Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gary Johnson on ending Prohibition

Our border with Mexico is looking like our border with Canada during the alcohol Prohibition Era.

No one travels across the border without fear, the bodies are piling up (40,000 Mexicans drug war deaths in the last five years), politicians are offered daily corruption opportunities, gangsters are making fortunes, and despite fences, naval patrols,  and indignant speeches about "sealing the border", the border still leaks like, well, something that leaks a lot. 

Alcohol prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933. 

I'm writing this post at the Barnes and Noble near Northeast Mall in Fort Worth.  I looked for the companion volume to the recent Ken Burns TV series on Prohibition, but couldn't find it. 

Instead, I found this one: "Prohibition - Thirteen years that changed America". 

I'm not going to quote from it, or try to summarize the book.  Just look at the cover, from top left to bottom right. 
You have a picture of a vice officer taking an axe to a keg of beer, a picture of Al Capone, a girl with a leg flask in a speakeasy, a prohibition protest sign, a beer advertisement, and a group of well-to-do folks either violating the prohibition laws or celebrating their end.  
Just from the cover, one gets the impression that alcohol prohibition was a disaster. 

The other title I found was "The Lawless Decade: Bullets, Broads and Bathtub Gin"

Famed bootlegger/gangster Al Capone is not on the front cover of this one.  His picture is only on the back cover. 
I won't summarize this book, or try to pull some quotes from it.  But Paul Sann has written a book on the Prohibition Era called "The Lawless Decade". 

We legalized alcohol and the violence slowly ended.  Here's John D. Rockefeller Jr. on the failed experiment:

When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.

Here's a brief excerpt from an interview with Gary Johnson, potential Libertarian candidate for President of the U.S.

Interviewer: Your many opponents believe that legalization would exacerbate the problem. First, they say more people would do drugs if they were legal.

Johnson: Kids who have been surveyed say it's easier to get illegal drugs than beer. The evidence shows that more people won't do drugs if they're legal. Holland, where marijuana is decriminalized and controlled, has 60% of the drug use--both hard drugs and marijuana--the US has. They have a quarter the crime rate, a quarter the homicide rate, a quarter the violent crime rate and a tenth the incarceration rate. It suggests that more people don't do drugs because they're legal. But let's just say that the number of users would go up: I still would say it was worthwhile. Look at the trade-off.

Interviewer: What trade-off?

Johnson: Half of all crime is drug-related. Half. Half of what we spend--on law enforcement, on the courts, on prisons--is drug-related. If we legalized drugs, we would destroy the environment that allows and even encourages all those crimes.

These moments make me question the wisdom of teaching history. 
Have we ever learned anything from it? 


R said...

Nice to see truth laid out simply and without pandering to alternate "opinions" for a change. Nice job.

Anonymous said...

Great post but on your last infographic the association between marijuana and 0 deaths is mistaken. THC causes 0 deaths not marijuana, there will be COPD & cancer deaths from Marijuana smoking but these are generally aggregated in to tobacco usage figures when they should obviously be separate.

We are right purely on the facts alone and don't need to invent them to seem more right :)

Anonymous said...

Actually, no, Marijuana does not cause COPD or Cancer. Pot smoking worsens the negative affects of tobacco, but by itself will do you no harm. Get your facts right.