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Laws forbidding the production, sale, transportation or consumption of alcoholic beverages

Prohibition is the act or practice of forbidding something by law; more particularly the term refers to the banning of the manufacture, storage (whether in barrels or in bottles), transportation, sale, possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The word is also used to refer to a period of time during which such bans are enforced.


America's Most Persecuted Minority, by Murray N. Rothbard, The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, Aug 1994
Tells the history of post-millennial evangelical pietists (PMEP) or neo-Puritans and their crusades to ban pleasures such as liquor and smoking
The high-water mark of PMEP crusading was ... the outlawing of all liquor (and by constitutional amendment, no less!). The result used to be common knowledge in America; absolute disaster: tyranny, corruption, black markets and more alcoholism as people went underground to get more intense 'fixes' such as hard liquor rather than beer before the cops could close in.
UpdThe battle to make America wet again, by Nicholas A. Snow, 8 Mar 2017
Recounts how the 18th Amendment (ratified January 1919) and National Prohibition Act were repealed (in December 1933), particularly through the efforts of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR)
Prohibitionists expected the absence of legal alcohol would solve a plethora of social ills created by drinking. Their hopes were summed up by the preacher Billy Sunday, who, on the eve of Prohibition, exulted, "The reign of tears is over, the slums will soon be a memory; we will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and children will laugh. Hell will forever be for rent." ... Who could possibly be against that? The answer, it turned out, was lots of people.
Related Topics: Children, H. L. Mencken, Voting
Booze Busting: The New Prohibition, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Dec 1998
Discusses various anti-alcohol laws and enforcement actions, including the law raising the minimum drinking age during the Reagan administration, and what medical research has to say about moderate alcohol consumption
Perhaps the most harmful example of the anti-alcohol bias in recent legislation occurred in 1984, when Congress and President Reagan jammed a new minimum drinking age of 21 down the throats of 26 states ... Congress voted to withhold 10 percent of federal highway construction funds from states that refused ... South Dakota sued the U.S. government ... Though the 21st Amendment explicitly states that the power to regulate alcohol is vested solely in the states, Chief Justice Rehnquist and colleagues upheld the law ... the clearest effect of the 1984 law was to create an "epidemic" of underage drinking.
Capitalism and the Intellectuals [PDF], by Robert Nisbet, Regulation, Dec 1977
Review of Paul Johnson's The Enemies of Society (1977); reprinted from The Wall Street Journal
I am sorry Mr. Johnson did not see fit to include those New Prohibitionists who, with hands not on the Old Testament but the latest FDA report, jump gleefully to the task of preventing the great majority of us from having our smoking, drinking, driving, dressing and eating pleasures—not, God knows, in the interests of saving, but of making wretched, our lives and, of course, smiting the business class. Not since I was five years old, in the presence of Bible-belters, have I heard cigarets and liquor spoken of as they are today in almost any Berkeley or Hampton household.
UpdDrug Legalization: How to Radically Lower the Number of Murders in New Orleans, by Walter Block, 27 Jan 2007
Suggests drug legalization as a remedy to the increased murder rate in New Orleans and then considers six objections to such a plan and its potential effects
When alcohol was prohibited (1920-1933) gangs fought it out in the streets with machine guns for the right to sell their bathtub gin. Innocent bystanders were killed in the cross fire ... Nowadays, ... Johnny Walker and Four Roses compete with each other not with bullets ... The Mafia is no longer involved ... But will we not die ... from these addictive substances once they are legalized? There is no more reason to think so than to believe that when the prohibition of booze ended, it encouraged an orgy of drunkenness. Pretty much the same people who liquored up before 1920 did so after 1933 ...
Related Topics: Children, War on Drugs, Louisiana
The Drug War Hits Home, by David Boaz, Freedom Daily, Jan 1992
Reviews several cases of non-users caught in "the tentacles of the War on Drugs" and explains why civil forfeiture is attractive to law enforcers
[I]t is the war on drugs itself that causes drug-related crime, almost all of which is actually prohibition-related crime ... We are already arresting far more people and spending ten times as much as we did to enforce alcohol prohibition. The only way to reduce the crime, corruption, and murder associated with the drug trade is to legalize "capitalist acts between consenting adults"—to recognize that what adults put into their own bodies is no business of government. Until we do, prohibition-related crime is likely to increase, and our liberties will continue to recede.
The Drug War's Immorality and Abject Failure, by Anthony Gregory, Freedom Daily, Jul 2006
Discusses how drug use differs from criminal, property-rights violations, the justifications for the drug war and the many areas where it has had detrimental effects on society: inner cities, rule of law, foreign relations, etc.
