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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Socialism Meets the Drug War


The headline of this recent New York Times article highlights the problem: “Drug Trade Flourishes in Spanish Port Town.” The article is referring to the Spanish town of Barbate, Spain, a port town located in the southern region of Andalusia.

Like other socialist countries, such as Greece, Italy, and Portugal, Spain is suffering a severe economic collapse as a result of the massive spending and borrowing for its welfare-state programs. According to a recent BBB article, Spain has the highest rate of unemployment among EU countries — 20 percent. It also has one of the region’s weakest economies, which contracted by 0.1 percent in 2010. Moody’s recently downgraded Spain’s debt rating by a notch.

It’s even worse in Barbate. The Times’ article points out that at 29.7 percent, Andalusia has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Among the hardest hit have been young people. Barbate Mayor Rafael Quiros put it succinctly: “A youngster has absolutely zero chance right now of finding a fixed job here.”

So, guess where young people in Barbate are turning to sustain their lives.

You got it! The drug trade!

Why drugs? Why not liquor or cigarettes or fruits and vegetables?

Because drugs are illegal, which means artificially high black-market prices and profits. The possibility of making lots of money very quickly, needless to say, lures many young people into the business.

According to the NYT article, today there are 300 of Barbate’s 22,000 residents serving time in jail for drug-war violations. Five years ago, before the onset of the economic crisis, the number was about half — 160.

So, while we have becoming accustomed here in the United States to seeing the increasing integration of the drug war and the war on terrorism, in Spain people are getting to see socialism meeting the drug war. Of course, the results are disastrous in terms of ruined lives and social destruction.

An increasing number of young people in Barbate are now engaged in the drug trade. One youngster told the NYT reporter that his back BMW was bought with money he had made selling drugs. Another, a 30-year-old named Paco, had just been released from serving almost 4 years in jail on drug charges.

Meanwhile, as the state cracks down on the new supply of drug dealers, the retail price of hashish has soared, which no doubt will lure more young people into the business, some of whom will end up serving time in jail.

What is occurring in Barbate is just another example of the horrors of statism. Socialism has brought the economic crisis, which in turn is luring young people into the drug trade, which in turn is ruining lots of lives.

In principle, the situation in Barbate is no different here in the United States. Lured by big black-market profits that the drug war produces, increasing numbers of Americans are lured into the drug business. A certain percentage of them are caught and are sent to jail, which then causes drug prices to go up again, luring more people into the business. The cycle continues repeating itself indefinitely, as it has for the past 40 years.

Equally bad, the integration of the drug war and the war on terrorism has enabled government officials to spread their police-state tactics and infringements on privacy and civil liberties in towns and cities all across the nation.

It’s all a vicious statist cycle that brings a mountain of ruined lives, along with death, destruction, and corruption.

Obviously, there is a better way, and that way is libertarianism — the philosophy that rejects statism in all its forms and variations, including socialism, imperialism, and interventionism — and embraces economic liberty, free markets, and a limited-government republic.

Libertarianism is the solution for Barbate. It’s the solution for Spain. It’s the solution for the United States. It’s the solution for the world.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.