History of Prohibition
Already at the end of the 19th century a powerful lobby of the Temperance Movement tried to bring such a law into action, and it was done in a number of states; however, it acquired nationwide character only in 1917. Alcohol production was completely forbidden on the territory of the United States. This measure was supposed to both eliminate the alcohol consumption by the population and save the supply of grain after the United States entered the First World War.
However, the practice showed that this measure was completely inconsistent with facts and, in addition, extremely unpopular. People did not just continue to drink alcoholic beverages; this law also brought about quite natural economic consequences. With the disappearance of legal alcohol, there appeared a great number of people who produced and distributed it illegally. The fact that this business was illegal and, therefore, dangerous for the ones who were in it, made alcohol more expensive. The fact that it was both expensive and desired commodity made this business extremely lucrative and alluring for all kinds of criminal elements.
As a result, the government not only lost a great amount of potential tax money from the producers and distributors of alcohol, but also initiated the appearance and rapid development of numerous criminal organizations that received most of their incomes from bootlegging (illegal alcohol trade). As it is clearly seen, this entire situation was quite natural and easy to predict. When something becomes hard to come by, while not ceasing to be a desired commodity, it becomes expensive. When there is a lack of supply for an expensive commodity, however dangerous its production and distribution is, there appear people who want to make money on it, and they won’t disappear until the law that brought them into existence disappears.
The history of Prohibition tells us that there are no economic measures that influence only what they are supposed to influence. The effect is always wider and more complex than the one intended. And, who knows, looking from that point of view, maybe legalization of drugs would lead to the decrease of crime, rather than its upsurge?
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