A Little Hypocrisy Goes a Long Way


David Boaz observes that “our last three presidents have acknowledged using illegal drugs, and it is just incomprehensible to me how they can morally justify arresting other people for doing the same thing they did.”

I believe I’ve deployed that argument myself, but I’m not sure how well it holds up. Once I found not obeying DC’s ordinance requiring timely shoveling of snow from one’s sidewalk, but I would really hate to live in a world where we repealed that ordinance. Indeed, I would strongly prefer to live in a world where the rule is enforced much more stringently. Similarly, one time I was sending text messages while driving a car (at a time before I understood the risks) but I strongly support laws to curb this practice, which is extremely dangerous.

Which is just to say that drug policy needs to be evaluate on the merits in terms of systemic consequences. There’s no question that our current policies are badly broken and lead to huge quantities of needless suffering. But at the same time, I’m glad there aren’t heroin ads on TV and that kids can’t buy crack at 7-11. There’s a broad range of options between the status quo and a true libertarian approach.