is a core beleif in Islam, Christianity, and Confuscianism (if you wanna call it a religion).

Existentialism, well, it's not easy to boil down, but it's all about radical freedom and determination.  Suffering is often seen as laudable to existentialists as it is the accumulation of experience in life which really matters.  Not a common belief in any group except for intellectuals, where it dominates a lot of fields.

So yeah, you can make the utilitarian claim that all things come down to a hedonistic argument, but you're in the vast, vast minority.  In short, you're saying "You -should- want to be happy, so I'm making you happy because that's what you should want."

I (of course) don't hold any of these views (because I'm a iconoclast/cynic), but can give you a really long winded backing for any of these if you'd like.

http://wsu.edu/~dee/GLOSSARY/TELE.HTM

Quick and dirty on teleology

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/existentialism/

"Without denying the validity of scientific categories (governed by the norm of truth) or moral categories (governed by norms of the good and the right), “existentialism” may be defined as the philosophical theory which holds that a further set of categories, governed by the norm of authenticity, is necessary to grasp human existence. "

Little blurb on Existentialism, text cut out because even a short blurb is in philosophy-speak.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on February 24, 2009, 15:32:14 EST
Do you have any evidence that drug addicts are so ignorant?  I've met many many drug users (some of whom were probably addicts) and I've never found one who didn't know that what they were doing was dangerous.

Ignorance has the connotation of deliberately not knowing or ignoring. It's just what you describe here, and usually a though pattern that's associated with addiction. "Yes, I know X is bad, but I'll just have one more ..."



Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 24, 2009, 15:38:22 EST
Ignorance has the connotation of deliberately not knowing or ignoring. It's just what you describe here, and usually a though pattern that's associated with addiction. "Yes, I know X is bad, but I'll just have one more ..."
Correct, its willful ignorance.  "I'll just have one more", "I have it under control", "I can quit any time I want", "I'm more resistant to it than most", "Those bad things happen to other people, I'm different", and so on.  People have cognitive dissonance (I know this is bad, but, I keep doing it anyway) and they feel compelled to make flimsy rationalizations to justify it as being right, so they don't have to admit that the reason they keep doing it is because they can't stop themselves from doing it.  Those rationalizations resolve the dissonance whle crushing any last chances they had of quitting.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on February 24, 2009, 20:08:34 EST
To put it into perspective just how this works, Current, think of the number of people who've died because they were drunk. Doing things like deciding that swimming in the middle of winter is a good idea, then getting caught under ice. Or having no idea that they were starting to suffer from hypothermia and staying in the water until they froze to death. Or diving into a shallow pool, breaking their neck and drowning. Ice fishing on thin ice.

Hell, even walking home, crossing a road and figuring that the oncoming traffic was a good two hundred metres back when it's somewhat closer to fifty.

A common theme is people thinking they're good to drive when they'd blow at something like three times the legal limit. This particular idiocy only happens to heavy drinkers who think they're little-affected by large amounts of alcohol. Addicts, usually. Similarly, a lot of addicts of neurotransmitter-replacement drugs, opiate derivatives for instance, don't think they're very affected when they take a hit. Nor do they tie the come-down to the hit. At least not in any sensible way.

Onto the original point: for some reason, the poorer sections of the population tend to think that getting a dime-bag of pot and smoking for a few hours has a better bang-for-buck than pretty much anything else. They're not aware of anything else that can give the same enjoyment. The drugs are likely to addle them to the point where they're unlikely to find out, without outside help.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 25, 2009, 10:46:23 EST
To put it into perspective just how this works, Current, think of the number of people who've died because they were drunk. Doing things like deciding that swimming in the middle of winter is a good idea, then getting caught under ice. Or having no idea that they were starting to suffer from hypothermia and staying in the water until they froze to death. Or diving into a shallow pool, breaking their neck and drowning. Ice fishing on thin ice.

Hell, even walking home, crossing a road and figuring that the oncoming traffic was a good two hundred metres back when it's somewhat closer to fifty.

A common theme is people thinking they're good to drive when they'd blow at something like three times the legal limit. This particular idiocy only happens to heavy drinkers who think they're little-affected by large amounts of alcohol. Addicts, usually. Similarly, a lot of addicts of neurotransmitter-replacement drugs, opiate derivatives for instance, don't think they're very affected when they take a hit. Nor do they tie the come-down to the hit. At least not in any sensible way.
Medivh I'm not disagreeing that people suffer from the risks they take with drink and drugs.  I agree too that those people who take drugs affect their judgment by doing so.  That though is an argument for treating as special cases those who are likely to have their judgment impaired.  Not for imposing limitations on all.

Onto the original point: for some reason, the poorer sections of the population tend to think that getting a dime-bag of pot and smoking for a few hours has a better bang-for-buck than pretty much anything else. They're not aware of anything else that can give the same enjoyment. The drugs are likely to addle them to the point where they're unlikely to find out, without outside help.
Yeah, a lot of my friends do that.  I'm not convinced it is particularly dangerous though.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 25, 2009, 12:55:16 EST
Yeah, a lot of my friends do that.  I'm not convinced it is particularly dangerous though.
You must have pretty rarefied standards of dangerous, if a drug that causes the death of 10s of thousands of a year, which people are unable to stop taking once they start, does not qualify.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 25, 2009, 15:17:07 EST
Yeah, a lot of my friends do that.  I'm not convinced it is particularly dangerous though.
You must have pretty rarefied standards of dangerous, if a drug that causes the death of 10s of thousands of a year, which people are unable to stop taking once they start, does not qualify.
I think that since we're talking about pot here that statement requires some statistical backup.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 25, 2009, 15:46:22 EST
I think that since we're talking about pot here that statement requires some statistical backup.
No we are not.  We are talking about Smoking and Alcohol.  Pot is only harmful due to its association with nastier drugs, which should go away if it is legalized.  I can't in good conscience ban Pot when I perceive Smoking and Alcohol as being significantly more abusive and dangerous.

Other drugs, like Cocaine and Heroin, probably kill people in the 1000s, are potentially lethal with the very first use, extremely addictive, and can even have lethal withdrawals.

To clarify, I put non-medical drugs in for categories:
1. Smoking
2. Drinking
3. Recreational Drugs (Pot, Ecstasy, anything associated with Fungi)
4. Hard Drugs (Cocaine, especially the Crack variant, Heroin)

My attitude is that 1 and 2 need more restrictions, 3 needs to be legalized, then put under restrictions of its own, and 4 should remain illegal unless it can be eliminated through a more effective means.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on February 25, 2009, 15:50:56 EST
I think that since we're talking about pot here that statement requires some statistical backup.
No we are not.  We are talking about Smoking and Alcohol.  Pot is only harmful due to its association with nastier drugs, which should go away if it is legalized.  I can't in good conscience ban Pot when I perceive Smoking and Alcohol as being significantly more abusive and dangerous.

Actually, he was talking about pot.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 25, 2009, 17:15:51 EST
Who cares about pot?  My arguments are directed at 1, 2, and 4 mainly.

Here's what the Lancet says, I tend to trust them:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rational_scale_to_assess_the_harm_of_drugs_(mean_physical_harm_and_mean_dependence).svg


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on February 25, 2009, 19:32:36 EST
Who cares about pot?  My arguments are directed at 1, 2, and 4 mainly.

Here's what the Lancet says, I tend to trust them:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rational_scale_to_assess_the_harm_of_drugs_(mean_physical_harm_and_mean_dependence).svg

Current was responding to this statement:
Onto the original point: for some reason, the poorer sections of the population tend to think that getting a dime-bag of pot and smoking for a few hours has a better bang-for-buck than pretty much anything else. They're not aware of anything else that can give the same enjoyment. The drugs are likely to addle them to the point where they're unlikely to find out, without outside help.

Which is directly about pot. However, I was meaning it in a more generalised sense. Specifically, people who use opiates tend to think that nothing else can give you the same high, and that if they tie the come-down to the drug, they see it as worth it.

Usually because their judgement is addled by addiction...


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 26, 2009, 13:58:06 EST
I accept that the minds of opiate addicts will be affected severally by their addiction.  Not pot smokers though.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on February 26, 2009, 19:04:48 EST
Yeah, it was a bad example :|


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 26, 2009, 19:21:32 EST
Look, can we get over Pot?  I tried and was unable to find a shred of credible evidence to indicate that it was any more dangerous than Smoking or Drinking, in fact, most evidence indicates that the latter two are both more addictive, more physically hazardous to oneself, and more likely to inflict externalities on others.

The nasty drug addictions are most common with things like Heroin and Crack, which basically do destroy your mind and body extremely fast and are near impossible to stop taking without outside intervention.  Smoking and Alcohol aren't as bad, but their sheer commonality and social acceptance/ignorance leads to them causing much more in the way of deaths.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Blue Boy from Red Country on February 26, 2009, 21:45:18 EST
Ignorance has the connotation of deliberately not knowing or ignoring. It's just what you describe here, and usually a though pattern that's associated with addiction. "Yes, I know X is bad, but I'll just have one more ..."
Correct, its willful ignorance.  "I'll just have one more", "I have it under control", "I can quit any time I want", "I'm more resistant to it than most", "Those bad things happen to other people, I'm different", and so on.  People have cognitive dissonance (I know this is bad, but, I keep doing it anyway) and they feel compelled to make flimsy rationalizations to justify it as being right, so they don't have to admit that the reason they keep doing it is because they can't stop themselves from doing it.  Those rationalizations resolve the dissonance whle crushing any last chances they had of quitting.

