Crack is whack

Jonah Goldberg gets confused playing Animal, Vegetable, Mineral:

So this seems like a propitious time to ask: What if illegal immigrants were crack?

But for me the most interesting similarity is the issue of futility and will. Drug-war doves claim that you can’t win the drug war because you can’t defeat the laws of supply and demand. As long as there is demand for drugs, there will be a supply, and no acceptable amount of militarization of the drug war will change that. This argument gets flipped on its head when it comes to immigration. Suddenly, militarization is essential to the top priority of cutting off supply.

But the fact is, in all likelihood your average illegal immigrant, desperate to start a new life for himself and provide for his family, will be no less determined to sell his labor than a drug dealer would be to sell his goods.

Some drug legalization advocates hang their position on a lot of moral preening about the absolute right of the individual to do what he wants. But many of the same people will then argue that it is—and should be—an outrageous crime to hire an illegal immigrant. Well, conservative economic dogma considers the right to form contracts with whomever you wish to be sacrosanct. It is “the socialist society” according to the philosopher Robert Nozick, “which would have to forbid capitalist acts between consenting adults.”

Four obvious problems with Mr. Goldberg’s whacky argument.

1. People are significantly harder to hide than crack. The obvious size differences aside, one gets smoked and is gone. The other has numerous and routine interactions with various local, state and federal employees.

2. Corporations aren’t individuals. The sacrosanct right of the individual to form a contract should not be confused with the right of a government formed, licensed and regulated creation to do so, historic legal fictions notwithstanding.

3. The demand for cheap labor is significantly lower than the demand for crack. One seldom sees CEOs of Fortune 500 companies cruising around bad neighborhoods at night, desperately searching for Mexicans to clean the toilets, after all.

4. The profit incentive is much lower. A cheap illegal Mexican costs one-third to one-half that of a legal American. The profit on crack is considerably more than a mere 100 to 200 percent.

His suggestion was momentarily interesting but after five seconds thought, color me underwhelmed.