2011-10-18

Temperance Strikes Again

In the early part of the 20th Century (1919 to be exact), the government of the United States of America formalized its love-love relationship with the Temperance movement by ratifying the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, otherwise known as Prohibition.

Thus began what is widely regarded by people of all political stripes one of the federal government's worst-ever mistakes. The people didn't stop drinking, of course, and gangsters and mobs moved in to supply the US consumer with all the illegal, smuggled alcohol we could drink. Organized crime in America ballooned to previously unheard-of levels; Al Capone became a veritable celebrity, the cuddly mobster we hated to love. People started brewing their own moonshine, to good and bad results.

Many died.

The United States would never again make such a terrible mistake, right? Prohibition proved once and for all that the Temperance movement was misguided and wrong. We gave it a try and finally realized that it failed. We would never do such a thing ever again.

Or, would we?
"It is striking that over three-quarters of the cost of excessive alcohol consumption is due to binge drinking, which is reported by about 15 percent of U.S. adults," study author Dr. Robert Brewer, the agency's alcohol program leader, said in a written statement. "Fortunately, there are a number of effective public health strategies that communities can use to reduce binge drinking and related harms, such as increasing the price of alcohol and reducing the number of places that sell and serve it."
Let us all hope for our own sake that we do not re-open old and self-inflicted wounds.