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PROHIBITION

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Prohibition

Thenationalalcoholprohibitionas recommendedby theVolstead Act(1920-33) wasa verynobleplanthat wasmeantto lowerthelevel of criminalactivitiesin theUS, solvethesocialdifficulties,reducethetaxburdenon theAmerican populationcreatedby thepoorhousesandprisons,andimprovethehygieneandhealthin thecountry.Unfortunately,theoutcomeof theexperimentwasa clearindicatorthatitwasa misguidedpolicythat boundto failon allaccounts.After theU.S enteredtheFirst World War in 1917, thethenincumbentpresidentWoodrow Wilson enforceda temporalbanon theproductionof alcoholin orderto spareenoughgrainsforproducingfood1.Bytheendof thatyearCongress submittedthe18 amendmentthat effectivelybarredtheproduction,transitandsaleof allintoxicationliquors.AyearlaterCongress passedtheProhibition Act which offeredinstructionsforthenationalgovernmentimplementation of theProhibition. Thismovewasbackedby Volstead Andrew, a representativeforthestateof Mississippi, andwhoby thenwasthechairmanof theHouse Judiciary Committee. In thisregard,theProhibition Act cameto be knownas theVolstead Act. Thesuccessfulbattleto passtheVolstead Act wasa resultof a longcontrolcampaign,which subsequentlyresultedinto theintroductionof thealcoholbanin theUS2.Excessivealcoholintakefrom thestartof the20th centurywasan indicatorthatearlierliquorcontrolplanshadfailed3.Thestrictbanwhich camein forceas a resultof thepassageof theProhibition Act offereda morefar-reaching actionthan whatmanycitizensin theUnited Statesanticipated.After thebankruptcyof previouscontrolprograms,manyAmerican didnot expectthisbanto taketotalcontrolof thesituation.Evenso,theProhibition Act managedto reducealcoholconsumptionin thecountryandat thesametimegainingpoliticalsupportfromthe majorityof thecitizensup until theeconomicwoesbroughtby thegreatdepressionthatcoercedAmericans to rethink about theeconomicimplicationsof thealcoholban.

Thispaperwillseekto assesstheimplicationof theVolstead Act andexemplifyits impactson thehistoryof theUnited States. Thepassageof the18the amendmentthat usheredin anerawhereproduction,transportationandsaleof theintoxicating liquorswasillegalresultedto manyfar-reaching implicationson theAmerican peopleandtheeconomy.In spiteof themassivesupportthattheAct enjoyedfrom thevotingpublictheenforcementof theAct wasverydifficult4.Subsequentlyin a moveto preventconfrontationwith theauthoritiesmostliquormanufacturerretreatedto illegalproductionandsaleof alcoholicbeverages.TheAct alsoincreasedthenumberof illegaldrinking spotswhich wereassociatedwith increasedlevels of criminalactivitiesandgangviolence5.Bytheendof the1920,mostAmerican hadalteredtheir viewregardingtheeffectiveness of theAct, andatthebeginningof 1930s Congress repealedthe18th amendmenteffectivelyremovingthebanonthe production,transportationandsaleof intoxicating liquorin America.

Negativeeffectsof theProhibition Act

Prohibitionledto disrepute of thelawin theUS since manyAmericans feltthatthelawwentpast theboundaryof reason.Itwasnot possibleto tryto controlthenaturalalcoholappetitethrough a pieceof legislation.Itsoondawnedon theUS populacethattheProhibition Act wasseekingto illegalize andmakea crimean actionthat could not surmountto criminalactivity6.ManyAmericans brokethelawandas sucheveryone becamea criminalbefore theeyesof thelaw.IftheProhibition Act bannedmoderateconsumptionof liquor,thenin theviewof thecitizensitwasa capriciouslawthat wasintendedto be disrespected.

