Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Suggestion for the Missouri Budget

A friend wrote to inform me that Missouri legislators are asking the public to come up with ways that the state can save money during the current budget shortfall. There is a new link on the senate website called "rebooting government" where senate bureaucrat Charlie Shields allows the public to submit these ideas.

Here is my submission:

Senator Shields,

One of the largest and most ineffective expenditures in the Missouri budget is the "war on drugs". Missouri ranks in the top ten of states with the highest increase in number of prisons between 1979 and 2000. (

These prisons are seeing a large percentage of non-violent drug offenders. How long must we keep deluding ourselves to think this "war" is actually working? Is it worth the cost? More importantly, is it worth the number of lives that are ruined by the unnecessary and ridiculous imprisonment for the simple possession or inhalation of a plant?

Senator Shields, ask yourself this question: “Do I own my body?” If you answered “yes” to that question, then you must take the next logical step to understanding that if you own your own body, then your neighbor owns his. To be free, one must also let others be free to do as they please provided they are not harming others. There are already laws against causing harm to others and theft, which are common crimes that have become part and parcel of the drug culture because of its prohibition.

When any service or product is made illegal, it is pushed underground and thus removes the legal recourse to solve grievances and the access to the desired substances. This is what made Al Capone a very rich man because of his virtual monopoly on the violent means of solving “disputes” and providing a product that the people clearly want.

Legislation does not change behavior – there is no marked decrease in drug usage as a result of its prohibition. End the drug war. Stop caging our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors. Let people live how they want to live and do with their bodies as they choose, even if you personally disagree with their choice.

The simple dissolution of the drug war will create a state budget surplus, which means it is the right thing to do morally and financially.


Jake Smith, St. Louis


  1. Jake.

    Good point and quick story.

    I know someone and I'll call him Ryan. (All names have been changed). I'll keep this quick and simple.
    Ryan's soph year of college he got busted with a litte weed and paraphenalia. Slap on the wrist, hefty fine and some community service was his punishment. It is against the law. Ryan maintained a 3.8 GPA in the business college at a state funded university. His senior year, I'll call it bad luck, but again its illegal. He gets busted again with a little more than he should have. Being in a ultra conservative county, I'll call it Browne County, this was not good. After everything, bigger fine, bigger communtiy service, and a five year probation pretty much saying,"do this again and go to jail.

    Now, again, what he did was illegal.
    And...within that five years it happened. He was married, two kids, mortgage, good job, able to provide as best he could to a family he loved on one income. (Not too many of those). He was a recreation user, private, and mistakenly and stupidly forgot about some in his pocket. About enough to piss you off and give you a headache if thats all you had.

    I'm rambling, he is in his sixth year of his term . He is now at Bonne Terre prison.
    His wife, who is still by his side, in on all gov't related programs such as food stamps, WIC, etc....He's due to get out sometime around 2013. Close to ten years total. Now, add that to everything else that was paid for. Prosecution, judicail, prison time, welfare....I know I'm missing a few more but your article to me is dead on.
    I hope that made since.

  2. And the tragedy is that Ryan never actually harmed anyone. He is the true victim here as he has had his life stolen from him.

    Tim, you mentioned that what he did was illegal. But something being illegal does not by definition make it immoral or wrong. It was illegal to harbor fugitive slaves in the 19th century. It was illegal to hide Jews from the Nazis.

    The true barometer should be whether or not your actions harm other people, not how it coincides with some words a bunch of bureaucrats put down on paper.