Monday, June 22, 2009

This, Not That: Legalization

What we are, we are, but I would prefer to live in a world in which people stopped saying things they don't mean, to wit, the advocacy of legalizing and taxing pot:

It's not the best argument for legalization, says Miron, who has estimated that U.S. governments could save almost $13 billion annually if they no longer arrested, prosecuted, or imprisoned marijuana buyers or sellers. But in an era of falling tax revenue, it may be the most effective one.
I find traces of sincerity in exactly half of this argument, the half that advocates legalizing pot, as it tends to originate from libertarians and libertarian-oid figures such as Andrew Sullivan, Bill Maher, Drew Carey, Willie Nelson, P.J. O'Rourke, and, well, most of Hollywood.

Perhaps someone fresh off the boat will find sincerity in the "and tax" portion of the argument, but that's the trouble with being fresh off the boat. Those of us who have been immersed in the USA's political climate for at least a week will realize that in whatever jurisdiction pot is first legalized and taxed, there will be howls of fist-shaking, red-faced outrage about the and taxed part.

The pot legalization crowd -- of which I am a member, by the way -- doesn't want to tax pot; it wants to decriminalize it. There are fundamental questions of liberty and the proper bounds of government here, and the sufficiency of tax revenues is nowhere in the vicinity.

We should say what we mean and mean what we say.

(via Andrew Sullivan)

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