1. If You Have a Passion for Homemade Liquor, Tough Luck: It’s a Crime.

This spring, Alabama legalized the homebrewing of beer, the last US state to do so (1). But there is not a single place in the US where you can enjoy homemade hard liquor without risking hard time. Only relatively large industrial actors are able to distill alcohol, and they have to go through years of paperwork and acquire an enormous amount of financing (2). Beer was in the exact same situation until recently:

“…when President Jimmy Carter legalized homebrewing in 1979, it changed the world… There were people all over the country brewing beer as outlaws, but as soon as it became legal to buy and sell homebrew supplies without disguising them as wine-making supplies, many more people started to homebrew…History has taught us that homebrewing begets craft brewing: most professional craft brewers start out as home brewers.” (3)

And, just as the legalization of homebrewing led to the craft beer market, legalizing home distilling would lead to far more competition in distillation. Outlawing “non-professional” distillation leads to a concentrated monopoly in distilling. It would be as if cooking were illegal for everyone but professional chefs. Distillation is legal in New Zealand (4), and a plague of bad alcohol has never wreaked havoc there (for more on plagues of bad alcohol, read on).

2. Americans will Fight for their Right to Party.

As everyone knows, federal alcohol prohibition didn’t stop the consumption of alcohol any more than federal cannabis prohibition has stopped the consumption of cannabis. Doctors, for instance, would prescribe liquor to any “patient” who provided them with the appropriate kickback:

“For most of the 1920s, a patient could get a prescription for one pint every 10 days about as easily as California patients can now get ‘recommendations’ for medical marijuana. All it took to acquire a liquor prescription was cash — generally about $3, the equivalent of about $40 today…” (5)

Furthermore, local government was very sympathetic to crooked doctors, bootleggers, and everyone else who fought the feds’ intrusion in their choice of liquids. Juries refused to convict those charged of violating prohibition, for instance. (6)

Going back further: Local resistance to federal alcohol laws is as old as the country itself. One of the US federal government’s first acts was to impose an excise tax on whiskey, and Americans did not take this lying down:

“The entire American back-country was gripped by a non-violent, civil disobedient refusal to pay the hated tax on whiskey. No local juries could be found to convict tax delinquents. The Whiskey Rebellion was actually widespread and successful, for it eventually forced the federal government to repeal the excise tax.” (7)

3. Uncle Sam Wants You…Dead.

The United States federal government prohibited alcohol in order to improve the public health. And, in order to dissuade people from making it, they poisoned the materials used to manufacture alcohol:

“Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States… by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.” (8)

Consider just how evil and insane this is: It would be as if Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, in his quest to ban trans fats, started distributing trans fats containing AIDS. When central planners try to control the health of a country, the end result is typically devastation. As author CS Lewis once put it:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” (9)

4. The Federal Drinking Age is Alcoholism’s Best Friend.

America is exceptional in that it is the only first-world country with a drinking age of 21. So, are American teenagers safer?

“Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, smoke more pot, drink nearly as much alcohol and are more likely to die violent deaths, compared to young people in the same age group around the globe.” (10)

In countries where alcohol consumption at 18, or even 16, is legal, young people tend to go out and drink in public. If they get too drunk, a bartender will cut them off: They will have to leave their friends and/or force their friends to go home. It is a strong social deterrent that does not exist in a college dorm, where the drink-until-you-fall-down culture remains unchecked.

This situation, of course, is not unique to alcohol. When Portugal decriminalized all drugs, drug deaths decreased by 50%. (11) Lives were saved. Why does ending a drug war lead to a safer society? Many reasons can be supposed: People don’t like being told what to do, and will do illegal things out of spite. If you want to make every kid brush and floss three times a day, make it illegal. Also, drug wars distort market prices for drugs: They make cannabis far more expensive than meth, for instance. Finally, people are much, much, much more hesitant to seek treatment when it means registering with the system as a criminal.

5. The 18th Amendment is Alive and Well on the Roadways.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended a federal ban against driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent. What does this mean? Well…“a 100-pound woman, after just one drink, will have a 0.05.” (12) The federal government is officially pushing for women to either stop driving or stop drinking. Of course, in years past it was taboo and/or illegal for women to either drink or drive: The feds, apparently, are feeling nostalgic.

Some states already enforce a 0.05 percent blood alcohol level, but only on those under 21 years of age. To see what lies in store for Americans over 21, examine what happens when someone 20-years-old or younger gets into a car accident after having a single beer.

“Isaac’s blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was .05 percent…Troopers transported Isaac to the Calcasieu Parish Correctional Center where she was booked for vehicular homicide…” (13)

Isaac did nothing immoral, and she did nothing that would be illegal elsewhere on earth. But she will be facing 35 years in prison for it. And some states are even pushing the death penalty for vehicular homicide. (14)

If the prohibitionists had their way, the 18th Amendment would still be in effect. But even after repeal, they are pushing harder than ever. During Alcohol Prohibition, alcohol consumption was actually legal, it was just the buying and selling that was illegal. Nowadays, you can go to jail for decades, and even face the death penalty, for just having a single beer.

 

(1) http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/05/gov_robert_bentley_signs_home.html

(2) http://www.ttb.gov/faqs/genalcohol.shtml

(3) http://blog.seattlepi.com/washingtonbeerblog/2013/05/08/alabama-is-threatening-to-legalize-homebrewing/

(4) http://good.net.nz/magazine/good-issue-24/features/beginners-guide-to-home-distilling

(5) http://mises.org/freemarket_detail.aspx?control=206

(6) http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/medicinal-alcohol-made-mockery-of-prohibition/1095789

(7) http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/zenger/nullification.html

(8) http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2010/02/the_chemists_war.html

(9) https://www.wcsu.edu/americandemocracy/quotes.asp

(10) http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/04/26/american-teens-live-fast-die-hard/

(11) http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/07/05/ten-years-after-decriminalization-drug-abuse-down-by-half-in-portugal/

(12) http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/transportation/proposal-to-lower-dui-limit-is-facing-a-long-road-688365/#ixzz2cocuJiTA

(13) http://www.katc.com/news/elton-teenager-accused-of-vehicular-homicide/#_

(14) http://www.csmonitor.com/2000/0403/p2s1.html/%28page%29/3