Money talks, bullshit walks. The government needed the tax revenue more than it cared about the harm alcohol caused.
I bet if they could find a way to tax cocaine and heroin they'd legalize those too.
Cocaine and heroin aren't legal because it would be impossible to tax them once they were legalized? What?
You're talking like politics is a singular, logical accountant rather than an assortment of individuals that occasionally grandstand for votes. There are plenty of bullshit reasons for vice laws other than not being able to figure out how to tax legal goods.
"In 1933, this would lead to the Cullen-Harrison Act of 1933."
What I should have said was that if the government thought they could get away with legalizing drugs like coke and heroin, they would, and tax their sale. Tobacco is legal, and it's the most toxic substance people consume.
Actually, sugar doesn't meet the definition of "drug". We literally need glucose to live. For example, when you burn fat stores, your body first converts the energy in a fat molecule into a glucose molecule, and then burns the newly-formed glucose molecule for energy. Creating metabolic energy (aka "life") always comes back to glucose. And water. And oxygen. Those are pretty much the essence of life.
Our bodies sometimes go wacky if we consume too much sugar because our bodies weren't designed with the idea that we'd be intaking so much of *exactly* what it needs, so it goes nuts trying to store all this manna from heaven.
When you take cocaine, on the other hand, your body's natural, healthy processes truly are sidelined for something that does it harm. Don't get me wrong: drugs are fun. But what makes a drug a drug is precisely that they're not good for you. (Or, at best, they're metabolically irrelevant, like acid.)
Sugar has always been tied with bread, which has heavy class/racial implications because everybody eats it. Long story short, wealthy white women get it up their ass that their kids are special and have diseases that other children simply don't get, and the response is to get touchy about a common food that is available across the board, while switching to expensive, rare foods. This happened in the 1890s with the fanatical terror of brown bread as being inferior and unhealthy for children, which coincidentally led to a burgeoning industry of industrial baking. Then, 100 years later, white bread became the villain, and they all switched to brown bread again, because non-whites were able to live efficiently on cheaper bread.
It's always the wealthy white women, always.
There's a decent Ken Burns doc on this subject. I thought the role of anti-German sentiment was interesting.
The post-game narrative of Prohibition being all about the sin of legislating morality is incredibly depression. You can totally legislate morality, the problem is that the legislation you use must be fair and itself moral. The Vollstead Act was designed to punish poor, ethnically European immigrants and litigate the use of sacramental wine. There was no problem getting medical prescriptions for alcohol if you were (Anglo-Saxon) enough to get them.
If the law was actually intended to prohibit alcohol out of genuine concern for the lives ruined by alcohol, a very real problem that unfortunately we cannot now address, then there might still be Prohibition. It was, instead, a bad law about making some unpopular people miserable.
no no it was all about the evil government octopus that lives below the capitol building not being able how to figure out how to tax a legal commodity.
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