Should the UK liberalise its laws relating to drugs? Argument about this has raged for many years. The members of two groups in particular have been conducting a fierce propaganda battle. One observer dubbed them Bigots and Spigots, the former because of their allegedly narrow-minded sense of moral rectitude, the latter because of their declared intention to ‘tap the drug barrel’. The matter was finally handed to that renowned analyst of social issues, Sir Bertram Utterside, former professor of social studies at one of our top universities. He handled it in his usual forthright manner, as shown by his report below:
Though trifling, this question presents some points of interest. A research assistant has provided me with figures of government tax receipts for a recent twelve-month period. The total amount was well over £400 billion, of which close to ten per cent came from sales of alcohol and tobacco.
I have been given an estimate of the cost of medical care for those affected by illnesses supposedly caused by the two substances under review here. The amount was about £6billion. Obviously the people who pay taxes for alcohol and tobacco also contribute to general taxation in the same way as do their compatriots.
My recommendation is that all the drugs now proscribed be legalised and made available through new outlets, which would also become the only purveyors of alcoholic beverages and tobacco. All customers of these places would become registered users of drugs and the tax they pay for their addictions would be set aside for their use, individuals receiving benefits in direct proportion to what they spend on the various products. Any consequent shortfall in central government funds available to wider society for its range of needs would have to be made up by increases elsewhere in the taxation system.
Lest it should be felt that I have not been assiduous in my investigation, let me say that I have spoken with the Spigots’ leader, Mrs Lily Padd (79), a chain-smoking drunkard, who was euphoric. “It’s a wonderful idea,” she said. “We junkies would have our own sub-society, cared for hand and foot, with the best medical attention, including monthly check-ups, frequent spa treatments and so on. We reckon this will absorb no more than £15billion, so we shall have about twice as much as that left over to have a good time in other ways. We’ll all have lovely houses and cars and lots more goodies. Let the diehards look after themselves.”
I also interviewed the Bigots’ spokesman, jogging, iron-pumping Dan Bludgeon (38). “We’ll fight this,” he said. “If the Spigots get their extra billions, it will mean a huge rise in taxes for the rest of us. That would be ruinous. Also, the Spigots would monopolise many of the medical services, meaning a breakdown for other people. The prospect is horrifying.”
When I attempted to go into detail about the logic of my proposal, Mr Bludgeon was first extremely angry, then very abusive and finally incoherent. I must say that he lacked the intellectual rigour of his opposite number who, though profoundly inebriated, was lucid.
One cannot tackle issues as emotive as this one without raising some hackles. However, I am satisfied that I have been objective and I believe that my conclusions are sound.
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