NOTICE: Tomorrow, Thursday, October 5, at 7 p.m. Eastern. Benjamin Power is our first presenter in our upcoming online Austrian conference: “How Austrian Economics Impacted My Life.” Register here to receive your Zoom link.
Yesterday, I pointed out that the thousands of immigrants who are illegally entering the United States along the U.S.-Mexico border does not signify that U.S. officials have suddenly and unexpectedly adopted the libertarian position of open borders. Instead, the flood of illegal immigrants shows that America’s decades-old system of immigration controls, whose aim is to prevent illegal entry into the United States, continues to be one gigantic miserable failure.
The situation is no different with respect to the drug fentanyl. Drug dealers are smuggling large quantities of the drug into the United States from Mexico. This has caused drug-war proponents to say the same thing that statists are saying about that flood of immigrants — that U.S. officials have suddenly and unexpectedly adopted the libertarian position of open borders.
Their drug-war claim is as nonsensical as their immigrant-war claim. The borderlands are inundated with DEA agents, deputy sheriffs, police, state and federal prosecutors, and state and federal judges, all of whom are part of the drug-war police state along the border. And they are just the latest generation of drug warriors. Their predecessors, who are now retired or dead, were also waging the drug war along the border back in the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond.
And let’s not forget something important: the immigration police state that exists along the border is also used to reinforce the drug-war police state along the border. The two police states work hand and hand and actually integrate with each other.
The mission of the drug war is to prevent illicit drugs from entering the United States. Thus, its mission is similar to the mission of immigration controls, which is to prevent immigrants from illegally entering the United States.
How has that worked out? Not well, as we can see from the fentanyl crisis. And as we can see from the immigrant crisis.
But the drug warriors are just like the immigrant warriors. The last thing they want to acknowledge is that their drug war is a failure. If they did that, people might start asking a discomforting question: If it’s a failure, why should we continue it, especially given that it’s lasted at least seven decades and also given that it comes with violence, death, suffering, cartels, drug gangs, and official corruption.
Thus, better to blame both crises on “open borders” and just hope that regular people don’t notice that there is a massive police state along the borders, one that entails enforcing both drug laws and immigration laws, and that it simply has not worked.
What is the solution to the decades-long failure of the drug war? It’s the same as the solution for the decades-long war on immigrants. That solution is the repeal of drug laws, just like the solution to the immigration crisis is the repeal of all restrictions on the movements of people across borders.
Unfortunately, all too many drug warriors and immigration warriors are still not there. They are still hoping that someone somewhere will finally — finally! — come up with a way to make both of their deadly and destructive police-state systems work, notwithstanding decades of failure. They cannot bring themselves to see that if no one has succeeded in making their statist systems work for at least 70 years, no one will ever make them work.
We libertarians can only hope that enough people will ultimately be mugged by reality sufficiently hard to recognize that the only solution to these statist programs is freedom, free markets, and limited-government. When that day comes, we might well be on our way to a genuinely free society.