Mailvox: when the dead hand of Darwin isn’t quick enough

DS writes: I am coming closer and closer to the libertarian position. Much moral legislation is a failure, i.e. “war on drugs”. Let people do drugs and let the matter be taken away from organized crime. Q. What do you do with the idiot who gets high on whatever and then gets into a car and drives it unto something and ends up killing somebody? You desist from policing private behavior, fine. But how do you stop people from killing others with a car, or whatever they could be using (machines, scalpel, etc…) under the influence? Maybe the solution is simple and escapes me. Help me on this.

I’d prefer to say “behavioral modification legislation” since law derives from base morals, but otherwise you’ve described an aspect of my reasoning. The short answer is: you don’t. What you must realize is that there is NOTHING preventing anyone from doing this now. In Minnesota, for example, you can safely expect to rack up six DUIs before you’ll ever see 24 hours of jail time. There is already a crime for getting hammered and killing someone with car; it’s called manslaughter.

Adding some sort of mandatory restitution payments would likely do more to prevent such behavior than another 50 drug laws and would be perfectly in keeping with libertarian philosophy. Drug law a) prevents nothing and b) actually makes the situation worse by creating perverse incentives. Drugs are more powerful and less expensive than they were when the War on Drugs began, and the user base remains static. The main conceptual hurdle that conservatives have to leap is that the law is not an appropriate vehicle for sending messages. That is the responsibility of family, church and friends.