April 19, 2012
ADC - 150
Public Policy Essay
Prohibition started on January 16, 1920 and ended on December 5, 1933. It prohibited the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The government felt that to reduce the alcohol consumption they would eliminate any businesses that manufactured, distributed or sold alcohol (Grahm, 2012) . Prohibition proved to be a failure from the start. The laws pertaining to prohibition were so elusive that it subsequently added too many of the problems that it intended to solve. The following is a summary of the temperance movements leading to the 18th Amendment of the Constitution and the benefits and detriments of Prohibition. Temperance movements were vital keys to the ratification of the eighteenth amendment. Temperance at first meant abstaining from distilled liquors, but later would be the complete avoidance of alcohol. Temperance movements started in 1840 with the religious denominations, 1869 with the Prohibition Party, 1874 with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and 1893 with the Anti-Social Saloon League (Wikipedia, 2012). These movements were the primary advocates that passed the 18th Amendment of the Constitution. In order for an amendment to be passed the House of Representatives and the Senate must ratify by three quarters vote. On January 29, 1919, with votes of 255 to 166 (Wikipedia, 2012), the Secretary of State announced that on January 16th thirty-six states had ratified the amendment and therefore it had become a part of the Constitution. This prohibited the state to sell, barter, manufacture, transport, import, export, deliver, furnish or possess any intoxicating liquors. There were exemptions for medical needs and near beer was allowed as long as it contained a maximum of 5% alcohol (Grahm, 2012). Ultimatley, Prohibition failed because it tried to eliminate the supply of alcohol without reducing the demand for alcohol. The economic law of supply and demand tells us that this will result in a price increase and big incentives to break the law.
Grahm, C. (2012). The United States Prohibition of Alcohol - 1920-1933. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from About.com: http://cocktails.about.com/od/history/a/prohibition.htm Wikipedia. (2012, April 17). Volstead Act. Retrieved April 17, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volstead_Act