Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Primum non nocere: ‘First, do no harm’

Perhaps there should be an Oath of Nonmaleficence for politicians. Before taking office, they should sign a legally binding promise to do nothing that they have reason to believe will harm the public interest, no matter how much private wealth it yields.

Drug war: cops vs. kids?

The drug war: armed cops vs. kids?
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Had office-holders been bound, over the past four decades, to such an oath, the War on Selected Drugs would have ended almost before it began, for it has been evident from the outset that it did nothing to dull the perennial appetite for such drugs, while its actual effects on the public would be risible were they not so often tragic. I will not now recount for you the specific harms, for their details can be found on this page and elsewhere; it will suffice to say that almost all of us know it does more harm than good, and is fundamentally at odds with the professed values of virtually every nation.

Here we find one of the few issues on which left and right agree: Virtually no one without a pecuniary stake in it considers a campaign to criminalize and punish otherwise law-abiding citizens “for their own good” to be a rational use of public resources.

But, as we have often seen, when governmental policies are void of consistency, logic and compassion, a look behind the policies shows their real motivation: money. This money comes from many unsavory cartels, illegal and otherwise, that are determined to do whatever it takes to preserve their control of markets and sustain their level of profits. In the case of the drug war, the principal such combinations include the following.

Together, these interest groups exert a disproportionate and unhealthy influence on public policy, all for their own gain. Their lobbying has done much to ensure that, from Richard Nixon’s first presidency to this day, the public interest is the last thing on politicians’ minds. In turn, officeholders have tried to disavow responsibility for their decisions, blaming them on public demand for drug suppression.

Sign this petition if you think it’s time to end the War on Selected Drugs, as urged by honest law enforcement, economists, civil libertarians and current and former senior officials and heads of state in the U.S. and elsewhere. The lobbyists are powerful, but they can be defeated — if we can convince politicians, by uniting in our millions against this destructive policy, that to continue it would be political suicide for them.

Originally published as a review of an avaaz.org petition urging an end to the War on Selected Drugs. This petition is no longer active.

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