Legalize Murder


The headline in this morning’s Detroit Free Press wondered “Could pot solve our budget problems?” The article promoted three groups attempting to legalize marijuana in the state of Michigan. Surprisingly, or as the article put it, “In a sign of changing political times,” two of the three groups claim allegiance to the Republican party.

If they are telling the truth these clever Republicans do represent a sea change in party identification. Traditionally, scouring the earth for new taxes to support an ever-expanding state has been the province of the Democrat persuasion. Regardless of party affiliation, legalizing marijuana solely to increase state revenues is a bad idea for many different reasons.

One reason is because it doesn’t work. In every state where pot has been legalized tax revenues have come in way below expectations, and expenses from increased regulation, smuggling interdiction and the consequences of an increasingly stoned populace have been higher than anticipated.

Still, the fact that it won’t work isn’t the main reason it’s a bad idea. If there is an argument in favor of legalization, advocates should make that argument. If they can convince the voting public that the possession, sale or consumption of marijuana should not be a crime, then by all means, let’s legalize the stuff.

However, if the state’s only reason for legalizing a criminal activity is to generate revenue, then the state has not legalized that activity, but in fact it has become a criminal enterprise. If marijuana is legalized solely for tax purposes, the only difference between a drug dealer and the state is the state has bigger guns. Indeed, the state will use its firepower to attack rival gangs, those who continue to sell their product without first paying off the state.

If the state can justify legalizing pot on the basis of revenues, what other activities might it consider legalizing? Prostitution comes to mind. It’s out there. If not everybody, certainly enough people avail themselves of the service to make its business plan viable. Why not let the state get a piece of the action? Why should it all go to the pimps?

Murder could also be very lucrative for the state. No doubt most murderers would happily pay a fee, or a murder tax, to avoid arrest and imprisonment. We could fix a whole lot of crumbling bridges with Detroit’s murder tax alone. Not only would revenues go up, expenses would plummet. Police departments could save money by eliminating their homicide departments. Coroner’s offices would see a dramatic reduction in work load. Prosecutors would try fewer cases, judges’ dockets would be cleared up, and the savings from not having to imprison murderers would be huge.

When you consider the twin benefits of increased revenues and reduced expenses, it’s clearly the sort of idea today’s modern Republican can get behind.