Ever since I turned 15, the government has tried to stop me from doing what I want to do. In the name of a mandatory national morality, they have imposed upon me a colossal inconvenience, wasted thousands of hours of my life, forced me to associate with criminals in order to pursue choices I had made about how to live my life, and imposed financial penalties for every moral deviation which will almost certainly reach a total with six digits by the time I die. I’m fucking sick of it, and so are many others, and it’s about time we started letting adults make their own decisions.
Like a lot of sixteen-year-olds, I drank beer from time to time. Being illegal, my friends and I had to find an older friend or a liberal parent. Eventually, when we got sick of that, we simply brewed our own beer. Point is, nothing the government did stopped me from drinking – it only succeeded in making it more tedious and time-consuming to do so. In public policy literature, this is sometimes called a disincentive. When its hours of your life being wasted because someone doesn’t agree with your choices, it’s just plain annoying. And the fact is, disincentivizing efforts are usually ineffectual, and as such end up being nothing more than punishments for moral deviation.
I was again punished for my moral deviations when, as a teenager, I smoked a little weed from time to time. Sometimes all the time. Whatever: teenagers will do that. And because the governmentally sanctioned morals don’t include the right to smoke cannabis, it was even more tedious than buying alcohol. People who sell weed don’t advertise in the paper, they don’t have shopfronts, you have to waste hours of your life finding them. And then you do, and you find out that they’re the most unreliable people on the planet. You find out that “half an hour” is sometimes slang for four and a half hours. Sometimes you have to catch a train ten stations away; sometimes you have to change train lines. All in all, if you decide to proceed in spite of the monumental inconvenience the government has attached to your chosen vice, you end up having thousands upon thousands of hours of your life travelling to or waiting for the useless entrepreneurs who, in the absence of a legal market, hold a monopoly.
Admittedly, I eventually started using so-called “harder drugs,” but that’s hardly an argument in favour of government regulation of morality. After all, for all of their efforts, their inconveniences, their punishments and contrivances, I still went ahead and did it, didn’t I? Only I had to associate with shady and dangerous people to do so. And the products I bought in this unregulated and inconvenient black market were of a consistently low quality and high price. The hours wasted by government imposed obstacles to my chosen lifestyle stacked up.
It doesn’t matter what kind of life I have lead. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with it or not. What matters is that it is my life. I made my own decisions. And while they weren’t always good, without the constant interference of the government they would have carried significantly less costs, legally, economically, and even for my health.
One last thing. All of this time, nearly a decade of my life, I smoked and drank regularly. Alcohol is heavily taxed in yet another attempt to control me. Tobacco is far more heavily taxed for the same reason. Because of how I choose to live my own life, I have financial sanctions imposed upon me. In the case of tobacco it amounts to financial blackmail. We hear that the tobacco excise is increasing by 12.5% per annum in an attempt to persuade people not to smoke. What we don’t hear is the tangible impact that has on people’s lives, the cost to individual human beings, in dollars lost and food not bought. A “pack-a-day” smoker, for example, pays about $4,000 a year for the sin of smoking. Their quality of life is being held hostage.
As for myself, I have reformed my life. I have given up every vice except for tobacco, and I plan to give that up too, when it’s appropriate. But that’s not good enough for the morality police. I am still punished severely for my one remaining vice. I live off $270 a week. After rent, medicine, and tobacco, I have $50 left for food. The $37 I am fined (taxed) each week for smoking would make a far from insignificant difference to my quality of life. I am an adult. I will smoke if I want to smoke. The notion that some bureaucrat who knows nothing of my circumstances should financially blackmail me (Stop smoking or lose half your food budget) would seem to presume I’m a child. I repeat: I’m fucking sick of it.