This is certainly important, though I feel the desperation is a more important issue to deal with than the ignorance, even if I didn't elaborate...

Many do fall into the above description.

The ones I feel truly need the intervention, however, are those who have come to believe they are powerless or worthless. It has been my personal observation that a life of deprivation has the tendency to reinforce a defeatist attitude. Those lacking both financial and emotional support are apt to have a pessimistic perspective on what options are available to them. A normal life of decency is a distance fantasy, so why bother trying making any improvements? Things are never going to get better, so why worry if about making it to tomorrow? Life isn't worth living, so does it matter if I die? These are the thoughts that plague those who take refugee in extreme forms of escapism such as drugs.

Now, do I have any credible sources to assert that this is indeed how drug addicts think? No, I'm relying upon my own personal experience and insight into the human condition; take what I have to say as you will.




Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on February 26, 2009, 21:55:01 EST
The nasty drug addictions are most common with things like Heroin and Crack, which basically do destroy your mind and body extremely fast and are near impossible to stop taking without outside intervention.  Smoking and Alcohol aren't as bad, but their sheer commonality and social acceptance/ignorance leads to them causing much more in the way of deaths.

Outside of addiction and overdose, Heroin actually has no physical effects.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 26, 2009, 23:17:33 EST
The nasty drug addictions are most common with things like Heroin and Crack, which basically do destroy your mind and body extremely fast and are near impossible to stop taking without outside intervention.  Smoking and Alcohol aren't as bad, but their sheer commonality and social acceptance/ignorance leads to them causing much more in the way of deaths.

Outside of addiction and overdose, Heroin actually has no physical effects.
What are its long-term effects?

Source A
Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time.Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulites, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin's depressing effects on respiration.In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not really dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs. With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect.

As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped. Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps ("cold turkey"), kicking movements ("kicking the habit"), and other symptoms. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last does and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can be fatal.

Source B
Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, and—particularly in users who inject the drug—infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and liver or kidney disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health of the abuser, as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration. In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin often contains toxic contaminants or additives that can clog the blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, causing permanent damage to vital organs.

Saying Heroin doesn't kill people is like saying HIV doesn't kill people.  True, but inaccurate nonetheless.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on February 26, 2009, 23:28:45 EST
In addition to the physical symptoms noted above, heroin acts as a replacement for endorphins. Hence the high, and the pain-killing properties. Overdose of endorphins (yes, it's possible) leads to hallucination, as does "underdose" of same. With addiction, the body stops producing endorphins and "underdose" of endorphins is the reason for withdrawal. The act of taking heroin can also emulate bi-polar disorder, with the manic phase starting after the dose, and as it wears off the user slips into a depressive phase until the next hit. This can make helping addicts hard because a layman might just think that an addict is crazy. The differences are reasonably obvious to a trained professional, in most cases. But sufferers of bi-polar disorder have a heightened tendency to use uppers such as heroin, due to them being a quick fix for a depressive phase.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 27, 2009, 04:55:33 EST
The nasty drug addictions are most common with things like Heroin and Crack, which basically do destroy your mind and body extremely fast and are near impossible to stop taking without outside intervention.  Smoking and Alcohol aren't as bad, but their sheer commonality and social acceptance/ignorance leads to them causing much more in the way of deaths.

Outside of addiction and overdose, Heroin actually has no physical effects.
Medivh and Wodan point out the effects of addiction and long term use, and problems brought on by illegality.

It is not true though that occasional use is without risks.  Because of Heroin's pain killing properties it is possible for a user to take it and injure themselves without noticing the severity of the injury.

Quote from: wodan46
who inject the drug—infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis
That though is mostly a consequence of the ban and the difficulty of obtaining clean needles.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 27, 2009, 08:00:12 EST
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
It is being forced on those members of the population who do not agree with the decision.
If they had wished, they could have countered.  They snooze, they lose.  It is something common to both our systems that people, if they choose to do nothing, will get nothing.
No, this is not "common to both our systems".  What we are talking about here is replacing decisions that could be made in the private sphere with government decisions.  In a democracys such decisions would be made by an elected parliament or by government staff.  That means in the best case only a majority agree with such a decision.  However, that decisions is forced upon the dissenters.  This does not occur when such a decision remains in private hands.  The majority can take one path and minorities can take others.

(Of course it doesn't even mean that the decision is a majority one.  Many government decisions are taken without majority support.  For example opinion polls show that most US residents don't agree with the bank or auto bailouts).

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
There is a difference between a willingness to discuss something and delegation of the issue.  Politicians often do not even discuss the delegation.
:(
What makes you unhappy about that comment?

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Haven't you have at various times in this thread argued in favour of bans?  At least in principle.

If you are advocating taking steps to these ends that involve coercion then that is just as bad as advocating a ban.
I said that I want to get rid of drugs, not that I wish to ban drugs.  What part of that do you fail to understand?  If banning drugs would get rid of them, I would advocate doing so.  However, it would not, and it would instead cause many negative side affects so I don't.  Restrictions, on the other hand, how you to reduce the use of the drug, while not causing the negativeness of outright banning a choice.  Similarly, if taking away a freedom would cause more problems than it solves, I would not advocate such occurring.
Well, I understand your position now.  I don't see any good justification for it though.  Why do you want to "get rid of drugs"?

I am arguing here against bans on drugs.  Also, though I disagree with restricting them in order to reduce use, for the same reason I oppose bans.  The situation with bans and "restrictions" is similar, in neither case have you given a good argument for them.  You concede that bans cause "negative side affects", why do you believe that other restrictions will not do the same?

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
You have a point there.  Let's legalize murder.  After all, we can't objectively show that it really hurts the overall public good?
Since it affects the private good it clearly affects the public good.  Did you read the paragraph I wrote above this one.  In that I offered an example of a situation that involved the private good.  In that I demonstrated how we *can* understand that situation
Why?  Explain to me why the private good can be evaluated objectively, but the public good can't.  Explain to me how murder, which takes away a private good, disrupts the public good, but debilitating drugs, which also take away a private good, do not somehow disrupt the public good.
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
It is necessary for social interaction to be possible for there to be a law against murder.
Who says?  That's just your opinion.  We can't go around basing laws on opinions, can we?
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Unlike the situation with drug laws the particulars can be investigated, as with the radio regulation example I gave.  We can look at what happens when a murderer gets away with their crime for example.
Once again, why?  I fail to see the difference between them at all.  Why can you investigate the particulars of radio regulation and murder but not drugs?  At best, one could say that it is harder to investigate the particulars of drugs, but that hardly justifies not investigating them at all.
When a person takes drugs that is a personal decision.  It is a situation private to that individual.  The actions of that individual later may affect some public realm.  That is a reason for the laws against those behaviours, for laws against drunk driving but not for laws against drinking.  Drugs are not always "debilitating".  The personal decision to take them doesn't always "take away a private good".  The evening I wrote this post I had a couple of glasses of wine, I doubt this will be debilitating for me.  I consider it to be of private benefit to me.

Murder is entirely different.  By definition the person murdered is murdered involuntarily, it harms the victim personally. (Note that "killed" means something different from "murdered", a person may ask to be killed).  This is not something the victim has any decision over.  So, this is not a situation personal to the individual.  This is the sort of situation that the public must take an interest in.  We must have laws about how social interactions occur.  If such laws are not present then whatever party is most powerful will take whatever decision they prefer.  In other words, there would be anarchy and rule of naked power.

It is certainly my "opinion" that a law against murder is necessary for social interaction.  It is though based on a few facts.  Consider what would happen if there was no such law.  People's interests differ.  If in social situations it were permissible to murder another with no repercussions then this is what would occur when there is strong enough difference of interest.  If you don't like first principles logic then look at the empirical evidence.  Has there ever being a successful society where murder was permissible?

This is the first reason I give for my approach.  In social situations where multiple persons are involved laws are necessary for social interaction to take place.  So, the quality of information we can bring is less important here.  A societal decision must be made, so what is important is that it is made as well as possible.

The second reason I give is knowledge.  In most cases the victims of crimes loudly protest that they think they have been made unhappy.  Murder victims do not it must be said, but it's reasonable to assume that they would do.  So you "happiness by asking" could be done, however happiness is not directly relevant here.  What must be settled is firstly whether some event took place, and secondly whether some event broke some law or agreement.  To ensure general happiness it is not necessary that lawmakers understand that general happiness directly.  All they must understand is the situation local to the parties involved.  A law must be created that allows cooperation and ensures that the parties in any particular situation know where they stand.  People may then organise their behaviour in accordance with the laws.  The law does not have to understand their particular ends only their means.

