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Prohibition Laws Never Work

"Prohibition laws" are crafted pieces of legislation designed to perform one singular task: turn ordinary people into criminals.

We refer to the people who have run afoul of these laws has having committed a "victimless crime", or a crime in which no one other than the individual (and sometimes not even them) was harmed, threatened, or even inconvenienced. For instance, to Libertarians, laws against cannabis possession (not use, just possession) are just as ridiculous as would be a law against possessing potpourri or mulch. There are no laws against consensual sexual acts between adults ... unless there is an exchange of money. Speaking of exchanges of money, betting on a March Madness bracket or Super Bowl pool at work may technically be against the law, but I seriously doubt that the local constabulary are going to show up at your office to cart you and your co-workers down to the hoosegow.

"There are those who think that they were dealt a losing hand, the odds were stacked against them..."

Good Intentions

If we've learned anything from the American Prohibition Era (1920 to 1933), it's that criminalizing an act or a product does not eliminate that something itself, but merely drives that something underground. Yes, there were some distinct improvements as a result of passing the 18th Amendment (prohibiting the sale, distribution, and consumption of alcoholic beverages), at least for a couple of years. Many people were forced to "sober up" and change their lives. Worker production improved as a result of people not showing up to work intoxicated, so companies prospered. As an indirect result, families also prospered financially, and personal health began to improve. There were fewer incidences of alcoholism, cirrhosis, and there were fewer accidents. Domestic abuse, stealing, public intoxication, murder, theft, prostitution, and disorderly conduct incidents all declined significantly.

"A planet of playthings, we dance on the strings of powers we cannot perceive."

Disastrous Results

But it also exposed a number of ugly aspects that had been previously hidden. Younger Americans wanted to drink because it was forbidden, outlawed, and exciting. Others did not want to be controlled by the government or denied the pleasures of alcohol. Organized crime exploded because of the prohibition making it difficult for prohibition to be completely successful. The government lost millions (or billions) of dollars when prohibition didn't allow them to make money off the taxes that would have been derived from the sale of alcohol. Alcohol substitutes such as tobacco, marijuana, and hashish began to increase as more people started to use them. Prison populations also increased by 1000% because more people were being locked up in jail due to some illegal activity involving alcohol.

"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."

The government, with the help of many moral organizations, had made a law intended to control a person's morality, but after twelve years of Prohibition, they started to realize that there were many more people who were willing to risk (and accept) the consequences in defiance of that law. Ultimately, Prohibition made enough people realize that laws cannot control a person's morality or their choices, and that each person's morality is up to that person. In the end, the 18th Amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment.

Unfortunately, the government does not seem to have learned the lesson of the American Prohibition Era because, a century later, they are still trying to legislate morality, just not with alcohol.

Committee to Elect Darren Hamilton
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