Patterico's Pontifications

7/28/2014

Yes, Prohibition “Worked” — In Terms of Reducing Alcohol Consumption

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:36 pm

I wrote a post this morning about the New York Times editorial favoring marijuana decriminalization. In comments, one commenter asked: “Didn’t alcohol consumption decrease when it was legalised?”

I’m glad you asked. The answer is no.

It’s commonly accepted that “Prohibition did not work.” That’s certainly not an unreasonable view, depending upon one’s view about what Prohibition was intended to accomplish. But the commonly held dogma causes many intelligent people to assume that there was just as much drinking, if not more, during Prohibition. They use this incorrect “fact” to argue that marijuana prohibition actually increases consumption. Their conclusion: when we repeal all the marijuana laws, not only will all sorts of wonderful benefits occur, but in addition (they say) usage will actually go down!

This is not so.

In 1989, Mark H. Moore, a professor of criminal justice at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, published an op-ed in the New York Times that took on the myths:

What everyone ”knows” about Prohibition is that it was a failure. It did not eliminate drinking; it did create a black market. That in turn spawned criminal syndicates and random violence. Corruption and widespread disrespect for law were incubated and, most tellingly, Prohibition was repealed only 14 years after it was enshrined in the Constitution.

The lesson drawn by commentators is that it is fruitless to allow moralists to use criminal law to control intoxicating substances. Many now say it is equally unwise to rely on the law to solve the nation’s drug problem.

But the conventional view of Prohibition is not supported by the facts.

First, the regime created in 1919 by the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, which charged the Treasury Department with enforcement of the new restrictions, was far from all-embracing. The amendment prohibited the commercial manufacture and distribution of alcoholic beverages; it did not prohibit use, nor production for one’s own consumption. Moreover, the provisions did not take effect until a year after passage -plenty of time for people to stockpile supplies.

Second, alcohol consumption declined dramatically during Prohibition. Cirrhosis death rates for men were 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 and 10.7 in 1929. Admissions to state mental hospitals for alcoholic psychosis declined from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1919 to 4.7 in 1928.

Arrests for public drunkennness and disorderly conduct declined 50 percent between 1916 and 1922. For the population as a whole, the best estimates are that consumption of alcohol declined by 30 percent to 50 percent.

Third, violent crime did not increase dramatically during Prohibition. Homicide rates rose dramatically from 1900 to 1910 but remained roughly constant during Prohibition’s 14 year rule. Organized crime may have become more visible and lurid during Prohibition, but it existed before and after.

Fourth, following the repeal of Prohibition, alcohol consumption increased. Today, alcohol is estimated to be the cause of more than 23,000 motor vehicle deaths and is implicated in more than half of the nation’s 20,000 homicides. In contrast, drugs have not yet been persuasively linked to highway fatalities and are believed to account for 10 percent to 20 percent of homicides.

Moore does not conclude that Prohibition was a good idea (although he clearly does believe in banning substances like cocaine or heroin). Moore says: “A democratic society may decide that recreational drinking is worth the price in traffic fatalities and other consequences.” The point is: we should make these decisions with our eyes wide open, and not pretend that there won’t be more usage and adverse consequences from that usage.

But it won’t do to stop with one source. What is the counterargument? I searched around for pieces that made the opposite case, but found nothing convincing. At Cato, Mark Thornton has a piece titled Alcohol Prohibition Was a Failure. Thornton does not dispute the fact that alcohol consumption decreased:

According to its proponents, all the proposed benefits of Prohibition depended on, or were a function of, reducing the quantity of alcohol consumed. At first glance, the evidence seems to suggest that the quantity consumed did indeed decrease. That would be no surprise to an economist: making a product more difficult to supply will increase its price, and the quantity consumed will be less than it would have been otherwise.

Thornton does not argue that alcohol consumption did not decrease; he concedes that it did. Instead, Thornton says that the decrease was not that valuable due to several “qualifications” concerning that decrease. He says the decrease “was not very significant” and that consumption “rose steadily after an initial drop.” Maybe, but it never reached or surpassed the original level until after Prohibition was repealed. The sources cited by Thornton include “Alcohol Consumption During Prohibition” by Jeffrey A. Miron and Jeffrey Zweibel, which states (.pdf):

We find that alcohol consumption fell sharply at the beginning of Prohibition, to approximately 30 percent of its pre-Prohibition level. During the next several years, however, alcohol consumption increased sharply, to about 60-70 percent of its pre-prohibition level. The level of consumption was virtually the same immediately after Prohibition as during the latter part of Prohibition, although consumption increased to approximately its pre-Prohibition level during the subsequent decade.

Thornton also argues that “[h]eightened enforcement did not curtail consumption” as consumption increased in the latter years of Prohibition. Finally, he concludes:

The fourth qualification may actually be the most important: a decrease in the quantity of alcohol consumed did not make Prohibition a success. Even if we agree that society would be better off if less alcohol were consumed, it does not follow that lessening consumption through Prohibition made society better off.

That may be, and the point of this post is not to argue the point. The point of the post is to show that, if you measure Prohibition’s success in terms of alcohol usage, it “worked.”

So: if you want to argue for decriminalization of marijuana, be my guest — but please: be honest about what it will mean. Decriminalizing marijuana will lead to more marijuana usage, and all the negative consequences that follow.

It might be worth it, and it might not. Let’s just be clear about the negatives, rather than wishing them away with a wave of the hand and a declaration that “Prohibition did not work.”

134 Responses to “Yes, Prohibition “Worked” — In Terms of Reducing Alcohol Consumption”

  1. Let’s see how long it takes for someone to cite this post for a proposition that it repeatedly disclaims making: that prohibition of alcohol or marijuana is a good idea.

    I figure the over/under is 20 comments.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. Between 1900 and 1914 the rate of immigration tripled in this country (note: this link is to a PDF download), so that by the beginning of World War I just about one in eight (12.3%) residents of the U.S. was an immigrant. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that as poor, uneducated, and low-skill immigrants tried to assimilate into the U.S. that there emerged protection rackets, loansharking, kidnapping, and other social ills that allowed for the proliferation of gangs. I think prohibition exacerbated the gang phenomena and allowed some of the gangsters to become fabulously wealthy, but I’ve always been surprised at the ignorance of people who think that organized crime didn’t start until Prohibition.

    As your post proves, it would be a good idea to go back to the days of Prohibition. [Kidding! Kidding!]

    JVW (feb406)

  3. self-driving cars

    game change

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  4. There will never be a self-driving car with no possibility of human override in an unusual situation, which means it will always be illegal for the driver to be under the influence. IMO.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  5. sure but fatalities and such will kerplummet to where those creepy MADD fascists are rummaging through the couch cushions looking for spare change

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  6. Say what they might about prohibition, but an untold multitude of regular Joe’s came home from work with their entire paychecks that had been spent at the local bar before.

    TimothyJ (a33d78)

  7. Other examples of a 30 percent reduction constituting success:

    Excited boy running into his family home, waiving his report card in his hand and saying: “Mom! Dad! Great news! I only got 70 percent “F”s on my report card!”

    Wife explaining at a marriage counseling session: “But I did honor my vows. I reduced the number of men I sleep around with by 30 percent.”

    Doctor counseling a heart patient: “There’s no reason for concern. I’ve had great success with this surgery. Since the implementation of ObamaCare, thirty percent of my patients survive (sorry, I guess I wondered off topic).”

    There is almost never complete compliance with any sort of law. To answer the question of how much compliance is optimal, traffic planners use an industry accepted threshold of 85 percent. It seems like a reasonable threshold for almost any law. Even the most optimistic estimates of the reduction in alcohol use during Prohibition never came near this threshold. What do you suppose the drug law compliance rate is in South-Central? Ten percent? Five percent? Zero percent?

    My view is that compliance rates, alone, are an insufficient measure of the success or failure of any law, though in the case of Prohibition, even the optimistic rate of 50 percent doesn’t seem very high. The objective of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and other prohibitionist groups was to curb destructive, anti-social behaviors. What these prohibitions, in fact, accomplished was to spawn organized criminality of a type and magnitude never before seen in this country. Yes, Prohibition brought lower rates of alcohol consumption, but it also brought us the Mob.

