Liberty and libations

Hey, you know what tomorrow (Tuesday) is? It’s Repeal Day, the anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment and the end of Prohibition. A day to celebrate two of my favorite things, liberty and alcohol. Is there any better reason to go out and have a drink? (As if there needed to be a reason…) Some Repeal Day links for you:

Imagine an America where Prohibition is still in effect. What would we do for birthdays?

Mark Thornton’s Cato paper from 1991 on the failure of the “noble experiment,” including a discussion of the “Iron Law of Prohibition:”

The most notable of those consequences has been labeled the “Iron Law of Prohibition” by Richard Cowan. That law states that the more intense the law enforcement, the more potent the prohibited substance becomes. When drugs or alcoholic beverages are prohibited, they will become more potent, will have greater variability in potency, will be adulterated with unknown or dangerous substances, and will not be produced and consumed under normal market constraints. The Iron Law undermines the prohibitionist case and reduces or outweighs the benefits ascribed to a decrease in consumption.

Statistics indicate that for a long time Americans spent a falling share of income on alcoholic beverages. They also purchased higher quality brands and weaker types of alcoholic beverages. Before Prohibition, Americans spent roughly equal amounts on beer and spirits. However, during Prohibition virtually all production, and therefore consumption, was of distilled spirits and fortified wines. Beer became relatively more expensive because of its bulk, and it might have disappeared altogether except for homemade beer and near beer, which could be converted into real beer.

Read the whole thing, and don’t forget to apply the lessons to the current War on Drugs.

We’re not out of the woods yet. Be sure also to take a look at Radley Balko’s paper from a few years ago on neoprohibition.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler argues that Repeal Day ought to become the ultimate drinking holiday in the United States, surpassing St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Halloween. I couldn’t agree more. It’s too late for me to do anything this year, but mark my words: next year’s Repeal Day party is going to be awesome.

There’s probably no drinker demonized more than the pregnant woman. While heavy drinking is clearly dangerous, there’s no clear evidence that an occasional drink while pregnant risks harming the fetus. So lay off that pregnant lady at the bar, ok?

From the same section in the Times, a look at strong beers in the United States. [Both links via Slashfood.]

I’ll probably cap Repeal Day with a shot of homemade limoncello. Unlike Danny Devito, I plan on showing up sober for work the next day. [Thanks, Chad!]

And finally, a trivia question. Do you know which state was the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 21st Amendment, thus ending Prohibition? The answer may surprise you.


6 thoughts on “Liberty and libations”

  1. Yeah, I knew the Utah thing… crazy, dude. I’m going out tomorrow to celebrate. You’re free to come down if you want.

  2. You’ll be proud to know that, while I am still at work at 8 PM, I am getting a good buzz in honor of this historic occasion.

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