Though the ostensible purpose of laws is to prevent crime, the effect of all laws is to create crime. If there were no laws, there would be no crime.
Every time a legislature passes, and a president or governor signs a law, a new crime is created.
Each of us, consciously or not, evaluates five considerations when deciding whether or not to commit a crime:
- Our perception of morality and of ourselves.
- Our likelihood of being caught
- Our likelihood of being punished
- Our view of the severity of the punishment
- Our life without breaking a law.
This is true for all crime, “white collar” and violent crime.
The real purpose of all laws is not to reduce crime, but rather to control the populace according to legislators’ wishes.
When lawmakers perceive the populace doing something the lawmakers don’t like, the first step is to criminalize, i.e pass a law against, the act.
That notably was true in 1920:
Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933.
Criticism remains that Prohibition led to unintended consequences such as the growth of urban crime organizations.
Alcohol was legal in neighboring countries. Distilleries and breweries in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean flourished as their products were either consumed by visiting Americans or smuggled into the United States.
Journalist H. L. Mencken: “Prohibition worked best when directed at its primary target: the working-class poor.”
Historian Lizabeth Cohen writes: “A rich family could have a cellar-full of liquor and get by, it seemed, but if a poor family had one bottle of home-brew, there would be trouble.”
Working-class people were inflamed by the fact that their employers could dip into a private cache while they, the employees, could not.
The varied terrain of valleys, mountains, lakes, and swamps, as well as the extensive seaways, ports, and borders which the United States shared with Canada and Mexico made it exceedingly difficult for Prohibition agents to stop bootleggers.
Prohibition created a black market that competed with the formal economy, which came under pressure when the Great Depression struck in 1929.
State governments urgently needed the tax revenue alcohol sales had generated. Franklin Roosevelt was elected in 1932 based in part on his promise to end prohibition, which influenced his support for ratifying the Twenty-first Amendment to repeal Prohibition
While alcohol is a harmful and addicting drug, and Prohibition did reduce alcohol consumption somewhat, the social cost was far greater than the benefits.
By now, you probably have noticed the incredible similarity between Prohibition and today’s “War on Drugs,” which is, in reality, a war on the poor.
Previously we discussed:
Reduce violent crime by reducing poverty. Reduce poverty by implementing the Ten Steps to Prosperity (See below).
The vast majority of violent crimes are committed by poor people. They feel they have no legal alternatives for obtaining money, so they take it illegally.
And much violent crime is related to the “War on Drugs,” which is even less effective than was the “War on Alcohol.” (Fortunately, we have been wise enough to avoid a “War on Cigarettes,” nicotine being one of the most common addicting drugs in America.)
Many communities, particularly black communities, have been destroyed by the War on Drugs. Once convicted, jailed and released, young men are unable to find jobs, so are encouraged to commit more crime, in a never-ending cycle of violence.
They also are encouraged to leave school and to join violent gangs as a way to protect themselves in the mean streets.
Not only does the “War on Drugs” create and encourage crime, destroy communities, discourage school attendance, and cost millions of lives and billions of dollars, but it doesn’t reduce the availability of drugs — and never will.
Any K-16, child who wants illegal drugs, has no difficulty finding sources. Drugs exist in elementary schools, high schools, colleges and on the street. They are everywhere.
The American public has been misled into believing that violent crime can be stopped via additional punishments and police brutality.
But is that the America we want — an America where even innocent citizens are victims of police savagery and long incarcerations — especially when the “solution” doesn’t work, and especially when two productive solutions are available.
We cannot continue doing the same things, hoping to get a different result.
We greatly can reduce the need for street crime by reducing poverty (via the Ten Steps to Prosperity). And we greatly can reduce the reward for street crime by eliminating one of the most important causes: The laws against drugs.
For it is not drugs that are the problem, but rather the problem is the laws against drugs — the laws that create crime.
Street drugs, like other drugs (alcohol, nicotine, marijuana in some states) all should be treated similarly: Production and usage should be legal. Producers should be regulated, licensed and taxed. Importation should be regulated. Users should not be prosecuted.
Are you among those who think America can’t afford the Ten Steps to Prosperity? Do you think reducing poverty is unfair and only makes the poor lazy? Do you prefer to continue doing what doesn’t work?
Or, do you really want to reduce street crime? Really?
It comes down to this: The Ten Steps plus legalization of drugs, or more of the same?
Take your choice.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Ten Steps to Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich afford better health care than the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE AN ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA, AND/OR EVERY STATE, A PER CAPITA ECONOMIC BONUS (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012
Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONEFive reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefiting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE CORPORATE TAXES
Corporations themselves exist only as legalities. They don’t pay taxes or pay for anything else. They are dollar-tranferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the government (the later having no use for those dollars).
Any tax on corporations reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all corporate taxes come around and reappear as deductions from your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and corporate taxes would be an good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.
•Liberals think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the