Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Here’s a quote from Mike’s interview with Laurence Vance today, be sure and check out the transcript for the rest, “Conservatives are the biggest drug warriors. They should be completely against the war on drugs just as any radical Libertarian like Walter Block or Lew Rockwell or myself. The Constitution, as you know, Article I, Section 18 lays out the powers that Congress has. Anyone in the seventh grade could read that and not find any reference to Congress having power to regulate or ban or imprison people for drug use. It’s a no-brainer. It boggles my mind that conservatives, who claim they love the Constitution, claim they follow the Constitution and revere the Constitution, yet they violate the Constitution when they support the war on drugs.”
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: This book is a collection of your essays that have been collected over the last three years, The War on
Drugs Is a War on Freedom. What inspired you to put the little book together that’s easy to read, has lots of great stuff in it?
Laurence Vance: Well, Mike, for years, I hesitated writing anything about the drug war. I have been opposed to the drug war for many years, as long as I’ve been a Libertarian. Because I’m a conservative Christian, I hesitated because I knew the response I would get from some of my Christian brethren. They would say: You support the use of drugs. You don’t care if my kids are on drugs. Of course, we know that’s ridiculous. About three years ago, as you mentioned, I started writing on this subject and I just couldn’t stop. I ended up with 19 essays. Since I publish my own books, and I’ve been doing this for 20 years, I decided to collect these together and put them in a book and publish it. It all came together this year. There are 19 essays in this book on the drug war. Most of them were published by the Future of Freedom Foundation. One was on LewRockwell.com. One was published by The New American magazine, the John Birch Society magazine. These articles have appeared in a variety of places. They cover all aspects of this horrible war on drugs.
Mike: You write, in chapter one, “Conservatives who revere the Constitution should support both the freedom to use drugs for any purpose and a free market in drugs. Nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government to intrude itself into the personal eating, drinking, or smoking habits of Americans. Indeed, before the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, there were no federal drug laws in the United States.” This is from an essay from 2009. How did that one go over? There are a lot of conservatives out there, which you pointed out, who are going to go, [mocking] “Wait a minute. You and Vance are talking about having dope-smoking kids running around driving their cars into trees.”
Laurence: Conservatives are the biggest drug warriors. They should be completely against the war on drugs just as any radical Libertarian like Walter Block or Lew Rockwell or myself. The Constitution, as you know, Article I, Section 18 lays out the powers that Congress has. Anyone in the seventh grade could read that and not find any reference to Congress having power to regulate or ban or imprison people for drug use. It’s a no-brainer. It boggles my mind that conservatives, who claim they love the Constitution, claim they follow the Constitution and revere the Constitution, yet they violate the Constitution when they support the war on drugs.
Mike: Laurence Vance has a great new book out called The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom. You can get it in the Founders Tradin’ Post right now. We have 50 autographed copies available. Thanks for signing them, Laurence. In essay two, “The Moral Case for Drug Freedom, this is the one that’s going to get the most attention. You go through this exercise of: is there a moral case to be made for drug legalization or drug freedom. I think you make it very well. Just walk the listeners through the moral case for legalizing drugs.
Laurence: This essay that you mentioned was actually originally a lecture I gave at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. It does have kind of a strange title, I’ll admit, “Moral Case for Drug Freedom.” Usually people think using drugs is immoral. How can you title something like that? I would agree that using drugs is immoral, but I think, and I believe I make the case in here, that attacking people who use drugs is immoral because it violates their freedom. Putting people in a prison cell because they grow a plant that the government doesn’t approve of, I can’t think of anything more immoral than that. The moral case for drug freedom has to do with just freedom itself, freedom to consume what you want to consume, freedom to do what you want to do with your own property. The war on drugs is a war on private property. It’s a war on your consumption. It’s a war on your recreation, how you spend your recreation. The war on drugs is a war on the medical choices that you decide to make. Many people think that marijuana has medical benefits. There’s been a lot of studies that have shown that to be true. I think it’s more immoral to attack what people want to consume and how they want to spend their recreation and what they want to do with medical issues, I think it’s more immoral to attack people’s choices than it is for people to use drugs.
Mike: Just think about what the federal leviathan has done, and this is in Chapter Two as well. “Believers in a free society should challenge all laws on trafficking, drug manufacturing, drug sales, and drug use. They should object to the 750,000 arrests of Americans every year for marijuana possession.” I saw Ed Gillespie on with John Stossel two Fridays ago, Laurence. Gillespie, who is a big GOP operative, is on board with decriminalizing marijuana. He said last year there were 850,000 arrests for marijuana possession. So 750,000 won’t cut it anymore. They’ve ramped up their arrests.
