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"Victimless" Crimes


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Just a thought I wanted to put out here, so as to not further derail the thread about a Libertarian Presidency.

 

There are a variety of crimes that many (though not all) people refer to as "victimless" crimes, most of which have to do with what are called vices. Now while I think most people in principle agree that a person shouldn't be punished for a crime that harms no innocent parties, when you actually go into specific examples, people in the here and now still seem inclined by their upbringing to look at some such acts as still legitimately being crimes.

 

Now there are of course those who argue that these "crimes" I speak of are not victimless at all, but I'd like to examine that claim with two examples:

 

#1 Is drug use and possession. Now if you were to ask a "socially conservative" (socialist), they would probably tell you that the addict is a victim.

 

#2 Is prostitution. Asking the same people, they would probably tell you that the prostitute is a victim.

 

But then that begs a question - why are we prosecuting and imprisoning the "victims"? For what other sort of crime does it make sense to throw the "victim" in jail? I find this idea that we will prosecute someone as the perpetrator of a crime, and then defend the laws defining that crime by claiming the same person is a victim, to be insane.

 

There's a good quote from Lysander Spooner which makes a logical distinction between vice and crime:

Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another?. Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property.

Unfortunately, our society has decided to make vices against the law, and thus treats them as crimes, and punishing the alleged victims.

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All this Libertarian talk is really helping me out in my Ethics class, and I have found I find most of this stuff makes perfect sense, I'm still trying to work out the little things I don't quite understand, I wish I had been exposed to it a bit earlier...

 

I was discussing those same two things in class today, and I complete agree with you.

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Sometimes the victim in a crime can be society.

How is the person or property of all society harmed by any of these crimes?

 

I don't think marijuana harms society and therefore should be legal, but one always has to look at the compounded effect as a whole. For example, cocaine is an extremely addictive drug such that free use of it highly increases the rate at which property and personal crimes occur by addicts who cannot show self control, families are broken resulting in taxpayer costs, and other societal costs.

 

Now does that mean is any societal cost exists, something should be illegal? No. Junk food and pre-marital sex theoratically have society costs.

 

It isn't black and white, and the standard should be pretty high. That's why I have never really been in support of all those smoking bans. Pot should be legal. But heavier drugs not.

 

Although we could also decriminilize heavier drugs thereby eliminating the supply aspect and the criminal aspect of the supply aspect, but we would have to provide some network to keep people from being addicted. Maybe government run clinics to treat addiction? But liberteriansm doesn't like government welfare, right?

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I don't think marijuana harms society and therefore should be legal, but one always has to look at the compounded effect as a whole. For example, cocaine is an extremely addictive drug such that free use of it highly increases the rate at which property and personal crimes occur by addicts who cannot show self control, families are broken resulting in taxpayer costs, and other societal costs.

I understand where you're coming from, but I think it's a naive and common assumption that legalizing drugs like cocaine would necessarily lead to a significant increase in their use as well as related crimes. When most cocaine addicts were getting their fix from Coca-cola that wasn't the case. I also think that something (not just drugs) being illegal does also create more extreme cases since they necessarily have to exist on the fringes of society. I also don't think it should necessarily be a given that tax payers subsidize broken homes, but that's a bit more complex and I'd rather not derail this topic.

 

Now does that mean is any societal cost exists, something should be illegal? No. Junk food and pre-marital sex theoratically have society costs.

 

It isn't black and white, and the standard should be pretty high. That's why I have never really been in support of all those smoking bans. Pot should be legal. But heavier drugs not.

Given the amount of tax money that goes into our medical industry, I don't think any of that is theoretical. There are real costs associated with them that, due to our other socialist tendencies, are passed on to the rest of us. But I can at least respect your position. At a bare minimum, I think most honest folks would agree that it's pretty inconsistent to prohibit marijuana while keeping alcohol legal.

 

Although we could also decriminilize heavier drugs thereby eliminating the supply aspect and the criminal aspect of the supply aspect, but we would have to provide some network to keep people from being addicted. Maybe government run clinics to treat addiction? But liberteriansm doesn't like government welfare, right?

You're right, we wouldn't like that. And the reason is the same one as for which we oppose drug laws in the first place - we don't believe in protecting people from themselves. Worse than being unjustifiable, it's impossible. Get rid of illicit drugs and self destructive people will turn to sniffing glue and sipping cough syrup for a buzz.