    When I was a boy growing up in Los Angeles, there were no Crips, no Bloods and no MS-13. That changed when the War on Drugs created huge profits for a new generation of organized criminals. Yes, the prohibition on drugs has undoubtedly decreased the rate of drug consumption, but it also brought us the drug Mafia.

    Here’s a link to a delightful article about some unanticipated consequences of Prohibition: http://coolmaterial.com/feature/9-bizarre-effects-of-prohibition/

    ThOR (130453)

  8. The kind of crap libertines masquerading as libertarians (ThOR?) come up with. Why don’t you try “I increased my income by 30%”. Or “my lifespan” for that matter.

    nk (dbc370)

  9. The one claim that I’m fairly certain is pure bilge is that legalizing marijuana will lower its usage. At best, one can theorize that legalization of dope will not increase its usage, and it’s reasonable to estimate legalization will increase usage. But the idea that legalization will decrease usage? No, not in the real world.

    After all, the various edicts against tobacco and smoking in public through the years have certainly NOT resulted in increased cigarette sales, and, at most, one can theorize nanny-state finger pointing about smoking hasn’t affected cigarettes sales one way or the other. But the notion that such laws have increased purchases of Marlboro, Winston and Camel? Uh, hell, no.

    Mark (2604a9)

  10. My only feeling about it is something I read one time: When a million people violate a law, the law itself is called into question.

    We supposedly live in a democracy, and we’re supposed to be represented by people who are supposed to carry out our will in law-making. If they pass a law which a very large percentage of the populace violates, it’s probably not a good law.

    I stopped smoking grass 25 years ago, and if it were legalized now I don’t think I’d start again. But I think that it should be legalized because it’s obvious that a very large percentage (possibly a majority of my generation, for instance) disagrees with it.

    Even if the consequences of repeal would be bad, it doesn’t change my opinion.

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  11. Point of order, SDB:

    We do not live in a Democracy. We live in a Constitutional Republic.

    John Hitchcock (4a172a)

  12. an untold multitude of regular Joe’s came home from work with their entire paychecks that had been spent at the local bar before.

    This was the rationale for the pub closing hours in Britain. The argument for liberalizing them was that drinking increased during the reduced hours. I don’t know if research was done on that but it is a similar argument.

    I think marijuana could be legalized but not cocaine. The latter causes hyperactivity and paranoia, a bad combination. It also causes sudden death but that could be seen as a neutral matter if the users are aware. When I posted something about this on Facebook some libertarian fool commented that the same is true of alcohol but it is not. Alcohol and heroin are both sedatives.

    Mike K (b5c01a)

  13. We live in a Constitutional Republic.

    lol

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  14. Overall consumption may have decreased, but there was a remarkable incidence of “binge drinking” that continues today.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  15. Well, the wrapper says Constitutional Republic, unfortunately it’s an Empty Box.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  16. Whatever it is, the government is supposed to be responsive to the will of the people, not the other way around. And the sheer quantity of lawbreaking in this one area makes clear that the people don’t agree with this law.

    So it ought to go, for that reason alone.

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  17. Patterico writes:

    There will never be a self-driving car with no possibility of human override in an unusual situation

    Kind of off-topic but Google has designed a self-driving car with no possibility of human override. There’s no steering wheel or pedals.

    Anonymous1 (f4829a)

  18. sure but fatalities and such will kerplummet to where those creepy MADD fascists are rummaging through the couch cushions looking for spare change

    happyfeet (8ce051) — 7/28/2014 @ 7:06 pm

    Have you ever heard of computer failure or software bugs? Think it through!

    “The road to hell is paved with good intensions.”

    Tanny O'Haley (87b2aa)

  19. Are intoxicants fungible? Might marijuana consumption increase while alcohol consumption decreases?

    Roy Lofquist (c75d91)

  20. Prohibition worked in the same sense that gun control works.

    There are people who can take booze or leave it alone. To them, three beers is a bender. These are the people who didn’t drink a drop during Prohibition — it really wasn’t interesting enough to them to break the law.

    There are people who cannot get up in the morning without a Bloody Mary. Such people would have ensured their alcohol supply throughout Prohibition. The never had a dry day.

    And of course there are others in between. Some of them didn’t drink, drank less, or had to make more effort to drink and sometimes did not.

    The problem is, again like gun control, that the people they wanted to keep away from booze — the trouble-makers, the alcoholics, the binge drinkers and the wife-beaters — they all had plenty of booze. It was John Q Citizen who stayed dry; people who were never a problem at all.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  21. So, yes, legalizing marijuana will increase usage. By including more people in the user base, it may increase addiction, but probably not very much.

    Some people now abusing alcohol or prescription drugs might find they like pot better, but that’s not a net change. People who are overly influenced by legality aren’t the type that tends to abuse drugs anyway.

    The things to worry about in any legalization scheme are: how do you make it no less difficult for kids to get pot, and how do you deal with DUIs?

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  22. Then you might have a partial legalization.

    Suppose the state issued picture ID cards to everyone who applied, stating that they were permitted to buy booze or pot or cigarettes or similar legal products. Without that card you cannot buy the stuff. Drive under the influence or get in a bar fight or otherwise screw up, they take it away for a time.

    I guarantee that will put the fear of God in an addict.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  23. Kind of off-topic but Google has designed a self-driving car with no possibility of human override. There’s no steering wheel or pedals.

    They’ll sell more of the other kind.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  24. Are intoxicants fungible? Might marijuana consumption increase while alcohol consumption decreases?

    Not necessarily. Sometimes they are combinatorial. I know for a fact that scotch and cocaine work well together and increase the consumption of both.

    Pot and booze, however, probably amplify the effect of each other and sleepy-time comes sooner.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  25. The only people that want cannabis illegal are the govt. cartels, and self appointed gods.
    Republicans should be on top of this issue, it will matter in the next presidential election.
    I have seen ganja help cancer patients. As Peter Tosh wrote- Legalize it don’t criticize it.

    mg (31009b)

  26. Pot and booze, however, probably amplify the effect of each other and sleepy-time comes sooner.

    After a certain age nearly everything makes sleepy-time come sooner. The Outlaw Biker series cracks me up. You got these guys in their sixties looking like they’re going to drop during the interview. If that doesn’t convince you to give up drugs, nothing will.

    I don’t care if it’s legalized or not. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it. If it serves some medical purpose, like helping cancer patients, why not?

    Hadoop (f7d5ba)

  27. Peter Tosh. A staunch conservative.

    nk (dbc370)

  28. Here’s the real lesson of Prohibition – at the time everyone understood that for there to be a federal criminalization of alcohol required a constitutional amendment. A decade after repeal the Supreme Court gutted the Constitution in Wickard v Filburn and now a central government make rules for all the minutiae of our lives while being insulated from any consequences by size, distance, and the bureaucratic state.

    But we still delude ourselves we’re “free”.

    koparosti (e7e67c)

  29. When you have drug dogs running down the halls of the junior high, you don’t have an availabiltiy problem.
    As somebody smarter than I said, the user of drugs hurts himself–mostly–while the crimes committed by the user and the supply chain hurt others, most of them non-users.
    And prohibition corrupts whole nations, LEO on various levels, destroys communities.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  30. There has never been a real war on drugs.

    But drugs have been at war with us, occupying entire neighborhoods.

    Amphipolis (d3e04f)

  31. Prohibition wasn’t a success, it was a failure, not because overall alcohol consumption declined (which it did), but because the cure was worse than the disease. It’s the same with pot, laws against it can’t stop people from smoking weed, and the time, effort, and expense of attempting to prevent access are a complete fool’s errand. Pot prosecutions waste resources and disrupt lives and are every bit as ineffective as pissing against the wind.

    ropelight (3ecabd)

  32. Anonymous:

    Patterico writes:

    There will never be a self-driving car with no possibility of human override in an unusual situation

    Kind of off-topic but Google has designed a self-driving car with no possibility of human override. There’s no steering wheel or pedals.

    I guess my imprecise language did not convey what I thought it had. Of course Google has such a car; everyone knows about it, and happyfeet’s reference to it is what I was responding to. What I was saying — but obviously did not convey, which is my fault — is that I doubt that car will ever be offered for sale and allowed by the government. Despite their having logged over 500,000 miles on it without it having caused an accident, I think lawmakers will say there must be a human override for the unforeseen situation.

    That’s my opinion anyway. But yes, I have heard of the car. And seen videos of it and read about it.