The drug war is a scourge on the inner cities ... where shootouts between drug gangs have caused spikes in the homicide and violent-crime rates, just as alcohol prohibition-related violence had ... A lot of the crime is caused by turf wars over drug territory. Not nearly as much street crime is associated with the alcohol market now as when it was underground ... Alcohol is in fact the leading drug associated with homicides. Making it illegal would not reduce violent crime; it would only bring back Al Capone—or, more precisely, introduce the Crips and Bloods to the liquor business.
The Economics Behind the U.S. Government's Unwinnable War on Drugs, by Benjamin Powell, 1 Jul 2013
Analyzes the economics of the drug war, including the demand-supply effects of prohibition on both users and distributors, the effects of higher prices and variable quality, comparisons to alcohol prohibition and external effects
Drug prohibitionists want drugs to be illegal in order to minimize the damage drug use does both to users and to the society ... Unfortunately, prohibition, while decreasing consumption, greatly increases the harm done to the remaining users and to society. When drugs are illegal, they become more potent. In order to minimize the risk of detection per amount of narcotic supplied, suppliers make drugs as small and light as possible ... [P]rohibition also encourages users to demand the more-potent drugs because the relative price difference between more- and less-potent drugs is lower.
Free Cory Maye, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, May 2006
Further discussion and commentary on the case of Cory Maye (see Richman's article "More Drug-War Victims", Dec 2005) [Update: Maye's sentence was overturned in Sept. 2006 and he was finally released in July 2011]
Repealing drug prohibition would include abolishing prescription laws and medical licensing. Adults should not need a doctor's permission to take drugs ... Another horrendous aspect of prohibition is the pretext it provides for U.S. intervention in foreign countries ... U.S. officials have acknowledged that profits from the drug trade help finance terrorism. But they fail to admit, though they must realize it, that the huge drug profits are produced by prohibition and the black market, which always is controlled by thugs. The last thing that drug kingpins would want is an end to prohibition.
How Much Do You Know About Liberty? (a quiz), The Freeman, Jun 1996
A 20-question quiz (with answers) on various topics related to liberty in the history of the United States
9. When and why did organized crime get started in the United States? ... Organized crime arose because of alcohol Prohibition during the 1920s. Enterprising individuals filled the continuing demand for adult beverages. They were often rough characters, because one sometimes had to be rough to enforce illegal contracts ... Milton Friedman reported on homicide trends: "There was ... an even steeper rise when the Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting the production, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages became effective. That rise peaked in 1933, the year in which [it] was repealed ..."
Illicit Drugs, by Bruce L. Benson, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Reviews various arguments made to justify the drug war (e.g., property crime, violence) versus the actual effects of prohibition (e.g., black markets, asset forfeiture)
Attempts to thwart the drug trade are no match for entrepreneurial creativity, so why do prohibitionist efforts continue? ... The demands of the American Pharmaceutical Association ... the desire by some groups to control racial minorities ... Law enforcement bureaucrats ... These interest groups have interacted with others, among them temperance groups, to strengthen drug prohibition legislation. ... Indeed, given the continued advocacy of prohibition by police and in light of consequences of the drug war, police interests, not the "public interest," seems to be at the root of the drug war.
The Invisible Hand Is a Gentle Hand, by Sharon Harris, 14 Sep 1998
Originally published at; defends the free market and individual liberty, quoting among others Bastiat, Thomas Jefferson, David and Milton Friedman, John Lott, Isabel Paterson, Proudhon, Adam Smith, Sowell, John Stossel and Walter Williams
Prohibition seems to bring out a terrible vindictiveness and cruelty in some people. In 1929, Mrs. Etta Mae Miller was convicted of having sold a single quart of liquor. This was her fourth such offense, so her sentence was life imprisonment ... The General Secretary of the Board of Temperance, Prohibition and Public Morals [sic] said, "Our only regret is that the woman was not sentenced to life imprisonment before her ten children were born. When one has violated the Constitution four times, he or she should be segregated from society to prevent the production of subnormal offsprings."
The Longest-Running War, by Doug Bandow, 20 Dec 2004
Reviews the books Bad Trip: How the War on Drugs Is Destroying America (2004) by Joel Miller and Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition (2004) by Jeffrey A. Miron
In the words of Joel Miller, "Prohibition is supposed to make America better. In reality it makes it manifestly worse—just like a drug trip gone bad." ... Miron takes an unusual economic look ... Reviewing alcohol prohibition, he concludes that the attempt to stop Americans from drinking cut cirrhosis deaths by 10 to 20 percent: "This is not a trivial effect, but it is far smaller than suggested by many advocates of prohibition." ... [D]rug prohibition inevitably generates crime ... Consumers who steal to fund their habits have to steal more when drug prices rise because of prohibition.
Mencken, H. L. (1880-1956), by Rod L. Evans, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
In the 1920s, Mencken also wrote about Prohibition, which he viewed as an indefensible and self-defeating violation of personal liberty. In December 1924, he wrote the following as part of an editorial for American Mercury: 'None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.'
