Ludwig von Mises on the Drug War
By David Henderson
I’m at a weekend conference at which we’re discussing various works by economists and philosophers. One of the readings is “The Foundations of Liberal Policy,” a chapter in Ludwig von Mises’s book, Liberalism: The Classical Tradition, published in 1927. Of course, Mises uses “liberalism” in the classical sense. Here’s a great quote on laws against alcohol, cocaine, and morphine:
Whoever is convinced that indulgence or excessive indulgence in these poisons is pernicious is not hindered from living abstemiously or temperately. This question cannot be treated exclusively in reference to alcoholism, morphinism, cocainism, etc., which all reasonable men acknowledge to be evils. For if the majority of citizens is, in principle, conceded the right to impose its way of life upon a minority, it is impossible to stop at prohibitions against indulgence in alcohol, morphine, cocaine, and similar poisons. Why should not what is valid for these poisons be valid also for nicotine, caffein, and the like? Why should not the state generally prescribe which foods may be indulged in and which must be avoided because they are injurious?
Of course, he was prescient. The state has been engaging in a war on nicotine and on some foods like fat and salt for some time.
Notice: A U.S. government organization known as the Federal Trade Commission, whose purpose often seems to be to restrain trade and certainly to reduce freedom, has decided that I have to tell you that the publisher of the book I’m quoting above gave me a zero-price copy.