    Patterico (e369c3)

  33. 6.Say what they might about prohibition, but an untold multitude of regular Joe’s came home from work with their entire paychecks that had been spent at the local bar before.
    TimothyJ (a33d78) — 7/28/2014 @ 7:33 pm

    A drop of over 50% in cirrhosis deaths sure indicates a decrease in drinking to me. That’s also likely a big decrease in spousal and child abuse, disrupted families, people dependent upon welfare, etc., etc.

    We make laws in part because many people will at least not go out of their way to break them.
    If you subscribe to alcoholism as being a “disease”, then you are arguing for a poison to be available to people who cannot help themselves, if you subscribe to the idea that abuse is a moral failing, then you are arguing for something that leads to moral decline.
    Either way, as said, that cat is out of the bag and to argue that making another problem legal because one problem already is seems to be an argument mainly for those who just want the opportunity to partake and who cares about the consequences to others.

    I think there may be no good answer to this question, because it is the wrong question.
    You have a society where a huge percentage of youth don’t finish high school, and even those who do often cannot pass a test that an 8th grader would 60 years ago. An increasing number of people are dependent on the government for survival as they are not capable of a somewhat minimal level of personal responsibility.
    And some want to argue for something that will make all of this worse?

    When you make it legal, in one way it would be nice to change the name to “Soma”*, but a ridiculously few number of people would understand, or care, hey man.

    *http://www.huxley.net/soma/meaning.html

    I remember people watching the “ant races” in the dorms. I guess that is maybe meaningless to many, as many people don’t recognize the electronic chaos of an analog TV to even understand what ant races were. I always thought anything that made such a pastime interesting wasn’t worth it, even if the cost was zero.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  34. It is my hope that that will be the next generation of public transportation. It is my further hope that it will be free. And I expect that there will be a human override, remotely controlled like the automated people movers at airports.

    nk (dbc370)

  35. It decreased alcohol consumption ineffectively. The sharper drop evaporated as supply began to fulfill demand., and the supply’s ice was very lucrative as the demand was …. Intense,, and later quite the fashion.

    I suspect those prone to indulge might have hd less than before. And some would find other means of relief, tor entertainment. Prohibition brought demand for other chemical coping solutions in addition to making crime pay.

    Ithe arms race against MJ has led to high potency… If it had just been let alone, it would be a low-dose minor pleasure for those who like it. On the other hand, many would be, curious casual users will get too much the first time and hate it forever.

    I grew up in an age where a kid could get anything and marijuana easily in a nice, heavily Caucasian suburban high school. Consequences for being caught were extremely low and handles discreetly by the area high schools. I never had any attraction to it, not alcohol., despite peers constantly offering. Availability doesn’t equal use.

    It isn’t any kind of trap, no one has to. And I’m not worried if they do. People have a perfect right to screw up their lives, or practice the sort of moderation that improves it.

    SarahW (267b14)

  36. Ipad typo adventures for me today.

    SarahW (267b14)

  37. It decreased alcohol consumption ineffectively. The sharper drop evaporated as supply began to fulfill demand., and the supply’s ice was very lucrative as the demand was …. Intense,, and later quite the fashion.

    Your phrasing masks the fact that, even after the rise that followed the initial drop, consumption was still down to 60-70% of what it had been before Prohibition. How was it “ineffective”? Because it wasn’t 100%? OK. There was still a drop.

    We have laws against murder. People still murder people. So are we decreasing murders “ineffectively”? Some might argue we are. Is that an argument for repealing murder laws? No.

    Of course, murder and pot possession are two very different behaviors, and I am not equating the two. Minimizing the former is far more important than minimizing the latter, and I am not arguing otherwise. But when people say “We are not winning the War on Drugs” — as if that means it’s obvious we should end it for that reason, and that reason alone — it strikes me as a bad argument. Implicit in the argument is the assertion: “and it’s not that important anyway.” That implicit assertion is actually more important than the explicit one, so why not make the explicit argument and defend it?

    After all, we are losing the War on Murder. But we won’t stop fighting it. In other words, the fact that we can’t eradicate a behavior is not, by itself, a reason not to minimize it.

    Again: none of this means that it is worth the cost to minimize drug usage. I just want people to recognize the weaknesses in the arguments they make.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  38. When I was a boy growing up in Los Angeles, there were no Crips, no Bloods and no MS-13. That changed when the War on Drugs created huge profits for a new generation of organized criminals.

    By the same token, the socio-political boundaries of this society several decades ago hadn’t yet become so tattered and frayed.

    For example — and in the context of 2014 the following is hard to believe — but in the 1950s the Hollywood community (yep, a group of people who today are identified with liberalism run amok) actually ostracized actress Ingrid Bergman for having a child out of wedlock. A few years later, the host of NBC’s Tonight Show was censored by the network for saying (again, believe it or not) “water closet” on national TV.

    In the 21st century, the broken-down restraints of our culture rule the day (eg, the popularity of let-it-all-hang-out rap music), and laws run secondary to those loosened boundaries. Figureheads like Bill Clinton, etc, run around with glee and wild success.

    Ironically enough, in all of this, we’ve also become prudes about tobacco and cigarette smoking. Yet politicians nowadays can be known for using cocaine (hey, Barack!) without anyone blinking an eye.

    I hope changing laws and attitudes about dope will at least make hand-wringing over tobacco and no less than the innocuous invention of electronic cigarettes seem as dumb as worrying about CO2 and global warming.

    Mark (2604a9)

  39. I do not wish to return to the days when a plane trip ended in headaches and stomach upset because the cabin was so full of inconsiderate serial lighting-up and a constant haze of cigarette smoke. Wishing to survive a cross country trip is not being a prude.

    elissa (b9af8b)

  40. Laws against pot and murder are very different. Murder is inherently wrong, will always be wrong, was wrong before there were any laws against it, and the reason government was invented in the first place was to prevent murder and other such crimes. A government that legalises murder has no right to exist at all.

    Pot, on the other hand, I think everyone will agree was not wrong before it was banned, and wouldn’t be wrong if it were not banned. A government may choose to ban it or not, without affecting its legitimacy. So if the ban is not achieving its goal, what’s the point?

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  41. Except . . .

    We are still talking about using the force of government to impose otherwise non-criminal social behavior standards.

    To pseudo-Godwin it, let’s say we use the force of government to prohibit any religion but Islam.
    That is quite “effective” in countries like say Saudi Arabia and Iran.
    How desirable is it?

    Jumped the shark too soon?
    Then why not just prohibit anything but the “established faith”?
    That certainly worked well for England. Well, except for Ireland, and Scotland, and Cromwell, and the Pilgrims, and . . .

    Still too extreme . . .
    And that is more “requiring” a particular activity than prohibiting one.
    Okay, then how about “prohibition” of homosexuality?
    We know that was great for the first two centuries of the country and a certain segment wants to return to it.

    We also went with “prohibition” of communism for a time back in the ’50s and people keep trying to rehabilitate that because it was “proven” to be “right” about just how many communists there were and just how much they were doing.

    Then there was that whole episode with “prohibition” of non-eugenically superior reproduction and marriage. Certainly laws against miscegenation “worked” in reducing that, and expanded birth control and pregnancy termination has “worked” in “reducing” certain “undesirable” segments of the population if you know what I mean.

    So, yeah, Prohibition worked.
    Prohibiting anything like that works, just like prohibiting actual criminal acts works.
    Never mind not making it desirable, there seems to be a rather strong preponderance of evidence that it doesn’t make it moral.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  42. I do not wish to return to the days when a plane trip ended in headaches and stomach upset because the cabin was so full of inconsiderate serial lighting-up and a constant haze of cigarette smoke. Wishing to survive a cross country trip is not being a prude.

    Why is your extremely unusual sensitivity to smoke more important than a smoker’s need for a fix? For people like you, there can be smoke-free flights, but why should all the smokers have to suffer just for you? For many smokers, having to go 7-8 hours (of 16 hours for cross-Pacific flights) without a smoke is a real hardship. And with airports now being no-smoking too, and the only smoking areas often being outside security, smokers who have to change planes can’t get a smoke in between flights either.

    Most non-smokers have no real problem with smoke, and were fine when the back of the plane was a smoking section, and would happily take such flights again, for the convenience of having more flights to choose from, or because these flights might be a bit cheaper. But instead you militant anti-smokers have imposed your will on the entire world by brute force; airlines can’t offer smoking flights or they’ll be forcibly shut down, and anyone lighting up will be arrested, all so you can cruise in comfort. What gives you the right?