The New Deal Made Them 'Right', by Damon Root, Cato Policy Report, Sep 2009
Discusses how various "prominent liberals" (Mencken, John T. Flynn, Al Smith, Burton K. Wheeler and Nock) found themselves categorized on the political right as a consequence of their opposition to Roosevelt's New Deal
[The] attacks from Democratic hero Al Smith shook the New Deal coalition to its core ... Smith saw himself as a constructive critic, not as a partisan foe. As one of the country's most famous opponents of alcohol prohibition, a group popularly known as the "wets," Smith had been deeply troubled by the lessons of the Eighteenth Amendment. Prohibition, he wrote in 1933, "gave functions to the Federal government which that government could not possibly discharge, and the evils which came from the attempts at enforcement were infinitely worse than those which honest reformers attempted to abolish."
Nothing Is More Local than the Individual, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 31 Oct 2014
Commentary on the 2014 Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Initiative, Issue 4 referendum to end county-level prohibitions on liquor sales (which was voted down 57% to 43%)
After national Prohibition ended in 1933, the Arkansas General Assembly passed a law permitting counties to go "dry," that is, to prohibit the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. Even within "wet" counties, individual communities can vote to be "dry." ... [T]he increasingly liberal "club" provision has led to an abundance of restaurants free to serve alcohol by the drink. This has resulted in a new category of county: "damp." ... It was a sham. Everyone knew these were not really clubs. The club provision was just a way to relax prohibition without acknowledging it.
Related Topics: Arkansas, Individual Liberty
Politics and Prohibition, by Donald J. Boudreaux, The Freeman, Mar 2002
Explains why, based on the story of alcohol prohibition, drug prohibition will not end solely on the realization of policy failure and side effects such as gang violence
National alcohol prohibition in the United States began on January 16, 1920 ... Speakeasies and gangster violence became familiar during the 1920s ... But contrary to modern belief, the 1920s witnessed little sympathy for ending prohibition. Neither citizens in general nor politicians concluded from the obvious failure of prohibition that it should end ... In research we conducted, Adam Pritchard and I found that bulging income-tax revenues made it possible for Congress finally to give in to the decades-old movement for alcohol prohibition.
Related Topic: War on Drugs
The Progressive Era, Part 1: The Myth and the Reality, by William L. Anderson, Freedom Daily, Feb 2006
Examines various aspects of Progressivism's "much darker tale", tracing its roots to 19th century Unitarians and pointing out Progressive support of prohibition and segregation
Socially, the Progressives were humanitarians who sought to better the lives of ordinary people, with their greatest "triumph" being passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, which ushered in the era of Prohibition ... Prohibition was the shotgun wedding of the secular Progressives and the Christian fundamentalists, both of whom wanted to ban intoxicating beverages, but for different reasons ... Progressives saw it as a way to promote ... "social virtues," while fundamentalists thought that alcohol consumption was sinful, which was reason enough for the central government to ban it.
Prohibition Hasn't Ended Yet, by Lawrence Reed, The Freeman, Jul 2001
Discusses laws in 30 states that forbid purchases of wine from other states unless done through a state-licensed liquor agent
It's been nearly seven decades since the national war against alcohol during Prohibition (1920-33) came to an end with the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment. But 30 states, including mine (Michigan), still prosecute a kind of mini-Prohibition of their own: They forbid consumers from buying wine from other states unless the products are shipped through a state-licensed liquor authority.(Some number of states also have similar laws against imports of other forms of booze ...) The Michigan law is a relic from 1934, when states took over the regulation of alcohol sales after national Prohibition was repealed.
Right and Simple, by Charley Reese, 30 Dec 2006
Discusses the proposition that "the right thing to do is both simple to state and simple to understand" in the context of the drug war and the political situation in Venezuela, Colombia and the United States
There are two solutions. One is to legalize drugs and treat the issue as a medical problem. The drug war is just a repeat of Prohibition and has accomplished the exact same thing—the creation of criminal organizations and widespread corruption of public officials. The alternative solution is to stop worrying about supply ... The problem is that too many people, besides the drug dealers, make money off the drug war through bigger budgets and, in some cases, generous bribes. Just remember that when it comes to drugs, the corruption is here in America, not in Colombia.
Time to Rethink the War on Drugs, by David Boaz, Freedom Daily, Oct 1999
Lists several effects of drug prohibition and suggests using some common sense regarding drug legalization
Alcohol prohibition drove reputable companies into other industries or out of business altogether, which paved the way for mobsters to make millions through the black market ... Students of American history will someday ponder the question of how today's elected officials could readily admit to the mistaken policy of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s but continue the policy of drug prohibition. Indeed, the only historical lesson that recent presidents and Congresses seem to have drawn from the period of alcohol prohibition is that government should not try to outlaw the sale of alcohol.
