Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Prohibition Did Work...Sort Of

Several pundits (among them William Bennett and Ann Coulter) have claimed Prohibition worked. They’re right. It did work…sort of.

Alcohol consumption dropped by 50%, cirrhosis of the liver by 63%, admissions for alcohol psychosis by 60%, and arrests for drunk and disorderly, by 50%.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that we got organized crime. There is even worse news; what we got was a lot more awful than organized crime (contrary to the myth, not all of it was Italian. A lot of it was Jewish and Irish).

Since I’m neither of the former and a lot of the latter, I’ll concentrate on the Irish.

Prohibition gave us the Kennedys.

Joseph Kennedy made oodles of money during Prohibition. No Prohibition, no rich Joseph Kennedy. If Joseph Kennedy had not been able to make a mint during Prohibition, JFK would have never been President. Contrary to the myth of Camelot, Kennedy was just a politician, nothing more.

If JFK had never been President, then would not have been Vietnamese war, which Kennedy started. (There wouldn’t have been the Bay of Pigs, either).

Kennedy would not have been murdered by Oswald, thereby allowing the appalling LBJ to take office. No Johnson in office, no escalation in Vietnam and no misnamed “Great Society.”

Johnson, the weasel, then bailed out after finishing JFK’s term, dumping the whole mess into the lap of…Richard Nixon. Nixon, while he ended our involvement in Vietnam, also took the U.S. of off the gold standard, allowing the Federal Reserve Bank to inflate without any brakes, which is why the dollar is now worth about what a penny was in 1900.

Without Nixon as President, there would have been no Watergate. Without Watergate, Nixon would not have resigned, allowing in Ford. After Ford lost the election, we got…Jimmy Carter!

Woo hoo! This is getting better and better. What next? After Carter allowed the dying Shah into the U.S. we got the Iran hostage crisis, the failed rescue attempt, and a lousy economy.

That lousy economy put Reagan in office. While I believe Reagan was a lot better than everyone who came after him (and a lot better than many before him) he did one unforgivable thing: he made “Undertaker Al” Greenspan head of the Fed, allowing this incompetent buffoon to run rampant for some 20 years, enrich his friends and devastate the United States economy.

After Greenspan we got Helicopter Ben, who while worse than Undertaker Al, isn’t going to have 20 years to complete the destruction of the United States.

Oh yes. Who else? Both the Bushes, 9-11, the wars in the Middle East, bailing out Wall Street and the bankers…did I forget anyone? One other person: Barak Obama, the worst President ever (and that’s saying a lot, coming as he did after Lincoln, Wilson, and LBJ).

If we hadn’t had Prohibition, this entire time-line would have never been. Would it have been worse? There is no way to tell, but I suspect it wouldn’t have, not after a catastrophe like Prohibition.

I consider Prohibition and other social engineering schemes to be utilitarian in their essence. That’s not a good thing, to put it mildly. Daniel Bartels, of the Columbia Business School, found that those who “endorse actions consistent with an ethic of utilitarianism – the view that what is the morally right thing to do is whatever produces the best overall consequences – tend to possess psychopathic and Machiavellian personality traits.”

Why am I not surprised by this? Perhaps because those who think they are so intellectually and morally superior to others believe they have the right to shovel millions of people around like heaps of wet concrete?

Perhaps our well-known pundits lack the education, imagination and open-mindedness to understand what happens when the government sticks its nose into what is none of its business. That doesn’t surprise me, either.

4 comments:

Glen Filthie said...

I have problems with the idea that prohibition gave us the Viet Nam war, Bob. Or Watergate or the Iranian hostage crisis. The tides of history are far bigger than individuals, IMHO, and those events could have been men reacting to them, not causing them.

Nor did prohibition give us organized crime - that has been with us forever. They have been taking care of prostitution, black markets, gambling, smuggling, you name it - all through history. Prohibition DID give them another market to exploit. But let us look at the history involved with a little objectivity:

When the market for liquor collapsed with legalization - the Mob developed the more harmful, more vicious drug trade. The turf wars being fought by gangs and drug dealers today are every bit as vicious as those between Al Capone and his rivals. In fact, Capone, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd and their like are mere pikers compared to some of the monsters and mass murderers in the cartels.

I run afoul of the libertarians and stupid people because of my conviction that drug addiction is not a victimless crime. When drug addicts destroy themselves their families and children suffer with them. It is my scholarly opinion that a man's responsibility to his family trumps his freedom to indulge in harmful recreational street drugs - and that seems to enrage some people. I don't think it is psychotic or Machiavellian of me to expect others to look after their own kids well, nor are my rights and freedoms harmed one iota because some idiot can't legally smoke pot. My rights and freedoms are hugely impacted when I have to shell out welfare dollars for the families headed by drug addicts.

I concede that there MAY be grounds for legalizing pot - but there will be a social cost to it and anyone that says there isn't is either a liar or an idiot.

The young fogey said...

Good but didn't Joe Sr. also make lots of money playing the stock market in the ’20s? (Then under FDR he got to chair the SEC, making sure others couldn't game the system like he did.) Also, Johnson did more than serve out Kennedy’s term. Riding on Kennedy’s ‘martyrdom’, he defeated the worthy Barry Goldwater in a landslide.

Bob Wallace said...

I didn't know about the stock market and I would have rather seen Goldwater in office instead of that awful LBJ. BTW, I have the exact same beige paper fedora you have, with the same band.

The young fogey said...

Ditto on ’64 Goldwater. Should have been president.