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  43. Oh, and if you want a truly absurd, even oxymoronic, argument in favor of legalization from “libertarians”/economic conservatives regarding marijuana:

    “If we legalize it then we can tax it!”

    Ummm . . .

    Last I checked, people on that end of the spectrum hated taxation.
    They particularly hated gratuitous taxation, and also weren’t very fond of “sin” taxes.

    But marijuana should be legal so it can be . . . taxed.

    And taxed excessively – more than alcohol and cigarettes.
    Heck, even the “progressives” want to tax it more heavily than say . . . guns and ammunition!

    Never mind that the current “sin” tax on alcohol and tobacco are creating increasingly destructive grey and black markets in those, along with clear and blatant open market shifts, the base proposal for legalizing marijuana is to go even further.

    Never mind the definition of insanity, I invoke the definition of stupidity on that.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  44. I think Milhouse just may be a smoker. :)

    elissa (b9af8b)

  45. You think wrong. And the mere fact that you made this assumption shows something very wrong with your way of thinking. Why would you assume that other people’s opinions are mere self-pleading? Doe that mean yours are?

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  46. Milhouse when you got so personal and nasty and accusatory about my rather innocuous airplane observation comment is why I made the assumption that perhaps you were a smoker and were coming at it from that angle. You may want to reread your own #42 and consider your own assumptions and accusations based on absolutely nothing before you cast too many aspersions and tell other people that “there’s something wrong with” their way of thinking if they dare to think differently from you.

    elissa (b9af8b)

  47. I heard once that the job of government is to make it difficult to do evil and easier to do good. I have never thought why this is not a good first approximation.
    Making it easier to be a society drop out is not something I think we should be doing.
    But how much effort against it, not sure.
    Maybe mandatory life sentences for anyone caught involved in bringing it across the border.

    But I saw something Saturday night where border patrol is setting up roadblocks in little towns 50 or more miles from the border and stopping everyone who wants to go through, asking them stuff, and if the person says no, then the officials claim uncooperativeness as a reason for suspicion and further harassment, escalating the situation.

    Seems to me the ideal opposite of what should happen. Where the problem obviously is ought to be enforced with vigor, where there is little evidence of wrongdoing the imposition should be minimal.
    I don’t know why they are doing this, if indeed what I saw is valid. Are higher ups simply trying to make work for their underlings? Are local supervisors frustrated that they can’t do what they should be doing, or are just power hungry? Or did I see just a few examples where locally someone in a position of authority can be a jerk?

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  48. > Pot and booze, however, probably amplify the effect of each other and sleepy-time comes sooner.

    Yes and no.

    My experience is that they amplify the sleepiness and they increase the sense of *disconnection*.

    And yet, for me, they work more as substitutes than as complements. The experience of being lightly buzzed on either can be very similar, but the experience of being moderately buzzed, or really intoxicated, is different – and for both the moderate buzz and the really intoxicated state, i’d generally prefer the effects of marijuana over the effects of booze.

    My experience is that this is broadly true for everyone I know that consumes marijuana.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  49. Milhouse when you got so personal and nasty and accusatory about my rather innocuous airplane observation comment is why I made the assumption that perhaps you were a smoker and were coming at it from that angle. You may want to reread your own #42 and consider your own assumptions and accusations based on absolutely nothing before you cast too many aspersions and tell other people that “there’s something wrong with” their way of thinking if they dare to think differently from you.

    I made no assumptions. You were the one who wrote that you are uniquely sensitive to tobacco smoke, and that this was your reason for supporting the ban. I would never have assumed this if you hadn’t explicitly said so.

    Your comment was not at all innocuous, it was authoritarian and arrogant, privileging your own needs over those of other people without giving any reason, or even recognising that you need to have a reason, that your needs are not automatically and obviously more important than other people’s.

    Then you assumed that I am a smoker, merely from my opinion, which clearly betrays that you have a very wrong way of thinking. It shows that you not only base your opinions on your own interest, but assume that everyone else does the same. There are no words strong enough to condemn this way of thinking. It is deeply wrong and twisted. Whose ox is gored should play no role in determining what is wrong or right. And if you disagree with that then there can be no ground for any sort of debate with you.

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  50. To be more explicit: I am an non-smoker, and would rather not have smoke on my planes, but I don’t think my personal preferences are more important than those of smokers.

    I also recognise that most smokers experience great difficulty and deprivation under the current system, and that some find it so difficult that they can’t fly at all, which surely trumps any difficulty I and most non-smokers have with the smell of their smoke. I recognise that there also exist some uniquely sensitive individuals such as you, whose difficulty with smoke approaches or surpasses the difficulty that smokers have with not smoking, and that if no non-smoking flights were available you might have to choose not to fly. I point out that if this were so, it would be no harder on you than the current system is on those heavily-addicted smokers who can’t fly now, but that in any case there would always be smoke-free flights available for you, even if perhaps at a premium or at the cost of less flexibility in scheduling.

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  51. I am utterly comfortable letting the commenters on this site draw their own conclusions as to who is, and who is not, authoritarian, twisted and arrogant in their commentings.

    elissa (b9af8b)

  52. > I point out that if this were so, it would be no harder on you than the current system is on those heavily-addicted smokers who can’t fly now, but that in any case there would always be smoke-free flights available for you, even if perhaps at a premium or at the cost of less flexibility in scheduling.

    Milhouse,

    I see no evidence that the bolded section is true. I’m not aware that there were smoke-free flights in the pre-ban era; I *am* aware that before smoking in restaurants was banned, there were no smoke-free restaurants in most places.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  53. I heard once that the job of government is to make it difficult to do evil and easier to do good. I have never thought why this is not a good first approximation.

    The USA declaration of independence says otherwise. The USA was founded on the proposition that the purpose of government — the only purpose of government — is to secure the rights with which all people have been endowed by their Creator, i.e. which existed before governments, would continue to exist if governments were to disappear, and exist even if governemnts deny them. And that whenever any form of government stops securing these rights and instead undermines them, it becomes illegitimate.

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  54. The Declaration of Independence was a piece of propaganda designed to influence elite opinion in European enlightenment circles and, in any event, has no binding legal force.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  55. I’m not aware that there were smoke-free flights in the pre-ban era; I *am* aware that before smoking in restaurants was banned, there were no smoke-free restaurants in most places.

    There were no smoke-free flights because there was no demand for them. Now that the demand exists, it is impossible that they would not exist, unless they were to be made illegal, which nobody has ever proposed.

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  56. Ditto for restaurants. In the ’60s there was no demand for smoke-free restaurants. Now there is, and so they exist even where they’re not required by law.

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  57. > Now that the demand exists, it is impossible that they would not exist,

    This isn’t necessarily so; all sorts of things don’t exist for which there is demand, when that demand is insufficient to pay for the cost.

    It’s really not clear to me that the cost of maintaining, in effect, *two seperate fleets* (because a non-smoking flight on a plane which also allows smoking flights wouldn’t solve the problem for most of the people who care about this issue) is a cost which most, if any, airlines could afford to pay.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  58. I miss the smell of a great cigar at a baseball game.
    The 50′s, 60′s and part of the 70′s was real living.

    mg (31009b)

  59. The Declaration of Independence was a piece of propaganda designed to influence elite opinion in European enlightenment circles and, in any event, has no binding legal force.

    It has no binding legal force, but it is what legitimates the USA’s very existence. It’s the principle on which the USA was founded, and for which it stands. If someone wants a different kind of state, founded on different principles, let them go find or found one.

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  60. To argue whether prohibition of something changes the use of that substance is to miss the point entirely. Of course it affects consumption. The problem is the unintended consequences. Establishing an alternative government, a black market, is never a good thing. This alternative government needs to have many of the same functions as our legitimate government, but the level of violence is necessarily much higher for those black market activities. And the blatant disregard of the law engendered by acceptance of this black market encourages other more serious transgressions.

