Prohibition

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I am a huge fan of Ken Burns. No one can bring history alive quite like he does, Starting this past Sunday, his much awaited documentary on Prohibition aired, and is to continue it's run in three parts. I highly recommend you seek out your local PBS station and find out when it's shown in your area.

One of the things that is glaringly obvious as one views this recounting of America's failed morality experiment known as Prohibition is just how many parallels there are to today, in so many areas of our political world.

I'm not necessarily referring to The failed War on Drugs, where it sees the most direct parallel - this thread isn't really about that - it's more about the discourse we engage in when it comes to legislating morality, what we do with our bodies, single-issue voters, wedge issues provoked by the politicians and interest groups -- the raw politics of righteousness, and, of course, the unintended consequences.

Ken Burns sums up:
"You begin to see that human nature never changes. History, therefore, becomes a very effective way to have a good perspective on the events of today...We talk about civil discourse and how it's broken down, the lack of compromise. Well, Prohibition is a lack of compromise, civil discourse breaking down, and people becoming intransigent and inflexible.

"By looking at the unintended consequences of Prohibition, it's possible to actually look at our present day and perhaps see the best way out of the problems."
It might surprise some to know that both liberal and conservative /democrat and republican segments were "drys" and both were also "wets" - them term used to describe those at the time who were for or against. Though it was led by the progressive movement, it was also hailed by evangelicals, fundamentalists and social conservatives who had the ideal that if you could rid the country of alcohol, it would perfect our human nature, it would perfect our society - finally; crime, domestic abuse, debauchery, and the hundred other ills intoxication promoted would bring us collectively to our better angels, and make us a truly moral nation. At long last.

It didn't work, of course. The things that brought the drys, the 'noble moralists' who held an absolutist non-compromising approach, to enshrine a restriction on human nature into our Constitution, to their dream day, were factors such as WWI, high immigration, a xenophobic fervor which swept the country about that time, people who felt they had lost their country and wanted to take it back, who was a "Real American," - amongst other things, like tax revenue and how we funded our government (liquor taxes accounted for about a third of all federal revenues prior to 1913).
It is a subject truly packed with so much of today.

I'd like to ask the forum members
1. If they have seen the premier of this documentary...(last night was the first 2 hours of the 6 hour series, to be followed tonight and tomorrow) and/or if they intend to watch it

2.If so (or even if not) -- what parallels they see in the social issue factions represented here, in the microcosm of Messageboard debate, and the macro of those wedge issues in Washington Politics in general - to that era in our history when this freedom loving nation banned something that had been a part of human nature since the beginning of time.

3. Will both sides bitch and moan it's the other side that causes all the problems?

:)
 
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[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJdKK6L8Z2o]Ken Burns's Prohibition -- coming to PBS | Sneak Peek | PBS - YouTube[/ame]
 
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I've always been a fan of thinking for myself. The day I need others to formulate my opinions is the day I join the DNC. :lol:

Both sides are equally responsible for the current clusterfuck. And it will not end until Americans work that out. So I do not hold out much hope for that happening... because it is far easier to be told that someone else is to blame.
 

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I was watching it and drew some of the same parallels as you did to current day politics.
I also could see some of the same tactics being used by the greenie wienies today as they used back then.
Especially when I heard the part about getting to the kids while they were young, b/c they will soon be voters.

Very good show.. Ken Burns is the man! I love his documentaries... watched all his others on netflix :cool:
 
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I was watching it and drew some of the same parallels as you did to current day politics.
I also could see some of the same tactics being used by the greenie wienies today as they used back then.
Especially when I heard the part about getting to the kids while they were young, b/c they will soon be voters.

Very good show.. Ken Burns is the man! I love his documentaries... watched all his others on netflix :cool:
True. There was a funky marriage of the social cons and the progressives that brought National Prohibition to full fruition. I agree the green movement of today has some of those same characteristics.

Can you see any parallels to the Tea Party movement or anti-gay movement, anti-abortion movement, or other social conservative / wedge issues?
 
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The introduction for the series:

[FONT=Verdana, Arial]Prohibition: About the Series | PBS
[/FONT]
PROHIBITION is a three-part, five-and-a-half-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the entire era it encompassed.

The culmination of nearly a century of activism, Prohibition was intended to improve, even to ennoble, the lives of all Americans, to protect individuals, families, and society at large from the devastating effects of alcohol abuse.

