Prohibition: 16 Results

When a law bans exchanges wanted by everyone directly involved a number of things happen:

1) The exchanges continue;

2) Prices of the banned items rise and wars to control turf begin;

3) New criminals are created, including many people who are ordinary good people (like colored margarine seekers);

4) New enforcement agencies and staff are created;

5) New jails are built and new jailers are trained;

6) Laws, lawyers and lawsuits proliferate;

7) A new branch of law and its practitioners prosper and support further extension and complexification of regulations;

8) A portion of the entire apparatus of enforcement and punishment is progressively corrupted;

9) New agencies and staff are created to discover, eliminate or suppress the corruption;

10) Many begin to support ever more drastic suppression and punishment;

11) A profitable subliminal partnership emerges unifying the interests of violators and enforcers as the profits from the illegal trade are negotiated and distributed among them;

12) The business engages all of the following: bad people buying and selling, good people buying and selling, police, judges, academics, enforcement trainers and suppliers, prison builders and suppliers, staff to support all of this, journalists to cover it, media organizations to sell the coverage;

13) Completely uninvolved people are caught in crossfires, including taxpayers;

14) The costs of controlling the new flourishing evil continue to grow seemingly without limit;

15) The vast network of beneficiaries of the law applaud and lobby for its continuation, vilifying all opposition;

16) Everyone gets more and more discouraged and inclined to hate all humanity. This list is probably too short.

However all of these bad things may be balanced by the fact that creative people are engaged in producing media based on the things that happen because of the prohibition, and by watching and reading we all learn delightful new things about how the world works. (channeling Voltaire).

It is not enough to simply ban exchanges that have consequences we don’t like. The costs of doing it should be compared with the costs of not doing it. Those costs usually dwarf the costs that would arise from unhindered transactions.

25 thoughts on “Prohibition: 16 Results”

  1. Ever more reason for the Progs to support it. It’s a festival of New Powers.

    Until you accept that only POWER is desired and more Power, you will waste time and effort and achieve little at best.

    Who are these Leftists of good will you are trying to convince? Are they inhabitants of Cathay ruled by a Just King Prestor John?

  2. Does anyone still remember that Prohibition was a PROGRESSIVE initiative, not conservative ?

    ” In the Progressive Era (1890–1920), hostility to saloons and their political influence became widespread, with the Anti-Saloon League superseding the Prohibition Party and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union as the most influential advocate of prohibition, when the latter two groups chose to piggyback other social reform issues, such as women’s suffrage, onto their prohibition platform.”

    When I was first visiting the state of Washington in 1959, there were still many “blue laws”. For example, all bars had to close at midnight Saturday and no women were allowed in the room with a bar. No one could stand and drink so a bar room could only hold as many people as there were bar stools. Of course, the law was evaded routinely. Washington state actually had had an initiative about 1950 to ban all alcohol but the industry avoided the ban by proposing that all alcohol package sales would be in state owned stores and the profits would go the the U W medical school.

    In Texas at that time, bars could not serve alcohol, only “setups.” The customer brought his own bottle of booze in a brown paper bag.

    It wasn’t that long ago.

  3. Agreeing that the end goal of the Left is always power and control over the individual; may I add another consequence?

    Every framework of prohibition, and the sequalae, creates yet another possibility for an incident or action by the forces of the State that will prove to be beyond the tolerance of the people and lead to active resistance. With consequences unanticipated by the coercive organs of the state.

    Subotai Bahadur

  4. “Does anyone still remember that Prohibition was a PROGRESSIVE initiative, not conservative ?”

    Of course, this depends on how you define “progressive”. If the following snippets from Wiki match your understanding of the term, then maybe you are on to something…

    “The Anti-Saloon League…was strongest in the South and rural North, drawing heavy support from pietistic Protestant ministers and their congregations, especially Methodists, Baptists, Disciples and Congregationalists.”

    “The League’s founder and first leader, Howard Hyde Russell (1855–1946), believed that the best leadership was selected, not elected”

    ” The League also used emotion based on patriotism, efficiency and anti-German sentiment in World War I. The activists saw themselves as preachers fulfilling their religious duty of eliminating liquor in America.”

    “As the state level the League had mixed results, usually doing best in rural and southern states. It made little headway in larger cities, or among liturgical church members such as Catholics, Jews, Episcopalians and German Lutherans.”