    We are about to experience what life is like under an unlawful executive who flaunts any responsibility that doesn’t please him, and who readily uses the power of government to crush his opponents. This is one consequence of living in a society where laws, and especially their acolytes, the lawyers, are held in contempt. From my perspective, this began with the exculsionary rule in the 60′s. The idea that something didn’t occur because an official trangressed a defendant’s rights defies physics and all modern concepts of cause and effect. The obvious logical answer to this problem was to punish the official who broke the law as well as the culprit who was the victim of that trnasgression. But this is a very dangerous precedent, holding officials responsible for their actions. We now take it for granted that lawyers will lie freely if it serves their purpose, especially if they work for the government. Witness both the recent IRS testimony, the false prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens in Alaska to facilitate a 60 vote Democrat majority in the Senate, and harken back to Hillary’s inability to recall anything at all about her activities as Bill’s better half. Liars lie, and now we have a government saturated with liars at the highest levels. Consider the fate of Scooter Libby if you doubt that things are on a very fast track.

    The Republicans are holding back presuming that the November election will change things and make it easier for them to exercise their constitutional authority. HteWon is racing ahead hoping to impose debilitating damage on the country to such an extent that the public will accept even more tyranny. We are guaranteed very interesting events in the very near term. But it all stems from a total disregard of the law, the foremost scofflaw being none other than HteWon.

    bobathome (5ccbd8)

  61. That 70% of what it was is, after all, an estimate. And 70% instead of 100% is not a great reduction, and not at all for the cost. An absolute drop in numbers doesn’t mean the drinking has stopped being either the pastime or social pathology that it was. Who stopped drinking altogether? Was binging and secret consumption an improvement?

    IT WAS NOT EFFECTIVE, as the goal was an alcohol-free, dry, utiopian society where all were sober all the time. That failed big guns, and the reduction achieved was not only not worth the cost it came nowhere near the desired effect. It instituted government controls and price monopolies many states have yet to shake off.

    Not did it ever stop the steady proportion of loadies that are loadies in this country.

    SarahW (267b14)

  62. “loadies”? i’m unfamiliar with that word.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  63. This isn’t necessarily so; all sorts of things don’t exist for which there is demand, when that demand is insufficient to pay for the cost.

    A “demand” that is too small to justify the thing demanded isn’t demand at all. It’s like saying that a pauper has a “demand” for a coach-and-four. He would like it, but since he can’t pay for it that is not demand.

    It’s really not clear to me that the cost of maintaining, in effect, *two seperate fleets* (because a non-smoking flight on a plane which also allows smoking flights wouldn’t solve the problem for most of the people who care about this issue) is a cost which most, if any, airlines could afford to pay.

    On the contrary, for most of the people who care about it, a plane that had been used for smoking and then cleaned would be perfectly OK. If there’s a real demand for completely smoke-free equipment, then at least one airline will provide them, either by staying completely smoke-free, or by maintaining not a whole smoke-free fleet, but only a few planes, providing perhaps one flight a day on each route.

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  64. The idea that people’s political opinions are dictated by their personal circumstances is exactly what leads to a senator changing his opinion on same-sex marriage merely because his son came out. If you think that was wrong, then it must be wrong to determine smoking policy based on ones own preference, or to accuse someone else of doing so, as Elissa accused me. (I did not accuse her; she accused herself.)

    Milhouse (c63fe5)

  65. The rule of holes applies here, Milhouse. I’ll agree it’s wrong to change positions on same-sex marriage because a son or daughter comes out, but it’s also wrong to allow a tobacco addict to inflict his stinking toxic exhaust on others.

    elissa is obviously holding the high ground, and your arguments are so far wide of the mark as to call your sincerity into question. Whatever you’re doing, it ain’t working. Do yourself a favor and find a different horse to kick. Sticking up for smoker’s to pollute common interior spaces is a stone loser.

    ropelight (3ecabd)

  66. Kevin M (b357ee) — 7/29/2014 @ 1:14 am

    Wouldn’t requiring a gov’t issued picture ID to purchase pot/etc. be Racist, just as Voter ID is according to AG Holder?

    askeptic (efcf22)

  67. The Declaration of Independence was a piece of propaganda designed to influence elite opinion in European enlightenment circles and, in any event, has no binding legal force.

    As the founding document of the COUNTRY, it has immense legal and moral force, even the Supreme Court has said so (at times).

    If that is a product of your legal education, it just confirms what many of us have always suspected about what is wrong with the legal system today – from Law School, to SCOTUS.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  68. > As the founding document of the COUNTRY, it has immense legal and moral force, even the Supreme Court has said so (at times).

    It has immense *moral* force, sure.

    Please point me to the Supreme Court case which says it has binding legal force.

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  69. 53.I heard once that the job of government is to make it difficult to do evil and easier to do good. I have never thought why this is not a good first approximation.

    The USA declaration of independence says otherwise. The USA was founded on the proposition that the purpose of government — the only purpose of government — is to secure the rights with which all people have been endowed by their Creator, i.e. which existed before governments, would continue to exist if governments were to disappear, and exist even if governemnts deny them. And that whenever any form of government stops securing these rights and instead undermines them, it becomes illegitimate.
    Milhouse (c63fe5) — 7/29/2014 @ 10:08 am

    Milhouse, I think you reacted rather than thought about this.
    Assaulting people, robbing people, etc., are all bad things which government should make difficult to do by just punishment. This is perfectly in line with securing the rights people have from their creator.
    Once an income tax was instituted (whether it should have been or not is a secondary issue), I think an exemption for charitable contributions is a small way of making it easy to do good.

    In my thinking, the original quote implies a limited government, because once there is too much involvement, then things get messy. the statement was not to imply that governments can keep doing all kinds of things, rather, that governments for the most part need to get out of the way and let people go about their business, with only broad constraints.
    I think easy to do good and hard to do bad a-lines with doing justice and loving mercy, a general theme, not a rationale for all sorts of mischief by government trying to get in the way; but I do see how one can think it could be used that way.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  70. Long distance travel for smokers:
    We should bring back steam-powered trains, and open-window coaches, for trans-continental travel;
    and steam-ships for international travel.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  71. Milhouse (c63fe5) — 7/29/2014 @ 9:58 am

    I also recognise that most smokers experience great difficulty and deprivation under the current system, and that some find it so difficult that they can’t fly at all, which surely trumps any difficulty I and most non-smokers have with the smell of their smoke.

    It is not smell – there are some health effects too, at least minor and temporary.

    But many smokers would be satisfied with e-cigarettes – the placing of e0cigarettes on the same level as cigarettes is crazy. But we’re seeing that. Nobody feels the second hand smoke of e-cigarettes.

    Sammy Finkelman (4151a0)

  72. 68-
    Actions by government that violate the principle of “certain unalienable Rights…Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” certainly receive short shrift at that level.
    If there is a doctrine of “unalienable Rights”, it isn’t found in the Constitution, or the laws of Congress – which mostly attempts to find work-around’s.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  73. My experience is that this is broadly true for everyone I know that consumes marijuana.

    The point I was trying to make — an example of drugs that don’t combine well.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  74. Wouldn’t requiring a gov’t issued picture ID to purchase pot/etc. be Racist, just as Voter ID is according to AG Holder?

    We require one now, but it is only gated by age.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  75. Nobody feels the second hand smoke of e-cigarettes.

    It’s actually a speech issue: e-cigs “send the wrong message to kids.”

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  76. Great post General. Outstanding. I enjoy reading thoughtful pieces that don’t claim to have all the answers but insist that facts be acknowledged as such.

    Mark Johnson (aa1dda)

  77. Milhouse,

    Smoking is an assault on the senses. I’m fine with laws that prohibit that assault. If it’s tough on the smoker, well, not my problem. Your addiction (using the generalized you) does not entitle you to force me to breathe the smoke you emit in an enclosed space for hours.

