Monday, October 31, 2011

Government-Created Black Markets and Violence

HARBESON: Who are the real offenders here?

SELLERSBURG — District Attorney Joseph Hogsett has completed his second publicity tour of our local area promoting his Violent Crime Initiative. The catalyst for this initiativecomes from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who became alarmed after noticing a spike in violent gun deaths of law enforcement officers.

Hogsett’s initiative intends to get the “worst of the worst” off the streets by charging and prosecuting suspects through the federal court system, which enables tougher sentencing. I’m trying to build a case that this initiative makes sense, but I’m seeing clues and evidence that just don’t line up with that conclusion.

With Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden and New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey by his side, Hogsett reported on the initiative’s progress in his district. It has resulted in higher numbers of felony gun possession charges and drug indictments, in addition to seizing five times more assets from drug traffickers compared to 2010.

Hogsett places great emphasis on drugs. This is why I’m skeptical. It’s not clear to me that increased federal spending and involvement through this initiative is truly centered on the problem.

Hogsett points out that more federal involvement helps because the tougher sentencing gets the worst offenders off the streets for a longer period of time and the location of federal prisons makes it difficult for the prisoner to stay connected to local contacts.

However, the government-created black market for drugs still exists. The demand for drugs and the incentive for desperate and/or vile people to make money buying and selling drugs do not change at all when one person sits in jail longer. This merely gives competitors a chance to come in and gain control. So how much can this initiative help?

We’ve been through this already. Government employees just like Hogsett expressed the same concerns about gun violence and made the same points about the need for tougher enforcement as the solution for removing violent traffickers from the streets. It didn’t work.

But we no longer have those violent alcohol traffickers killing law enforcement. Now if someone would like to drink a gin and tonic, they are free to go buy it from someone in the business of serving the people who would like to drink a gin and tonic.

Why do they refuse to acknowledge drug prohibition as a large part of the problem? These people are trained to gather evidence so why does it seem like they don’t have a clue?

It’s not hard to see how twisted this is — the government prohibits the sale of a product people want, the people ignore this prohibition and some profit from it, the government prosecutes as many of the lawbreakers — and sometimes even innocent people — they can catch, seizing the assets of those who profit when the government prohibits the sale of a product people want ...

Maybe they’re just dizzy — I had to put one hand on the wall to stay balanced just to write that sentence.

These folks either see the evidence, which means they are choosing to ignore it for reasons I don’t even want to imagine, or they don’t see the evidence, which means we should question whether they are even competent to hold the jobs in the first place.

Yes, there may be an immediate need to get the violent criminals the government helped to create off the streets. It’s certainly valid to say that people working inside such a crazy system have to deal with the reality of the system as it is and need to focus on the violent acts that are happening right now.

But when are more people, inside the system and out, going to face the fact that the government plays a significant part in the very problem they are spending money, and human lives, trying to solve?

— Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson is looking for evidence of people who have a clue.

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