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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Alcohol Prohibition Still Alive

Remember in the 1920's when alcohol was prohibited by the government? You probably weren't there yourself, but we know it happened. It was supposedly ended back then, but alcohol prohibition is still alive in Canada.

Some enterprising folks were delivering alcohol products to the northern Manitoba reserve of Pukatawagan by boat. Pukatawagan isn't a dry reserve, where alcohol sales are banned, but it is an isolated community and there isn't a place to buy alcohol there, and the band council has restricted how much alcohol residents are allowed to have.

The bootleggers were stopped by police and their bootleg booze was seized.

Separate from the issues of the problems with alcohol abuse, this raises the question, why is it that alcohol would be legal to bring into Pukatawagan for a company like Labbatt's, but not for private citizens who make their own brew?

Taxes.

The government doesn't gain from private citizens interacting with each other on a voluntary basis for good and services unless they take a cut. Taxes increase the cost of alcohol, so some people decide to go around the government system to make and distribute "bootleg" booze, and we see the same thing happening with tobacco. It creates a grey market for so-called legal products, which inherently brings a risk to the people involved in the trade.

Some people want to alter their state of mind with booze or pot, and if they can't get those then they may turn to other, more dangerous methods of doing it. Prohibition doesn't stop this desire, it makes it more dangerous for the people involved.

The more compassionate choice is to end prohibition.

Posted by Freedom Manitoba on July 8, 2009 in Food and Drink | Permalink

Comments

Questions:

1. "why is it that alcohol would be legal to bring into Pukatawagan for a company like Labbatt's, but not for private citizens..."

I see nothing in the story linked that says it would have been legal had Labbatt's been shipping the booze. Can you explain what you mean here?

2. "...but not for private citizens who make their own brew"

The story does not say the booze was home made. What makes you think it was? And how is the question of whether or not it was home brew relevent to the law in question?

3. "...private citizens..."

As opposed to what other kind of citizen?

4. "Taxes"

How can bootleggers be cutting into tax collection when there is no sale of booze at all in the community? I could understand your point if there were legal booze sales in the community and the local government got taxes from it, but whether or not bootleggers bring in booze the government tax base is not affected at all. Doesn't it sound more likely that the real issue is that the local government is (however paternalistically) concerned about alcohol abuse, as they say?

5. If my next door neighbour wants to sell cases of beer from his front porch 24/7 without any form of license to operate and in a neighbourhood that is zoned residential, do you think that should be ok? Are all zoning laws illegitimate? Are all regulations of the sale of alcohol illegitimate?

6. Do you think the usual gang of Yahoos who post replies on this blog will notice that I have not taken a position here either for or against the law in question in this story or about alcohol and zoning laws generally? Do you think they will, as they so often do, just assume they know my views and attack accoridingly?

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-07-08 10:27:47 AM


//Can you explain what you mean here?//

Alcohol sales are not prohibited on the reserve. If there was a vendor then beer companies could ship their product there for sale.

//The story does not say the booze was home made.//

The story says "bootlegged booze". That implies home made, since there is nothing illegal about carting around a case of Lab Lite.

//As opposed to what other kind of citizen?//

Private citizens as opposed to a company manufacturer product.

//How can bootleggers be cutting into tax collection when there is no sale of booze at all in the community?//

At some point of sale taxes are collected, but not if it made and purchased in the grey or black market.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 10:44:55 AM


@ Attacker

//Alcoholism is a huge problem in Indian communities and prohibitions of one kind or another are a logical response. //

Is prohibition working? Nope.

//They can freely move to another town if they want booze that badly.//

Pukatawagan is an isolated reserve, there are no roads in or out except winter roads when lakes are forzen. You have to boat or fly there.

//Indians cannot biologically handle their booze because they hadn't invented it yet prior to the White man's arrival. //

Evidence for this biological condition please.

//Bootlegging to Indians is a horrible crime, truly vicious. //

Why is it a crime to sell a product to people that want it? I know plenty of Indians and they handle their booze fine. You are being a collectivist.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 10:51:43 AM


Ironically, Scott, you have unwittingly contradicted yourself. On the one hand, you wish to see marijuana legalized, taxed, and regulated, as alcohol now is; on the other hand, regulation means accepting some restrictions, and tax means accepting higher prices at the till, as exemplified by this case. The benefit that society would supposedly realize by taxing these substances is thus subverted by the bootleggers. Now, is regulation and taxation synonymous with prohibition or not?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-08 10:55:40 AM


@ Attacker //how old are you Scott? It's very relevant"'

It's not relevant because my argument has nothing to do with my age, either it is sound or not.

