John Hood's righteous rant

I agree with almost nothing John Hood, top dog at the John Locke Foundation, has to say. But after thinking through his column today on government policies on alcohol, I have to conclude that he's more right than wrong. The column came to my attention via Rob Schofield, who properly took issue with the predictable extremism.

Having said this, the notion that modern society should simply do away with almost all alcohol regulation is, in a word, nuts.


Nuts is right. Hood goes too far by half in his zeal to infuse our culture with all things Libertarian.

The only laws about alcohol that should remain on the books are these:

  • No one under the age of 18 should be permitted to purchase alcoholic beverages.
  • Anyone who gets drunk and injures or kills another because of it – like what happened so tragically over the weekend to a young Carolina Ballet dancer here in Raleigh – should receive a draconian sentence.
  • Anyone selling alcohol beverages should be required to label their products accurately.

Hood's wrong about the drinking age. It should remain at 21. There is ample evidence that adolescent brains, even into late teens, are undergoing rapid and important development. Alcohol can have permanent and irreversible effects.

On the other hand, he's right about the need for draconian sentences for crimes involving alcohol. Just as we have special categories of offenses that involve firearms, so too should we have categories of offenses involving alcohol.

On the other other hand, I don't get the glib imposition of government requirements on product labeling. That's not the freedom way at all! Why shouldn't a guy be able to crank out moonshine and sell it without government supervision? No one requires truth-in-labeling from your local lemonade stand, do they? What's the difference?

Your kids could be drinking spiked juice and never know it.

Some of this post is snark, but most of it's not. I do agree with Hood about the insanity of an army of law enforcers who's main mission in life is to keep adults from drinking and drugs. Our state's approach to dealing with alcohol seems fundamentally flawed, as is our nation's approach to the War on Drugs. In both instances, we seem to be exercising American exceptionalism at is very worst.

The state of North Carolina should not be an active partner in the business of regulating alcohol consumption by adults. It's our job to slap all the taxes on booze we can get away with, keep young people from frying their brains, and make sure that people who break laws under the influence end up in appropriate treatment - whether that be jail or rehab.

Comments

Hood is a Corporate Racist Fascist Welfare Bum!

Hood goes too far by half in his zeal to infuse our culture with all things Libertarian. * James

Hood is about much as a Libertarian as I am a Russian Ballet Dancer on loan to the Fox Family Values Sitcon new TV show " Dancing with Congressman Wilson in the Nude".

Hood's wrong about the drinking age. It should remain at 21* James

It appears that you are not up to speed with recent events starting in the late 80's that most kids have tons of fake ID when it comes to carding the " Children of Interest" by the Corporate State and the new local Police State methods to enhance revenue programs for so-call Government spending programs that has broke most States not including local Counties and Cities.

If your child is 18 and makes the so-called Draft of the Military-Industrial complex program of continuing unconstitutional wars, He or She is certainly entitled to have a Bud lite with their Buddies while dancing around IDE's in Afganhanstan.........

Meaning

I've never thought the two should be different. The right to drink and the right to sacrifice your legs for an idiotic war should be granted at the same age. Whether it's 21 or 18 or 16 or whatever, it should be the same.

I say 21. I say it's time to recognize the aging of everything and get with the program.

Maybe even institute compulsory service.

Your Hired to fight for me! Congrats Private Ryan!

And the age of allowable military service should be 21 as well?* James

If that being the case, than we can revert to the old civil war standards and some of the Revolutionary recuritment programs by hiring somebody else to fight in your place. Any Military genius or Imperial state leader knows that you can't fight a war without it's young being the Cannon Fodder for the unjust war against innocent children and women....All wars in known history have been fought with the young....They are trainable and follow orders just like the Nazi's did in WW2 or the Russians did for Stalin..

Below is a horrible story gone wrong by the laws of the State and the educational failures of the masses....

Attempted Sunday beer buy turns criminal

Construction worker Robert Keefer Dell wanted a six pack. But the calendar wasn't cooperating.

.Nonetheless, on Sunday, like he does on most days, Dell walked into the Sanky's Citgo in Canton, greeted store clerk Mario Mateo with the regular "hey, what's up" and walked back to the coolers.

Mateo said he assumed his customer, who he describes as a regular, must have forgotten it was Sunday -- a day the state prohibits alcohol sales.

But Dell ignored the neon orange tape stretched across the coolers containing alcohol, ripping it down and grabbing a six pack of Michelob, Mateo said. He plopped $6 on the counter and began to walk out.

"I said ‘Man, it's Sunday. I can't do it, I'll get in trouble,'" Mateo recalled.

Dell argued with the clerk for a moment and then walked out with the beer, police said.