Therateof seriouscrimeshadgraduallyreducedinthecountryin thelate19th andat thebeginningof the20th century.Prohibitioninadvertentlyreversedthescenario7.Inlargemetropolissuchas New York,therateof homicideincreasedfrom 5.6 to 8.4 per every100000 Americans, during thefirstten yearsof theProhibition8.TheVolstead Act that hadbeenratifiedto supporttheenforcementof the18th amendmenthadimmediateeffecton crime.Astudyon 30 largecitiesin theUS revealedthattherateof crimeincreasedby morethan 20 percent. Additionally thein theeraof theProhibition Act moreresourceswerespentonthe policedepartment(114 + percent) andprohibitionlaws(102 + percent). Nonethelessincreasedenforcementeffortsdidnot yieldmanypositiveeffectsandtherateof alcoholconsumptiondidnot reduce9.Burglaries andtheftincreasedby 9% whileincidentsof batteryandassaultincreasedby 13%. Arrestsrelateddisorderlybehavioranddrunkennessincreasedby 41%. CrimeincreasedbecausetheAct destroyeda proportionof thelegaljobs,createdroomforblack marketandredirection of resourcesfrom enforcementto otherlaws.Thefastincreasein thepricesof theprohibitedcommoditiesalsoencouragescrimeas peoplelookforalternatives to acquiresuchgoodsata cheaperprice.Consequently ratherthan emptying theprisonsas hadbeenanticipated,theProhibition Act rapidlyfilledtheprisonsto fullcapacity.Individualscommittedforcriminalactivitiesandviolationof thelawwasdueto prohibition10.

Prohibitionhadatremendousimpacton theliquorbrewing industryin theUnited States of America. By thetime,the18 amendmentwasrepealedandthatsignaledtheendof theban,manyof thebreweriesthat wererunning-approximately half-before theintroductionof theAct could not standon their feetagain.ParticularlytheProhibition Act hadcompletelyshatteredthewine industry.After thebanwasraiseda newbrandof beer,lager becamethemostpopularalcoholicdrink.In theeraof theProhibition Act farmersresultedto growinglowerqualitygrapes that could be transferredwith ease.Additionally thebancoercedmanyof thewine manufacturersto immigrateto countrieswhereliquorproductionandsalewaslegal11.Immenseinstitutionalknowledgewasthuslostin theprocessandinthe14 yearsthattheProhibition Act wasoperational.

Prohibitionhada badhistoryon thereligionforthefactthatevangelicals hadplayeda significantrolein promotingtheenactmentof theAct. Hithertothechurchhada hardlineon consumptionof intoxicating beveragesandtheytermed alcoholas evil.Religionhadnoroomforconsumptionof alcohol,andtotalabstinencewasdemanded.In realityProhibition didnot manageto reducetheconsumptionof alcohol,butincreasedthelevels of immoralityanddrugabuse.Thosewhocould not easilyaccessliquorbegantakingotherformsof drugsandthosethat could accessitdiditin hiding orsecrets12.Thenumberof Speakeasies dramatically increasedandat thesejointindividualshadlittlerespectforthelaw.Theresultwaserosionof peopleconfidenceandrespectforreligion,which waspartlyblamedfortheintroductionof a lawthat wasintendedto illegalize whatwasfeltto be a naturalrightfora man.

Prohibitionincreasedcorruptionin thecountryespeciallyin thecourtsystemandin lawenforcementagencies.Asthebantookeffect,productionandtransportationof alcoholwasdonein secretandwithout theknowledgeof thelawenforcers. Asthelevel of criminalactivitiesescalated,theinfluenceof wealthycriminalsincreased.Ifgangscould not be ableto influencea lawsenforcementofficersorpoliticiantheywipedthem out orusedtheir wealthto wagestrongcampaignsagainst suchleaders13.Liquormanufacturerswould alsoputcolossalsumsof moneyon a candidatethat wasconsideredas moreradicalorone whowasnot regardeda barrierto their productionactivities.Prohibitionwasmeantto solvesocialproblemsandsupportmoralitybutinsteaditprovideda breeding groundfrom whereillegalactivitieswould flourish.In somecases,liquormanufacturersusedtheir moneyto supporta candidateagainst theincumbent,orleakeda nastyscandalthat would damagethecredibilityof a politicianviewedas pro Prohibition. Forthefirsttimein America,theLaw becamethegreatestenemyto thepeopleanda sourceof criminalactivities.Additionally, democracywasunder immensepressurewith a loomingdangerof collapseof democraticinstitutionas numberof representativebackedby theliquormanufacturerscontinuedto increase.Thecrucialaspectin electionthat washeldin theeraof theProhibition Act wasthestanceof a leaderon theVolstead Act14.

