Psychology of Prohibition

It's a good idea to read old, obsolete books occasionally. Back in 2000, I was doing research on drug prohibition. For comparison, I decided to study the original Prohibition. The two main books about it were Irving Fisher's "Prohibition At Its Worst" (1927) and "The Economic Results of Prohibition" by Clark Warburton (1932). Fisher was the main proponent of Prohibition, Warburton was a major opponent. Fisher's book had lots of graphs purporting to show improvements in various indicators with the differences labeled "gains due to Prohibition". The thesis of the book was that the problems associated with Prohibition were temporary: eventually the American people would lose their taste for alcohol. The most interesting point came at the end, where he speculated about the future. He asked when alcohol had been defeated, what would come next? His answer: coffee. This clearly shows the workings of the mind of a prohibitionist. He is always looking for something new to outlaw.

Posted 2005/June/15