Watching Nick Sarwark get bushwhacked by the debating tactics of a libertarian-impersonating anarchist made for a sense of foreboding over Jacob Sullum debating a prohibitionist. The opening argument–that violent narcs murder and maim people–could have been copied from the 46-year-old news clipping above. (link) Sullum recited almost identical stories of brutal mayhem against bystanders and even brought up the deliberate mass-poisoning of populations by adding wood alcohol to ethanol–of which practice God’s Own Prohibitionist (a novelist and pseudoscience hack) feigned ignorance, even surprise.
Sullum imagines a right as something like a moral claim to freedom of action. His opponent made it clear in closing remarks that he imagines “a right” as a State license to threaten, rob and kill people who deal with others voluntarily. This is exactly what happened throughout the 14 years, 6 months of federal prohibition. Such arguments are wasted on persons who do not value human life or Sen. Millard Tydings would have secured repeal in 1930. (link)
So why wasn’t prohibition repealed sooner? It was. Several populations were hypnotized by scaremongering pseudoscience. As friction with reality wore holes in the veil of blind-faith fanaticism, all but one of Canada’s provinces, Iceland, Norway and Finland relegalized drink after just a few such murders and associated bankruptcies. State dry laws were likewise repealed but dry fanatics had carefully couched their pleas in economic fallacies. America’s prosperity, they claimed, was not the result of free enterprise, interest on war loans, tax-free dividends or Coolidge parsimony, no. Wealth came from banning saloons that lured men from working on Mondays. Money once “wasted” on beer would be invested as capital–wrote Henry Ford’s biographer! (link)
Samuel Crowther, for example, who estimates that there has been an annual diversion of spending due to prohibition of between two and six billion dollars, and declares that this diversion was primarily responsible for the prosperity of the nation between 1922 and 1929, rests his entire argument on the alleged smaller expenditures of workingmen for drink. (Warburton, The Economic Results of Prohibition 1932 130 f.)
Repealers were cowed by this hype modeled after The Alabama Citizen (link) until October of 1929. Imaginary bystanders were important for voting the law, but once racheted, any number of bystanders maimed or murdered by enforcement became trivial, and repeal unthinkable. Dry propaganda books were reprinted after the Crash, but by then the blinkers were off. Powerful yeast, sugar and glucose producers made a lot of money selling precursor chemicals during prohibition. Only by squeezing them could repeal be secured. Hoover, Eliot Ness, Elmer Irey and Frank Wilson were masters at that sort of coercion.
Even Ronald Reagan, a boy during Prohibition, repeated the same hogwash in 1986 while signing EO 12564–firing all federal employees identified as cloven-hooved avatars of Satan by drug testing kits:
I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America. find that: Drug use is having adverse effects upon a significant proportion of the national work force and results in billions of dollars of lost productivity each year; (…)
The profits from illegal drugs provide the single greatest source of income for organized crime, fuel violent street crime, and otherwise contribute to the breakdown of our society; (…)
So the “scientific argument” convincing to Ron Reagan and Bert Hoover was that proletarians who get high weaken the economy–unless locked up in a prison. But in the 1920s illegal substances accounted for roughly 5% of the entire economy–about the same as the federal budget. With the 1927 ruling that smugglers and bootleggers were liable for income tax, 5th Amendment be burned, European stock values fell immediately. After the U.S. market Crash, forfeiture-induced banking panics brought the economy to a shuddering halt before FDR took office.
In a fractional-reserve banking system, banning voluntary trade and production–especially using tax agents–causes money to flee banks and brokerages. Leveraged liquidations and withdrawals bring liquidity crises and the bulk of the violent crime, financial loss, unemployment, gains for communo-fascist socialism after 1929, 1987, and 2008 all had basically the same cause.
Prohibition enforcement via asset forfeiture wrecks economies much the way nationalization via communism wrecks economies. This is the mile-wide steamroller that crushed the GOP and repealed Prohibition in 1933. This effect has been cleverly disguised, much evidence elided or destroyed, but after November 1929 the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment challenged the drys to debate the economic results of prohibition and found no takers.
That’s the argument Jacob Sullum could have used to knock the Tootsie roll right out of the ballpark! Jacob could’ve left God’s Own Prohibitionist gasping, sobbing and waving fake government statistics cooked down from altered data–if only he’d known the truth. Don’t let lying, cowardly pseudoscientific mystics of muscle kick sand in your face and beat you to a draw in front of an audience. Stale, failed moralistic arguments they rationalize away did not repeal prohibition. The Crash, bankruptcies, banking panics, tax audits and confiscations affecting the richest corporations in America awakened voters to the necessity of repealing false, cruel and financially suicidal legislation.
Why not delve into what caused the 1929 Crash? Prohibition and The Crash–Cause and Effect in 1929 does exactly that, matching economic theory and newspaper accounts against stock market reactions and competing theories. It is live on Amazon Kindle for the price of a pint.
My other-language blog is amigra.us