Pubdate: Sun, 21 Dec 2003
Source: Pensacola News Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The Pensacola News Journal
Author: Ed Middleswart


It is a shame when we read that our government has essentially
declared war on its own citizens. Thus seems to be the case in the
"Sandshaker bust." Much can be said about the "drug war," but the
recent arrests illustrate, better than any words, the problems
associated with this hypocritical, wasteful and generally wrong-
headed effort which erodes our civil liberties and ruins the lives of
citizens who, for the most part, are productive and constructive
members of our community.

Sure, one can argue these people (if the allegations are true) made
personal choices to use cocaine. Cocaine is a mild intoxicant which
can reportedly create problems of addiction for about 15 percent of
the people who use it. But these are personal decisions similar to the
personal decisions people make to smoke tobacco products, consume
alcohol-containing beverages, and ingest carbohydrates laced with
sugar. In fact, these three behaviors, which the vast majority of
Americans do daily, are responsible for the three leading causes of
death in this country.

Tobacco-related health problems lead the list, but obesity is right up
there, killing hundreds of thousands every year. And we are all too
familiar with the problems of alcohol abuse. But the federal
government even subsidizes the production of sugar and tobacco.

How many people die from cocaine abuse? Few to none according to the
statistics. How, exactly, were the personal choices of those arrested
hurting people other than possibly themselves?

We might ask why these disparities exist. Is it because of the
monetary rewards associated with the status quo? After all, who truly
benefits from this wasteful bureaucracy? Not those persecuted. Not the
public. Just the system - those who traffic, and those who profit from
the forfeiture of some of the huge profits involved. This is the same
system that supported the prohibition of alcohol before it was
repealed in 1933.

But whatever the driving forces, when our local, state and federal
authorities take it upon themselves to prosecute people who, in all
other aspects, are positive contributors to their community, we should
all take offense.

We fret and spend billions of dollars on the "war on terrorism," but
we should be aware that maybe the most harmful threats to our freedoms
stem from the actions of the representatives of our own government,
operating in our own back yard, and needlessly persecuting citizens
otherwise innocent of any crime.

If most of us really believe in the basic conservative philosophy that
a small, efficient government is better than a nanny state, that a
government that governs least will most likely govern best, we need to
speak out against this mindless extension of the opposite.

And, if we believe in our Constitution, which embraces the basic human
rights to privacy and security in one's own home, and the freedom to
pursue personal happiness without harming others, we should all be
deeply offended by this whole absurd mess.

Ed Middleswart is the founder of the Center for Individual
Responsibility and Freedom ( It is an informal political
discussion group organized around libertarian principles. He is a resident
of Pensacola.
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