    Patterico (67ac43)

  78. Are the facts of the post news to anyone? It would be nice to know if anyone learned anything.

    Patterico (1ad6f7)

  79. I’ve heard tell that George Washington was the only President to put on his general’s uniform and as Commander in Chief lead an army in the field. To … wait for it … suppress the Whiskey Rebellion. ;)

    nk (dbc370)

  80. Yes, Patterico. I “knew” that Prohibition had decreased consumption but the actual numbers are useful.

    Cigarette smoke is more than an assault on the senses. It contains several allergens which children especially should not be exposed to because that’s one way to acquire lifetime allegies — exposure to the sensitizer at an early age. We did not give the daughter peanut products until age six for another example.

    nk (dbc370)

  81. nk, other studies say that exposing infants to all sorts of thingies is a way to build up their immune systems.
    Perhaps it is Six of One, and a Half-Dozen of the Other.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  82. Of course, once prohibition ended, there were lots of Treasury alcohol enforcers suddenly out of a job. Can’t have that. So: the drug laws are born. And a pretty nice living made off of them right up to the present day.

    mojo (00b01f)

  83. I miss the smell of a great cigar at a baseball game.
    The 50′s, 60′s and part of the 70′s was real living.

    mg (31009b) — 7/29/2014 @ 10:13 am

    I used to smoke cigars on the concourse of (new) Comiskey Park in the 90′s. That’s where everyone went to smoke, being considerate and all. It was a great view of the game and a great atmosphere.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  84. 77.Milhouse,

    Smoking is an assault on the senses. I’m fine with laws that prohibit that assault. If it’s tough on the smoker, well, not my problem. Your addiction (using the generalized you) does not entitle you to force me to breathe the smoke you emit in an enclosed space for hours.
    Patterico (67ac43)

    Oh?

    Muslims claim that church bells ringing is an assault on their sense of hearing and so want them banned.
    Muslims claim that people eating and drinking during Ramadan is an assault on their sense of smell as it affects their hunger and want it banned.
    Muslims claim that pictures of pigs are an assault on their sense of sight and want them banned.
    Muslims claim that dogs are an assault on their physical and spiritual health and want them banned.

    If it is tough on the non-Muslim, well, that’s not their problem.
    They say that our sin (using the plural inclusive our) does not entitle us to force them to offend their ears, stomachs, and eyes for hours, and definitely not their health for days or longer, in any place, open or enclosed.

    Of course more simply there are people who are offended by the scent of marijuana smoke.
    Or by alcohol vapors.
    Or perhaps they are allergic to certain scents common in perfumes.
    Or conversely they may be highly offended by certain degrees of body odor.
    And then there are the people who are offended by too much cleavage.
    Or by the “crack of doom”.
    Or just by pants on the ground/showing underwear.
    And, dare I say, by drag queens.
    Or “non-traditional” public displays of affection.
    Or by traditional public displays of affection.
    Of course none of that even touches on people who are offended by loud music.
    Or by soft music.
    Or by someone else’s phone conversation.
    And certainly it doesn’t mention those offended by someone else’s political conversation or posters or such.

    So please, do tell precisely where we shall draw the line on limiting the prohibition of aesthetic offense.
    I really am curious as to where you think we can set up such restrictions without also giving a good old greasing on the express ramp to tyranny in the process.

    And for the record:
    I find smoking to be horrible.
    The stench is awful, it lingers, and it causes irritation.
    However I find that the follow up to oppressing smokers horrific, endures longer, and to be profoundly more irritating.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  85. tu quoque, slippery slope, red herring, non-sequitur.

    Bingo!

    Smoke in an enclosed space “for hours,” as Patterico said, has actually been proven to be harmful. Church bells, not so much. Get a grip.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  86. #62, aphrael, loadies = those who frequently get loaded = druggies. It’s a slang term similar to wino or tippler for alcohol abusers.

    ropelight (3ecabd)

  87. Sam (e8f1ad) — 7/29/2014 @ 1:31 pm

    Most ‘art’ by Picasso offends me, can we get the Taliban to burn them?

    askeptic (efcf22)

  88. It was interesting to see the documentation of the decrease in cirrhosis.
    I was aware that there was the view that Prohibition “actually did work” when it came to decreasing alcohol consumption and some of the societal ills accompanied by it, even if the unintended consequences in mobsters and such made the overall impact on society not as had been hoped. I had not seen such hard data to support it.

    I agree with the idea of having sound facts and sound arguments, and showing the weakness of clichés that too many take as a final answer.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  89. carlitos (c24ed5) — 7/29/2014 @ 1:39 pm

    I love the sound of Church Bells in Maranello on a Sunday….but it happens so rarely now.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  90. I hear the church bells from Second Presbyterian every Sunday. It’s nice.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  91. Well, there are church bells, then there are Church Bells!

    askeptic (efcf22)

  92. Carlitos, it has been determined that man is catastrophically heating the planet.
    It has been determined that hydrogen hydroxide poisoning was the cause of many deaths.
    It has been determined that the sun causes deadly cancer.
    It has been determined that people have drowned in less than three inches of water.

    Oh, and when it’s true, it’s not a fallacy, so get rid of your slippery slope business, because it’s not a fallacy.

    John Hitchcock (b05651)

  93. Wow, I never heard about the Ferrari thing. That’s fascinating.

    JH – If you think that saying “church bells bother Muslims” is a cogent, on-topic, appropriate response to the actual harm from secondhand smoke, then you’re just wrong. It’s a complete red herring.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  94. And I gotta say, any blame fool who thinks it’s alright to tell the bar or the restaurant or the bowling alley that they cannot allow smoking in their business is too far to the Left on that issue for my taste.

    I am a smoker. I am also a trainer. I accept smokers and non-smokers alike. But if they don’t want smoking in the truck while they’re getting their OJT, they can choose not to train in a truck with a smoker. They will not get far telling me, their trainer, whether I can or cannot smoke in my own truck (place of business).

    John Hitchcock (b05651)

  95. Yeah, John!

    askeptic (efcf22)

  96. It’s called the Free Market, people. If a business owner thinks he can make more money providing a smoke-free environment, let him have that business environment. If, on the other hand, he thinks he can make more money by allowing smoking at his business establishment, let him have that business environment.

    And then let the Market decide.

    John Hitchcock (b05651)

  97. Ropelight, @86: thank you! :)

    aphrael (98d2d0)

  98. @4 – Patterico

    A recent automotive industry report indicates that within 10 years autos will no longer contain dials, guages, pedals, or steering wheel.

    Personally, I think this is pie-in-the-sky thinking. I tend to lean toward having some corrective ability if things go wrong, but maybe you’ll just use your XB360 controller.

    Wrathchilde (96e9e0)

  99. I am going to have to find it, but per capita alcohol consumption post Prohibition was and stayed lower than before. Largely from greater substitution with soft drinks.

    SPQR (c4e119)

  100. I have a problem with just about every attempt to use statistics to “prove” that Prohibition worked …. or didn’t. When you have outlawed drinking, you have ensured that none of the numbers concerning drinking-related data are comparable to the numbers pre- or post- Prohibition. They were not collected under even remotely the same circumstances. For example, how many cases of cirrhosis are going to be reported when they are evidence of lawbreaking? For many reasons.

    Moreover, a drop in per-capita consumption might have a lot to do with a precipitous drop in disposable income, dating to October of 1929.

    Of course, it flows the other way; it’s damn hard to “prove” that people drank more when there are no trustworthy numbers.

    For me, it comes down to a firm belief that it isn’t any of the Government’s goddamned business if I drink, smoke, shoot up, snort, or what-have-you. I am opposed to drunk driving laws; dash cameras should make it practical for cops to arrest somebody who is driving in a reckless manner, and leave everybody else alone. The police are never going to be everywhere they would need to be to protect everybody, and writing laws that make them try simply erodes out freedoms without making us commensurately safer. Not only am I in favor of legalizing marijuana; I am in favor of legalizing heroin, cocaine, and meth. If one person in chronic pain is unable to get the opiates he or she needs to not live a tortured life, just so we can try to save junkies from themselves, that is one person too many and absolute barbarism.

    Prohibition taught a generation to hold the government in contempt; that is the only sense in which it did any measurable good.

    C. S. P. Schofield (e8b801)

  101. tu quoque, slippery slope, red herring, non-sequitur.

    Bingo!

    Smoke in an enclosed space “for hours,” as Patterico said, has actually been proven to be harmful. Church bells, not so much. Get a grip.
    carlitos (c24ed5)

    I guess you missed me mentioning perfumes.
    I am allergic to many perfumes, to the point of violent sneezing and nausea.
    Do I get to ban all of those perfumes?

    I could also mention various kinds of nuts.
    Some people are so allergic to them they demand that schools ban their very presence because the volatile oils can cause reactions.
    Is that acceptable?

    As for church bells and “not so much”:
    http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/is_noise_exemption_for_church_bells_a_constitutional_violation_judge_likely/
    http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2010/09/09/Church-told-its-bell-is-too-loud/UPI-84731284080310/
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/30/AR2006113001419.html
    That is still “some”, and “some” is enough to merit laws and permit bans.

