Liberty Nation’s Scott Cosenza and Sarah Cowgill go head to head on President Trump’s plans to apply the death penalty for drug distribution cases.
I wanted to do this LN TV because I was so surprised when I saw your piece about the death penalty for opioid sales. The Trump administration pushed for this, this week, both with the second time Donald Trump has publicly said that he wanted capital punishment involved as a penalty for drug sales and with Jeff Sessions’ letter to all United States attorneys essentially saying, “Hey! This is an important part of our overall strategy. Here, you better start getting asking for the death penalty in some of these cases.”
I think this is a good thing to focus on for the sort of conservative libertarian divide and you know my goal certainly is to change minds. I would like to change your mind on it and it sort of made me sad that somebody who is as smart and engaged as you can’t see what I seem to see in front of my face, which is that this is a horrible, horrible thing.
First of all, just on the death penalty generally, to entrust government with the power to kill other human beings when it’s not an emergency seems like a galactically bad idea. Then add on top of that, that we’re going do it for the drug war, which seems to me to be also an anti-conservative and a galactically bad idea and which has also been proven to be a bad idea through history.
So, that’s the background for me of what’s going on with this issue. Can you tell us briefly the three-point plan articulated, or maybe not fully articulated but mentioned anyway, by Trump? Can you talk about that, please?
Yes, and fully articulated is a misnomer because they haven’t come out with ways that they plan on funding a lot of it and how they are going to approach the death penalty angle of it.
It’s on the books already they can already execute a drug kingpin if they would like to.
Yeah, let me interrupt and just say if people don’t understand this is not about the administration asking for a new batch of laws to add the death penalty, it’s already on the books. This is just something that the Obama administration and the Bush administration and the Clinton administration never really never went down that road. It includes for instance, and this was mentioned specifically by General Sessions in his letter, the death penalty for drug sales absent any hint of violence. This is something that I think is surprising to most Americans that a person can be put to death in the United States just for selling some large quantity of drugs.
Well I mean can you also wrap your mind around the fact that those people who are selling large quantities of drugs are contributing to the death of sixty-four thousand people in the country each year?
Yeah, I think that’s certainly undebatable. They are contributing. Now the death toll from opioids, which I think that’s a 2016 number that you’re quoting. So that is certainly a crisis, and I think there’s a book called Crisis and Leviathan. That is a great book, and it discusses how those who wish to accumulate power and wield power use crises. Was it Podesta’s line – never get a lot of good crisis go to waste? And that’s not just for the left. I think it can also be on the right. So can you tell me how is this going to be a big success? What’s the endgame where this is a big success, this policy?
The endgame is the policy itself which has an educational factor, a prevention factor, and a rehabilitation factor, so that’s going to be your major success. It’s not about putting to death people. It might be about scaring a little bit. It’s not about putting people to death that deal drugs. It’s about having the threat there that look you can’t come in here and kill people will kill you back.
So you think that might be you think that that we’ll see a noticeable… You know I have a have a bad cold right now, and I had a hell of a time getting some Sudafed because it’s such a pain in the neck. They act like you are Walter White ready to go on a meth cook. To try to get your nasal passages cleared, and we’ve gone through all this difficulty because people can use Sudafed or pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine, and that’s the reason why there are so many restrictions on cold medicine in this country. I don’t get the sense that there is a reduction at all in the availability or price or anything. I don’t think meth is harder to get. I don’t think Meth is more expensive. I don’t think we have fewer Meth users or meth heads in this country. But I do know that you I and everybody else now has this giant layer of bureaucracy and people can’t breathe because it’s harder to buy some Sudafed.
And I wonder what we’re going to see with this death penalty for drugs? Are we really going to see a reduction?
Because of this law is there going to be some sort of measurable significant, you know, fewer people dying, fewer people becoming addicted, is that going to happen?
I can’t predict the future, but I can tell you this is something that hasn’t been done. And granted the Clinton administration and the Bush administration and the Obama administration, they had other fish to fry. This was not on their radar; it wasn’t on anybody’s radar so much because it’s the white-collar soccer mom down the street that her kid gets into the cabinet and now it’s an OD problem. It was not on anybody’s radar, and then all of a sudden people started paying attention to it and compiling numbers, and they’re like holy moly, you know this is out of control, do we know this is gonna work? No, but should we try? Yes, absolutely we should try.
I’m not saying that, and frankly you’re adding another government layer because you had to show your ID and sign for Sudafed. Big deal, I have to show my ID every time I buy a bottle of wine.
Well, I’ll tell you that’s interesting. It’s not just the showing of the ID. What’s happened is they’ve removed the product to an area where it’s behind the counter. So in the pharmacy in the stores where you used to be able to go 24 hours, now you can’t go 24 hours. You can only go when there’s a pharmacist on duty.
Because of the way the inventory systems works with those drugs versus the other drugs, there’s an entirely different system. I’m not hyperbolic when I tell you that I had to drive to four stores to buy the drugs. You may say well that’s a small burden to meet, and in the grand scheme of things it is a small burden to me, but it seems to me it’s a burden that has been placed my way for zero benefits.
I’m sure that if I wanted to buy some speed, it would probably be easier than buying some Sudafed, or not much more difficult. We have these people will have these little burdens is sort of like the I think of it like as a matter of fact like the tariffs on aluminum cans. For you know aluminum, for instance, it doesn’t cost you or me a ton of dough because we’re not mass buyers of aluminum, but we still have to come out of pocket a little bit right, and it’s that adding up of that little bit that is that is a problem.
Well, I think we all know about the terror thing, it was just to punish China, and not much of anything else. Maybe this is Trump’s grandstanding play to say I’m going to do something about it. Because you know he went to New Hampshire and said he was going to do something about it. Yes, he’s the only one that has even thought about it.
My pitch to you is Sara that it’s anti-conservative. That’s my pitch to you.
You know, here’s the thing, it’s not black and white. You can’t put people and their views on these things and fit them nicely into a nice little box of Libertarian, Conservative, Centrist Democrat or all Left. You just can’t I mean you’re going to swing around people are going to have short let’s have a passion for this kind of thing you know.
I’m pitching it that way to you and for other people who are naturally skeptical about governments and about incentives that government actors have. Their incentives are not often what we might hear from Jefferson and Madison, or even Lincoln, heaven forbid, but are more parochial and are often, if not malignant, at least selfish. So I shudder to give those people power to put me in my neighbors to death and so I think I’ll leave it there. I’ll give you the last word.
Well, the good news is you’re not going to do anything to be put to death, so let’s not say we’re all gonna get all bundled up and get out our ar-15 and wait for the government to camera lock us up. That’s not going to happen. This is something that has just been launched and let’s see where he runs with it.
For Sarah Cowgill, this is Scott Cosenza for Liberty Nation TV.
Thanks for watching. Bye-bye.
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