The point has nothing to do with science or history; it has to do with individual liberty.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 10:58:15 AM


I am well acquainted with the history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, and for the majority of that recent history the Canadian government has been the worst aggressor against them. They would be best served to be left alone and manage their own affairs.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 11:00:51 AM


@ Shane

//On the one hand, you wish to see marijuana legalized, taxed, and regulated, as alcohol now is;//

Actually no, I am for the total repeal of prohibition; government should have nothing to do with it. If you want to grow your own pot, brew your own booze, then that's your business.

Sorry if I didn't make that clear in eariler posts.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 11:03:14 AM


"Alcohol sales are not prohibited on the reserve. If there was a vendor then beer companies could ship their product there for sale."

Then perhaps some enterprising individual should agree to sell it. Are there stores of any sort on the reserve?

"The story says "bootlegged booze". That implies home made, since there is nothing illegal about carting around a case of Lab Lite."

No, it implies illegally distributed.

"Private citizens as opposed to a company manufacturer product."

And the employees of that company are what? Private citizens.

"At some point of sale taxes are collected, but not if it made and purchased in the grey or black market."

But is not one of the key arguments of marijuana decrim buffs that legal marijuana would eliminate--not reduce, ELIMINATE--bootlegging and its associated evils? You have unwittingly exposed another flaw in their arguments: what do you do if no one in the area wants to sell it legally?

"Is prohibition working? Nope."

Yup. The only debatable point is how well.

"Pukatawagan is an isolated reserve, there are no roads in or out except winter roads when lakes are forzen. You have to boat or fly there."

All of which serve to make local regulations more effective. MORE effective, not bulletproof. If you're really determined, you could have cocaine parachute-delivered to you in Antarctica. Of course, your chances of getting caught are much higher, too.

"Evidence for this biological condition please."

Here's a start. The full abstract is available by purchase only, but the synopsis is also revealing. Whether or not these genetic and enzymatic differences are the product of evolution and natural selection are much harder to determine, but it is plausible.

"Why is it a crime to sell a product to people that want it?"

And would you say the same if they wanted fighter jets or nuclear missiles?

"I know plenty of Indians and they handle their booze fine."

And yet Indians are grossly overrepresented in the prisons and slums, and their reputation as substance abusers is firmly established. Also, as per the above, there is biological evidence of what scientists euphemistically call "increased biological sensitivity" in people of Mongoloid stock, which happens to include American Indians. It will take more than one person complaining of "-isms" to alter these perceptions.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-08 11:13:51 AM


@ Shane //Then perhaps some enterprising individual should agree to sell it. Are there stores of any sort on the reserve?//

I think that would be difficult in such an isolated place. People are getting booze there, it's underground.

//No, it implies illegally distributed.//

You're may be right, I may be making too many assumptions. Either way, it is a prohibition.

//But is not one of the key arguments of marijuana decrim buffs that legal marijuana would eliminate--not reduce, ELIMINATE--bootlegging and its associated evils?//

It would. BUT if there were still government regulations about taxes and distribution you will still have a grey market, just as we see with contraband cigarettes. Repealing ALL prohibition on the substance is what will make the black and grey market go away.

//And would you say the same if they wanted fighter jets or nuclear missiles?//

Actually I would, but let’s keep on topic please :)

//And yet Indians are grossly overrepresented in the prisons and slums, and their reputation as substance abusers is firmly established//

That's true, and the reason for that is not as simple as saying that it's because of booze. The reserve system is a huge part of the problem.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 11:36:51 AM


@ Attacker

//Your argumentation is atrocious, serious logical errors everywhere.//

Feel free to point them out and show me how wrong I am.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 11:40:40 AM


New question. If Aboriginal people have a biological deficiency that prevents them from "handling" alcohol, should it be illegal for Aboriginals to have alcohol?

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 11:41:56 AM


This sounds like an internal issue with the Band. The post mentions police, but doesn't specify which police. Was it the RCMP? I very much doubt it. If it was band police, they were probably arresting the competition. The Chief and Council probably have a monopoly on contraband.

It's true, the substitutes for legal booze are extremely undesirable. I worked near Peerless Lake AB when a group of young kids drank photo copier fluid, after running out of Lysol, etc. It's sad when such a tragedy is ammunition for sick comedy.