    ” When it came to fighting wet candidates, especially as Al Smith in the presidential election of 1928, the League was less effective because its audience was already Republican. Unable to cope with the failures of prohibition, especially bootlegging and organized crime as well as reduced government revenue, the League failed to counter the repeal forces, led by prominent Democrats, which helped Franklin D. Roosevelt win in 1932.”

    Seems to me to be run by people who are more in the lineage of the GOP base (people who consider themselves conservative) than the people who today call themselves “progressives”.

  5. Is there a WordPress plugin or option that would allow collapsing or hiding individual comments in my browser, or perhaps a “mark as read” button that would gray a comment out?

    I have no philosophical problem ignoring trolls (or feeding them, if I’m cranky), but given the number of comments that are both useless and long, it would enhance the readability of the site if I had the ability to minimize the screen space taken up by prattle.

    Note that I am not asking for a like/dislike button or other publicly visible voting system — those tend to just create secondary meta-shouting matches, in my experience. I’m just looking for a way to let the ding-bats continue to enjoy the privilege of undermining their own positions without wasting my time.

  6. Setbit,

    It’s on my list. My idea is to put a “Do not display comments from this commenter’s IP” checkbox in each comment. Essentially the same thing you’re thinking of.

  7. Why do you even run this place as a public website if the slightest different perspective causes everyone to demand censorship? Was there anything in the slightest bit disrespectful, or off topic in my comment? I was just offering some facts that shed a different light on something the poster wrote.

    If you just want a gated community of the mind here, its easy to do, and it seems to be what the community is demanding. Why pretend that this site is something it clearly is not?

  8. An excellent book on the subject is:

    “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” by Daniel Okrent

    Okrent is best known as a former NYTimes Public Editor. But, the book is well written and thoroughly researched. Except for the chapter that whitewashes Joe Kennedy it does not suffer from NYT liberal blinkers.

    One point he makes is that the Anti-Saloon League (the principal organization of prohibitionists) sought the worst set of Constitutional Amendments ever as part of its campaign to inflict their views on the country.

    Amendment XVI. The income tax. This was intended to replace the alcohol tax as the federal government’s principal source of revenue. Which allowed them Congress to vote for prohibition without bankrupting the Federal Government.

    Amendment XVII. Direct election of Senators. To make sure that the Senate would be subject to the Anti-Saloon League’s single issue tactics.
    legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

    Amendment XVIII. Prohibition itself.

    Amendment XIX. Women voting. The core of ASL support was women.

    All of these were key to the Progressive platform in the 1920s and they are today. Imagine trying to run the Peoples Democratic Republic of the USA without an income tax.

    Joe makes the mistake of confusing the suckers with the pols. Never do that.

  9. Let me ‘splain it to ya, Joe. You see – this is not exactly a public website in the sense that a bus station waiting room is a a public place, where absolutely anyone can stumble in, talk in a loud voice to the voices in their head, scratch their private parts and vomit in the middle of the floor.

    It is more like … a salon in a private home. Posters and commenters come and sit in a comfy chair, have a little glass of wine, nibble on the tapas and make civilized conversation, sharing information and exchanging their outlook on matters which interest and/or concern them. Yes, it’s all rather boringly civilized, and many of us are of pretty much the same opinion on certain matters. Seriously, if you WANT to see people throwing chairs and four-letter insults at each other, there are plenty of other internet venues which offer that kind of amusement. This isn’t one of them.

    You see, Joe – you are doing the equivalent of barging in, throwing around a couple of casual insults, assigning us to fulfill some kind of ghastly boring and mostly irrelevent challenge, and totally ignoring previous responses. (You are the sort of debater that my dear old dad used to call a ‘Yabbut’ – that is, no matter what anyone said in argument, they would ignore it totally, say ‘Yeah, But…’ – and go off on the same old same old AGAIN.(Then you complete your appearance by vomiting on the carpet, while everyone else in the salon is quietly edging aside and wishing fervently that they could avoid you entirely.)

    That’s what this site is about. It doesn’t appear to suit you at all, and Congress hasn’t passed a law yet saying that websites like this one must have the insulting-irrational-vomity element as part of some government-sanction diversity program. So … like Jonathan, I wonder what you are getting out of being here. But not very much.

