A Different Reality

by Andrew Stuttaford
Writing in the Washington Post Michael Gerson takes issue with Ron Paul’s views on the legalization of both drugs and prostitution. Reasonable people can disagree on both those topics, but in this distinctly bilious piece Michael Gerson displays more emotion than reason.
And that might explain comments like this: 
 The de facto decriminalization of drugs in some neighborhoods — say, in Washington, D.C. — has encouraged widespread addiction. Children, freed from the care of their addicted parents, have the liberty to play in parks decorated by used needles.  
De facto decriminalization? Well, after a quick turn to Google here’s just one random statistic from just one year for just one drug::
“There were 3,985 arrests for marijuana offenses in Washington, DC in 2007, representing an arrest rate of 677 per 100,000, which ranks Washington DC at number 1 in the nation. There were an estimated 78,000 past year marijana users in Washington DC during this 2007. Reconciling this estimate with the number of arrests for marijuana offenses provides an arrest rate of 5,109 per 100,000 users, which ranks Washington, DC at number 9 in the nation. 
And then there’s this from Gerson:
“[G]overnment has a limited but important role in reinforcing social norms and expectations — including laws against drugs and against the exploitation of men and women in the sex trade. 
I’d agree, with strong caveats, with the notion that governent can have a legitimate role to play in reinforcing social norms and expectations, but anyone who genuinely regards the current war against drugs as an example of  “limited” government at work has a perception of reality stranger than anything that mere narcotics could produce.

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