Thursday, September 18, 2003
Vice Squad: Explorations of public policy concerning alcohol, nicotine, other drugs, prostitution, gambling, pornography, ....
Welcome to Vice Squad, a blog devoted to the regulation of vice. My name is Jim Leitzel and I am an economist and co-chair of the public policy concentration in the undergraduate college at the University of Chicago. For the past five years I have taught a course on vice policy, and I have recently started to write a secondary text for the class. (We use MacCoun and Reuter’s Drug War Heresies as our primary text, along with lots of articles.) My friend and former student Will Baude (of Crescat Sententia, www.crescatsententia.net) provided the inspiration to create a vice policy blog. My hope is to turn this into a collective blog by recruiting some savvy vice policy experts to join in -- hence the “Vice Squad” sobriquet. The intention is to combine running commentary on vice policy developments, seasoned with occasional forays into more in-depth or scholarly analysis.
On the first day of vice class I always prepare a handout entitled “One Day of Vice News,” where I simply go through a newspaper, noting all of the stories that pertain to vice. The point of the exercise is to convince the students of the extent to which our news and public policy is vice related. This exercise has suggested to me that there is plenty of raw material to keep a blog busy, though I guess I would think so anyway: drunk driving and drug possession are the two most common reasons for arrest in the US, and few families have been untouched by troubles related to vicious behavior.
Beyond the scope of vice policy itself is the influence that it exerts in "topically" unrelated areas of our existence. In the US, for instance, court decisions involving nude dancing and drug searches have gone a long way to delineating the extent of our First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights. So even those with little interest in vice per se might have good reason to keep abreast of the regulation of vice.
Enough by way of introduction. On to the task of blogging. I think for now I will use the Chicago Tribune as my primary source to get things started....