Opinion: To Save Blue Lives, End the War on Drugs

President Trump has made the Blue Lives Matter movement a cornerstone of his presidency. Trump publicly condemned the NFL athletes who took a knee to protest police violence, and has pushed to give local cops more access to military equipment. Meanwhile, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to push the drug war. His latest move has been to rescind Obama-era memos around allowing state-legalized marijuana.

Neither Trump nor Sessions sees the obvious disconnect. Like many conservatives, Trump will stop at nothing to make the job of police officer safer, but the best way to protect cops is to end the war on drugs.

The war on drugs creates violence by encouraging violent people to enter the drug trade. Once they’re in, the black market enriches them. They use the proceeds to secure their turf, funding more conflict. In 2010 alone, illegal drugs represented a $108 billion market in the US. A lot of that money flows to gangs like the Rollin' 30s Harlem Crips in Los Angeles, who used drug sales to finance their more violent activities like assault and robbery.

Once these criminals are involved in the drug trade, they fight both rival drug gangs and the police. Drug kingpins have an incentive to kill any police with whom they interact, because an arrest can mean decades in prison and killing investigators is an easy way to ensure they do not get caught. Low-level drug offenders lack this incentive, but are often the targets of no-knock raids. No-knock raids, in which police break into a home without announcing themselves, often lead to tragic results for police. Homeowners think their home is being invaded, so respond with violence.

The dangers to police from black markets aren’t just theoretical: we see hard evidence in the Prohibition era. When alcohol was outlawed and black market booze became big business for gangsters, violence against police skyrocketed. I built a database of police killings that shows a clear spike during Prohibition. I used data from the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks the death of every officer on the job by year. Some of these deaths are non-violent: police in an accident during work hours, for instance. But when I looked at violent police deaths (assault, stabbings and gunfire) from 1900 to 1950, the results were clear: during Prohibition, 192 police were killed on average each year. In the 14 years after Prohibition ended, that number plummeted to an average of 88 per year. Part of that may be attributed to an improving economy, but another factor was likely that black market alcohol was no longer subsidizing gangs.

Above-ground markets don’t enrich criminals or encourage violence against police.

Legal markets are mostly crime-free. There’s a reason Colorado hasn’t given rise to the next Al Capone, and it’s not just because marijuana makes people chill. Above-ground markets don’t enrich criminals or encourage violence against police. Elon Musk operates Tesla legally. That means that if police come to his headquarters, he has every incentive to treat them well, rather than ordering Tesla employees to kill them to protect himself.

Even as it creates more crime, the war on drugs redirects police resources away from violent criminals, endangering both communities and police in the process. In spite of the brutality associated with the war on drugs, the criminal justice system often targets low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. For 92.4 percent of people in federal prison on drug charges in 2012, a drug offense (not violence) was the most serious offense for which they were convicted. This ratio has probably improved since the federal government stopped subsidizing drug arrests in 2016, but nonviolent offenders are still swept into prison at alarming rates. Every hour the police spend in sting operations and busts of nonviolent offenders is an hour they cannot spend hunting down murderers.

The war on drugs also creates hostility towards police. In a drug deal, none of the participants welcome police presence; most see the cops as villains who will throw them in prison for enjoying themselves or for making a living. Police tend to concentrate drug raids in certain neighborhoods, which magnifies this resentment as residents repeatedly see friends and family arrested and thrown in prison. This resentment can lead to violence.

When police punish violent crime, they often leave thankful neighborhoods of would-be victims in their wake.

Ending the war on drugs would dramatically improve relations between police and poor and minority communities, reducing tensions and violence on both sides. When police punish violent crime, they often leave thankful neighborhoods of would-be victims in their wake. That creates more goodwill toward police, because cops are going where they’re truly wanted. Letting police focus on the crime that actually endangers local residents, rather than punishing dealers and users who have community sympathy, can encourage residents to see the police as benefactors rather than an occupying force.

Finally, the war on drugs creates the next generation of criminals. It steals away parents: in 2015, over 450,000 men and women were behind bars due to drug convictions. When a child’s mother or father is incarcerated, the child is three times more likely to spend time in jail or prison as an adult. Conservatives have long realized the importance of a strong family, but the war on drugs directly harms families. By locking up parents, our drug policy is creating thousands of children who are both more disposed to criminality, and unlikely to have any love for police. This endangers tomorrow’s officers.

The war on drugs is big government at its worst.

The war on drugs is big government at its worst. It costs a budget-busting $50 billion per year, and hasn’t even reduced usage --- 66 percent more Americans used illicit drugs in 2010 than in 1970. By creating bad incentives and unintended consequences, it makes more of the very violence it was intended to help stop. While no-one wants to see kids shooting heroin, we should follow Portugal’s example: when they decriminalized all drugs in 2001, drug overdoses and even use fell dramatically. Decriminalizing drugs can help us create a safer, freer nation.


Julian Adorney is a Young Voices Advocate. His work has been featured in National Review, Playboy, The Federalist, The Hill, and Lawrence Reed’s bestselling economic anthology, Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism. Opinions presented here belong solely to the author.

In light of the national conversation surrounding the rights of free speech, religion and self-defense, Mercury One is thrilled to announce a brand new initiative launching this Father's Day weekend: a three-day museum exhibition in Dallas, Texas focused on the rights and responsibilities of American citizens.

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  1. As Americans, what responsibility do we shoulder when it comes to defending our rights?
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  3. How can we move forward amidst uncertainty surrounding the intent of our founding ideals?

Attendees will be able to view historical artifacts and documents that reveal what has made America unique and the most innovative nation on earth. Here's a hint: it all goes back to the core principles and values this nation was founded on as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Exhibits will show what the world was like before mankind had rights and how Americans realized there was a better way to govern. Throughout the weekend, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Stu Burguiere, Doc Thompson, Jeffy Fisher and Brad Staggs will lead private tours through the museum, each providing their own unique perspectives on our rights and responsibilities.

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June 15-17


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Learn more about the event here.

About Mercury One: Mercury One is a 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2011 by Glenn Beck. Mercury One was built to inspire the world in the same way the United States space program shaped America's national destiny and the world. The organization seeks to restore the human spirit by helping individuals and communities help themselves through honor, faith, courage, hope and love. In the words of Glenn Beck:

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What happened?

A New York judge ruled Tuesday that a 30-year-old still living in his parents' home must move out, CNN reported.

Failure to launch …

Michael Rotondo, who had been living in a room in his parents' house for eight years, claims that he is owed a six-month notice even though they gave him five notices about moving out and offered to help him find a place and to help pay for repairs on his car.

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“I think the notice is sufficient," New York State Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood said.

What did the son say?

Rotondo “has never been expected to contribute to household expenses, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, and claims that this is simply a component of his living agreement," he claimed in court filings.

He told reporters that he plans to appeal the “ridiculous" ruling.

Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

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The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Is this what inclusivity and tolerance look like? Fox News host Tomi Lahren was at a weekend brunch with her mom in Minnesota when other patrons started yelling obscenities and harassing her. After a confrontation, someone threw a drink at her, the moment captured on video for social media.

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On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this uncomfortable moment and why it shows that supposedly “tolerant" liberals have to resort to physical violence in response to ideas they don't like.