This is of course a simplification.  But in general outline it is how common law works.  This sort of decision is really an arbitration, there is an accuser and an accused.  When there is no accuser though things are not so simple.  What you are proposing here is that laws be drafted for the common good for example steps be taken to reduce drug use.  How can this sort of thing be done without judging the common good?  As I said earlier such a thing is not possible.  Mass surveys are flawed, for reasons I mention earlier.  It is not possible to know the future repercussions of whatever measures are brought into effect.  This is a symptom of the fact that these sorts of laws are aimed at manipulating ends.  Laws which only affect means don't suffer from the same problem.  Most people will rearrange their means to achieve their preferred end.  (It is not quite this simple but the exceptions are well understood).

These sorts of laws that defend some supposed "common good" are what we classical liberals call infringements of liberty by government.  Since there is no injured party.  It is not a case, as a crime is, where coercion is used to meet coercion.  "Discouragement" may be similar to bans depending on its form.

The third reason is the interests of electorates and lawmakers.  Politicians want power and votes (and possibly money), they are not concerned about how they get them.  If a prominent interest group want personal activity X banned and will supply votes or campaign funds to do so then politicians will likely ban X.  The electorate only have a direct interest in protesting this is a majority of them support the continued existence of X.  The same is true of any sort of discouragement.  This is what I was talking about earlier when I gave the example of executing psychologists.

The electorate may protest about this if they realise that it is the "thin end of the wedge".  That is they may object in principle to X being banned.  What you are saying here though is that people should not make such principled arguments.  They should not protest against government infringements of liberty.  If the public accept this argument in general then they must accept it in each specific case.  The public clearly cannot know enough about the particular subject of any ban to form a judgement on it.  They must judge on the basis of general moral rules.  In which case one is to trust politicians and allow intervention in private personal activities they propose.  The other is to oppose every one.  If we take the former course then politicians will intervene in anything they like.  If a ban will gain them power, votes or money, regardless if the outcome is good or not they will implement it.  Only if we take the principled approach of opposing any laws on private personal behaviour can we hope for liberty in minority private activities.

My fourth reason is in the quote below:
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
I suspect that the effect of such bans is not to help people who are rash but rather the reverse.  Individuals are shielded from the effects of poor decisions they make, so they never learn the important skill of making careful decisions.

What you can't get away from is that in a democracy the people must make decisions.  If they don't make them personally then they must make them in the polling booth.  If a person make a rash decisions with their own life or their own money then they feel the effects themselves.  This provides a strong reason not to do these things.  However the polling booth does not provide such feedback.
The problem is that the consequences of those decisions are often irrevocable.  Even if the person has "learned their lesson", they may be bankrupt, addicted, or dead.
Bankruptcy and addiction are not irrevocable.  Death I agree is.

However I don't think this really takes away from my point.  Some dangers in life can be tackled, some cannot.  Government may be able to affect some of those things it can be tackled.  Doing so though prevents people from have a reason to learn how to make good decisions.  I think it is not at all certain that this is beneficial overall even for those individuals.

Also, I see no reason why the situation with polling booths is much better.  A poor decision by an electorate may have very serious consequences too, certainly involving death.

Quote from: wodan46
Also, you seem to presume that people are incapable of learning things without doing them.  Is your opinion of humanity that low?
No.  People learn by observing others, from classrooms and books and in many other ways.  Of course in some cases they learn from mistakes too, I certainly have from time to time.  "Experience keeps a dear school but some will accept no other".

What I'm really worried about though is reasons to learn.  If a person knows that not learning about Y may be harmful to them they have a good reason to learn about Y.  Without such a reason though there is often no need to learn. 

Today children and teenagers are given the message that harmful things come with bans or warnings.  This message is given by schooling and also by the presence of many bans and warnings.  They likely then think "if I learn what is banned or discouraged and avoid it I will avoid harm".  Further experience of harm from something not banned or discouraged would change this outlook.  But without any further experience it is entirely rational for individuals to work this way.

In my view it is damaging for society to paint this false picture of itself.  Some social scientists view the world as a place we must guide ourselves around.  Our view of that world is a "map".  Danger exists in both the map and the territory.  The territory may be dangerous and the map may be wrong.  We should not pretend otherwise.

In the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain there was a great way of getting rid of unpleasant wives or those who had affairs.  You found a quack doctor, an "expert".  Then you sent your wife to the doctor.  The doctor would declare her mad and have her confined to an asylum for life.  In the communist USSR the same thing was done with whole races.

Quote from: wodan46
I think you will find that drug-addled people make very different decisions than those same people do when not drug addled.  Hence, the change in the decision is a product of the drug, hence the drug caused the decision.
But the "drug-addled person" made the decision to take the drug.  His or her situation is their own doing.

This business of saying that people under the influence of drugs cannot make their own decisions is very dangerous.  It all sounds to me like an excuse to prevent people from making decisions for themselves that others don't like.  We should hold the widest view possible of who is "competent" to take decisions.  If we do not then politicians and the powerful will use it as an excuse to silence those they don't like.

Quote from: wodan46
What you seem to not understand is that the environment you advocate would result in people being deprived of the ability to make decisions for themselves by corporations.  Removal of government will result in less choice, not more, unless your idea of choice involves things like choosing between slavery or death.

For example, let's say that a corporation owns all access to water in the area.  They charge exorbitant prices for it.  You have the choice between paying the exorbitant price, or death.  In the real world, the choices aren't quite as dramatic, but they are of the same nature.
I'll argue with you about economics in other threads.

I moved this to last because I thought it a side-discussion:
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
A person who is not an addict has to spend quite a long period taking a drug in order to become an addict.
That is plainly and simply false.  Prove it.
Well, perhaps we are not disagreeing but only have a different view of time.  What I mean is that a person doesn't become an addict by their first experience with a drug.  It takes repeated use.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on February 27, 2009, 09:00:15 EST
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
It is being forced on those members of the population who do not agree with the decision.
If they had wished, they could have countered.  They snooze, they lose.  It is something common to both our systems that people, if they choose to do nothing, will get nothing.
No, this is not "common to both our systems".  What we are talking about here is replacing decisions that could be made in the private sphere with government decisions.  In a democracys such decisions would be made by an elected parliament or by government staff.  That means in the best case only a majority agree with such a decision.  However, that decisions is forced upon the dissenters.  This does not occur when such a decision remains in private hands.  The majority can take one path and minorities can take others.

(Of course it doesn't even mean that the decision is a majority one.  Many government decisions are taken without majority support.  For example opinion polls show that most US residents don't agree with the bank or auto bailouts).

But how many people are happy about the job market contracting? How many people would be happy about many more thousands being unable to support themselves? More importantly to many: how many people would be happy about those same people creating more competition in an already tight job market?

Now, while the concept of saving idiots from their own bad business decisions is counter to most people's sense of fair play (see poll results), in this case the previous government decided that the economy came before "fair play".

Onward: decisions being forced on minorities; there are laws regarding what laws can be made. The majority could, theoretically, repeal the civil rights laws of the US. The decision would get overturned in the supreme court, because the repeal would be considered to go against the constitution. In this respect, please stop misrepresenting democracy.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Haven't you have at various times in this thread argued in favour of bans?  At least in principle.

If you are advocating taking steps to these ends that involve coercion then that is just as bad as advocating a ban.
I said that I want to get rid of drugs, not that I wish to ban drugs.  What part of that do you fail to understand?  If banning drugs would get rid of them, I would advocate doing so.  However, it would not, and it would instead cause many negative side affects so I don't.  Restrictions, on the other hand, how you to reduce the use of the drug, while not causing the negativeness of outright banning a choice.  Similarly, if taking away a freedom would cause more problems than it solves, I would not advocate such occurring.
Well, I understand your position now.  I don't see any good justification for it though.  Why do you want to "get rid of drugs"?

I am arguing here against bans on drugs.  Also, though I disagree with restricting them in order to reduce use, for the same reason I oppose bans.  The situation with bans and "restrictions" is similar, in neither case have you given a good argument for them.  You concede that bans cause "negative side affects", why do you believe that other restrictions will not do the same?

I believe Wodan gives the rationale that drugs cause more harm than good, and that reduction in harm should be the goal of any functional society. I can't say I disagree, nor that I find the justification to be poor.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
You have a point there.  Let's legalize murder.  After all, we can't objectively show that it really hurts the overall public good?
Since it affects the private good it clearly affects the public good.  Did you read the paragraph I wrote above this one.  In that I offered an example of a situation that involved the private good.  In that I demonstrated how we *can* understand that situation
Why?  Explain to me why the private good can be evaluated objectively, but the public good can't.  Explain to me how murder, which takes away a private good, disrupts the public good, but debilitating drugs, which also take away a private good, do not somehow disrupt the public good.
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
It is necessary for social interaction to be possible for there to be a law against murder.
Who says?  That's just your opinion.  We can't go around basing laws on opinions, can we?
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
Unlike the situation with drug laws the particulars can be investigated, as with the radio regulation example I gave.  We can look at what happens when a murderer gets away with their crime for example.
Once again, why?  I fail to see the difference between them at all.  Why can you investigate the particulars of radio regulation and murder but not drugs?  At best, one could say that it is harder to investigate the particulars of drugs, but that hardly justifies not investigating them at all.
When a person takes drugs that is a personal decision.  It is a situation private to that individual.  The actions of that individual later may affect some public realm.  That is a reason for the laws against those behaviours, for laws against drunk driving but not for laws against drinking.  Drugs are not always "debilitating".  The personal decision to take them doesn't always "take away a private good".  The evening I wrote this post I had a couple of glasses of wine, I doubt this will be debilitating for me.  I consider it to be of private benefit to me.

