November 3: D-Day in the War to End the War on Drugs

D-Day Landing, June 6, 1944. Public Domain.
D-Day Landing, June 6, 1944. Public Domain.

The conventional wisdom of the last hundred years or so: The US government can and should decide what we may eat, drink, smoke, inject, or otherwise ingest. It can and should kidnap and cage us if we disobey, and if its restrictions kill us with adulterated or unduly strong black market products, it’s our own fault for not doing as we’re told.

Common sense: Unless you’re a six-year-old listening to your mother’s stern “no broccoli, no dessert” lecture, what you choose to eat, drink, smoke, inject, or otherwise ingest is nobody’s business but yours.

November 3 was D-Day in common sense’s war to shatter the conventional wisdom.

“Of nine drug decriminalization or legalization measures on state ballots,” Elizabeth Nolan Brown reports at Reason, “not a single one failed. These were decisive victories, too, not close calls.”

Americans from coast to coast, north to south, in states red and blue, voted by huge margins to nullify federal laws on medical and/or recreational marijuana, psychedelics, even “hard” drugs.

The US government’s war on drugs is going to end sooner or later. Sooner is better for everyone, so let’s start talking about the terms of DC’s surrender.

Given the millions of arrests, imprisonments, overdoses and murders, etc. caused by the war on drugs — numbers exceeding the Armenian genocide beyond a shadow of doubt, and quite possibly competing for pride of place with Hitler’s atrocities — Americans could hardly be blamed for convening a Nuremberg-style tribunal and stretching some drug warrior necks. The longer this nonsense drags on, the more likely that outcome.

On the other hand, the next Congress and the next administration could get to work repealing all federal drug laws, pardoning and releasing all drug war prisoners, abolishing the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, etc.

If the US government gets off the dime, lays down its weapons, and starts removing its troops from the field in an orderly manner, I suspect most Americans would as soon let bygones be bygones.

Yes, some DEA agents and other vicious parasites will have to give up the thug life and seek jobs in the productive sector.

Yes, some politicians will end up with a little less money and power to spread around among the special interest lobbies who fund their campaigns.

Yes, some megalomaniacs will require treatment for the depression that accompanies a lessened ability to order others around.

Unless you’re one of the sociopaths mentioned above, none of that sounds half bad. And even if you are in that category, it probably sounds better than the eventual, inevitable alternative: A gurney and a lethal injection (poetic justice, eh?) at Federal Correctional Institution, Terre Haute.

Let’s get this over with.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


SpaceX’s Declaration of Space Independence is Just Common Sense

Mars. Photo taken from Hubble Space Telescope. Public Domain.
Mars. Photo taken from Hubble Space Telescope. Public Domain.

Sooner or later, absent some kind of mass extinction event, humankind will establish itself there: On the Moon. On Mars. Among the asteroids. Someday even on planets orbiting distant stars.

There isn’t — or at least shouldn’t be — anything controversial about that prediction. We have the technology to get to some of those places already, and we’re developing the technology to support ourselves there too.

Related questions that are already stirring controversy, though they also shouldn’t: What will the rules look like out there? Who will make them? Who will enforce them?

There’s a simple, correct, and obvious answer to those questions, and the beta terms of service for Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite-powered Internet Service Provider, openly state it:

“For Services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship or other colonization spacecraft, the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities. Accordingly, Disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement.”

Quick disclaimer: The above was posted on Reddit and is cited/quoted in a number of “mainstream media” stories. The terms of service link previously indexed in search engines at returns a “404 page not found” error. “Fake news?” Maybe. But still worth thinking about.

Earth’s (tentatively) space-faring governments, as well as the United Nations, consider it obvious that they can and should govern human settlements in space.

The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, aka “The Outer Space Treaty,” entered into force in 1967 and boasts 110 signatory regimes. “The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies,” it says, “shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty.”

That’s not how it’s going to work.

Starting in the 18th century and to this very day, Earth’s governments have learned how hard it is to control distant colonies, or even to hold them as colonies at all. Great Britain lost control of the United States in 1783 and of India in 1947. Both colonies were located less than 5,000 miles from London.

The Moon lies nearly 240,000 miles from Earth. Mars averages about 140 million miles away, about 36 million miles at the closest point in the two planets’ continuing orbital dance.

Like settlers departing Independence to start down the Oregon Trail — or for that matter, young adults moving out of Mom and Dad’s house — humans leaving Earth will immediately start making their own rules, to deal with their unique situations.

The worst mistake Earth’s governments can make is to pretend otherwise. Attempting to preemptively bind the solar system’s settlers to Earth rule will only delay humanity’s journey to the stars, and attempting to enforce such rule on distant “colonies” will lead  to war and end in failure.

Earth’s space settlers will, for better or worse, do things their own way. Earth’s regimes shouldn’t resist that reality.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.