Mateo chased after him. That's when Dell lifted his shift, revealing a handgun tucked in his waistband, police said.

Mateo backed off and called the police, as Dell drove off.

If he had just taken the beer, Dell would have been charged with shoplifting, Canton Police Det. Alan Rivas said.

But showing the handgun raised the stakes, police said, bringing the charge to an armed robbery, a felony.

And that was all before he drove into Pickens County, leading deputies on a chase that left one county car wrecked, police said.

Georgia State Patrol and Pickens officers attempted to stop Dell, but he continued to flee. He struck a Pickens' patrol car and attemped to run over an officer, Rivas said.

Dell was eventually captured when troopers rammed his truck. He was taken to the Pickens County jail, where he is being held with bond on charges of DUI, fleeing police and aggravated assault. He also faces a warrant for armed robbery in Cherokee County, Rivas said.

"I can't believe he did all this for a six-pack of beer. He could have you went to the Mexican restaurant down the street," said Mateo, a father of three. "He didn't stop to think about his family."

Mateo said he would have sold the beer, but was scared that the business would lose its liquor license. Getting caught selling on Sunday the first time results in a three-month license suspension, twice a year suspension and a third violation means no more license, Mateo said.

He also could have been arrested for selling alcohol on a Sunday, police said.

Mateo said he routinely gets customers who want to purchase beer on Sunday, but they usually put it back when he tells them about the law. Once, a teenager swiped a 18 pack of beer on a Sunday, but the clerk said he managed to open the car door and snatch the beer back.

Rivas said people try to buy alcohol at convenience stores on Sundays fairly regularly. Sometimes they swipe a six pack and run, police said.

But never has Rivas dealt with someone having a gun, as well, he said.

Mateo said he knew something was wrong when he saw Dell stumbling around the aisle and then when he grabbed the Michelob -- he usually buys Natural Ice. Dell also didn't hand over enough money for the six-pack, which costs $8.99, Mateo said.

"The good thing is they got him and nothing happened to me," said Mateo, 31. "He might do it to someone else just so he could get a drink."

A libertarian response

Hood's wrong about the drinking age. It should remain at 21. There is ample evidence that adolescent brains, even into late teens, are undergoing rapid and important development. Alcohol can have permanent and irreversible effects.

It's unclear why "permanent and irreversible effects" for a certain age group justifies the banning of alcohol only for people under the age of 21. Alcohol can have and does have negative results for everyone, some of which are irreversible. Why not make it illegal for everyone? In determining whether something should be illegal, what formula are you employing?

There are also a myriad of other drugs, foods, and behaviors that can have permanent and irreversible negative effects on people under the age of 21. Should joining the army, eating fatty foods, watching television or boxing also be illegal for people under 21? Should I assume you believe that the age for purchasing tobacco should be raised to some arbitrary age as well?

I'm not trying to downplay the role of scientific data in making better decisions. The question is who should be making the decisions. Teenagers, parents, teachers, organizational leaders and other should keep such research in mind as they act in accordance to their own subjective values.

On the other hand, he's right about the need for draconian sentences for crimes involving alcohol. Just as we have special categories of offenses that involve firearms, so too should we have categories of offenses involving alcohol.

Why should we give harsher punishments to people who commit a crime while intoxicated than the punishments we give to people who aren't intoxicated and commit the exact same crime? The idea that intoxicated people are more morally culpable than their sober counterparts is absurd.

What "special categories" of offenses are you talking about?

With respect to drunk driving specifically, the national obsession with extremely harsh punishments for drunk drivers is based more on emotion than logic. Driving drunk could be no more dangerous than falling asleep behind the wheel, not wearing much-needed glasses or contacts, or just driving like a total ass (depending on how drunk you are, how bad your eyesight is, etc). Yet these things are just as preventable and can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Why not the same punishment for them? What if someone has had a little bit to drink, but is driving home extremely cautiously and is doing a great job? Nah, he would be better off driving blind-folded down the road as far as the MADD morons are concerned.

Cop cars have cameras on them. Whether a driver is driving safely or recklessly, or is capable of the former, can be proven in a court of law. Punishments should fit the actual crime. The actual crime should be unreasonably placing others at risk, and drunk driving is both an underinclusive and overinclusive proxy for that. I actually believe that circumstances are important, and that the law shouldn't punish indiscriminately as it currently does.

On the other other hand, I don't get his glib imposition of government requirements on product labeling. That's not the Libertarian way at all! Why shouldn't a guy be able to crank out moonshine and sell it without government supervision. No one requires truth-in-labeling from your local lemonade stand, do they? What's the difference? Your kids could be drinking spiked juice and never know it.