    So with a basis of actual damage to support a ban, an expansion on professed aesthetic grounds is not as outrageous as you would like to dismiss it as.
    Even if it were, it still establishes a precedent that provided any physical element can be demonstrated then any aesthetic preference can be upheld.
    And you can complain about slippery slope all you want, it remains demonstrable that the same people who push all these smoking bans are the same people who push cup size limits, free speech zones, and other nonsense.

    Most ‘art’ by Picasso offends me, can we get the Taliban to burn them?
    askeptic (efcf22)

    Given the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, I’m sure you just have to let them close enough and they’ll happily burn entire galleries to ash.

    Otherwise, as John Hitchcock has said from the other side:
    I am not a smoker, and if you want to sit and watch a class I teach you will do it without smoking.
    If you want to step outside and smoke, that’s on you, though don’t hang by the door so it wafts in.
    And since I don’t drive, if you offer me a lift home afterwards, I won’t say jack when you light up in your car. If it is too much I will walk.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  102. The mistake here is equating alcohol consumption with alcohol abuse.

    If you want to reduce alcohol abuse, I’m willing to listen to your idea.

    If you want to eliminate alcohol consumption, I’m not.

    I don’t think Prohibition eliminated alcohol abuse, nor even curtailed it</i. A statistic claiming to show a correlation — which still wouldn't establish causation — between Prohibition and alcohol use is not particularly meaningful to me. And I am quite confident that Prohibition led to massive crime.

    Broad attempts to require “moral” behavior via the drafting and enforcement of the criminal laws require a near-universal consensus on what is moral behavior. Even if it’s phrased in terms of “health” instead of morality, you still have to have that near-universal consensus. Until you have it, you’re likely to do more harm than good by trying to use legislation to achieve your desired goals.

    Mike Bloomberg doesn’t understand this. Lefties in general don’t understand this. They are enemies of liberty.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  103. Well, I am not sure that docs would have avoided documenting cirrhosis because of legal implications, but I guess I could be wrong. (And, FWIW, there are other reasons for cirrhosis of the liver other than alcohol, so a diagnosis of cirrhosis does not equal a diagnosis of alcohol abuse).
    And a drop in cirrhosis, if valid, would parallel a decrease in alcohol abuse, not use, as reasonable use does not often lead to cirrhosis.

    If the law was passed today, Amazon would get even richer selling home brew kits for beer and such, and no need for gangsters.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  104. Broad attempts to require “moral” behavior via the drafting and enforcement of the criminal laws require a near-universal consensus on what is moral behavior

    National prohibition was enacted with the necessary supermajorities.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  105. And repeal was ratified by state conventions, not the usual vote in the respective state legislatures. It was a strange time in America. People had lost faith in their political and social institutions and with good reason.

    nk (dbc370)

  106. I blame the 19th Amendment.

    nk (dbc370)

  107. “Decriminalizing marijuana will lead to more marijuana usage, and all the negative consequences that follow.”

    The net consequences of increased marijuana use could be positive — not negative — if marijuana is:
    1) for many people, a substitute for alcohol, and
    2) less toxic or otherwise deadly than alcohol.

    David Pittelli (b77425)

  108. “Hey! You can’t smoke here! Oh, that’s a blunt? Carry on.”

    John Hitchcock (b05651)

  109. The core goal of prohibition was to improve the state of women in society. Eliminating open drinking was seen as a path to that goal. The amount of alcohol consumed illegally probably wasn’t that interesting a metric to its architects or its supporters.

    Jeff Hall (0c9255)

  110. If the law was passed today, Amazon would get even richer selling home brew kits for beer and such, and no need for gangsters.

    MD in Philly (f9371b) — 7/29/2014 @ 7:56 pm

    http://i.imgur.com/vK4Jq0E.jpg

    WARNING: After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  111. Commingle Prohibition and drugs all you want, but the fact remains that in Western civilization alcohol was a normal everyday thing for all of history and Prohibition was a temporary derangement. Whereas, marijuana, poppies, coca, and their derivatives were a dark people underclass thing that decent people avoided and their criminalization was holding back the jungle.

    nk (dbc370)

  112. http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-tradition.html

    Appeal to Tradition is a fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that something is better or correct simply because it is older, traditional, or “always has been done.” This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

    1 – X is old or traditional
    2 – Therefore X is correct or better.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  113. Says who?

    nk (dbc370)

  114. Well, it’s not one of Aristotle’s list of 12, but it didn’t come long afterwards.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  115. Prohibition taught a generation to hold the government in contempt; that is the only sense in which it did any measurable good.

    That’s strongly contradicted by, or ironic in light of, the kisses and hugs that many Americans over 70 years ago gave to Franklin D Roosevelt, who is pretty much the symbol — the essence — of big-brother, nanny-state government.

    However, moving decades past crummy politicians like him and Prohibition, I hope this current era of “goddamn America” will breed a growing contempt for the public sector, particularly for entities like the IRS, NSA, EPA, etc. Or that at least do-gooder Americans (certainly of the right and traditionally the more patriotic among the populace) no longer express such idealism about the US.

    Sorry, Ronald Reagan, but your “shining city on the hill” looks more like the city of Detroit than a glistening USA.

    Mark (2604a9)

  116. Oh, so it’s a traditional rhetorical rule?

    nk (dbc370)

  117. :)

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  118. ==Or that at least do-gooder Americans (certainly of the right and traditionally the more patriotic among the populace) no longer express such idealism about the US. Sorry, Ronald Reagan, but your “shining city on the hill” looks more like the city of Detroit than a glistening USA.==

    I’m not entirely sure what this sentence was meant to imply. Or how you intended it to be perceived. Or how you “hope” people will respond and/or change how we go about living our lives in the short time we are given here on earth. But I will say that despite our significant troubles as a nation and as a society, and despite the obvious evils which are present in the world, I’m pretty sure that not everybody wakes up every day as apparently depressed and hopeless and woebegone as you appear to from your commentings. There is much beauty and joy and love also in the world if one just takes the time to look for it and appreciate it.

    elissa (b9af8b)

  119. I always thought it very cynical of FDR to use his Sith powers to get Wilson, Harding, and Hoover to enact and enforce Prohibition so he could run on a platform of repealing it.

    nk (dbc370)

  120. 119. I always thought it very cynical of FDR to use his Sith powers to get Wilson, Harding, and Hoover to enact and enforce Prohibition so he could run on a platform of repealing it.
    nk (dbc370) — 7/30/2014 @ 9:15 am

    Yeah, me too.

    Steve57 (7f8e80)

  121. “Or that at least do-gooder Americans (certainly of the right and traditionally the more patriotic among the populace) no longer express such idealism about the US.”

    Mark – I don’t understand. What idealism about America are you hoping that patriotic and right leaning citizens have given up? Can you be specific?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  122. 111.Commingle Prohibition and drugs all you want, but the fact remains that in Western civilization alcohol was a normal everyday thing for all of history and Prohibition was a temporary derangement. Whereas, marijuana, poppies, coca, and their derivatives were a dark people underclass thing that decent people avoided and their criminalization was holding back the jungle.
    nk (dbc370)

    I take it you never heard of laudanum.
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge was high on it while writing “Kubla Khan”.
    It was the mainstay drug of the late 18th and all of the 19th centuries.

    Clearly you have never heard of the origin of Coca-Cola either.
    Coca was a staple in South America for thousands of years of course.
    It hit the European scene a bit later than laudanum, but once it got going it was on track to give laudanum a run for its money as the biggest general additive to “panaceas”.

    While marijuana never made it to the snake oil circuit, it has also been around as long as alcohol.
    Good old Billy Shakespeare is reputed to have toked up and even mentioned it some sonnets.
    And of course the “Assassins” were said to be “hashisin” or “users of hashish” as a derogatory.
    It is the only drug you’ve listed that never had any particularly good reputation.

    Altogether, while the spectre of some drug-fueled rising of non-Whites and concomitant defilement of White women by them was used to drive prohibition of these, the more deeper seated problem was that White women and men were becoming too enthralled with their use. The greater understanding of the addictive properties of refined poppy and coca made it even more critical to stop their use on racial grounds.

    Sam (e8f1ad)

  123. There is much beauty and joy and love also in the world if one just takes the time to look for it and appreciate it.

