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Friedman and Szasz on Liberty and Drugs: Essays on the Free Market and Prohibition

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1879189058
ISBN-10: 1879189054
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Drug Policy Foundation (August 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1879189054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1879189058
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,178,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
A tough subject deserves the application of great minds. Two of the greatest of the 20th century --also unrepentant defenders of liberty-- provide damning philosophical and observational evidence against the "war on drugs". This is a must-have book for those who believe that individuals, not governments, should control their bodies. It is also an excellent source book for students who need a counter-point to the hysterial agit-prop produced by the government and others frightened by inanimate objects (drugs). An excellent companion book is Dr. Szasz's "Our Right to Drugs". (See also: "The Federalist Papers" to learn the views of the American founders on self-control as a property right.)
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Format: Paperback
The helpful Preface to this 1992 collection of essays by both the late Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman, and "anti-psychiatrist" Thomas Szasz states, "we have juxtaposed their arguments in this book because both men craft their arguments from widely different points of view. Friedman argues principally from statistics and the standpoint of the market, whereas Szasz discusses moral principles and the effects of scapegoating on human laws and language." (Pg. xi)

Friedman makes the point, "Had drugs been decriminalized seventeen years ago, 'crack' would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version) and there would today be far fewer addicts." (Pg. 4) Later, he adds, "No doubt there have been some favorable effects of the war on drugs. There does appear to have been a considerable reduction in the casual use of drugs. But it is hard to believe that the good effects come anywhere close to being large enough to justify the human cost of the war on drugs in terms of lives lost and lives destroyed." (Pg. 47)

Friedman admits in an interview the possibility that "more people could get (crack) and stay on it for longer periods of time," saying, "Well, maybe. Nobody can say with certainty what will happen along those lines." (Pg. 66-67)

Szasz wrote, "Why did the framers of the Constitution not explicitly guarantee the right to take drugs? ... because there was no conceivable danger of an alliance between medicine and the state." (Pg. 116-117) Asked if legalization might increase the number of lives "devastated by drug use," he replies, "People have wasted their lives. Lives don't get wasted. I believe in free will... if people would have more options in life, then some of them may use them unwisely." (Pg. 166)

These essays constitute an excellent summation of the views of these two thinkers of the subject.
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Format: Paperback
Although I am congenial to the decriminalisation of drugs, I found that the two authors - both highly intelligent men, who have for decades been polemicists for freedom - make a number of irresponsible and self-defeating statements.

Friedman: "[W]e do not have to resolve the ethical issue [of whether the government should try to prevent drug addiction] to agree on policy because the answer to whether government action can prevent addiction is so clear." So does this mean policy reformers have to give up on reference to ethical issues? Rape and child abuse are notoriously difficult to prevent and prosecute - should the police and the courts give up on arresting and prosecuting rapists and child abusers?

Friedman: "The people who are running the drug traffic are no different from the rest of us, except that they have more entrepreneurial ability and less concern about not hurting other people." No comment necessary.

Szasz claims that medical research is nothing more than a quest to prohibit unpopular substances. He also says that independent people are dangerous to governments, yet he insists that he is not an anarchist.

Much of the resistance to drug decriminalization rests on fear of the unknown, and these authors do nothing to reduce those fears.
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