Radley Balko evinces a typically obtuse libertarian reaction to a typically horrifying Mexico drug war murder: in this case, a police chief and his family gunned down in Monterrey. Of course, it’s always the drug war itself that has the chief responsibility with libertarians. There is no condemnation of the murder or the murderers. They are compelled, as it were, to murder.
I will grant arguendo that laws may make certain crimes more profitable and more likely and thus those laws may be on balance more costly than the benefits, but only a callous partisan would thereby absolve the killers of their moral responsibility for their acts. These killers are bad people with the chief moral responsibility for their murder. It’s a stretch to say the drug war “made” them do it. You need food, clothing, and shelter. You don’t need to get rich quick trafficking cocaine. These people are callous, generally dull, and greedy people. I also remain unconvinced that there penchant for violence would not find another outlet in the absence of drug prohibition. Some people who are not that bright don’t want to work 9-5. They like the money, bling, and power of their present criminal activities. They will find something to do criminal, whether it’s theft, forced prostitutition, human trafficking, counterfeiting, dog-fighting, recreational rape, or generalized shakedowns of legitimate businesses. It’s not like the real Mafia did not preexist prohibition or disappeared after the end of prohibition; instead, it began in the lawlessness that was 18th and 19th Century Italy, and, after the 1930s, the original Mafia changed its attention to skimming profits from otherwise lawful enterprises like the garment and sanitation trade in NYC.
So much of the empirical case for libertariansim consists of a pretty thin melange of fallacies, where all the costs of the current world we live in are attributed to those laws and institutions they do not like, and all the benefits projected into a yet-to-be-seen world without these laws. They say this even though obvious complexities present themselves. Countries with relatively strict drug laws are not unusually violent or lawless–Finland or Singapore come to mind–and Mexico in particular has had a 100 year bloody history rooted in age-old traditions of corruption, demagoguery, and various resentments among social classes. These aspects of these societies exist in spite of and in parallel to the drug trade.
But hey, I’m sure Radley’s and his sycophantic followers’ priorities are straight: we are all to blame at least equally with the drug dealers. And the most important thing is that when the Mexican police do raid these drug gangs that they knock and announce first. I would not want to see police be militarized against these well armed sociopaths. It would be unseemly.