June 25th, 2008

eyes black and white

Dalrymple only gets better with time

I love Theodore Dalrymple's essays, and recently I've read "Don't Legalize Drugs" and "The Starving Criminal" and was pleased that based on similar observations, he has moved from authoritarian recommendations to more libertarian ones.

In both cases, he finds that immoral and criminal, self-destructive and anti-social behaviour is ultimately rooted in the actor's own psychology and preferences in the midst of plenty of opportunity to behave better at a cheaper cost to his wallet and health, and with higher benefits for himself.

But while in the earlier article, Dalrymple proposes authoritarian control to impose the correct behaviour by forceful prohibitions and regulations on the supply, in the latter article, he understands that political forceful prohibitions and regulations on the supply is vain, and only contributes to the destruction of psychological sense of responsibility, which is the main cause of the demand, the real problem.

And so I will propose to the problem of drug abuse the same solution that he latter proposes to the problem of criminality: do not try to solve the problem by trying to protect the self-abusing people from themselves, but by making people fully responsible of their abuse. Cancel, at the taxpayer's benefit, the welfare programs that create a class of parasites without any sense of responsibility for themselves. Do not maintain them in artificial welfare, do not tolerate abuse in public, charge them through the nose for any damage they cause to life and property, or for any detoxication effort done upon them. Do not subsidize these spendings with low-interest rate financing plans. Remove from society, at their own charge, the more unsavory characters who cannot live peacefully.

Note: I was Googling for an article the name of which I had forgotten "Uses of Corruption" and was pleased to find it on Brian Micklethwait's blog, which also linked to the above essays. On the interaction between social system and citizens' psychology, do not miss the fourth essay Brian mentions, "How to Read a Society".