DEA Supporting Alcohol Prohibition?

Here is a clip of Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator Karen Tandy arguing that alcohol prohibition is a good thing. Perhaps Tandy needs to read this CATO policy analysis written by my friend (and Loretta Nall donor) Mark Thornton. Here’s the executive summary:

National prohibition of alcohol (1920-33)–the “noble experiment”–was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America. The results of that experiment clearly indicate that it was a miserable failure on all counts. The evidence affirms sound economic theory, which predicts that prohibition of mutually beneficial exchanges is doomed to failure

The lessons of Prohibition remain important today. They apply not only to the debate over the war on drugs but also to the mounting efforts to drastically reduce access to alcohol and tobacco and to such issues as censorship and bans on insider trading, abortion, and gambling.

Although consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of Prohibition, it subsequently increased. Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; crime increased and became “organized”; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point; and corruption of public officials was rampant. No measurable gains were made in productivity or reduced absenteeism. Prohibition removed a significant source of tax revenue and greatly increased government spending. It led many drinkers to switch to opium, marijuana, patent medicines, cocaine, and other dangerous substances that they would have been unlikely to encounter in the absence of Prohibition. Those results are documented from a variety of sources, most of which, ironically, are the work of supporters of Prohibition–most economists and social scientists supported it. Their findings make the case against Prohibition that much stronger.


Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. What the hell, I propose she clone herself and line herself up ear to ear to help the gov do windtunnel research.

  2. All this stems from calling drug prohibition what it is.

    Every American school kid who received any kind of an education can tell you the basics of why it failed, but most importantly, that it is an acknowledged historical fact that it failed. And linking the past with the present really has the prohibs concerned. The prohibs are starting to understand the danger of the public associating the previous failure of alcohol prohibition with the present one of drug prohibition, hence these bughouse crazy noises about alcohol prohibition having being effective. Given that it is a historical fact that alcohol prohibition was ended because it was an unmitigated flop, Tandy is giving critics the kind of opportunities that no self-respecting historian can fail to correct her on. They must be getting desperate…

  3. It’s not about whether or not it would work, Tandy knows very well that it would not. It’s about adding 50,000 more agents to the DEA payroll and a 20 billion more to her budget. If it isn’t TTSTB yet, if her proposal succeeds that may come in a hurry…

  4. Blowmedown, no argument there. But the problem Tandy and her cohort is having still comes back to the ‘P’ word, Prohibition.

    The more the media use the word, the more the public makes the unavoidable connection between failed prohibitions past…and present. Up until fairly recently, that word was never used in the media; it’s a recent development. Because of this development, sooner or later the prohibs will be confronted with the question of why they believe that alcohol prohibition could have worked when everybody with half a brain knows it didn’t – and by the way, what’s the difference between alcohol prohibition then and drug prohibition now?

    The prohibs have been able to ‘frame’ the subject in a way that deflects any serious discussion for a long time, but now they face criticism for spouting historically contradicted nonsense such as Tandy has done. Now they’ve painted themselves into this corner; let’s see them try to get out of this one.

  5. I think a push to bring back alcohol prohibition would be the best thing to happen to the legalization movement. Once Alcohol is treated the same was as other drugs and alcohol users begin to feel like their right to consume alcohol is being threatened, the legalization movement will suddenly gain a lot of supporters. All the good ol’ boys drinkin’ their bud will be on our side for a change…

    Repeal the Twenty-First Amendment!!!

  6. I live in a dry county where we are prohibited from buying alcohol except in expensive clubs for the more elite of local society.

  7. This seems to be becoming a trendy thing to say (prohibition worked). Jack S Blocker wrote an article arguing this recently in the American Journal of Public Health.