Legalization allows the govt more flexibility than criminalization. A prostitute undergoes regular health exams and measures are taken to prevent disease. One result is an astonishing low rate of AIDS infection: less than 1% as compared to America's illegal but plentiful prostitute population at 30-40%. Allowing prisoners conjugal visits with loved ones reduces prison tension and curbs aggressive in-prison homosexuality.
Marijuana loses much of its attraction to young people because it's no longer forbidden, making it into an unsensational item. In fact, the proportion of teenage users in Holland is a fraction of US use and crack is virtually non-existent. Also the violent druglords are taken out of the picture.
Dutch schools teach sex education and birth control pills are cheap and available. Yet Dutch girls are no more sexually active than American girls. Holland's teen-age pregnancy rate is 1/7th that of America's. American teen-agers have 12 to 14 times more abortions than Dutch teens.
The Dutch treat prostitutes, drug addicts, teen-age pot smokers and the terminally ill with respect. Not surprisingly, respect breeds responsibility, not license. The heroin addict uses a clean needle. The prostitute does not transmit disease. The teen uses birth control.
The Dutch's sense of mutual respect and collective responsibility is deeply rooted.
In the 1600s they were the most prosperous nation on earth. Riches bred a "collective conscience" that demanded generosity for the needy and tolerance for those with different religions and different habits. Obligations to community, to society came first. The 300-year tradition continues. They know the most fertile breeding ground for irresponsible behavior is the slum. They offer the world's most comprehensive social support programs.
This prosperous country of 14 million has much to teach us, for tolerance has never been an American trait. We have a long history of demanding moral purity of our neighbors and eagerly locking them up if they transgress. We rely on force to solve our social problems, not wisdom.
Today America imprisons a larger portion of its citizens than any country except South Africa. The Dutch watch in amazement our descent into social anarchy. They cannot understand why a nation would willfully destroy itself to control its citizens' personal behavior.
-excerpted from "Collective conscience breeds Dutch tolerance" by David Morris