    I’m sure there are people in countries throughout the Americas (central and south, in particular) who think and say that everyday of their life. God bless ‘em.

    Yes, optimism is good for the spirit, it opens up rays of sunshine.

    There is light at the end of the tunnel.

    jonathanheath.net, March 2014: The unemployment rate has always been one of the more important macroeconomic indicators in most countries. For complex reasons, however, it has never gained much acceptance in Mexico. Even the Central Bank ignores it, as it is hardly mentioned in its quarterly reports, and is absent from its monetary-policy announcements. A general perception exists that the numbers are not very reliable, are constructed with doubtful methodologies and are even manipulated by the government in order to hide a much more painful reality.

    The biggest problem, however, is that the average unemployment rate from these studies was one of the lowest in the world, something that intuitively does not correspond to the level of development nor with the very low rate of economic growth that Mexico has experienced over the past three decades. This fact received much attention outside of Mexico, causing multiple inquiries and studies aimed at finding out whether it was a result of structural peculiarities of the Mexican labor market, an inadequate use of international standards and recommendations, or measurement problems.

    One of the more well-known studies was conducted by Susan Fleck and Constance Sorrentino of the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1994. This study found a list of minor differences with U.S. surveys regarding the phrasing of questions and the analysis of certain circumstances. For example, workers’ temporary absences, as well as people about to start work, were classified as employed in Mexico and as unemployed in the United States. The study found, however, that if all the differences were corrected in the Mexican surveys, the country’s average unemployment rate would increase by almost 150 basis points or 1.5%, which would still place the Mexican unemployment rate far below that of most OECD countries and many emerging economies.

    Nevertheless, most serious studies actually show that the main reason why Mexico’s unemployment rate is so low is due more to structural characteristics of the labor market rather than to methodological differences or survey flaws. For example, while in the United States there is a clear negative correlation between education and unemployment (the higher the educational level, the lower the unemployment rate), in Mexico the correlation is actually positive. The population segment with the lowest unemployment rate is the one that has “no primary education” and is associated with the poorest sectors of the economy. The two main reasons for this phenomenon are: 1) a large part of this segment lives in rural communities and is self-sufficient and therefore is not considered unemployed; and, 2) the poorest part of the population cannot “afford” to be unemployed and therefore will accept any type of work, no matter how little it pays.

    Two additional characteristics help us to understand the relatively lower unemployment levels in Mexico. There are no unemployment-insurance mechanisms or safety nets that provide income for those seeking a job. This implies a strong incentive to lower the search time and accept any type of job, even if it pays less than the person looking for a job expected. In general, studies show that insurance mechanisms provide a perverse incentive for lengthening unemployment since the money received while unemployed reduces the urgency of finding employment quickly.

    ^ No wonder the US is nirvana (and a big sap and pushover) to people south of the border.

    Mark (2604a9)

  124. Non responsive, Mark.

    elissa (b9af8b)

  125. What idealism about America are you hoping that patriotic and right leaning citizens have given up? Can you be specific?

    That the IRS can be trusted and that we the American public, in order to be good citizens, should be goody two-shoes when dealing with such agencies.

    Many years ago a friend chortled to me about tax matters vis-a-vis the IRS being dealt with in a very cynical, underhanded or flat-out dishonest way. I was uneasy about her tone and attitude. Now, in 2014? I’d chortle and snicker right along with her.

    Mark (2604a9)

  126. “That the IRS can be trusted and that we the American public, in order to be good citizens, should be goody two-shoes when dealing with such agencies.”

    Mark – Thanks. I was unaware, even many years ago, that patriotic and right leaning Americans felt they should deal with government bureaucracies such as the IRS and EPA with anything but suspicion and wariness. We must have completely different circles of acquaintances.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  127. What’s your point, Sam?

    nk (dbc370)

  128. And if we’re going to discuss dead poets, did you know that Omar Khayyam who wrote the Rubaiyat, an ode to wine, was a childhood friend of Hassan, the Old Man on the Mountain, founder of the Assassins cult? I wrote a short essay about the Assassins in college. My professor asked us to write about a “pressure group”. ;)

    nk (dbc370)

  129. We must have completely different circles of acquaintances.

    daleyrocks, I was describing mainly someone like me, or someone who formerly had sheeple-like naivete and idealism about human nature and the real world. Or the idea that honesty is the best policy, or the belief in ethics for ethic’s sake. That mindset may be reasonable in stable, decent societies, but in banana republics or other broken-down type of nations, idealism becomes more and more naive and cynicism becomes more and more appropriate. Sad in a way, but that conclusion does fit hard-core reality.

    Mark (2604a9)

  130. “Or the idea that honesty is the best policy, or the belief in ethics for ethic’s sake.”

    Mark – OK. It was not clear to me you were describing someone such as yourself, but I can accept that. I don’t understand why honesty and having a strong sense of ethics is not the best way to go through life, though, even in America 2014, if that is what you seem to be so clearly suggesting.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  131. 128. nk (dbc370) — 7/30/2014 @ 10:12 am

    And if we’re going to discuss dead poets, did you know that Omar Khayyam who wrote the Rubaiyat, an ode to wine, was a childhood friend of Hassan, the Old Man on the Mountain, founder of the Assassins cult?

    No.

    I checked

    http://www.kellscraft.com/rubaiyatkhayyambio.html

    They were schoolmates. The only 3 children of the same age sent to some teacher.

    Hasan, said: ‘It is a universal belief that the pupils of the Imám Mowaffak will attain to fortune. Now, even if we all do not attain thereto, without doubt one of us will; what then shall be our mutual pledge and bond?’ He proposed that they should share their good fortune equally.

    Yearsd later, one of the three became administrator of affairs (Vizier) during the Sultanate of Sultan Alp Arslán. Hasan came to him and got a position, but he was dissatisfied, and made himself head of the Ismailis, and started terrorizing people. Omar Khayyam refused to take a position, and just asked for money to study, and got a yearly pension of 1200 mithkáls of gold, from the treasury of Naishápúr. He was one of the members of the committee who reformed the Iranian calendar.

    The resulting Iranian (solar) calendar had no permament formula. Months varied in length in different years, but there were no leap years. It was simplified in 1925.

    Sammy Finkelman (4151a0)

  132. No to what, Sammy? The Assassins were Ismailis, a branch thereof, and Hassan il Sabbah was their founder. Do you object to “friend” instead of “classmate”? Or childhood? Because that was a pretty friendly agreement they made.

    nk (dbc370)

  133. 132. nk (dbc370) — 7/30/2014 @ 12:32 pm

    No to what, Sammy?

    I didn’t know.

    You asked:

    did you know that Omar Khayyam who wrote the Rubaiyat, an ode to wine, was a childhood friend of Hassan, the Old Man on the Mountain, founder of the Assassins cult?

    I said no.

    I didn’t know, and then I checked.

    Childhood friend would soud really amazing and it is a little wrong. He didn’t know as a young child. He met him in a boarding school. It is not such a startling coincidence that way.

    The Assassins were Ismailis, a branch thereof, and Hassan il Sabbah was their founder.

    According to Edward Fitzgerald, the sect of Ismailians already existed. He didn’t found them. But he took them over and added a lot. guess he created a sub-sect.

    Do you object to “friend” instead of “classmate”? Or childhood?

    My no really applied to not knowing. I did find an objection.

    It’s to Childhood. It is not quite right. That would sound like they were born in the same city or
    grew up in the same neighborhood.

    Because that was a pretty friendly agreement they made

    Edward Fitzgerald writes “school-friends”

    The agreement may not have been intended quite seriously, and apparently got forgotten.

    It may have been even more to share positions rather than money.

    Hasan asked for and took a position but it wasn’t enough for him. Omar Khayyam preferred to avoid danger I guess, and just wanted money.

    .

    Sammy Finkelman (255c83)

  134. 127.What’s your point, Sam?
    nk (dbc370)

    That contrary to your assertion, poppies and coca and their derivatives were increasingly mainstreamed into Western civilization during the two centuries prior to being prohibited. Marijuana was less mainstreamed, but was still well enough known.

    Further, while overtly racist propaganda was used to promote drug prohibition, the more relevant factor was the extent to which addiction existed and was spreading within the White population – decent people weren’t avoiding it, they were flocking to it.

    None work out well as particularly good reasons for drug prohibition.

    Sam (e8f1ad)


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