I don't think people need anything but common sense to keep from being addicted. If drugs were legal tomorrow, I guarantee that most of the drug free people in the country would stay drug free. That's the thing - drug addiction is it's own punishment - it will destroy your health and drain your money. Now if a person is already willing to do that to themselves, what else is gonna deter them? People should have the common sense to not screw their lives up with this stuff, and if people are stupid and self-destructive then you have to let them be responsible for it. Now I'm not opposed to individuals going out and organizing programs to help people, but that's not for the government to do. For the government to do it, it has to take the money from people who aren't responsible for this and then they give that money to employees who probably won't care too much about helping. And lets not even get into how much more efficient help is given when it's given by people rather than the government.

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Sometimes the victim in a crime can be society.

How is the person or property of all society harmed by any of these crimes?

 

Like Mollusk said, things like drugs and prostitution have a negative effect on society because they break up families and increase crime, etc.

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Like Mollusk said, things like drugs and prostitution have a negative effect on society because they break up families and increase crime, etc.

I'd like to see data that actually supports the notion that legal prostitution and legalized drugs increase crime and break up families.

 

I think there is evidence that making a drug illegal (like prohibition did to alcohol) does increase crime, but I don't believe crime escalated when prohibition was ended and legal breweries went back to business. And I imagine, though I have less information about it, that the same is true of prostitution.

 

While I'm certainly not going to argue that these things have a positive effect on the family, I don't believe the role of government is to "defend the family" or force people to remain in marriages that they don't want to. If government would restrict itself to protecting our rights, then the people who want to live good lives and have strong families will find no impediment in the vices from which they abstain.

 

Prostitution is generally a victimless crime, while I don't know if you can say that the harder drugs (ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, meth, etc.) are really victimless.

Then back to my OP - if there is a victim of hard drugs, who is it? The user, who chose to use these drugs? And how do we care for these "victims"? Throw them in jail?

I'm all for being sympathetic to those who suffer from drug addiction, but I don't see arresting them for possession as much of a help. And clearly making drugs illegal has failed to stop drug addiction from happening in the first place, while it has made the pushers very rich. Seriously, I don't think it's the government's role to save people who screw up their own lives, but even if I did, our drug policy doesn't accomplish that goal at all.

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Im more in favor of legalizing prostitution and banning pimping. The fundamental aspect is that consenting adults should be allowed to enter into contracts of this nature. The women can unionize and protect each other. Crack down hard on exploitation and forced prostition. Focus police power away from arresting the prostitutes and towards the thugs that force unwilling women to do it. Allow them to set-up registered and designated shops. This would take it off the streets as there wouldn't be this huge barrier to customer "outreach." This potential experiment in San Fran will be interesting to watch.

 

As for hard drugs, you can't underestimate the disincentive that prison can have on people. We use prison for that very purpose.

 

 

I guess what frustrates me about libertarians, whose views I've often considered, is that it is often grounded in principal and principal alone. Sometimes things go horribly wrong in society, and deviation from principle is necessary. I know I am going to get a couple of heavy responses, but I often think of the Lincoln quote, not sure what it exactly is, but something to the effect of "what value is the constitution if the nation for which it is constructed is burning to the ground?" Of course this puts other things in play that shouldn't be, but its a continuum, and I dont think principles should bind us.

 

If our country DOES become a drug addicted nation, and we are collapsing, then do libertarians become liberals?

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Im more in favor of legalizing prostitution and banning pimping. The fundamental aspect is that consenting adults should be allowed to enter into contracts of this nature. The women can unionize and protect each other. Crack down hard on exploitation and forced prostition. Focus police power away from arresting the prostitutes and towards the thugs that force unwilling women to do it. Allow them to set-up registered and designated shops. This would take it off the streets as there wouldn't be this huge barrier to customer "outreach." This potential experiment in San Fran will be interesting to watch.

 

As for hard drugs, you can't underestimate the disincentive that prison can have on people. We use prison for that very purpose.

 

 

I guess what frustrates me about libertarians, whose views I've often considered, is that it is often grounded in principal and principal alone. Sometimes things go horribly wrong in society, and deviation from principle is necessary. I know I am going to get a couple of heavy responses, but I often think of the Lincoln quote, not sure what it exactly is, but something to the effect of "what value is the constitution if the nation for which it is constructed is burning to the ground?" Of course this puts other things in play that shouldn't be, but its a continuum, and I dont think principles should bind us.

 

If our country DOES become a drug addicted nation, and we are collapsing, then do libertarians become liberals?

 

 

Lincoln, the Tyrant President, but I won;t turn this into a topic about Lincoln.

 

Prostitution, as it is right now, is an avenue for abusing women, heavy drug use, and STD infection. If it were legalized, then prostitutes can report to police when a customer assaults them, whether physically or sexually. As FM said, it would also take out the pimp element in the sense that the law would do more to protect the interests of the working girl, because labor laws among other things would then be applicable.

