Monday, August 09, 2010

Freakonomics Drug Legalization Q&A

The guys over at the Freakonomics blog are host to an interesting Question and Answer with their readers providing queries, and Daniel Okrent, the author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition providing answers. Here's an answer, but the entire engaging piece is over at the blog


A:The obvious parallel between Prohibition and the war on drugs is their shared futility, establishing that you just can’t legislate against human appetites. There’s also the consequent enrichment of those who would try to satisfy those appetites outside the law: the bootleggers of the 1920’s and the drug syndicates of today.


But the common aspect that suggests, to me, that our drug laws will be changing radically over the next few years is the government’s inability to derive revenue from the sale of liquor then, drugs today. No factor played a larger role in the repeal of Prohibition than the government’s desperate need for revenue as the country fell into the grip of the Depression. Before Prohibition’s advent, a substantial amount of federal revenue came from the excise tax on alcohol. As the collection of income taxes and capital gains taxes plummeted between 1930 and 1933, politicians realized that the return of liquor and beer could help shore up federal finances. In fact, in the first post-repeal year, 1934, fully nine percent of federal revenue came from the revived alcohol tax.


In today’s political climate, where no one seems to be willing to raise income-tax rates, both state and federal governments are turning increasingly to excise taxes, use taxes and other levies that could easily be applied to marijuana. Californians will be voting on such a measure — it’s actually called the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act” – this November.

5 comments:

KnightWing said...

Creepy.

偉曹琬 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Palm boy said...

Worth considering.

Sra. Madera said...

"In today’s political climate, where no one seems to be willing to raise income-tax rates"
It appears that Mr. Okrent's solution to the problem is to raise Income taxes. Which really only hurts the economy more.
As far as the legalization, control and taxation of drugs I can see that it is highly likely that it could happen in the near future as a solution to solve our economic woes. This solution would also provide an even larger number of zoned out, mind numbed robots who are uninformed and dependent on a government to provide for their needs. Thus increasing the number of Democrat voters. Getting drugged out people to the poles is an easy task. You register them at the "drug" store and then provide them with a party filled with fixes for coming out to vote. What could be easier.

Palm boy said...

I would counter that fewer Americans being locked away for years in prison, and then having their voting rights suspended is a greater danger to the republic then zoned out individuals. The status quo contains both of these, and its harmful.