That depends on your reading of his statement. It could also be read to state, as I would agree, that accurate labeling should be required under the common law concept of fraud or misrepresentation. It doesn't require a legislative act. It's a better method of protecting consumers because it doesn't allow government agents to arbitrarily apply the law - a customer has to actually be injured by the misrepresentation in some way. Businesses seeking liability insurance would thus be required by the insurance company to include accurate labels, and small "lemonade stand" operations would get by just fine without any labels.

Our involvement should be limited to slapping very high taxes on booze, keeping young people from frying their brains, and making sure that people who break laws under the influence of alcohol end up in appropriate treatment - whether that be jail or rehab.

A high tax on booze would probably be quite regressive.

As I've already pointed out, if protecting young people's brains was sufficient to justify a law then you should be supporting a lot more laws.

I don't see why it's necessary to point out that people who break laws while drunk should be punished - shouldn't all people who break laws be punished? Just because you belong to a class of people statistically more likely to commit a crime (drinkers, low-income, minority, politician), that doesn't mean you should get a different sentence than everyone else. And actually being drunk shouldn't be a crime unless you pose an actual and unreasonable risk to the safety of others.

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

A response to a Libertarian response

Okay you win. Let's eliminate all laws and let the games begin. Show me a law that wouldn't be better left in the hands of the vigilantes community and I'll buy you a beer.

James

James, I know you can be honest even when you disagree with me, so I don't see why it's necessary to dismiss my points with sarcastic one-liners.

It's generally valid to suggest that adopting my line of reasoning would lead one to the conclusion that all laws, and government, ought to be abolished. I'm going to go ahead and assume this is your underhanded reductio ad absurdum argument against what I have written.

It is a valid criticism in the sense that it is absurd to suggest that all laws, along with government, ought to be abolished. I don't dispute that, but I qualify it thus: the conclusion is not actually logically or morally absurd, but is only practically absurd. Yes, it is impractical and unrealistic to abolish all laws and all government at this time.

You see, I am fully aware of this fact, just as I am aware of the reasoning that proves that governments are a social cancer which eventually contaminate every social relationship with unnecessary and unethical violence. That's why I am putting forth arguments for the reduction of law and government one policy question at a time, because that is a realistic goal at this time.

In other words, it's inappropriate to criticize me for believing in the logical necessity and moral authority of a currently unattainable system when here I am only arguing for reforms of the current system that aren't impossible to achieve. Why not deal with those?

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

He's not being underhanded, Q

You've demonstrated numerous times your propensity for anti-government extremism, and it is a waste of time to debate with you about the validity of specific laws when you don't believe there should be any laws at all.

In essence, what you're asking us to do with this post is to forget what we know about your overarching philosophy and goals, and start over "fresh" each time you (incrementally) attack some government institution or law.

Like most Libertarian solutions, that idea discards the reality of known human behavior and tries to introduce extremely rare human behavior as the norm. It won't work. The only way you can achieve or return to a level of reasonable debate with us is to refrain from making unreasonable statements like:

governments are a social cancer which eventually contaminate every social relationship

I've asked you in the past to give me some real-world examples of peoples who prosper in the absence of a strong central government, and you refused. I have personally witnessed the suffering and loss of liberty small and weak governments produce, so I have a real good idea of what would actually happen if you got your wishes. And it damned sure ain't utopia.

Tribes

Humans tend to clump together into social groupings. Tribal behavior had/s a tendency to create larger (more powerful) and smaller (less powerful) groups who end up competing for limited resources like land. Governments attempt and sometimes fail to 'manage' this competition civilly and often become just larger tribes competing for still larger and still limited resources. Law of the jungle; winners and losers; weak and small vs large and powerful. A very violent place. The concept of democracy seems almost impossible in such a world. Capitalism seems more natural than democracy; in the jungle.

Jewel has this song called Hands. In it she says;

In the end only kindness matters

I hope Jewel is right.

-b

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There cannot fail to be more kinds of things, as nature grows further disclosed. - Sir Francis Bacon

There is a new Sheriff in Town Libertarian Dude!

Show me a law that wouldn't be better left in the hands of the vigilantes community and I'll buy you a beer.* James

Community vigilantes Tribalism is nothing new in politics. A Classic example of Paradise individualism is having 2 Wolves meeting with a Lamb to decide whether the group will have the Goat over for Dinner on the pro and cons of Bud Lite and Lamb Chops..

FBI figures: One drug bust in US every 18 seconds’

According to the newly released Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report for 2008 every 18 seconds someone is arrested and charged with violating drug laws. Another striking figure in the report: of the 1,702,537 drug arrests in 2008, 82.3 percent were for simple possession of a contraband substance. Nearly half, 44 percent, were for possession of marijuana.