I ran a boxing club out of a Native Friendship Center, years ago. I stopped at a convenience store, next door, and noticed the Lysol, Aqua Velva, Scope, and vanilla extract were all lined up on one shelf, right in front of the register. I pointed out to the clerk that this was illegal, and she replied, "it saves me reaching for this stuff". She then weht on to tell me how many cocktails could be made from these items.

Indians really are more likely to suffer from alcohol problems, that's a fact. But, have you ever been to a party with a bunch of Irishmen? How about a bunch of Newfies? Indians might get a little crazy, but I've never seen one on a roof, with a shotgun. Funny how I've developed a fear of heights, since I quit drinking.

Prohibition only works when the people enforcing it actually practise what they preach. Education, and understanding are much better tools.

Posted by: dp | 2009-07-08 12:01:43 PM


@ dp //Education, and understanding are much better tools.//

Agreed. Restricting substances from people that want to alter their state of mind will cause them to find something else; sniffing for example.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 12:07:04 PM


"Bootlegging to Indians is a horrible crime, truly vicious. And you support that, and wonder why we think self-professed libertarians are dirtbags."

Attacker, one can support the repeal of prohibition and still think it's wrong to sell alcohol to natives. There is ample evidence that prohibition does not reduce supply but simply transfers the profits to crimninals. Libertarians also support the right of Nazis to free speech. Does that make them immoral Nazi dirtbags as well?

"We legislate morality all of the time"

And there you have it again. Imposing your morality, by force, on someone else.

Btw, I haven't seen my 20's in quite a while. Just trying to keep you from resorting to vicious, personal attacks.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-08 12:07:21 PM


"I think that would be difficult in such an isolated place. People are getting booze there, it's underground."

The local store won't agree to sell it? They do have a store, I presume? That's the trouble with some of these reservations--the Indians want the same living standards as people in the cities, but you can't get that in historical locales more suited to a hunter-gatherer existence.

"You're may be right, I may be making too many assumptions. Either way, it is a prohibition...repealing ALL prohibition on the substance is what will make the black and grey market go away."

You mean like how repealing all laws would make all crime go away?

"[On allowing the purchase of fighter jets or nuclear weapons] Actually I would, but let’s keep on topic please."

Scott, there's a reason people like you are in the minority; when a society becomes composed mostly of people who think as you do, it very quickly goes extinct. Your problem is you subordinate reality to the abstract, and fact to theory. If you can't see the danger in selling city-killing weapons to unqualified individuals without any restriction whatever, there is no point in attempting to justify any kind of law to you. You're an an anarchist.

"That's true, and the reason for that is not as simple as saying that it's because of booze. The reserve system is a huge part of the problem."

It is largely because of booze, actually. Most of the crimes in question are committed by Indians while they are drunk, and drunkenness on reserves is a huge problem in itself. Which is probably why the Pukatawagan elders decided to restrict access to it in the first place. Access to alcohol, or indeed to any non-essential thing, is a privilege, not a right. But you don't recognize the distinction, do you?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-08 12:08:06 PM


@ Shane //You mean like how repealing all laws would make all crime go away?//

I didn't say that :) The fact is thought that the black market is where a lot of crime exists, the drug trade for example. If substances weren't prohibited then there would be less product for gangs to deal in. Smaller black market means less crime that is associated with it.

//You're an an anarchist.//

I'm a minarchist.

//Access to alcohol, or indeed to any non-essential thing, is a privilege, not a right.//

Why is it the governments place to tell me what I can and can't put in my body?

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 12:15:12 PM


Attacker, your post was deleted. Refrain from ad hominems please.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 12:23:42 PM


//If Aboriginal people have a biological deficiency that prevents them from "handling" alcohol, should it be illegal for Aboriginals to have alcohol?//

Of course the answer is no.

I asked this silly question because a few people were saying that aboriginals can't handle their booze, and that's part of why they shouldn't have it.

attacker //Indians cannot biologically handle their booze because they hadn't invented it yet prior to the White man's arrival.//

//Bootlegging to Indians is a horrible crime, truly vicious.//

Aboriginals are just people with free will like anyone else, they can choose for themselves, just like you do.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 12:27:49 PM


1. Actually, Scott, you did say that. Your argument amounts to saying that if nothing is illegal then nothing will be a crime. Is too much crime associated with theft, thus creating a black market for stolen goods? Legalize theft. It's that sort of reasoning.

2. There is little to choose between an anarchist and a minarchist, depending on the extremity of the minarchist's views. This is like a communist excusing himself by saying he's a socialist.