Laurence: My figure was based on 2010. It’s probably gone up. The total arrests for drug charges is over 1.6 million a year, Americans arrested for drug charges. Let me give you this shocking figure: every 19 seconds in the United States, someone is busted for drugs. It sounds incredibly hard to believe. It’s no wonder the United States has the largest prison population in the entire world because of this drug war.
Mike: Before I read the book, I didn’t realize all these agencies. “Citizens should protest the incarceration of tens of thousands of Americans for drug-related offenses. They should contest the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970…” Anything that has control in it ought to be opposed just writ large. You have the word control and an act of Congress, unless we’re at war and you have to control something coming in or leaving the country, the word control should never be in an act of a free people and an act of their Congress. “…the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988, the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act of 2003,” there’s the Republican stamp, “and the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005.” For you truck drivers out there, this is how Stacker 2 got taken off the shelf. It was the war against ephedrine, I believe it is. Now, if you go to the store and you want to buy Sudafed or something like that, you have to give them your driver’s license and prove who you are, another unconstitutional, intrastate meddling in the affairs and commerce of the state. All these things are part of this massive, unbelievably massive drug bureaucracy. Laurence, how many people do you estimate work in the pursuit of the drug war?
Laurence: It’s tens of thousands. The DEA, which is the main agency people think of when they think of the drug war, the DEA has 10,000 government parasites working for it. They have 226 offices throughout the United States. The DEA even has offices in foreign countries. There are 83 foreign offices in 63 foreign countries. What are we doing fighting the drug war in other countries? It’s bad enough we do it in this country. What are we doing meddling in these other countries? There are tens of thousands of employees of the federal government and state governments, the DEA but also the FBI and CIA and regular law enforcement. Half of what they do is probably related to the drug war. If we got rid of the drug war, you could probably get rid of half the cops, and that might save a few hundred Americans for getting tazered every year for no reason.
Mike: Laurence Vance is the author of The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom. It’s a short book, a collection of essays. Laurence has graciously autographed all the copies we have in the Founders Tradin’ Post. It’s a nice, quick read. For those of you that are fans of the drug war, I challenge you to read it and propose your arguments. Laurence, being a good Libertarian, is always open for a good argument, aren’t you, Laurence?
Mike: I want to switch gears for just a moment here. You also have written books and scores of articles about what is known as “just war theory.” I realize this has nothing to do with the war on drugs. Since I have you on the show for the first time, I just wanted to give Laurence Vance a chance to explain to all those that are misguided conservatives, we call them neocons, who lust after and still support this gargantuan empire state around the world that wages all these wars without congressional authorization, and also pursues these incursions into sovereign territories. There are very few, limited instances where a just war, even if you got Congress to start talking about authorizing them, where a just war is authorized. Can you just for a moment enlighten us?
Laurence: Yes. You raised a good point there I want to mention. Just because Congress declares war doesn’t mean it’s a just war. That’s just one element. That’s a good point. Just war theory began as an attempt by the church, Father Augustine. He lived 354 to 430. We’re talking a long time ago. Just war theory began as an attempt by Augustine to reconcile Christian participation in war with the morality of New Testament Christianity. There were elements of just war theory in pagan Rome but Augustine popularized it. In its essence, just war theory concerns the use of force, when force should be used, and what kind of force is acceptable. The timing of force relates to a country’s justification for the initiation of war or military action. The nature of force relates to how military activity is conducted once a country commits to use force. Obviously you don’t drop an atom bomb on a country because they do one little thing to an American soldier.
The principle of the just war is actually many principles. All the principles have to be met for a war to be considered just. You can’t just pick out one and say we’re going to use this principle to justify war and ignore all the other ones. A war that is not justifiable is nothing short of mass murder. Let me give you some of the tenets of just war theory. These have been formulated, like I said, by Augustine and also Thomas Aquinas, the Roman Catholic theologian, and also the Protestant theologian Hugo Grotius in the early 1600s. A just war has to be defensive. That kind of rules out almost every war that’s ever been fought in history, in my opinion. A just war has to be defensive, has to have a just cause. It has to be in proportion to the gravity of the situation. It has to have obtainable objectives. It has to be preceded by a public declaration. It has to be declared only by legitimate authority. It has to be undertaken only as a last resort. These principles altogether make up what we call just war theory.
This war in Iraq violates every one of these principles. I’ve written about that in my book that you mentioned. It’s called Christianity and War, which is a collection of about 75 essays that I’ve written on the subject of not just Christianity and war but the military, Christians in the military, things like that. I have a problem with just war theory. My problem with just war theory is it is always used to justify war. It’s never used to stop and take a look and say maybe we shouldn’t get into this war. It’s always used to justify war, and both sides claim they’re fighting a defensive, just war. It would be great if the United States followed these principles, but it’s just used to try to justify war by both sides.
End Mike Church Show Transcript