Sunday, August 16, 2009

Three Things We Can Thank Prohibition For.

As Barack Obama announced yesterday that his camp appears ready, and willing, to drop the controversial "public option" portion of the Health Care Reform bill I was, again, reminded of some of the "great" ideas that have come from our national government. Let's take a look at three things that we can thank Prohibition for...

As a quick reminder - Prohibition, or The Noble Experiment, is the period in United States history spanning from 1920-1933 when the manufacture, transport and sale of alcohol for consumption were banned, as mandated by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.

Number one on our list, and in our hearts, is NASCAR. That's right, without Prohibition we most likely wouldn't be able to enjoy ten whole months of watching cars race around a track. The sport was born out of the necessity, during Prohibition, for fast cars to drive bootlegged alcohol from one place to another. These cars needed to be small, light and fast in order to evade police. As most things go, things took off from there. Egos got bigger, and cars got faster. Bootleggers started racing each other, and eventually they began racing on sanctioned race tracks with rules, etc. In 1936 the first major race was held at Daytona Beach. It was a 250 mile event in which 27 cars were entered. At the end of the day the race was halted 10 miles short of the advertised distance and only 10 cars remained. Twelve years later in 1947-48 William France, who finished fifth in that inaugural race at Daytona, founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (a bit redundant in my opinion). (Source)

Our second item is the bane of college students everywhere, that's right, the Legal Drinking Age. Prior to Prohibition there was only one State in the Union that had a legal drinking age - Wisconsin. After Prohibition was overturned by the 21st Amendment every state, but one - Colorado, had a legal drinking age. At this point in time most States adopted 21 as the legal purchase age. However, over the course of the next 40 or 50 years most States would change that age to 18 or 19, and now, as we know, the legal age is 21 in all 50 states. Contrary to popular belief, however, since the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed in 1984, most States do not have specific laws prohibiting minors from consuming alcohol in PRIVATE SETTINGS (I feel that needs to be stressed). In fact, only 14 states and the District of Columbia ban underage consumption outright. In addition, 19 states do not specifically ban underage consumption and 17 states have laws that make exceptions for family member's or specific locations. (Source One; Source Two)

Finally, what would a story about Prohibition be without some mention of La Cosa Nostra ( aka: The American Mafia) Cosa Nostra was an offshoot of the Sicilian mafia in the United States. The organization was present in the US as early as the 1880s, and Mafia activities were restricted until 1920, when they exploded because of the introduction of Prohibition. Cities across the nation, most notably Chicago, exploded in violence as bosses fought for control over smuggling routes and territory. Alcohol flowing in from Canada and elsewhere ended up in speakeasies all over, and men like Al Capone gained national recognition for the wealth and power they commanded. From this period until the present the Italian mafia has been the staple crime syndicate in America. However, with the increasing drug trade from South America and Mexico even more violent gangs in the Southern United States are quickly taking their place at the top of the crime world. (Source)

There you have it, three things we can thank prohibition for...

This post is rated SPF 65 - because I said so.

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