"[T]he burden of government is not measured by how much it taxes, but by how much it spends." ~ Milton Friedman
Prohibition Did Work . . . Sort Of
Column by Bob Wallace.
Exclusive to STR
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.
If JFK had never been President, there would not have been a 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. 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: Barack 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 timeline 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.