Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reasons for the Prohibition

Prohibition came into effect because it had wide backing among Americans (or at least the elite who control the agenda). Catholics, corporate executives, and scientists all believed that prohibition would help society in numerous ways. They believed that prohibition would "promote an efficient and healthy workforce " and it would stop the corroding of "family life" (which we still have problems with today) (Davidson 709).

In addition, the all-knowing scientists of the day (who, even today, we trust almost full heartedly) believed "that the use of alcohol as a beverages detrimental to the human economy and whereas its use in therapeutics, as a tonic or a stimulant or as a food, has no scientific bases" (Spirit of America by Eric Burns).

I believe Prohibition was a decent (I don't agree with the ideals but I wouldn't necessarily condemn it) social experiment in which government should not have been involved. Instead, I believe individual citizens and associations should have advocated responsible consumption as well as focus on educating others regarding the negative consequences of alcohol consumption.

Unfortunately, government intervention with the 18th Amendment would lead to numerous unintended consequences. First, the consumption of hard liquor increased (and, as we all know, liquor can take any situation a little over the top). Second, prohibition led to increased gang violence. This was a time when individuals like Al Capone began to appear in cities throughout the United States. Finally, prohibition, as with most legislation, effected the poor more than the rich: "only the well-to-do had enough money to drink regularly without risking death or blindness, the common effects of cheap, tainted liquor" (Davidson 709).

Davidson, James, Brian Delay, Christine Heyrman, Mark Lytle, and Michael Stoff, Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic Volume II: Since 1865. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

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