  10. 17. Getting politicians such as the Kennedys making millions on bootlegging, then getting their reputation for their humanitarianism in spending other people’s money for the betterment of humanity.

  11. To get back to Prohibition, and thanks for the points, Robert, my father and mother lived through Prohibition as well as the Depression. My mother drank bathtub gin and my father had a half share in a speakeasy. He was in the juke box business later in the 30s and his experience went back to nickelodeons, some with five to seven instruments. They were often ruined by spilled beer and the coming of records was a great boon. We had an old juke box in our basement when I was growing up which had the records on trays that slid out so a turntable could rise and lift the record for playing.

    One of the juke box makers, Seeburg or Wurlitzer or Capehart, changed the machinery when asked to do so by my father who was a big customer. He designed an arm that picked up records by the edge, lifted them and turned the record to set them down on a turntable that didn’t move except to turn. It actually worked better with 45 records when they came out after the war.

    I sure wish I had the collection of nickelodeons that were stored in an attic in his old company building. After the war, the Mafia got interested in juke boxes and he had to get out of the business. Not long after, TV came along and just about killed it off anyway. Before he quit, he got pretty well acquainted with gangsters, some of whom held me on their laps when I was little. My mother told me she was worried that one would get shot while I was on his lap. Al Capone and Frank Nitti were among his acquaintances and he got out of the business about 1948. Nitti’s daughters went to Aquinas High School in South Shore with my sister but under another name. He also had a big estate in Long Beach, Indiana.

    Prohibition was a disaster that we are still living with. The drug war is almost as bad but, with methamphetamines, is totally out of control. There are many drugs being taken that cannot be banned because they are not even understood chemically. For example. The drugs Trayvon Martin was taking are somewhat similar in effect. The components are legal. The combination still have fatal consequences.

  12. MK I have hears that there are so many “designer drugs” that it is almost impossible to control. On the gangsters you could write a book. I would think you would be OK as long as you weren’t trying to do business on “their turf” but i also think that being in business with them would be akin to Faustus making his deal with Mephistopheles.

    Once in, always in.

    Sgt- well said although I wasn’t thinking of vomit on the carpet ;-)

  13. P.S. I forgot to add that they are at it again. Only this time its things like cigaretts, soda pop, and cheeseburgers.

  14. I’ve told my daughters about the gangsters I met when I was a kid and they are fascinated. I think “The Godfather” made them a lot more romantic.

    I think it is too late for drug legalization to make much difference, except maybe in the Mexican drug gangs.

  15. MK, You mentioned Chicago Heights some time back….is that where you grew up? Just curious because I worked for a (high-school) summer delivering juke boxes for a business there in the late 60s and can somewhat relate (probably to a lesser degree).

  16. My father, after his juke box days, had a golf range at Dixie Highway and Joe Orr Road. I was in high school and used to work for him summers. I would hit 500 golf balls and play 36 holes every day. Then I would pick them all up and work the evening. That’s where he got the idea of my being a golf pro. I had learned trick shots like hitting the ball so it went backwards and seeming to hit it with the back of the club.

  17. Thornton, Illinois, where my family lived (NE of C. Heights, a southern Chicago suburb) had an remnant of prohibition times. It was, if I recall correctly, an outlying distribution center for Al Capone’s operations. A large barnlike house or building, it was, again, if memory serves, well preserved and even looked to be maintained on the outside.

  18. MK, just btw, our first place was in Park Forest, a condo converted from apartments S. of the mall (whose name escapes me) on Dixie Hwy.

  19. @Joe c – I think it shows a massive commitment to an open discourse that your ip hasn’t been banned already since your rambling copy and paste homework assignments take up so much space and add nothing of value. Please see number four on the comment policy. Looking forward to being able to block you eventually.

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  21. “MK, just btw, our first place was in Park Forest, a condo converted from apartments S. of the mall (whose name escapes me) on Dixie Hwy.”

    It occurs to me that the mall you refer to may be the one on the site of the old golf range. My father did not buy the land when he started it in 1952 because they were asking too much for the land. I think it was $125/ acre. The range had 23 acres, half of which was still farmed by the farmer who also farmed the land across Joe Orr Road. I thought soon after that not buying the land was a big mistake by my father.

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