Opiates are of a different class altogether. A person who has just received their first hit of heroin can already be addicted. Drug users are typically poorer than non-users, and typically have more health problems. They therefore, typically, become a burden on society sooner rather than later.

Reducing use of drugs will increase the mean level of health, and reduce the burden on society. Thereby increasing individual liberty by way of reducing external burdens upon that liberty, whether through reduced crime, reduced taxes, or reduced time costs associated with living in a near stateless society.

It is certainly my "opinion" that a law against murder is necessary for social interaction.  It is though based on a few facts.  Consider what would happen if there was no such law.  People's interests differ.  If in social situations it were permissible to murder another with no repercussions then this is what would occur when there is strong enough difference of interest.  If you don't like first principles logic then look at the empirical evidence.  Has there ever being a successful society where murder was permissible?

Well, Rome was fairly successful. Of course, "legal" murder was limited to a select few at the top.

Quote from: wodan46
I think you will find that drug-addled people make very different decisions than those same people do when not drug addled.  Hence, the change in the decision is a product of the drug, hence the drug caused the decision.
But the "drug-addled person" made the decision to take the drug.  His or her situation is their own doing.

This business of saying that people under the influence of drugs cannot make their own decisions is very dangerous.  It all sounds to me like an excuse to prevent people from making decisions for themselves that others don't like.  We should hold the widest view possible of who is "competent" to take decisions.  If we do not then politicians and the powerful will use it as an excuse to silence those they don't like.

Enough of your slippery slope fallacies. "Mentally competent" has a very precise definition. Many drug addicts don't fit the bill. Case closed.

Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
A person who is not an addict has to spend quite a long period taking a drug in order to become an addict.
That is plainly and simply false.  Prove it.
Well, perhaps we are not disagreeing but only have a different view of time.  What I mean is that a person doesn't become an addict by their first experience with a drug.  It takes repeated use.

No, it really doesn't. Tobacco and cocaine take time to addict a user, on average. There are many factors which affect this though, including (for coke) smoking, snorting or injection. Heroin does not take time, however. Heroin can addict a user on the first hit, given a big enough first hit. Same with any opiate, including morphine.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on February 27, 2009, 12:41:59 EST
Opiates are of a different class altogether. A person who has just received their first hit of heroin can already be addicted. Drug users are typically poorer than non-users, and typically have more health problems. They therefore, typically, become a burden on society sooner rather than later.

Why ... in the libertarian paradise, no one is forced to pay for their problems, so they're not a burden on society. They may be a burden on anyone who's not a zero-compassion sociopath and donates to some form of charitable organization to help them, though. If the drug users cannot find one of those, they can just go and die in the gutter. After all, the death is just the right remedy for anyone who can't doesn't want to support himself.

At least that's how I understand it.

Quote
Well, Rome was fairly successful. Of course, "legal" murder was limited to a select few at the top.

"Pater familias" ... that's all there is to say.

Some forms of dueling might qualify as murder under todays laws, too.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on February 27, 2009, 14:06:01 EST
Quote from: wodan46
Quote from: Current
It is being forced on those members of the population who do not agree with the decision.
If they had wished, they could have countered.  They snooze, they lose.  It is something common to both our systems that people, if they choose to do nothing, will get nothing.
No, this is not "common to both our systems".  What we are talking about here is replacing decisions that could be made in the private sphere with government decisions.  In a democracys such decisions would be made by an elected parliament or by government staff.  That means in the best case only a majority agree with such a decision.  However, that decisions is forced upon the dissenters.  This does not occur when such a decision remains in private hands.  The majority can take one path and minorities can take others.

(Of course it doesn't even mean that the decision is a majority one.  Many government decisions are taken without majority support.  For example opinion polls show that most US residents don't agree with the bank or auto bailouts).

But how many people are happy about the job market contracting? How many people would be happy about many more thousands being unable to support themselves? More importantly to many: how many people would be happy about those same people creating more competition in an already tight job market?
It is your judgment that the things that you mention above will happen.  Notice that the auto bailout is funded by US debt.  Investors put money into bonds to pay for it.  What would investors do with that money had there being no such government borrowing? 

Now, while the concept of saving idiots from their own bad business decisions is counter to most people's sense of fair play (see poll results), in this case the previous government decided that the economy came before "fair play".
Yes.  My point was not about the efficacy of the auto-bailouts.  My point was that majority governments do not always take the decisions that their electorates support.  This is true of the auto bailout and true of the bank bailout by the Bush administration.

Onward: decisions being forced on minorities; there are laws regarding what laws can be made. The majority could, theoretically, repeal the civil rights laws of the US. The decision would get overturned in the supreme court, because the repeal would be considered to go against the constitution. In this respect, please stop misrepresenting democracy.
Certainly that would happen in the US.  It's worth noting though that not all democracies are like that.  In the UK it is would be quite possible to repeal civil rights laws, and they have being repealed in the past.

More generally though, your comment only applies to a portion of legislation.  In a great many issues the government does force its decision on others who are unwilling.  It does not apply to bans and does not apply to taxes, for example.  What Wodan was saying to me was that people could object to legislation which is detrimental to them.  Certainly this is true.  My point is that it doesn't really solve the big problem which is the interests involved.

I believe Wodan gives the rationale that drugs cause more harm than good, and that reduction in harm should be the goal of any functional society. I can't say I disagree, nor that I find the justification to be poor.
He did.  Read the rest of the thread though and my arguments against his.

His justification is poor for several reasons.  Firstly, he has not actually measured the "good" that drugs do, and neither has anyone else.  So even in crudely utilitarian terms the case is not certain.

Secondly there is no way to make a true comparison.  If further measures are taken to "fight" drugs we don't know if they will lead to greater harm.  It is a gamble.

Opiates are of a different class altogether.
Really, they can force themselves on people without their consent can they?

A person who has just received their first hit of heroin can already be addicted.
Do you have any scientific backing for that idea?

Drug users are typically poorer than non-users, and typically have more health problems. They therefore, typically, become a burden on society sooner rather than later.
Certainly.

Reducing use of drugs will increase the mean level of health, and reduce the burden on society. Thereby increasing individual liberty by way of reducing external burdens upon that liberty, whether through reduced crime, reduced taxes, or reduced time costs associated with living in a near stateless society.
The libertarian Randy Barnett said:
Quote from: Randy Barnett
Whenever someone complains that libertarians are just pie-in-the-sky utopian (or distopian) intellectuals, just ask them again about the real world consequences of the War on Drugs, and see who gets all pie-in-the-sky right quick

"Use of drugs" cannot be magically be reduced.  Certainly the benefits you cite would emerge if drug use declined.  But what would be required to produce a decline?  People know that drugs can be damaging, they take them anyway.  How is this to be prevented?  Clearly massively authoritarian measures would be needed.

Think about it, heroin can be contaminated.  Without even considering addiction a heroin user takes the chance of death with every dose.  There is a quite reasonable chance of a non-custodial sentence of death.  How can the state top that?

This is what I mean about our lack of knowledge of the effects of our plans.  We can say "wouldn't it be nice if there were no drugs in the future".  But that doesn't mean that the actions we take toward that end are not important.  They are, and they may well be far worse than the drug problem.  If there were a way to objectively judge, and if I were a betting man, then I would put money on it.

It is certainly my "opinion" that a law against murder is necessary for social interaction.  It is though based on a few facts.  Consider what would happen if there was no such law.  People's interests differ.  If in social situations it were permissible to murder another with no repercussions then this is what would occur when there is strong enough difference of interest.  If you don't like first principles logic then look at the empirical evidence.  Has there ever being a successful society where murder was permissible?

Well, Rome was fairly successful. Of course, "legal" murder was limited to a select few at the top.
The periods when such murders took place tended to be "interesting".

Quote from: wodan46
I think you will find that drug-addled people make very different decisions than those same people do when not drug addled.  Hence, the change in the decision is a product of the drug, hence the drug caused the decision.
But the "drug-addled person" made the decision to take the drug.  His or her situation is their own doing.

This business of saying that people under the influence of drugs cannot make their own decisions is very dangerous.  It all sounds to me like an excuse to prevent people from making decisions for themselves that others don't like.  We should hold the widest view possible of who is "competent" to take decisions.  If we do not then politicians and the powerful will use it as an excuse to silence those they don't like.

Enough of your slippery slope fallacies. "Mentally competent" has a very precise definition. Many drug addicts don't fit the bill. Case closed.
My slippery-slope example is hardly a fallacy, it has occurred several times.

Please tell me how precise the definition of "Mentally competent" is and how it is judged.

I'll try to make my point a little clearer.  What Wodan was saying is that mental problems come from drug addiction and abuse.  He is saying that when that occurs the victims are not "mentally competent".  Hence he says there is no problem in principle with depriving people of the opportunity to make the decision in the first place.  I would contend the drug addicts are mentally competent in many cases.  But that's not really the big issue.