According to San Francisco Weekly’s calculations, 2008 saw one marijuana arrest every 37 seconds. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said 2008 had the second-highest number of marijuana arrests the U.S. has ever seen. The group said that 2007 currently holds the record. The report additionally noted that 1.4 million arrests were made for drunk driving alone.

James, I disagree about the drinking age

It may be true that drinking alcohol can do serious damage between the ages of 18 and 21. However, in this country, people stop being minors at age 18, allowing them to make their own decisions (within the law, of course), however self-destructive those decisions may be. And, to my knowledge, underage drinking is the only crime that discriminates by age among legal adults. This, in my opinion, unjustly infringes on individual liberties.

Additionally, the drinking age law is incredibly ineffective. I literally do not know a single person over 18 that has not consumed alcohol underage. The law is haphazardly and rarely enforced, and fails to deter underage drinking. Further, by unfairly denying young people rights and so pathetically failing to enforce it, this law perpetuates the image many people have of the government of being out of touch and breeds contempt for more sensible laws.

I don't disagree with your logic

My wife studies this stuff and the research on adolescent brain development is really scary stuff.

If we as a society want to choose to send people with brains that are not fully developed off to war (or let them drink or vote or whatever) that's a policy choice. What happens to brains inside of human skulls is not a policy choice. It's a fact of life.

I realize I'm advocating a very unpopular position here.

What about marijuana?

Does she study the health effects of that? I'd be curious to know if, in a perfect world, it could be a healthier replacement for booze among college age people, where it's already a regular presence at parties.

Pot

The US War on Drugs is perhaps the most spectacularly failed public policy of all time. Drug use should be decriminalized - period. There is absolutely no evidence that the trillions of dollars we spend on this war have any redeeming value ... but ample evidence of its deleterious effects. The age for legal drinking and for legal drug use should be the same.

Excellent, James

The person that posted ahead of you was asking if Pot would be a suitable replacement for booze. That's not the issue, of course, but it IS what many that oppose legalizing pot use as one of their arguments.

Pot, grass, marijuana whatever you want to call it, has been proven to be far less detrimental both health-wise and within our society than booze. There are many things that can be found on the "Net" for and against what I've said here, but, I have had experience with both, and in my considered opinion, pot is a substance that mostly makes someone docile and unwilling and (in most cases) unable to "travel". Booze has the exact opposite effect in most cases.

If we were to legalize pot, our country would realize a great deal of revenue and mostly put those that deal in that illegally out of business. I have heard the opponents of this say that it would lead to further, more hard drugs, but there is very little evidence of that even with MJ use being illegal. I have seen exceptions to this, but they are few and far between.

I would support legalizing marijuana in America. It would be controlled by the states and would ultimately put those that traffic in it illegally out of business. It would be a win-win situation.

At this point

I'd be willing to settle for air w/o stuff in it. I had to live through decades of second hand smoke from one plant, and now here comes another one.

I'm just sayin' that air is good enough.

-b

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There cannot fail to be more kinds of things, as nature grows further disclosed. - Sir Francis Bacon

I just want

to be able to buy some beer on Sunday morning when I am grocery shopping at the Teeter. If it is OK to sell it at 10:00 on Saturday and 10:00 on Monday, then it should be OK for those of us who shop on Sunday morning to buy it too.

As a bonus for those who would willingly restrict my freedoms on religious grounds, it could be a great opportiunity for them to feel even more self righteous as they see me- someone obviously not dressed like they just got out of church- standing in line with beer and wine in my cart. Oh how it would reinforce the sermon they just sat through and help them feel that much more morally superior to others!!!

The Next Time John Hood trys to be a Conservative Libertarian?

I’d like for those who oppose more “government” involvement in their lives to start immediately and grow their own food, and make their own electricity, and keep their own water service functioning safe. I want them to repair their own streets, and build and operate their own public transportation system, and to refuse the services offered by their local fire, police, and EMS departments. I’d like for those who oppose more government involvement in their healthcare to VOLUNTARILY opt out of Medicare, and demand that their aging mother or father (if on Medicaid) to refuse that government program too. I also want those that oppose government to return their unemployment and social security check, (I’ll have the U.S. Post Office to come over and pick it up from them). And because of their core, free market values and capitalistic concern, I want them to be the “stand-up” person they claim and refuse to drive on those dirty old socialistic roads and highways, and refuse the federal highway system. It’s also imperative they deny their children access to that old socialistic, “commie” public school system in their community, and that fascist-owned and operated clean water service/system facility in their local town. And finally, I want them to refuse the services of that ugly old government owned socialistic garbage dump. And for god’s sake, stop buying their meats from their local supermarket that was inspected by that undocumented, satanic Muslim socialist USDA certified food inspector. NO! On second thought, get a life!

Jack Dawsey

www.theexegetist.com