By Tom Rhodes, repeat of 4/23/2009 post because it's relevant
Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Dion O'Banion, "Bugs" Moran (AKA Jack "Legs" Diamond), and "Dutch" Schultz, "Pretty Boy" Floyd, "Babyface" Nelson, Elliot Ness, Speakeasy, revenuers, G-men, The Coton Club, The Godfather, Flappers, all everyday names, places, styles. and ideas from some of our most popular action movies - Gangster movies.
Chicago - when you hear the name of that city do you think of honesty, integrity, liberty, or do you think of gangsters, crooked politics, graft and greed?
The roaring 20's where alcohol consumption was illegal, this had the following results: alcohol related deaths rose dramatically; arrests for drunkenness and disorderly conduct increased 41 percent; arrests for drunk driving increased 81 percent; organized crime grew into an empire; disrespect for the law grew; and the per capita consumption of the prohibited substance (alcohol) increased dramatically.
People flagrantly violated the law, drinking more of the substance that was originally prohibited. The problems prohibition intended to solve, such as crime, grew worse and they never returned to their pre-prohibition levels. Not only was prohibition ineffective, it was also damaging to the people and society it was meant to help. Prohibition should not have gone on for the thirteen years it was allowed to damage society.
You would think that prohibition would enhance the difficulty of obtaining alcohol. The opposite was true, liquor was actually very easy to acquire. The bootlegging business was so immense that customers could easily obtain alcohol by simply walking down almost any street. Today it's easier for a teen to get a joint than a beer. Pot's available at high school, and the local dealer doesn't card you.
FBI statistics show that in 2007 Police arrested an estimated 872,720 persons for cannabis violations, more than ever recorded in the USA. That's only the ones the police caught, many more never get caught. Even our last 3 presidents have admitted to doing pot. Well Clinton didn't inhale, so he might not count.
My grandfather born in Italy, living in Detroit, never paid any taxes from 1922 'til 1931 when for health reasons he moved to St. Louis and got a different job. (He was told to get out of town, as an independent Winsor to Detroit boatman, some people from the Purple Gang advised him that his health was in danger if he remained in Detroit.) This means that although he earned enough money to fully pay for a house, and was never without a new Oldsmobile every two years since leaving his independent delivery business, he also never paid a dime in income taxes over that same period of time. The government lost significant revenue for the 13 years of Prohibition because of the number of people earning a living "off the books".
How many of our inner city entrepreneurs currently earning a living selling a product their neighbors and friends obviously want, but happens to be illegal, are paying income taxes on their income?
Pot is a gateway drug to harder drugs. This is the argument for keeping it illegal. Beer prior to prohibition was the drink of choice for most, but because beer had to be transported in large quantities, which became difficult, the price of beer went up and thus Americans began to drink less of it. Instead, they began to drink more hard liquor, which was more concentrated and easier to transport and thus less expensive. Because of prohibition, Americans began to drink more potent drinks and so became more drunk by drinking less. This sounds exactly like what's happened to the drug business, coke, crack, designer synthetic drugs, etc. all now available because there is more punch in smaller volume. In fact it can be argued that because of prohibition pot, and cocaine became more popular (they were still legal). Hence our war on drugs can be attributed to our failed war on demon alcohol.
Two good things did come from prohibition. Sweet mixed drinks, to cover the bad taste of bootleg liquer, it was mixed with sweet fruit juices to make it more palatable. Now we have fuzzy navels, bloody marys, Harvey Wallbangers, in fact an entire industry based on making hard to pallet strong liquors taste better. We also have the most popular and most watched sport in the nation due to prohibition. Nascar, started out with fast cars that were made from everyday transportation to out run government agents, and now it's watched by millions every weekend. And the drink most associated with Nascar... Beer, gotta love the irony.
Violence of the "Roaring 20's" was legendary. The violence of today’s drug gangs is just as legendary. There are as many modern gangster movies as those set in the 20's. When was the last time you heard a shooting over a "beer deal gone bad"? When was the last time you saw the door of a winery busted down on Cops? Doesn't happen, want to end violence related to gangs and drugs, then end drug prohibition. Because it's forced into the black market, the profits from drugs are extraordinarily large. A risk/profit analysis results in many people participating in illegal businesses. If there were not extraordinary risks, then there wouldn't be huge profits. The risks are there because drug suppliers, dealers, and purchasers can't avail themselves to the court system to settle disputes, they have to settle disputes themselves. This makes people who are willing to use violence and have violent skills employable, as these skills are necessary in the absence of being able to use a judiciary. End prohibition and the need for violence will disappear, just as it did in the alcohol business.
This is all common knowledge, in fact I've been collecting data like this forever from the net, for references just use Google on prohibition, gangsters, roaring 20's etc. all this and more is out there. We know that prohibition didn't work for alcohol, and was a total disaster. We know this yet we cling to our war on drugs. Why?
Short answer is money. $19 billion federal dollars spend on the war on drugs in 2007. People running law enforcement, prisons, courts, selling law enforcement equipment, etc. all depend on the money from the war on drugs for their livelihood. Most of these are government workers or contractors. They don't want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. If we ended the war on drugs we would only need a fraction of our prisons, law enforcement officers, and government employees. The government is protecting it job and power, not its citizens.
The stupidity of the failed war on drugs has got to stop. More illegal drugs are used in the US than anywhere in the world, the violence associated with drugs being illegal in the world has created international cartels, unstable governments, and the death and destruction of hundreds of thousands of people. We know that prohibition leads to gangs, violence, crime, stronger chemicals, more addiction, and more use. Please work at ending prohibition, it doesn't work; all it does is give the government an excuse to further erode our liberty and freedom.