What is more important is the idea that is something could result in a person becoming unable to make decisions for themselves then it should be banned.  Think about where this decision would lead if applied generally.  To begin with it what about a person intending to commit suicide?  Doing that makes a person unable to make decisions for themselves. Would it be permissible to ban taking steps towards suicide?  What about dangerous sports?  They can lead to permanent injuries that make people incapable of making decisions, boxing for example.  Does that mean that there should be bans on such sport in case this happens?

The problem here should be obvious, a wide range of things come with some sort of risk of mental incapacitation.  Even crossing the street, since you may be run over by a car.  This risk alone isn't sufficient reason to ban something.

Opiates are of a different class altogether. A person who has just received their first hit of heroin can already be addicted. Drug users are typically poorer than non-users, and typically have more health problems. They therefore, typically, become a burden on society sooner rather than later.

Why ... in the libertarian paradise, no one is forced to pay for their problems, so they're not a burden on society.
Clearly in any society some people are "burdens".  Drug addicts can be in any society, if their addiction leads them to become thieves for example.  I'm not disputing that.

What I'm saying is that we must not be too keen to eliminate these burdens by reducing the liberties of others.

Ultimately there will always be these burdens on society.  Economists call them "unacknowledged externalities".  Humans cannot chase down every last one.  Nor should we.  In Japan people who are too overweight are considered a burden on the healthcare system.  They are sent to "re-education" camps.  This is clearly foolish.  What makes human society work well today is not that every tiny externality is dealt with.  It is rather that there are clear laws and customs about what can be done in what circumstances.  Individuals can plan around these and they can therefore plan for the long term.  People who say we should tax fat people because they use more water in the shower and cause the construction of larger reservoirs would do well to remember this.

They may be a burden on anyone who's not a zero-compassion sociopath and donates to some form of charitable organization to help them, though. If the drug users cannot find one of those, they can just go and die in the gutter. After all, the death is just the right remedy for anyone who can't doesn't want to support himself.

At least that's how I understand it.
Well, I've never advocated that sort of libertarianism.

That said, I'm sceptical of these tears supposedly being shed for drug addicts.  Let's look at what the actual effects of the prohibition of drugs are.  Drugs are still widely available by illegal means.  The unavailability that the laws attempt to produce has not materialized.  What has happened then, well:
* Drugs are sold by illegal criminal gangs who use violence and intimidation and fund other crime.
* Drugs are often polluted with cutting agents making them more dangerous.
* Drug prices are extremely high making addicts much poorer than they would be otherwise.
* Massive amounts of money are spent trying to enforce drug laws
* Intrusive and illiberal laws are passed to enforce drug laws

And after all that it's we libertarians who are labeled "zero compassion sociopaths".  I'd find it funny if it wasn't so sad.

The fact is that drug laws have never being shown to reduce the burdens on society in general.  They have not being shown to reduce the number who "die in the gutter" either.  We have little reason to think that they achieve either of these aims.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on February 27, 2009, 15:50:28 EST
Really, they can force themselves on people without their consent can they?

Consent is meaningless without knowledge and understanding of the consequences. And I doubt that the majority of drug addicts has sufficient background in pharmacology or biochemistry to understand why, how quickly and how badly certain substances will mess up your brain. (No, the information from the drug dealer doesn't count. Drug dealers have a major conflict of interest).

Do you have any scientific backing for that idea?

Since opiates pretty much directly activate the receptors in the brain responsible for pure euphoria, it is pretty much a given that any user will want to repeat the experience. The stuff forces the brain to think that this is the best !"%ing thing that ever happened to it, period, and nothing else compares to it. Chemically. There's no way to beat that unless you have a mutation that makes you a non-responder to opiates.

Physical addiction, i.e. the onset of withdrawal symptoms, can happen after just a few days of use. I do consider physical addiction the lesser of the two evils, since it only punishes the addicts for trying to quit, while psychological addiction keeps them from even trying by making it easier and easier to rationalize their use of the substance in question.

Quote from: Randy Barnett
Whenever someone complains that libertarians are just pie-in-the-sky utopian (or distopian) intellectuals, just ask them again about the real world consequences of the War on Drugs, and see who gets all pie-in-the-sky right quick.

The "war on drugs" is a US thing. You don't need to be a libertarian to find it excessive.

Quote
This business of saying that people under the influence of drugs cannot make their own decisions is very dangerous.

What part of biochemistry do I need to explain? You brain is responsible for decisions. It needs certain levels of various chemicals to make decisions we consider "free" or "self-controlled". If you mess up this chemical balance, you can radically alter the outcome of this decision-making process, up to the point of completely changing the personality.

Heck, you don't even need "drugs" to test this. Just try to slip into light hypoglycemia for a while, it turns people, even the otherwise nice, into utter assholes that make decisions that they would not make under normal circumstances, and that they usually cannot explain afterwards.

And after all that it's we libertarians who are labeled "zero compassion sociopaths".  I'd find it funny if it wasn't so sad.

Oh, you could be one of the charitable ones, which no doubt exist.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on February 27, 2009, 16:16:16 EST
"Drug addicts are mentally competent"?  You do realize that if they are addicted, they are by definition having their mental faculties warped, probably to a major degree?  Also, it is reasonable to conclude that someone who intends to commit suicide is mentally unbalanced, while someone who intends to play dangerous sports, while perhaps somewhat foolish, is still making decisions within the realm of tolerability.

Also, could you stop the "ban" strawman?  I thought we'd made it clear now that we want to get rid of dangerous drugs via methods that work.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Heq on February 27, 2009, 23:41:00 EST
We let people who believe in fairies, gods, and democracy vote.

Drugs may addle the brain, but if you ask me who strikes me as more brain damaged between people who chant political slogans and people who do meth and exchange blowjobs I'd be hard pressed to choose, especially if you showed a video of someone chanting and shaking violently or someone huffing compressed air.

Given that we let nutbars vote, it seems foolish to say "You can be whacked up on X, but not Y."

The point of this line of reasoning is that claiming there is a threshold to mental stability which drugs immediately cross is nonsense, unless you are also willing to ban all the other whackjobs from having the right to self-determine.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Andrei on February 28, 2009, 10:56:17 EST
I'm going to take the road least travelled here. I think drugs which are currently illegal should remain illegal. Including marijuana.

History shows there will always be criminals, and they will always find criminal activities to engage in. Frankly, dealing drugs strikes me as one of the most innocent criminal activities there are.

Before you scream at me, consider this : the only intended victims of a drug dealer willingly put themselves in harm's way by either using or selling drugs. Steer clear of those activities and you can only suffer by being an innocent bystander... and frankly all crimes put innocent bystanders at risk.

Furthermore, otherwise law-abiding people who addicted to ilegal drugs are few (as opposed to alcohol or tobacco), so their safety need not to be a top priority. It falls squarely in the "freedom to be dumb" category.

Legalize drugs and former drug dealers will go into extorsion, mugging or robbery, all of which can have innocent people as both intended victims and innocent bystanders.

So I say keep drugs illegal, it's a good niche for thugs to be funnelled into.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on February 28, 2009, 11:52:19 EST
Actually Andrei, if you legalize certain drugs (namely Marijuana), many dealers will either go into illegal sale of legal goods (namely, selling Marijuana without a license) or legal sales and business (Marijuana).


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on March 01, 2009, 00:10:14 EST
The point of this line of reasoning is that claiming there is a threshold to mental stability which drugs immediately cross is nonsense, unless you are also willing to ban all the other whackjobs from having the right to self-determine.
Taking away freedom of choice is an extremely dangerous option, that can be done only when you can conclusively, through solid evidence, that eliminating the choice results in greater effective freedom overall.  Drugs, because of their chemical and observable effects, can be scientifically evaluated to a far superior degree than say, religious zealotry.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on March 01, 2009, 03:06:39 EST
No, this is not "common to both our systems".  What we are talking about here is replacing decisions that could be made in the private sphere with government decisions.
The private sphere never made decisions on the subject in the first place.  An addict lacks the ability to make decisions for themselves, restricting their situation so that they are able to make decisions for themselves again means more, not less choice.

Quote from: Current
Well, I understand your position now.  I don't see any good justification for it though.  Why do you want to "get rid of drugs"?
Because people are less happy when drugs are present, due to a variety of factors we've gone over.  They turn productive, happy, peaceful people into unproductive, miserable, dangerous people.  Entire communities have been destroyed by drugs, or had their progress squelched.  It is argued by some that crack resulted in black communities being set back 2 decades in their path towards socio-economic equality.  Legal drugs, in the mean time, have turned countless people into dangers to themselves and others, while killing thousands and thousands of people.


Quote from: Current
I am arguing here against bans on drugs.  Also, though I disagree with restricting them in order to reduce use, for the same reason I oppose bans.  The situation with bans and "restrictions" is similar, in neither case have you given a good argument for them.  You concede that bans cause "negative side affects", why do you believe that other restrictions will not do the same?

