Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll
The ‘nanny state’ has expanded in recent years. Politicians and bureaucrats have increasingly sought to restrict what individuals are permitted to do with their own bodies on their own property. Prohibitions is a corrective to the prevailing support for such authoritarianism.
This collection examines the outlawing of the manufacture, distribution, sale or provision of particular goods and services by consenting adults. It begins with an overview of the economics of prohibition and subsequently analyses particular prohibition issues including gambling, prostitution, recreational drugs and trade in body parts.
The authors find that in most cases prohibition imposes significant costs on individuals and society as a whole and produces few benefits in return. Prohibition places markets into the hands of criminal enterprises and criminalises people who would not otherwise come into conflict with the law. It makes risky behaviour even more risky, increases public ignorance and often encourages the behaviour it seeks to prevent. Given the substantial costs and minimal benefits, it is clear that prohibition is bad public policy.
(Students of firearm legislation maybe particularly interested in the chapter on firearms:
This review of violent crime trends in the United Kingdom, Australia
and Canada found that in the years following the introduction of Britishstyle
gun laws, despite massive increases in governmental bureaucracy,
total homicide rates either increased or remained stable. Similar trends
were observed in total violent crime. Importantly, in not one of these
countries did the new gun laws appear to result in a decrease in total
homicide rates despite the enormous costs to taxpayers. The situation is
even clearer in the Republic of Ireland and Jamaica, where violent crime,
particularly murder, became much worse after the bans in both countries.
Clearly, the factors driving the increasing rates of violent crime, for
example organised crime or terrorism, were not curtailed by British-style
The failure of British-style firearm laws to influence the total
homicide rate in any of the jurisdictions examined here is suggestive but
not conclusive. The causal link remains unproven. The British Home
Office argues that crime would have increased even more rapidly had the
gun laws not been imposed. That explanation is problematic, given the
failure of British-style gun laws in other countries.
These trends contrast with the situation in the United States, where
there was an impressive drop in the American homicide and violent