Forexample,President Franklin D. Roosevelt wasableto beatanincumbentpresidentbecausehepromisedto spearheadthe moverepealthe18th amendment.Consequently a classof politiciansthat werelinkedto theorganizedgangs,criminalsorliquormanufacturersemerged,andthesewereopento thehighestbidder. Democracywasslowinglosingmeaningin a landthat wasconsideredto be builton its tenets.During thistime,manycasesin thecourtsrequiredincentivesfora fairandjusthearing.In a nutshell,corruptionrockedeverydepartmentof thestateandpeopletrustin their government,lawandgovernmentinstitutionsbeganto waneslowly.Besidesthemanycasesrelatingto theProhibition law,wereconsumingmanyresourcesandtimein courts.Forinstance,in theyear1923 approximatelyhalf(44%) of all thecasesheardby US District Attorneys wererelatedto theVolstead Act15.Inevitablythisdivertedtheattentionof thecourtsandpolicesafeguarding peopleandtheir property,andnot to imposea religioussect’smorality.

ProhibitionWas Not a Healthy Move

Theonlykeyconspicuouspositiveimpactof theProhibition Act wasthereductionin thenumberof deathsassociatedwith alcoholconsumption.Evensothatachievementwasan illusionsince Prohibition didnot improvethehygieneandhealthstatusof theAmerican populationas wasexpectedby thedrafters of theLaw. Deathsrelatedto livercirrhosis reducedthoughithas beenarguedthatcirrhosis relatedto alcoholismcomprisedonlya smallfractionof theannualdeaths16.Inthe periodbefore thepre-prohibition,thenumberof deathsdueto alcoholismhas significantly reduced,evenin theprohibitionperiodbutthissituationdidnot lastforlong.Soonpeopleincreasedintakeof verypoisonousalcoholicdrinkswhich hada tollon their health.Studiesby Victor andDarrow (1927) revealedthatmoderateconsumptionof alcoholhas nonegativeeffectson thehealthof drinkers,andin realityitmay be beneficial.Subsequentstudiesalsoshowedthatmoderatealcoholintakehas significantbenefitsto thecardiovascular andheartsystems.In thislight,itseemsprohibitionwaspeggedon thewrongpremiseandwasblatantly blindto thebenefitsthatAmerica societywould havederivedfrom alcoholin theabsenceof theProhibition Act.

Conclusion

Eventhoughtherateof liquorconsumptionreducedat thebeginningof theprohibition,itsoonwentbackto pre-prohibition level. Insteadof improvingthesociallifeandeconomyof theUS, thelawledto consumptionof moretoxicalcoholicbeverages,increasedtherateof crimeallover thecountry,andincreasedthetaxburdenon theAmerican populationas prisonsbecamefull to capacity,andas thenumberof courtcasesdramatically increased.Corruptioninthe publicdomainincreasedandthecountrylostbillions of dollarsemanatingfrom losttaxon liquormanufacturers.Unemploymentcontinuedto riseandgovernmentspending skyrocketed. Americans whocould not affordalcoholdueto anincreasein its pricedivertedto otherdrugssuchas patentmedicines,opium,cocaine andmarijuana.In theend,therewasnomeasurablebenefitof theProhibition Act.

Bibliography

Fish,Jefferson M. 2005. Drugsand society: U.S. public policy.Lanham, Md. [u.a.]: Rowman &amp Littlefield. Retrieved:http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=xpZhjBuDkuwC&amppg=PA50&ampdq=negative+effects+of+prohibition&amphl=en&ampsa=X&ampei=peldU9nkFPSS7AakrICwAw&ampredir_esc=y#v=onepage&ampq=negative%20effects%20of%20prohibition&ampf=false

Mark,Thornton. &quotAlcohol Prohibition Was a Failure.&quot CatoInstitute Policy Analysis No. 157,1991: 1-12. Retrived from:http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa157.pdf

Thornton,Mark. 1989. Theeconomics of prohibition.Thesis (Ph. D.)–Auburn University, 1989. Retrieved from:http://www.worldcat.org/title/economics-of-prohibition/oclc/21121967

1 Mark, Thornton. &quotAlcohol Prohibition Was a Failure.&quot Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 157, 1991 p. 2

2 ibid

3 Thornton, Mark. 1989. The economics of prohibition. Thesis (Ph. D.)–Auburn University, 1989 p. 141

4 Thornton p.140

5 Fish, Jefferson M. 2005. Drugs and society: U.S. public policy. Lanham, Md. [u.a.]: Rowman &amp Littlefield, p. 51

6 Ibid

7 Thornton 143

8 Mark p.1

9 Ibid p. 5

10 Fish p. 53

11 Thornton p. 142

12 Mark p.6

13 Mark p. 8

14 Ibid

15 Mark pp. 5-6

16 Ibid