Do any of the following occur to Alcohol and Tobacco, despite heavy restrictions on them:
* Drugs are sold by illegal criminal gangs who use violence and intimidation and fund other crime. (nope)
* Drugs are often polluted with cutting agents making them more dangerous. (nope)
* Drug prices are extremely high making addicts much poorer than they would be otherwise. (smoking, a little)
* Massive amounts of money are spent trying to enforce drug laws (ATF budget is about a Billion, not that bad)
* Intrusive and illiberal laws are passed to enforce drug laws (asking for ID hardly qualifies)

Quote from: Current
When a person takes drugs that is a personal decision.  It is a situation private to that individual.
That is a load of crap.  Do people live in Skinner Boxes in your world?  Because, see, in mine, people actually are able to interact with each other.  If your decision impacts others, it is not a private decision.  As a result, the concept of a personal decision is a meaningless concept.  If you were to die today, it would impact thousands of people, mostly for the bad.

Quote from: Current
The actions of that individual later may affect some public realm.  That is a reason for the laws against those behaviours, for laws against drunk driving but not for laws against drinking.  Drugs are not always "debilitating".  The personal decision to take them doesn't always "take away a private good".
Correct.  Which is why I don't advocate banning them.  However, they've consistently proven to be far too much for the average person to handle, and getting it out of their hands will result in a lot of private/public goods being retained that would be lost otherwise.

Quote from: Current
Murder is entirely different.  By definition the person murdered is murdered involuntarily, it harms the victim personally.  This is not something the victim has any decision over.  So, this is not a situation personal to the individual.  This is the sort of situation that the public must take an interest in.
And there is no difference from the first situation.  If you get drunk and die because of it, your decision impacts others, they do not have a choice about it, and they are harmed by it.  If it can be reasonably ascertained that getting drunk would lead to death, then it can be reasonable to provide means to prevent such from happening.

Quote from: Current
We must have laws about how social interactions occur.  If such laws are not present then whatever party is most powerful will take whatever decision they prefer.  In other words, there would be anarchy and rule of naked power.
Which is what you clearly advocate.  You show complete disdain for government capability in your posts, why on earth would it have the capacity to protect people's private goods, instead of becoming corrupt and selling those goods to the highest bidder?  Especially since you also plan to neuter government power by both cutting off their income supply and discouraging people from believing that it is a valid means by which they can exert influence.  In fact, government might simply be removed from the power picture altogether, whereupon corporations and localized interest groups wouldn't have to use it as a middle man anymore when they go out to screw people.

Quote from: Current
Has there ever being a successful society where murder was permissible?
Yes.  Many societies have been quite successful(ish).  See Japan, in particular, where Japanese Samurai saw nothing wrong with the concept of testing out a new sword on a random passerby to see if the craftmanship was good.

Quote from: Current
This is the first reason I give for my approach.  In social situations where multiple persons are involved laws are necessary for social interaction to take place.
All situations fall under that criteria, some more directly than others, but they all fall.  While those that fall indirectly require more evidence than those that are direct when it comes to deriving conclusions, its still doable.

Quote from: Current
The second reason I give is knowledge.  What must be settled is firstly whether some event took place, and secondly whether some event broke some law or agreement.
Why?  Laws and agreements exist only to provide for the general happiness, they are the means, not the end.

Quote from: Current
To ensure general happiness it is not necessary that lawmakers understand that general happiness directly.  All they must understand is the situation local to the parties involved.
Why not?  How so?  More baseless premises.

Quote from: Current
A law must be created that allows cooperation and ensures that the parties in any particular situation know where they stand.  People may then organise their behaviour in accordance with the laws.  The law does not have to understand their particular ends only their means.
Why do you always sacrifice the ends for the means?  While its true that overly contaminated means will doom the end regardless, having a pristine means matters little if there is no end to obtain.

Quote from: Current
But in general outline it is how common law works.  This sort of decision is really an arbitration, there is an accuser and an accused.  When there is no accuser though things are not so simple.  What you are proposing here is that laws be drafted for the common good for example steps be taken to reduce drug use.  How can this sort of thing be done without judging the common good?
Judging the common good is a given.  All decisions are based around judging the common good.  Arbitration is done solely because evidence points towards it being effective at achieving the common good.  The only difference is that its somewhat easier to evaluate.  But not always.  What if I accuse smokers of polluting public places with toxic gases?  Resolving that decision will require arbitration, and it will not be done on smooth grounds.  Similarly, many decisions that don't involve direct one on one arbitration will be done on less smooth grounds.

Quote from: Current
As I said earlier such a thing is not possible.  Mass surveys are flawed, for reasons I mention earlier.  It is not possible to know the future repercussions of whatever measures are brought into effect.  This is a symptom of the fact that these sorts of laws are aimed at manipulating ends.  Laws which only affect means don't suffer from the same problem.  Most people will rearrange their means to achieve their preferred end.  (It is not quite this simple but the exceptions are well understood).
Again with the means, again you offer no real explanation as to why means are any different from an evaluation standpoint than ends.  You are right in that people will rearrange their means to achieve their preferred end.  Fortunately, that is the very objective of drug laws.

Let me make myself very clear now.  We are not prohibiting the end of drug use, we are prohibiting its ability to interfere with the vitality of people's means.  Drug use undeniably limits people's life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness to a major degree, and it is well within the boundaries of reason to believe that it is possible to prevent such loss via restrictions without incurring a greater one.

Quote from: Current
These sorts of laws that defend some supposed "common good" are what we classical liberals call infringements of liberty by government.  Since there is no injured party.
Other than the person who is dying, dead, or hurting others?  All of which happen constantly as a direct result of drug use.


Quote from: Current
What you are saying here though is that people should not make such principled arguments.  They should not protest against government infringements of liberty.
...You are joking, I assume, because I seem to recall arguing the exact opposite.  Only in an environment where people will protest government infringement of liberty can it be possible for infringement of liberty be done in a manner that produces more, not less, liberty.

Quote from: Current
If the public accept this argument in general then they must accept it in each specific case.
No

Quote from: Current
The public clearly cannot know enough about the particular subject of any ban to form a judgement on it.
This is false, I have already explained why.  It is not necessary for the whole public to be knowledgeable on the subject in order for there to be sufficient awareness, so long as those that are knowledgeable disseminate that to others.

Quote from: Current
The other is to oppose every one.
Must be nice to have the world be black and white like that.

Quote from: Current
If we take the former course then politicians will intervene in anything they like.  If a ban will gain them power, votes or money, regardless if the outcome is good or not they will implement it.
And there is no reason for it to be anything but good if the public protests what isn't.

Quote from: Current
Only if we take the principled approach of opposing any laws on private personal behaviour can we hope for liberty in minority private activities.
Wrong.  By doing so, you will ensure that private liberty will be utterly eradicated.  People will have their liberty slowly peeled apart and shredded to oblivion by countless hostile interests, all occurring below the radar of so called public activity.  If someone offers someone else heroin, and gets them addicted, they will have destroyed that person's liberty, without having committed a single wrong in your system.  If someone abuses legal writing in order to cause a person to lose all their money, they will have destroyed that person's liberty, without having committed a single wrong in your system.  Such abuse is already exceedingly common, in your system, where it is ignored entirely, or dealt with on a community by community basis, then it will become epidemic in all but a few elite communities.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
The problem is that the consequences of those decisions are often irrevocable.  Even if the person has "learned their lesson", they may be bankrupt, addicted, or dead.
Bankruptcy and addiction are not irrevocable.  Death I agree is.
Nonsense.  It is irrevocable enough.  Their life is ruined, they will have to spend decades just crawling out, if they do so at all, and during that period, they will be a miserable and unproductive drain on society.

Quote from: Current
Also, I see no reason why the situation with polling booths is much better.  A poor decision by an electorate may have very serious consequences too, certainly involving death.
Your argument is based off of a meaningless comparison here.  Polling booths have importance that extends beyond merely making good or bad decisions.

Quote from: Current
Quote from: wodan46
Also, you seem to presume that people are incapable of learning things without doing them.  Is your opinion of humanity that low?
No.  People learn by observing others, from classrooms and books and in many other ways.  Of course in some cases they learn from mistakes too, I certainly have from time to time.  "Experience keeps a dear school but some will accept no other".

What I'm really worried about though is reasons to learn.  If a person knows that not learning about Y may be harmful to them they have a good reason to learn about Y.  Without such a reason though there is often no need to learn. 

Today children and teenagers are given the message that harmful things come with bans or warnings.  This message is given by schooling and also by the presence of many bans and warnings.  They likely then think "if I learn what is banned or discouraged and avoid it I will avoid harm".
Correct.  That is a good thing.  Also, it makes it harder for them to get the bad things, and as such, they may simply decide its not worth the effort even if they didn't care about it being banned/restricted.

Quote from: Current
Further experience of harm from something not banned or discouraged would change this outlook.  But without any further experience it is entirely rational for individuals to work this way.
Why?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on March 02, 2009, 06:16:30 EST
Andrei, you are assuming that those who deal drugs have some intent to be criminal.  That if they were not dealing drugs they would be doing other sorts of crime.  I see no reason why that should be the case.

I've known a few drug dealers over the years.  Those were honest folks really, more honest than most.

