In discussing whether government should be permitted to regulate the production of anabolic steroids-or any drug-we can cite the enduring utilitarian principle, which advocates
a solution that produces the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.
Anabolic steroids pose a significant health risk and are seldom used for legitimate medical purposes. If the government were to intercede and shut down a substantial percentage of steroid producers, who would be harmed? The athletes themselves certainly wouldn't, nor would the people who require the drugs for medical reasons, as a limited but adequate supply would still be available. The companies forced to cease production, however, would experience financial losses. They are the ones who would be hurt. In this issue, therefore, we are pitting the best interests of citizens against free enterprise and laissez-faire economics, which endorses the basic market system of free trade.
True market systems can not really exist when potential for abuse is high; what we typically end up with in such situations is a mixed economy-one that blends the traditional market system with centralized planning or government intervention. For example, the Federal Communications Commission regulates broadcast frequencies and content to serve the public's best interest. Similarly, when legislation was passed making it illegal for physicians to prescribe anabolic steroids, the government was acting in the interests of citizens whose lives could be adversely affected by the drugs.
That legislation turned out to be a major factor in the reduction of availability. Black-market prices immediately skyrocketed, and many would-be casual users became hesitant about making an illegal and exorbitant purchase. If production were to be further decreased, availability would become even more scarce, escalating prices higher and out of range for the middle-class majority. A multitude of health problems would be eliminated, while legitimate competition among athletes would be enhanced.
The greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people is, in this case, increased government regulation. The best interests of athletes and nonathletes the world over are far too great for the financial interests of a select few pharmaceutical firms to take precedence over them, especially in light of the fact that such companies often produce more than one type of drug and could compensate for losses by increasing trade elsewhere.
I hate to start tossing around clichés, but this is America-you know, land of the free. We should all be able to do whatever we damn well please-as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else-without government intervention. If I want to juice up on steroids, that's my business. I know the dangers, so it should be my choice-and nobody else's. If I want to get as huge as possible with anabolics and leave a big, albeit younger, corpse, so be it.
In fact, I shouldn't even need a prescription. If I want to take drugs, I should be able to walk into a store, buy whatever pharmaceuticals I need and go home and use them-just as I can with liquor. If I take something that makes me crazy and I hurt someone, then I've gone beyond my rights and I should be punished severely. But just because a few people abuse something and hurt others doesn't mean that that something should be outlawed. Hell, people run over people all the time. Does that mean we should outlaw cars?
The government is here to protect us, not limit our freedoms. It should have no say in what you put in your body, what you manufacture, what you watch on television, how you worship, etc.-as long as you're not directly hurting others.
You might be thinking, "Wait a minute. By selling anabolic steroids, the manufacturers are hurting others- the users." Wrong. Users hurt themselves by abusing the manufacturers' products. If someone does a James Brown jig at the top of a ladder and falls, does that mean the government should stop the manufacture of ladders? No, it simply means that person took something and abused it, and he got hurt.
In a free society the government shouldn't try to protect people from themselves. It's impossible, for one thing-in the case of steroids there's always a black market. Also, this so-called protection reeks of fascism. In other words, if the government tries to protect you from yourself, then you're no longer living in a free society.