3. Let me turn that question on its head: Why ISN'T it?

4. Whether or not Indians should be prevented from buying alcohol based on their increased sensitivity to it should be decided based on the premise that ideally drives all law: the greatest good to the greatest number of people. If they lose an abstract and unnecessary "freedom" that minimally impacts their way of life and is thus defensible mostly as a matter of principle only, but halve their murder rate in the process, then you have a strong case for answering yes.

And more to the point, the Pukatawagan elders, presumably with the support of most of the tribesfolk, have wisely chosen the compromise of "yes, with provisions." Some alcohol is permitted, but not enough to cause problems, provided they worked out the quantities correctly. Who are you to question the laws of a community you don't even live in? And why should the people listen to you?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-08 12:40:20 PM


"Aboriginals are just people with free will like anyone else, they can choose for themselves, just like you do."

This is a terribly simplistic and myopic viewpoint that pushes aside reality in favour of abstract principle. It is the results of your actions and policies that matter, Scott. Not their motives.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-08 12:42:03 PM


Shane,

Dozens of people have tried to explain to you that laws should only exist to prevent people from harming each other. Theft is illegal because you are depriving someone of their property. At this point, I have to assume your incomprehension of libertarian values is by choice.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-08 1:16:14 PM


Another post by Attacker deleted.

@ Shane //Your argument amounts to saying that if nothing is illegal then nothing will be a crime.//

I'm talking and prohibition of substances and self-ownership. Depriving people of life, liberty or property should be a crime, because it is a violation of someone's natural rights. I think that's the proper role of government while it is around; see, I'm a minarchist :)

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 2:10:52 PM


"I'm talking and prohibition of substances and self-ownership. Depriving people of life, liberty or property should be a crime, because it is a violation of someone's natural rights."

How can you deprive someone of property they don't own yet? Isn't that what "prohibition" does--prevents people from acquiring that which they do not currently own? And who is obliged to sell it to you?

P.s. There is no such thing as a "natural right." Such rights as we have are defined by moral and ethical mores and, through these, by law. The very idea of rights itself is a philosophical abstract and derives from no demonstrable reality.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-08 2:26:40 PM


"Dozens of people have tried to explain to you that laws should only exist to prevent people from harming each other."

That is their opinion, and their opinion only. Further to the point, drug use, even when said drug is legal, HAS been shown to pose an unacceptable risk of harm to others. Even legal heroin would still cost something, and how is an unemployed junkie going to pay for it?

"Theft is illegal because you are depriving someone of their property."

Theft is illegal because the law says it is. It's immoral and unethical because society says it is. Not because you say it is.

"At this point, I have to assume your incomprehension of libertarian values is by choice."

Oh, I understand them. I just don't accept them, at least not as defined by you. I also don't accept values derived from sources other than reality, and yours seem derived largely from philosophy. Gentlemen, that's not acceptable.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-08 2:31:18 PM


"You let a deranged stalker harass him from thread to thread and then you banned both of them."

It is a bit like hanging both the rapist and the woman he raped, isn't it?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-08 3:08:04 PM


@ Shane //Theft is illegal because the law says it is.//

Theft was illegal before it was enshrined in law, in the sense that people understood natural law. Today there is a system of legislation that makes all sorts of things illegal whether it out to be or not,

The Law is not benevolent.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 3:40:01 PM


@ Shane //I also don't accept values derived from sources other than reality//

Can you expound on that?

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 3:57:03 PM


"Theft was illegal before it was enshrined in law, in the sense that people understood natural law."

The only natural laws are those of Nature and derive from no idea of thought of Man. Theft was forbidden in early societies, yes, but by definition "illegal" means "against the law." You don't get to twist word meanings to suit your agenda.

"Today there is a system of legislation that makes all sorts of things illegal whether it out to be or not. The Law is not benevolent."

Unjust laws have existed for as long as there have been men to make them. That doesn't make all law bad, or mean that some vague, universal law that has always existed but only minarchists like yourself have the perspicacity to see predates all human law.

"Can you expound on that?"

Your insistence on the existence of "natural law" has philosophical underpinnings which are by their nature abstract and not based on hard reality. Boiled down to its irreducible essence, your position and the beliefs on which they are founded rest on opinion, not fact.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-08 9:42:15 PM


@ Shane //Unjust laws have existed for as long as there have been men to make them.//

Should unjust laws be obeyed?

//Boiled down to its irreducible essence, your position and the beliefs on which they are founded rest on opinion, not fact.//

I was asking for clarification on what these values are that you get from "facts".

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-07-08 9:57:59 PM



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