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Wall Street Journal: Prohibition: A Cautionary Tale

Submitted by Thinking CAP on Thu, Jan 14, 2010 - 6:24 pm

Prohibition: A Cautionary Tale

In the article, written by Thomas Fleming, which I link to above, you can read a nice summary of the failure of alcohol prohibition. It begins

On Dec. 5, 1933, Americans liberated themselves from a legal nightmare called Prohibition by repealing the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.

He points out the very similar arguments we hear today. The same evil lies coming from the mouths of modern-day false prophets.

At least as important was the belief that Prohibition would produce health and wealth. Yale economist Irving Fisher, the best-known economist in the nation in the early 20th century, predicted that a ban on alcohol would guarantee a 20% rise in industrial productivity. He cited "scientific" tests that proved alcohol diminished a worker's efficiency by as much as 30%.

As you can learn from the article, alcohol prohibition was not the result of just one action, it was due to the false prophets, self-righteous chest thumpers, cowardly politicians, and miscellaneous illogic posing as accurate logic.

Who knows, if I lived back then, perhaps I would have been on the prohibition train too. But I've learned from this grand mistake. Also, I am not, and don't recall ever being, a person who felt it was right to force my religion on others through laws.

In the concluding paragraphs Fleming notes a perfect parallel to what is happening right now.

A disrespect, even contempt for law and due process infected the American psyche. Rather than discouraging liquor consumption, Prohibition increased it.

The end of his essay is not all that clear to me, i.e. why he wrote it. But the moral of the story of alcohol prohibition, as it is with drug prohibition, is that if you ban them entirely, you have just lost control; that control is now turned over to the black market. In other words it's sheer hypocrisy to call them "controlled substances."

Violence, corruption, and the exact opposite of what the false prophets prophesied happens. The real answer is to have intelligent regulations that assure purity, accessibility for people who want it, and accountability if they harm others. We already have the last piece in place, now it's time to use our existing mechanisms to provide for the first two.