A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday Morning Post (V.2, #3): A Toast to Prohibition

My history-addled mind is begging me to wax nostalgic about the 2020s: all 19 days of it!  (Ah!  Sweet-addled mind!) Better still, we can look back with some fondness to the decade known as the Roaring 20s.  It roared because business was excellent, the stock market boomed (for a while), and technology advanced like never before. Automobiles and radio became more popular, and talkie pictures were introduced.

We were more affluent and had more leisure time to spend on other pursuits, like attending baseball games and boxing matches. There was one slight problem: while we watched Ruth swat one over the bleachers or Dempsey knock Firpo out of the ring, we didn’t have a nice cold beer to enjoy with the game.

This was, after all, the Prohibition Era when America nearly died from thirst and was supposed to be over dosing on morals. Neither one really happened, especially that whole morals thing. Someone in the blogosphere noted the 100th anniversary when Prohibition of liquor began passed within the last few days.   So, we too will note it here.

The whole intent of the legislation was to sober America up.  Apparently, we were a nation of drunkards in the first hundred years or so of our existence.  The moralists in our midst demanded full abstinence from the demon rum.  The problem was the liquor sales were a great tax revenue source for the federal government.  An income tax law in the early 1910s, which required everyone pay taxes on the amounts they earned, gave the government another revenue source, and an excuse to revisit the old too much liquor consumption/tax debate. 
So, Prohibition was enacted and officially America did not have anything stronger to drink than black coffee for over a decade. Good times said no one ever.

We should emphasize that “officially” we had nothing strong to drink for over a decade. Unofficially we partied like it was 1933, the year Prohibition ended.  This national hypocrisy is what we like to fondly recall when we reminisce about the 1920s.

Prohibition is widely seen to have been a failure in legislative experimentation.  We are left with the myth that many people did not stop drinking and it encouraged organized crime in America.   Many people did succumb to alcoholic poisoning when they imbibed in unregulated hooch.  A number of others succumbed to massive blood loss when they were shot/bumped off/rubbed out by their business rivals in the liquor bootlegging industry.  The gangster mythos of the 1920s would lead us to believe that it was a very violent era.  In fact, it may have been no more violent than the previous decade when a world war and world wide pandemic occurred.

Good times indeed!

Many historians believe organized crime became more powerful which allowed it to thrive in subsequent decades because of Prohibition.  In one respect I don’t think “organized crime” was all that organized.   Did they, for example, create and administer any type of pension plan for their mobster brethren?   I’ve never heard that they had any sort of pension benefits.  Although, to be fair, very few mobsters lived long enough to collect any sort of pension.  The only one I can think of who lived in to some semblance of old age was Al Capone.  Even then he only lived longer because he was taken out of circulation when he was imprisoned for the most mundane violation of not paying his taxes.  Yawn!

If Prohibition teaches us anything it is that we shouldn’t try a whole sale outlaw of any of society’s perceived ills.   Prohibition only complicates society’s problems.  In that spirit let us raise a toast to Prohibition…may it never return!

(Thank you for reading.  I think I’ll make mine a strawberry daiquiri!)


Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

But does not Prohibition still exist in America regarding drugs? A handful of states may have legalized cannabis but generally speaking, the same social/legal policy of Prohibition is still applied to drugs generally, with all the same consequences as when it applied to alcohol.

January 19, 2020 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

I'd like to see ALL of America sober up to the traitor in the White House, but I won't hold my breath.
Stupid people DO exist; and they vote!

January 19, 2020 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Dave R said...

Prohibition happened because the Crazy Christians became too damn powerful. They were the ones shrieking about the evils of alcohol. They will never learn.

January 19, 2020 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

I can't remember whenever sumptuary laws worked to make us virtuous.

January 19, 2020 at 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Old Lurker said...

It was Dr Spo who commemorated the moment, not Someone. (I miss Someone's blog.)

I wish there was a modern temperance movement so I could join it. "Lips that touch alcohol shall never touch mine!" Let us also not forget the deep misogyny that underlies our mockery of Prohibition in modern times.

Furthermore, the temperance movement wasn't wrong. Alcohol is a common drug, but it is a pretty terrible one. It may not be as bad as crystal meth but it is probably worse than opioid epidemic (certainly it is worse than opium).

January 20, 2020 at 1:16 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

You have a point, Debra, but the current restrictions on controlled substances wasn't put through as a Constitutional amendment.

Thank you, Bob. Yes if we could only enforce a prohibition on stupidity!

And they're getting too powerful again,Dave. Well, we did survive the era of the moral majority....

True, Spo. Let religion (when it is properly administered) dictate our virtues.

Sorry for the confusion Old Lurker.I was actually referring to Spo as someone in the blogosphere and not his Someone.

January 21, 2020 at 5:49 AM  

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