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Im more in favor of legalizing prostitution and banning pimping. The fundamental aspect is that consenting adults should be allowed to enter into contracts of this nature. The women can unionize and protect each other. Crack down hard on exploitation and forced prostition. Focus police power away from arresting the prostitutes and towards the thugs that force unwilling women to do it. Allow them to set-up registered and designated shops. This would take it off the streets as there wouldn't be this huge barrier to customer "outreach." This potential experiment in San Fran will be interesting to watch.

 

As for hard drugs, you can't underestimate the disincentive that prison can have on people. We use prison for that very purpose.

Even where prostitution is legal, there are pimps. It is only that their role is slightly different. But still, the concept is the same - if people freely choose to engage in this kind of activity, then we have no business getting in the way. And again, by not pushing this whole industry to the fringes by prohibition of it, you would take away the market for the illegal sex slave trade that has become a part of it and is genuinely evil and reprehensible.

 

As for prison as a deterrent, I think you're overestimating its value. After all, it fails to deter the millions and millions of drug users, addicts, and dealers in this country. I mean if someone is already going to start taking something that they know is addictive, harmful to them, and expensive, why would they worry about the possibility of being sent to a place where those drugs will be a lot more available? Especially in this country, who actually looks at prisons and says "that would be so miserable, with their cable TV, air conditioning, library, and plenty of drugs"? Even if you and I do agree that we definately don't want to go to prison, just consider all the people that prison has failed to deter, and then consider whether or not you or anyone you know needs prison as a deterrent to keep from becoming a drug fiend.

 

I guess what frustrates me about libertarians, whose views I've often considered, is that it is often grounded in principal and principal alone. Sometimes things go horribly wrong in society, and deviation from principle is necessary. I know I am going to get a couple of heavy responses, but I often think of the Lincoln quote, not sure what it exactly is, but something to the effect of "what value is the constitution if the nation for which it is constructed is burning to the ground?" Of course this puts other things in play that shouldn't be, but its a continuum, and I dont think principles should bind us.

If a principle is a correct principle, then I absolutely believe it should bind us. Now principles exist on different levels, there are those upon which government should function in order to meet its obligations to its citizens, and there are those which upon people should function so as to be productive and independent.

Things that go horribly wrong in society happen because we depart from correct principles, and that isn't necessary, even if it is painfully common. Freedom is a correct principle, but many keep saying that the current economic mess is a result of too much of a "free" market. The people who get it though know that this problem has nothing to do with the non-existent free market, it has to do with quasi-government institutions manipulating the money supply and rigging the system to create the business cycle. It was a departure from correct principles that caused things to go "horribly wrong".

As to Lincoln, he was wrong. The value of the Constitution would have been found in following it, rather than ignoring it. It was departing from the Constitution that started all that "burning". Lincoln was wrong about a lot of things, but I'll give him a little bit of a pass since the Constitution never did contain a provision for how a state could secede.

 

If our country DOES become a drug addicted nation, and we are collapsing, then do libertarians become liberals?

#1 - Our country IS a drug addicted nation. No ifs. And this is why our prisons are overflowing with non-violent offenders while child rapists spend on average less than 6 years in prison. If we aren't already a drug addicted nation, what is?

#2 - We are collapsing, but it has nothing to do with drugs. Just the failure of government to do one of its legitimate duties - provide sound money. Instead that duty was outsourced to bankers and the result was all these bubbles that are still deflating today and will keep on for some time.

#3 - A libertarian who understands the principles we're talking about and how we got into this mess will still be a libertarian.

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As time goes on, I find more and more that prison and the death penalty have less of a deterrent effect on people. One of the reasons I don't agree with the death penalty, except in cases such as a mass murderer or total psychopath who has no redeeming value.

I would agree with you that no punishment or penalties should ever be seen as having value as a deterrent. I would like to think that the reason we put people in prison or put them to death is to punish them, protect the rest of us from them, and maybe even a little to rehabilitate them (in some cases). But the first two moreso. And that said, I believe that those do have value. I just think they should only be applied to people who actually violate the rights of others, not those who engage in activities that the larger society dissaproves of or who make transactions with other private entities that the government doesn't approve of.

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Personally I would prefer to see our country move away from the current 'warehousing' method of prisons (which is just overloading the system) back to the older method where there were actual programs aimed at rehabilitating some offenders. Not even close to the majority of people in prison are violent these days, thanks to all of the drug offenders now residing there.

 

The current system has no chance of working, because it basically means that we are going to lock everyone up, and release very few. That means we're going to have to start building MORE prisons, even though we already have more prisoners here than in any other nation besides China (we may have a higher percent of our population in prison in this country, actually, than China).

