Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy 75th Anniversary

75 years ago today Rusty Ray woke up Paul Masson by ringing a huge bronze school bell to celebrate the official end to prohibition. You can read the episode in the book Vineyards In The Sky, which is now available online courtesy of Google Books.

Unfortunately the wording of the constitutional amendment gave rise to a crazy system of distributors, state-run monopolies, byzantine laws and licensing requirements. For example: as a private individual I can legally ship firearms from one state to another, but I can't legally ship a bottle of wine. In several states you can order prescription drugs over the internet from around the world, but not wine. There are even 'dry' areas where alcohol can't be bought and sold. Yes America, you successfully replaced one ridiculous law with myriad little ones. But today is definitely a reason to celebrate. Raise your glass and toast Section 1 of the 21st Amendment!

PostScript: I discovered this marvellous quote on Wikipedia:

There are two ways, and only two ways, in which an ordinary private citizen ... can violate the United States Constitution. One is to enslave someone, a suitably hellish act. The other is to bring a bottle of beer, wine, or bourbon into a State in violation of its beverage control laws—an act that might have been thought juvenile, and perhaps even lawless, but unconstitutional?


Wes Barton said...

Unfortunately, the distributors during Prohibition became the distributors after Prohibition. The corporate culture remains largely intact.