A Don Boudreaux letter to The Wall Street Journal:
You rightly celebrate recent court rulings that pushed the Justice Department to drop its unjust charge that FedEx conspired with illegal online pharmacies to transport drugs to buyers without valid prescriptions (“FedEx’s Vindication,” June 20). As you note, “[t]he only way it [FedEx] could know whether packages include illegal drugs is by tearing them open and investigating the prescriptions” – a practice not only inconsistent with good business practice but also destructive of customers’ privacy.
Yet because you’ve long championed the ‘war on drugs,’ you bear some portion of the blame for such outrages as this DOJ persecution of FedEx. Unlike arson, battery, burglary, and other genuine crimes, the illegal drug trade has no victims who notify the police that crimes have been committed. Therefore, authorities intent upon preventing victimless crimes, including illegal drug transactions, can uncover evidence of such ‘crimes’ only through snooping and other invasions of privacy. And by their very nature these invasions of privacy are not launched with authorities’ sound assurance that the persons whose privacies are invaded likely committed these ‘crimes.’ Instead, these invasions of privacy are launched only upon stereotyping, hunches, and innuendo – all of which give authorities inordinate and dangerous discretion of the sort that led the DOJ in this case to persecute FedEx.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
The above originally appeared at Cafe Hayek.