Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Prohibition was bad. Prohibition was a law. Therefore, all laws are bad.

I think the post title can be called a 'flawed syllogism'.

I like to read about history, so I read this piece about Prohibition in the Wall Street Journal. That it is on the Opinion page shoulda been a red flag. You'll see.

On Dec. 5, 1933, Americans liberated themselves from a legal nightmare called Prohibition by repealing the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Today most people think Prohibition was fueled by puritanical Protestants who believed drinking alcohol was a sin. But the vocal minority who made Prohibition law believed they were marching in the footsteps of the abolitionists who sponsored a civil war to end another moral evil—slavery.

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 enabled the ASL (Anti-Saloon League - G) and its ally, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, to go national. In 1914 and 1916, federal elections created Congresses in which "drys" outnumbered "wets" by 2-1. Many leading Americans such as ex-President Theodore Roosevelt urged the United States to side with England and France against Germany. The ASL shrewdly supported preparedness. They argued an alcohol-free America would be far better able to defend itself against the threat of German militarism.

Yeah, we'll ketch them Heinies while they're all drunk an' shit and give 'em the cold steel! Yeesh.

On Dec. 22, 1917, Congress passed the 18th Amendment, turning the whole nation dry—if and when two-thirds of the states ratified it. The ASL unleashed its 20,000 orators on the German Americans, with their numerous brewers a chief target. The drys repeatedly linked liquor to disloyalty and even treason. Beer drinking was a sign of sympathy for the German Kaiser and his army of "Huns."

If this is starting to sound a little familiar, that's because it is.

For the next 13 years, Prohibition corrupted and tormented Americans from coast to coast. A disrespect, even contempt for law and due process infected the American psyche. Rather than discouraging liquor consumption, Prohibition increased it. Taking a drink became a sign of defiance against the arrogant minority who had deprived people of their "right" to enjoy themselves. The 1920s roared with reckless amorality in all directions, including Wall Street. When everything came crashing down in 1929 and the long gray years of the Great Depression began, second thoughts were the order of the day. Large numbers of people pointed to Prohibition as one of the chief reasons for the disaster.

In 1933, a new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, made the repeal of the 18th Amendment one of his priorities. But the evil effects of this plunge into national redemption linger to this day, most notably in the influence of organized crime, better known as the Mafia, in many areas of American life.

I think we can all agree that that Prohibition was a total failure that caused more harm than good.

So far, this was actually a pretty interesting story, maybe even true, but the writer shows his hand in the last paragraph. Remember, WSJ Opinion page:

In 2010, with talk of restructuring large swaths of our economy back in vogue, Prohibition should also remind us that Congress, scientists and economists seized by the noble desire to achieve some great moral goal may be abysmally wrong.

Zing! This clown just equated the failed Prohibition with proposed new stronger banking regulation and climate change legislation! Un-fucking-believable!

"May be abysmally wrong"? Yeah, for capitalists.

For the rest of us, perhaps not.

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