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Personally I would prefer to see our country move away from the current 'warehousing' method of prisons (which is just overloading the system) back to the older method where there were actual programs aimed at rehabilitating some offenders. Not even close to the majority of people in prison are violent these days, thanks to all of the drug offenders now residing there.

 

The current system has no chance of working, because it basically means that we are going to lock everyone up, and release very few. That means we're going to have to start building MORE prisons, even though we already have more prisoners here than in any other nation besides China (we may have a higher percent of our population in prison in this country, actually, than China).

 

The old rehab systems leave too much discretion. You had people committing the same crimes and one guy would serve 20 years and the other would serve 3. It isn't right. What we need to do is stop locking up the drug offenders so that we can leave the violent offenders locked up for good.

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Personally I would prefer to see our country move away from the current 'warehousing' method of prisons (which is just overloading the system) back to the older method where there were actual programs aimed at rehabilitating some offenders. Not even close to the majority of people in prison are violent these days, thanks to all of the drug offenders now residing there.

 

The current system has no chance of working, because it basically means that we are going to lock everyone up, and release very few. That means we're going to have to start building MORE prisons, even though we already have more prisoners here than in any other nation besides China (we may have a higher percent of our population in prison in this country, actually, than China).

 

The old rehab systems leave too much discretion. You had people committing the same crimes and one guy would serve 20 years and the other would serve 3. It isn't right. What we need to do is stop locking up the drug offenders so that we can leave the violent offenders locked up for good.

 

White people go to rehab, black people go to prison.

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I agree 100% that there is a massive problem with the HUGE number of blacks and minorities that are in prison. I would say that a lot of them are those drug offenders. The next president needs to start a commission to determine what the best way to solve the problems with our prison system are. I can't recall a major effort in our nation's history to assess the state and problems in our prison system, let alone trying to solve them.

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Personally I would prefer to see our country move away from the current 'warehousing' method of prisons (which is just overloading the system) back to the older method where there were actual programs aimed at rehabilitating some offenders. Not even close to the majority of people in prison are violent these days, thanks to all of the drug offenders now residing there.

 

The current system has no chance of working, because it basically means that we are going to lock everyone up, and release very few. That means we're going to have to start building MORE prisons, even though we already have more prisoners here than in any other nation besides China (we may have a higher percent of our population in prison in this country, actually, than China).

 

The old rehab systems leave too much discretion. You had people committing the same crimes and one guy would serve 20 years and the other would serve 3. It isn't right. What we need to do is stop locking up the drug offenders so that we can leave the violent offenders locked up for good.

 

White people go to rehab, black people go to prison.

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I agree 100% that there is a massive problem with the HUGE number of blacks and minorities that are in prison. I would say that a lot of them are those drug offenders. The next president needs to start a commission to determine what the best way to solve the problems with our prison system are. I can't recall a major effort in our nation's history to assess the state and problems in our prison system, let alone trying to solve them.

While I understand your intentions here, I disagree with the kind of solution I think you are imagining here. Rather than spend a ton of money hiring more bureaucrats to examine the problem and come up with an ineffective solution (or at least potentially ineffective) to the problem, why not just remove the federal drug laws that caused the problem in the first place?

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Personally I would prefer to see our country move away from the current 'warehousing' method of prisons (which is just overloading the system) back to the older method where there were actual programs aimed at rehabilitating some offenders. Not even close to the majority of people in prison are violent these days, thanks to all of the drug offenders now residing there.

 

The current system has no chance of working, because it basically means that we are going to lock everyone up, and release very few. That means we're going to have to start building MORE prisons, even though we already have more prisoners here than in any other nation besides China (we may have a higher percent of our population in prison in this country, actually, than China).

 

The old rehab systems leave too much discretion. You had people committing the same crimes and one guy would serve 20 years and the other would serve 3. It isn't right. What we need to do is stop locking up the drug offenders so that we can leave the violent offenders locked up for good.

 

White people go to rehab, black people go to prison.

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Personally I would prefer to see our country move away from the current 'warehousing' method of prisons (which is just overloading the system) back to the older method where there were actual programs aimed at rehabilitating some offenders. Not even close to the majority of people in prison are violent these days, thanks to all of the drug offenders now residing there.

 

The current system has no chance of working, because it basically means that we are going to lock everyone up, and release very few. That means we're going to have to start building MORE prisons, even though we already have more prisoners here than in any other nation besides China (we may have a higher percent of our population in prison in this country, actually, than China).

 

The old rehab systems leave too much discretion. You had people committing the same crimes and one guy would serve 20 years and the other would serve 3. It isn't right. What we need to do is stop locking up the drug offenders so that we can leave the violent offenders locked up for good.

 

White people go to rehab, black people go to prison.

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