The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Psst...Joe sent me

Are you as fascinated by history as I am? I especially enamored of the period between 1920 and 1945. A friend mentioned last Friday a mini-series by Ken Burns on PBS coming up. It turned out to be about (and named) Prohibition. Mr. Burns is a great documentary producer and anything he produces is well researched, well made, and entertaining as well as educational. One of the things I learned was that it wasn't the 18th Amendment outlawing the importation, manufacture, and sale of alcohol that was the problem but the Volstead Act which it gave birth to that caused the havoc that followed. That and human nature.

The adage that "you can't legislate morality" was repeated fairly often in the second part but that's not true, we have done it many times successfully as well as many times unsuccessfully.

Prohibition was an interesting period in U.S. history. The idea started out, as most disastrous policies do, with good intentions. But when you ban something, you just increase its desirability. Really. We know this but it never seems to stop us. Says something about common sense, doesn't it?

So far, I have watched 2 of the 3 parts and have learned quite a bit. Documentaries are an excellent way to learn, especially ones as well done as those by Ken Burns.

Prohibition offered us many lessons about human nature, few of them seem to have taken hold, though. One lesson is that any banned substance will be exploited for profit. The second is that money breeds corruption. There were many other lessons but I believe those are the most important ones.

After 14 years, the Prohibition Amendment and the Volstead Act were repealed. The Noble Experiment was over but the damage was done. Organized crime had expanded beyond imagination; politicians, police, judges, and average people had been corrupted.

Some interesting things came to light in the first part. Prior to the passage of the income tax amendment (#16), alcohol taxes were a very important source of federal revenue.

It's all about the money.

The final episode (subtitled: A Nation of Hypocrites) tells the story of the nation's almost wholesale ignoring of the law and the return to sanity.

If you missed it, you can view it here.

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