The Top 25 Liberty Songs, by Bill Winter, Libertarian Party News, Aug 2001
List of 25 "Liberty's Best Songs" chosen from over 200 suggestions, each with a short summary and highlighted lyrics, and a supplementary list of 25 runners-up
When arguing against the War on Drugs, Libertarians frequently draw parallels to alcohol prohibition. But they rarely do it as persuasively as Steve Earle ... [T]his country/rock classic is the story of John Lee Pettimore, whose grandaddy brewed moonshine on Copperhead Road ... Recycling history, before long "the DEA's got a chopper in the air ..." And restating Prohibition's deadly lessons, Pettimore warns the DEA: "I learned a thing or two from Charlie don't you know / you better stay away from Copperhead Road." Three verses, 50 years of history, and one lesson: Prohibition kills.
The War on Drugs: Seen vs. the Unseen, by Angela Dills, 26 Oct 2015
Discusses the drug war in the context of Bastiat's essay "That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen"
[P]rohibition harms people without a large reduction in consumption ... [I]n the 1920s [it] reduced alcohol consumption by 10 to 20 percent ... The production and consumption of these substances are instead relegated to black markets ... Prohibition increases violent crime by generating black markets and then disrupting those markets. [It] encourages corruption as dealers bribe public officials to look the other way. Enforcing prohibition is expensive: the DEA, the additional prisons, and the additional police all add up to billions of dollars in drug enforcement expenditures every year.
We Aren't Children, by Sheldon Richman, Nov 2001
Discusses the implications of three recent alcohol regulations in the state of Arkansas and explains the phenomenon of Baptists and bootleggers
Just recently a majority of voters ... decided to continue the prohibition on restaurants' and hotels' selling alcohol on Sundays. Why anyone who does not drink on Sunday cares if anyone else does ... This is the phenomenon that economist Bruce Yandle calls "Baptists and bootleggers." It refers to the alliance inevitably struck between those who oppose some consensual activity for moralistic reasons and those who oppose it out of economic interest. Thus both the Baptists and the bootleggers favored Prohibition — the Baptists because drinking is sinful; the bootleggers because legal booze cut into their profits.
Related Topics: Arkansas, Voting
We Need an Angel Like Clarence, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 28 Dec 2006
Attempts to counter the despair felt by some in the freedom movement by examining, by example, the "unseen" benefits of libertarian activism over the past century
Preposterously, a small faction ... believed that if we could just pass national legislation against drinking, sobriety would prevail. Fathers would become responsible, sons would become educated ... The alcohol prohibitionists managed to pass a constitutional amendment banning all liquor—think of that!—but their victory was short lived. Public opinion rose up against them and the amendment was eventually repealed. It was a magnificent reversal, brought about mainly by the force of public ideology that said it was causing more harm than good and violating people's rights.
Related Topics: Libertarianism, Liberty, The State, War


America's Most Dangerous Politician, by Gary Johnson, Michael W. Lynch, Reason, Jan 2001
Topics discussed include: drugs, why he stopped smoking marijuana, drug legalization, school vouchers, charter schools, road building and tax cuts
Gary Johnson: ... Most people who smoke marijuana do it in a way similar to having cocktails in the evening ... Marijuana is a handicap. So is alcohol ... But in spite of being a handicap, it shouldn't be criminal. At one point in this country's history, alcohol was criminal. I think it's a bad choice. But in no way should you end up in jail for doing that. You should end up in jail for drinking and driving, drinking and doing crime, drinking and doing harm, just like you should end up in jail if you are going to smoke marijuana and drive, just like if you ... smoke marijuana and do crime.


The Economics of Prohibition
    by Mark Thornton, Nov 1991
Contents: Economists and Prohibition - The Origins of Prohibition - A Theory of Prohibition - The Potency of Illegal Drugs - The Corrupting Effects of Prohibition - The Repeal of Prohibition


An Unhealthy Alliance: Tobacco Companies and Anti-smoking, by Aeon Skoble, 14 May 2015
Discusses the different groups lobbying city and other governments to enact laws banning e-cigarettes and vaping
Now those activists find themselves on the same side as their formal foes since tobacco company lobbyists are fighting e-cigarettes, too. They're worried about their bottom line. Studies show that vaping is twice as effective as other methods in helping people quit smoking. By pushing for regulations that make e-cigarettes less accessible to consumers they ensure that more people will keep smoking tobacco. We've got a classic case of what some scholars call the 'Bootleggers and Baptists Phenomena.' Well-intentioned activists end up pushing for the same rules in the interests they actually oppose.
Related Topic: Health

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Prohibition" as of 26 Nov 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.