Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A good time for a beer

On March 22, 1933, President Roosevelt signed into law the Cullen-Harrison Act, which legalized beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% (and low alcohol wine). Law went into effect on 7th April 1933. This partially overturned the 18th amendment (which led to the Volstead Act) that outlawed alcohol consumption in the US on 17th January 1920 - a law pushed basically by rural religious zealots. So today I have been drinking beer (in moderation) celebrating the overturning of one of the most stupid constitutional amendments ever.

Although the general consumption of alcohol decreases, it didn't stop alcohol abuse, in fact it made it led to more deaths and disease as secret binge drinking and consumption of tainted, dodgy spirits soared. Thanks to the illicit alcohol trade it basically led to the establishment of organised crime as a power in the US, particularly the American Mafia.

Strangely, having a high drinking age and banning alcohol on American college campuses also leads to secret binge drinking, alcohol poisoning and deaths because under age students are too scared to tell anyone about their comatose friends, and drunk driving rates soar as students travel off campus, drink more than they can handle in feats of teenage bravado and crash on their return to campus. Will we never learn...

On 5th December 1933 prohibition was effectively repealed by the 21st Amendment. The end of prohibition also to a change in government as pro-prohibition Republicans were replaced by anti-prohibition Democrats. Ironically in the following years it was revealed that close to 80% of the prohibition-supporting members of Congress (if you believe the newspaper stories) were being supplied with illegal alcohol nonetheless, often by members of organised crime cartels.

When Roosevelt signed in the Cullen-Harrison Act he allegedly said:  "I think this would be a good time for a beer." Something which I endorse.

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