Think of it this way.  If someone made studying higher mathematics illegal tomorrow (because of the it's obvious detriment to society) then would that mean that you would be more likely to take up another crime were it later to be made legal?


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on March 02, 2009, 06:37:32 EST
Outside of addiction and overdose, Heroin actually has no physical effects.

Don't take a drug dealers word on the effect of drugs. Please. Chances are they simply don't have the information, and even if they do, they have a major conflict of interest when informing others about the effects.

I can trivially name another side effect of heroin: Constipation. In fact, the stuff is one of most effective antidiarrheals you can find.

There are other side effects, like interfering with the immune system during long-term use.

And, well, "overdose" isn't a physical effect. Opioids are respiratory depressants at any dosage, "overdose" just occurs when breathing stops long enough for the person to die.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Andrei on March 02, 2009, 13:24:11 EST
Quote from: Bringerofpie
Actually Andrei, if you legalize certain drugs (namely Marijuana), many dealers will either go into illegal sale of legal goods (namely, selling Marijuana without a license) or legal sales and business (Marijuana).
Quote from: Current
Andrei, you are assuming that those who deal drugs have some intent to be criminal.  That if they were not dealing drugs they would be doing other sorts of crime.  I see no reason why that should be the case.
I will answer you both at once since you said the same thing (essentially).

If marijuana, or any other drug, was legalised, selling it would become just another business rather than the easy but risky money it is now.

The people who sell it currently would be forced to compete with people who would probably be smarter, more ethical, wealthier or harder-working than they are (let's face it, there are reasons certain people resort to criminality while others don't).

Would experience and market inertia allow some of them to keep their place in the niche? Probably, but most would simply be displaced by others better adapted to legal commerce and would need to look for some other area of shady-to-illegal activity.

Quote from: Current
Think of it this way.  If someone made studying higher mathematics illegal tomorrow (because of the it's obvious detriment to society) then would that mean that you would be more likely to take up another crime were it later to be made legal?
That's a false analogy.

I did not go into higher math while it was illegal, I went into it while it was legal. If it was made illegal, I would probably look for some other legal line of work. A better analogy would be if I would take up a different petty crime if jaywalking was legalised (I do it all the time).

A real-life example happened in Romania relatively recently, as the EU outlawed* home distillery of hard liquour (tuica in this case), which is something of a tradition in certain rural areas. From what I hear, home production has continued on unabated, but my links to rural life are tenuous to say the least...

My reply would be that there is a non-trivial difference between jaywalking or clandestine home-distillation and dealing drugs.

I guess you could argue the latter isn't too different from selling (or giving) home-grown weed to friends (especially given the usual quality of home-distilled fruit liquour), but that would be forgetting the weight of tradition and the novelty of the law. Give it a few decades, and I'll bet either the law will change or the home-distilled alcohol will disappear.

*: Technically speaking, it is not against the law to home-brew hard liquour, but according to the law it must be inspected prior to consumption even if you only made 5 litres of it, and you must pay (fairly prohibitive) taxes on it even if you made it yourself from your own prunes and drank it alone in your yard.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on March 02, 2009, 13:45:43 EST
Really, they can force themselves on people without their consent can they?

Consent is meaningless without knowledge and understanding of the consequences. And I doubt that the majority of drug addicts has sufficient background in pharmacology or biochemistry to understand why, how quickly and how badly certain substances will mess up your brain. (No, the information from the drug dealer doesn't count. Drug dealers have a major conflict of interest).
I don't think a background in pharmacology is really necessary.  All that a person need know is that taking drugs is dangerous.  People already know that, it is taught in schools (at least it is in Britain).

Do you have any scientific backing for that idea?

Since opiates pretty much directly activate the receptors in the brain responsible for pure euphoria, it is pretty much a given that any user will want to repeat the experience.
That's not really the same thing as an addiction though is it?

Quote from: Randy Barnett
Whenever someone complains that libertarians are just pie-in-the-sky utopian (or distopian) intellectuals, just ask them again about the real world consequences of the War on Drugs, and see who gets all pie-in-the-sky right quick.

The "war on drugs" is a US thing. You don't need to be a libertarian to find it excessive.
Well, we have it is Britain unfortunately.

Quote
This business of saying that people under the influence of drugs cannot make their own decisions is very dangerous.

What part of biochemistry do I need to explain? You brain is responsible for decisions. It needs certain levels of various chemicals to make decisions we consider "free" or "self-controlled". If you mess up this chemical balance, you can radically alter the outcome of this decision-making process, up to the point of completely changing the personality.

Heck, you don't even need "drugs" to test this. Just try to slip into light hypoglycemia for a while, it turns people, even the otherwise nice, into utter assholes that make decisions that they would not make under normal circumstances, and that they usually cannot explain afterwards.
I'm not really disagreeing with you about biochemistry.

What I'm saying is that definitions that work for medical purposes do not necessarily work for legal ones.  What you are not thinking of here is the scope of abuse that these bring with them.  What the law needs is very clear evidence.  Clear enough so that people can see that the law is being followed.

Any law that can be abused by the government will be.



Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on March 02, 2009, 14:07:58 EST
I don't think a background in pharmacology is really necessary.  All that a person need know is that taking drugs is dangerous.  People already know that, it is taught in schools (at least it is in Britain).

Dangerous shmangerous. Telling a group of people that something is "dangerous", without any further explanation, will just encourage some to try the activity. Especially if that group consists of teenagers. Without the excursion into (neuro-)chemistry, there's no way of knowing why the stuff is dangerous, how quickly it will mess you up, and how badly.

Quote
That's not really the same thing as an addiction though is it?

It's psychological addiction. Basically, your brain comes psychologically pre-addicted to opioids, since they're used in the brains reward system for things that you should seek out (for example sex), and to keep your body going in emergencies (but not to numb it completely, since pain is a strong motivator to avoid such emergencies in the first place).

Quote
Well, we have it is Britain unfortunately.

Does Britain pay other countries to spray suspected drug plantations with RoundUp?

Having drug laws does not equal having a "war on drugs". The latter includes foreign policy (up to military action, or requesting such from other countries), drastic punishments even for possession of small amounts of drugs, etc.

Oh ... funny random thing in the news today: The most promising candidate in local politics of the conservative party close to where I live was busted for drugs today. And not for taking them, but for being a drug dealer. Police found 80 grams of heroin ready for sale in his house, and a couple of thousand Euros in suspected drug money. Heck, he even admitted it after they arrested him. :P



Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on March 02, 2009, 15:45:57 EST
Outside of addiction and overdose, Heroin actually has no physical effects.

Don't take a drug dealers word on the effect of drugs. Please. Chances are they simply don't have the information, and even if they do, they have a major conflict of interest when informing others about the effects.

I can trivially name another side effect of heroin: Constipation. In fact, the stuff is one of most effective antidiarrheals you can find.

There are other side effects, like interfering with the immune system during long-term use.

And, well, "overdose" isn't a physical effect. Opioids are respiratory depressants at any dosage, "overdose" just occurs when breathing stops long enough for the person to die.

Thank you for assuming that I get a lot of information from Heroin dealers. I really appreciate it. I actually got that little tidbit from one of my dad's copies of the New England Journal of Medicine.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on March 02, 2009, 16:12:25 EST
I actually got that little tidbit from one of my dad's copies of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sorry, but the "it's just addictive and may kill you in case of overdose, but doesn't have any other effects" sounded dangerously like an advertisement.

In that case you probably got "no toxic effects" mixed up with "no other physical effects". The other long-term effects are due to opioids acting on opioid receptors in the body ... which isn't direct toxicity, but has adverse effects nonetheless. It also leads to a larger histamine release than most other opioids, which can also cause adverse effects (itching).

The long-term effects of opioid use are mostly well-documented, though there's still some research going into the exact mechanism (like the immunosuppressive effect). The only thing that makes heroin even worse stuff than most other opioids is that it crosses the blood-brain-barrier much more readily, thus affecting a larger part of the nervous system.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on March 02, 2009, 17:38:35 EST
I actually got that little tidbit from one of my dad's copies of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sorry, but the "it's just addictive and may kill you in case of overdose, but doesn't have any other effects" sounded dangerously like an advertisement.

In that case you probably got "no toxic effects" mixed up with "no other physical effects". The other long-term effects are due to opioids acting on opioid receptors in the body ... which isn't direct toxicity, but has adverse effects nonetheless. It also leads to a larger histamine release than most other opioids, which can also cause adverse effects (itching).

The long-term effects of opioid use are mostly well-documented, though there's still some research going into the exact mechanism (like the immunosuppressive effect). The only thing that makes heroin even worse stuff than most other opioids is that it crosses the blood-brain-barrier much more readily, thus affecting a larger part of the nervous system.

I should have been more specific, it doesn't have any effects that codeine doesn't also have. The itching is largely psychosomatic, believe it or not.

I know the difference between a toxic effect and a physical effect.

Now, this is not to say that heroin is good. Quite the contrary, I would never do it.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: The Dude on March 02, 2009, 22:21:24 EST

Dangerous shmangerous. Telling a group of people that something is "dangerous", without any further explanation, will just encourage some to try the activity. Especially if that group consists of teenagers.


