When Will We Ever Learn?

January 16, 2009

January 16, 1919 saw the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That Amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes. Had the U.S. Congress done nothing more, the new law would’ve been ignored by the majority of American citizens… and driven the zealots supporting the movement crazy.

However, the problem of enforcement was quickly recognized and nine months later Congress passed the Volstead Act – over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of the prohibition Amendment. Shortly thereafter, a special unit of the Treasury Department was created and eventually Eliot Ness became famous.

Despite massive efforts by law-enforcement agencies (and millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money), the Volstead Act failed to prevent the distribution of alcoholic beverages. In fact, it created many new jobs for people who didn’t like paying income taxes. Rum running and home brewing became basic black market industries and created even more jobs for people who liked to drive fast and shoot at police cars.

Organized crime flourished in America as Al Capone and others grew very wealthy by simply breaking the law and giving people what they wanted.

Eventually Congress realized they were fighting a losing battle. In 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed prohibition. While many lost their black market jobs, the government went back to collecting taxes on alcohol and everyone was happy again… except for those who firmly believed the government should be used to force people to live as they (the zealots) believe they should live.

While that song is definitely an anti-war song, it speaks volumes about our elected officials in general.

A teenaged girl in our community disappeared a week or so ago. She was found yesterday… hiding at a nudist colony with her boyfriend who is employed at the resort. Why did she run away? Because her parents forbade her to have any contact with the young man.

It seems to me that the best way to get somebody to do something is to tell them they are not allowed to do so. We’ve seen that with prohibition and abortion. We’re also seeing it with our country’s ‘war on drugs’. We spend billions of taxpayer dollars in battles we cannot win.

If we collected tax on all the illegal activities in this country, most of our deficit would disappear.

It may take years for the politicians to give up on the drug war – it helps them get re-elected – so our best bet is to get them to pass the Fair Tax.

That’s how I feel about these issues and I’m sure I’ll have even stronger feelings as I watch our politicians give trillions of tax dollars to company executives who will find a way to stick a good portion of it into their own pockets. Of course, our politicians will also benefit from all that cash floating around. The only people who will fail to benefit are the taxpayers whose money is being wasted.

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