When you get right down to it, that’s all they really are.
I think Kristof is sincere and admirable in his concern. Alcoholism among Native Americans is a huge problem and I have sympathy for the tribal authorities eager to do something about it. I’m not prepared to second-guess their decision to ban the sale of booze on their lands.
But it is an intriguing thing to see a liberal embracing Prohibition. And that’s what he’s doing. His argument boils down to his belief that Indians can’t handle the freedom to buy booze on their own. And he may be right for cultural, historical, and biological reasons. Some Native Americans, like some Asians, have a genetic handicap when it comes to alcohol.
Still it’s intriguing because it is a widely held article of faith – on the left and the right – that Prohibition was stupid. Amusingly, today’s progressives never like to mention that their ideological forebears were at the forefront of Prohibition, and that the temperance movement was inextricably entwined with the suffrage movement. I always chuckle when progressives brag about all the wonderful things progressives did, but conveniently skip over Prohibition.
The contradiction becomes even more acute when you consider the fact that drug legalization is so fashionable among progressives today. Kristof himself has come out in favor of drug legalization.
It should be obvious to people that many illegal drugs – meth, heroin, cocaine – are just as destructive and addictive as booze, at least for very large numbers of Americans. Of course, some people can try hard drugs or alcohol and then turn their backs on it forever without much trouble. Other people can’t. My own brother, who died in no small part because of his troubles with booze and drugs, was one such person.
Call me crazy, but I find it very hard to reconcile support for banning Budweiser for Indians with advocating the legalization of narcotics for everybody.
Nah, call THEM crazy–because they can reconcile it, and they are crazy.
That excerpt is from an oldie-but-evergreen G File, and the main point is one that will discomfit libtards everywhere–or at least it ought to, were they not so inclined to harbor ten directly-conflicting, half-baked articles of blind faith in their heads at once, believing desperately in all of them.
I have no great overarching lesson here. Freedom has costs. And I think it is reasonable to ask whether some of those costs are too great for society to bear. Conversely, there are very strict limits to what you can accomplish with paternalism. And I think it’s beyond foolish to ignore those limits out of a desire to fix a demand-side problem with supply-side solutions. As a society, we’ve decided not to ban alcohol. That was the right decision, but it had costs. As a society, we are pondering whether to lift the ban on drugs. Excepting marijuana, I think that is the wrong decision. Reasonable people can disagree and they may be right. But reasonable people cannot dispute that doing so will have costs, too.
Ahh, but that throws the Progressivist Prime Directive–that society is perfectible if we just allow them to run our lives, and that elimination of all risk is a desirable and necessary step towards that perfection–right out the window.
Via Ed, who says:
Well, the time-out during the 1960s and ‘70s when the left didn’t act like puritanical scolds was fun while it lasted — the “ban all the thingz!!!!” modern day Comstocks at the HuffPo are merely returning “Progressivism” to its form around this same time a century ago.
Yep, pretty much. Although I’d say that the Left’s Church Lady impulses were still there in the 60s and 70s; it’s just that their desire to throw off the “shackles” of dignity, civilization, adulthood, and their horrible, horrible Daddies briefly pushed it aside.