But the enshrining of a faith-driven moral code in the Constitution paradoxically caused millions of Americans to rethink their definition of morality. Thugs became celebrities, responsible authority was rendered impotent. Social mores in place for a century were obliterated. Especially among the young, and most especially among young women, liquor consumption rocketed, propelling the rest of the culture with it: skirts shortened. Music heated up. America's Sweetheart morphed into The Vamp.

Prohibition turned law-abiding citizens into criminals, made a mockery of the justice system, caused illicit drinking to seem glamorous and fun, encouraged neighborhood gangs to become national crime syndicates, permitted government officials to bend and sometimes even break the law, and fostered cynicism and hypocrisy that corroded the social contract all across the country. With Prohibition in place, but ineffectively enforced, one observer noted, America had hardly freed itself from the scourge of alcohol abuse – instead, the "drys" had their law, while the "wets" had their liquor.

The story of Prohibition's rise and fall is a compelling saga that goes far beyond the oft-told tales of gangsters, rum runners, flappers, and speakeasies, to reveal a complicated and divided nation in the throes of momentous transformation. The film raises vital questions that are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago – about means and ends, individual rights and responsibilities, the proper role of government and finally, who is — and who is not — a real American.
 
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On the revenue end of of just how much alcohol helped build and fund this country -- This was a surprising statistic:
"Before the modern personal income tax in 1913, Uncle Sam relied mainly on customs duties and liquor
taxation. From 1870 through 1912 receipts from these two taxes alone accounted for more than two-thirds of revenues (and in many years accounted for more than 75 percent). Liquor taxes trailed only customs duties as the largest single source of revenue during the half-century preceding the modern income tax, with liquor taxes accounting for about a third of federal revenues." [http://www.fee.org/pdf/the-freeman/0801Boudreaux.pdf]
That's a pretty shocking number. The great Godly nation many look back on when they imagine the devout, punctilious world of our great grandfathers was drunk most the time!

OK, maybe an exaggeration, (then again, maybe not....) but the love of booze has been a huge part of our history, and what kept the coffers filled. It was in good portion because of the Income Tax, (alleviated the loss of alcohol revenue), WWI, the demonization of immigrants (most of the big brewers were German), Irish, Italians, and this desire to legislate morality as the magic bullet to the ills of society -- the Prohibitionists were able to pass the Amendment.

When it was presented in Congress, the wets went along with it - with the condition it would have an expiration date of 7 years to get ratification - cause they figured no way it would happen. The drys had 84 months to get it passed. They did it in 13.

It was a truly amazing perfect storm of fear and enforced morality that brought it about ...and man - did it divide the country.
 

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Ken Burns is brilliant. All of his documentaries and shorts have been classics. I am proud to say that he is a resident of New Hampshire. Live free or die!
 

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Regardless of what the nature is of the law passed, the only law that is ever surely enforced, to it's most perverse and bitter end, is the law of unintended consequences.
 
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Last night's installment was again, excellent.

One thing I found out that surprised me, the legend of Joe Kennedy being a bootlegger was an urban legend.

There is no evidence he was...

Also, the warrantless wiretaps that went on in the 1920's! was a shocker too.
 

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The funniest thing in last night's show was when they said "The same people who were most for Prohibition were the ones who were most against paying for it."

:lol:

Some things never change.
 
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The funniest thing in last night's show was when they said "The same people who were most for Prohibition were the ones who were most against paying for it."

:lol:

Some things never change.
Yes, I immediately flashed on a number of groups today when I heard that.

I am a student of history and have always thought it is history that teaches us about today more than anything.

"There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know." - Harry Truman
 

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I've always been a fan of thinking for myself. The day I need others to formulate my opinions is the day I join the DNC. :lol:
Yeah....we've seen folks like you formulating (on-the-fly)......

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww]Miss Teen USA 2007 - South Carolina answers a question - YouTube[/ame]
*
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeMypXCUWMw&feature=relmfu]CNN Laughs It Up Over Sarah Palin Interview - YouTube[/ame]​
 

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I was watching it and drew some of the same parallels as you did to current day politics.
I also could see some of the same tactics being used by the greenie wienies today as they used back then.
Especially when I heard the part about getting to the kids while they were young, b/c they will soon be voters.

Very good show.. Ken Burns is the man! I love his documentaries... watched all his others on netflix :cool:
True. There was a funky marriage of the social cons and the progressives that brought National Prohibition to full fruition. I agree the green movement of today has some of those same characteristics.

Can you see any parallels to the Tea Party movement or anti-gay movement, anti-abortion movement, or other social conservative / wedge issues?
How 'bout.....

*

[ame]www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYEcgsFT3oE[/ame]​
 
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