Someone should mention that to public school officials.  "Drugs and unprotected sex are dangerous" is about as in-depth as they get in my area.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: wodan46 on March 02, 2009, 23:23:26 EST

Dangerous shmangerous. Telling a group of people that something is "dangerous", without any further explanation, will just encourage some to try the activity. Especially if that group consists of teenagers.


Someone should mention that to public school officials.  "Drugs and unprotected sex are dangerous" is about as in-depth as they get in my area.
That's thanks to the retardism of Conservatives and to a lesser extent Liberals.  The subject of driving is a different one.  "wear your seatbelt correctly or it might slit your throat, as we show in this graphic photo that you will never be able to cleanse from your mind for the remainder of your life" was a sufficiently good message that I will immediately straighten my seatbelt if twisted no matter what.  In turn, the simplest way to demonstrate why unprotected sex is dangerous is to describe and show them the physical effects of STDs in graphic detail.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Bringerofpie on March 03, 2009, 15:30:38 EST

Dangerous shmangerous. Telling a group of people that something is "dangerous", without any further explanation, will just encourage some to try the activity. Especially if that group consists of teenagers.


Someone should mention that to public school officials.  "Drugs and unprotected sex are dangerous" is about as in-depth as they get in my area.
That's thanks to the retardism of Conservatives and to a lesser extent Liberals.  The subject of driving is a different one.  "wear your seatbelt correctly or it might slit your throat, as we show in this graphic photo that you will never be able to cleanse from your mind for the remainder of your life" was a sufficiently good message that I will immediately straighten my seatbelt if twisted no matter what.  In turn, the simplest way to demonstrate why unprotected sex is dangerous is to describe and show them the physical effects of STDs in graphic detail.

By sending them to Florida State University? Sorry, had to say it.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on March 12, 2009, 13:43:56 EDT
Going back for a moment to the issue of Smoking.  I found this quite funny....

In the recent G20 summit in the Excel exhibition centre there were rooms set aside for the visiting world leaders to smoke in.  But, it seems parliament passed a special law allowing smoking for this occasion (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1161419/Labour-double-standards-smoking-ban-lifted-G20-world-leaders.html).

To anyone who knows about history this should come as no surprise.  In Britain in the past ~two centuries certain bans existed on gambling.  The sorts of gambling that was seen as being practiced by the lower classes were banned.  Those enjoyed by the upper classes, such as horse racing were permitted.  In general rulers permit themselves and their class liberties, but they deny them to other classes if its politically useful to do so.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Current on March 12, 2009, 18:37:00 EDT
I don't think a background in pharmacology is really necessary.  All that a person need know is that taking drugs is dangerous.  People already know that, it is taught in schools (at least it is in Britain).

Dangerous shmangerous. Telling a group of people that something is "dangerous", without any further explanation, will just encourage some to try the activity. Especially if that group consists of teenagers. Without the excursion into (neuro-)chemistry, there's no way of knowing why the stuff is dangerous, how quickly it will mess you up, and how badly.
I agree that it is probably preferable to teach children and teenagers about addiction.

I'm not convinced that it will improve things a great deal.  What children are already taught about is the possibility of addiction and the danger of it, as well as the possibility of overdoses.

What you are talking about is explaining part of the process of addiction.  It's not the whole process of addiction, which isn't fully understood, since the brain isn't fully understood.

That said I think explaining a bit of the neurochemistry would be useful.  I think it's an exaggeration though to say that teenagers aren't informed about the dangers.  They are but some of them ignore them.  Given the rest of the dubious swill poured down their throats in school is that any surprise?

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That's not really the same thing as an addiction though is it?

It's psychological addiction. Basically, your brain comes psychologically pre-addicted to opioids, since they're used in the brains reward system for things that you should seek out (for example sex), and to keep your body going in emergencies (but not to numb it completely, since pain is a strong motivator to avoid such emergencies in the first place).
I see your point.  But I don't think this really constitutes "addiction".  Surely on this basis we should say that someone is addicted to an activity that releases endorphins from the first time that they do it.

My understanding of the situation is that addiction is caused by an imbalance.  After the addictive substance has been taken for a period of time the brain recalibrates itself.  Parts of the brain receive higher levels of signaling chemicals and recalibrates itself to consider that level normal.

(I see from a quick web browse that the signaling chemicals are different with different types of drugs).

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Well, we have it is Britain unfortunately.

Does Britain pay other countries to spray suspected drug plantations with RoundUp?

Having drug laws does not equal having a "war on drugs". The latter includes foreign policy (up to military action, or requesting such from other countries), drastic punishments even for possession of small amounts of drugs, etc.

Oh ... funny random thing in the news today: The most promising candidate in local politics of the conservative party close to where I live was busted for drugs today. And not for taking them, but for being a drug dealer. Police found 80 grams of heroin ready for sale in his house, and a couple of thousand Euros in suspected drug money. Heck, he even admitted it after they arrested him. :P
Just because things are not as extreme as in the US doesn't mean things are acceptable in other places.  In the UK laws allow the police to impound the assets of *suspected* drug dealers.  If the police accused me of being a drug dealer they could take my possessions making it very difficult for me to defend myself against the allegation.

The UK has taken part in direct suppression of drug manufacture too.  They have done it in an important place, the Helmud province in Afghanistan.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Medivh on March 12, 2009, 21:13:21 EDT
I don't think a background in pharmacology is really necessary.  All that a person need know is that taking drugs is dangerous.  People already know that, it is taught in schools (at least it is in Britain).

Dangerous shmangerous. Telling a group of people that something is "dangerous", without any further explanation, will just encourage some to try the activity. Especially if that group consists of teenagers. Without the excursion into (neuro-)chemistry, there's no way of knowing why the stuff is dangerous, how quickly it will mess you up, and how badly.
I agree that it is probably preferable to teach children and teenagers about addiction.

I'm not convinced that it will improve things a great deal.  What children are already taught about is the possibility of addiction and the danger of it, as well as the possibility of overdoses.

Not really. What children are taught can be summarised very briefly: "Drugs are bad. You can get addicted. Addicts are losers, and they never win. Winners never use drugs. You can't be a winner if you're an addict, and drugs will turn you into an addict."

Very little in the way of specific information about drugs is actually taught.

Teaching them that, say, cannabis, though not addictive, has been known to trigger psychosis in vulnerable individuals would have a better effect. A significantly higher portion of the population would, at least, try to find out if they're vulnerable to becoming a psychotic before trying cannabis. Specifying that heroin is potentially 1) addictive on the first hit and 2) cut with drain cleaner will make most people steer well clear of same. Actually providing information rather than the current state of drug "education" will reduce drug usage.

What you are talking about is explaining part of the process of addiction.  It's not the whole process of addiction, which isn't fully understood, since the brain isn't fully understood.

That said I think explaining a bit of the neurochemistry would be useful.  I think it's an exaggeration though to say that teenagers aren't informed about the dangers.  They are but some of them ignore them.  Given the rest of the dubious swill poured down their throats in school is that any surprise?

Which dubious swill, barring religion, sex and drug ed (which seem to be universally bad so far)? I'm afraid that your idea of "dubious swill" might be a local affair.

Quote
That's not really the same thing as an addiction though is it?

It's psychological addiction. Basically, your brain comes psychologically pre-addicted to opioids, since they're used in the brains reward system for things that you should seek out (for example sex), and to keep your body going in emergencies (but not to numb it completely, since pain is a strong motivator to avoid such emergencies in the first place).
I see your point.  But I don't think this really constitutes "addiction".  Surely on this basis we should say that someone is addicted to an activity that releases endorphins from the first time that they do it.

My understanding of the situation is that addiction is caused by an imbalance.  After the addictive substance has been taken for a period of time the brain recalibrates itself.  Parts of the brain receive higher levels of signaling chemicals and recalibrates itself to consider that level normal.

(I see from a quick web browse that the signaling chemicals are different with different types of drugs).

Fairly close; you've described one known mechanism. Usually it's done by way of increased receptors, all requiring a certain amount of transmitter x to be "satisfied". What happens in other cases, such as heroin, is the chemical "factories" that produce the neurotransmitters the drug is replacing end up reducing their output. For some reason, such factories are quick to kill output, but much slower to increase same when the situation requires it.


Title: Re: Ending the Drug War
Post by: Ihlosi on March 13, 2009, 04:03:45 EDT
Fairly close; you've described one known mechanism. Usually it's done by way of increased receptors, all requiring a certain amount of transmitter x to be "satisfied".

Another mechanism is downregulation of the receptors - the neuron in question needs a certain number of "inputs", with the number of inputs roughly equaling the number of receptors time the concentration of the substance in question. Increase the concentration of the substance, and the number of receptors is regulated down, since there are more "inputs" than necessary. Bring the concenctration of the substance back to the previous level ... and you're in trouble until the number of receptors has increased again. I believe nicotine addiction works this way.

What happens in other cases, such as heroin, is the chemical "factories" that produce the neurotransmitters the drug is replacing end up reducing their output. For some reason, such factories are quick to kill output, but much slower to increase same when the situation requires it.

I believe that for some drugs (some of the synthetic stuff, as far as I've heard), the factories won't recover in some cases. The user is then pretty much messed up permanently.