On Rational Drinking and Irrational Zealots

I'm obviously not running up to speed this week, blogging-wise. (But hey, I'm getting a lot of other stuff done . . .  .  Mr. Cranky Beer Magazine Publisher better like this essay, 'cause it's sure gobbling my blogging time....)

Anyway, I only just heard about the Senate Finance Committee "round table" discussion, on, among other things, the wisdom of raising taxes on alcohol. And about it, I say: Ugh. WHEN is Michael Jacobson going to go away? (Not, frankly, that it matters if he goes away, because some other nanny do-gooder numbskull will promptly take his place.)

(And no, I'm not bothering to create a link to his wikipedia page or his nut-job center for "science." There ain't no science, and the only center is the empty space in his head.) 

He's been at this "alcohol is EVIL and we need to TAX it out of EXISTENCE" routine for over thirty years. Give it up already.

Glib ranting aside, every one of us would do well to keep an eye on this "discussion" about taxation on alcohol. Because this historian is here to tell all of you that this is precisely how the prohibitionists did their work one hundred years ago.

Anyway, my buddy Jay Brooks dismantled the discussion at his blog. (You think I'm fanatical on the subject of rational drinking; you ain't seen/heard/read nuthin' till you've imbibed one of Jay's rants.) Here's his money quote:

The number one priority of most, if not all, politicians is to stay in office. Using alcohol as a bogeyman can be an attractive alternative from having to face the real causes and consequences of our current economic situation.

True, true, and true. A century ago, politicians hopped on the alcohol-is-evil bandwagon like rats on an overturned garbage can because it was the politically expedient thing to do. As I noted in Ambitious Brew (pp. 150-51):

An Alabama politician who had been "run over" [by the prohibition] "steam-roller" moaned that . . . "gullible people" [had allowed] themselves to be humored and hoodwinked . . ." Politicians who "surrendered, save themselves from slaughter." But he and others who resisted "were just swept aside to make room for the more susceptible."

Jacobson and his pals are just as determined. Don't think it can't happen again. It can --- and it'll start with something like a hefty tax. Because of course the tax will only prove Jacobson's point: alcohol is evil and dangerous and ought not be allowed.

How do we know that? Because, ya know, we taxed it in order to pay for the damage it does. See how this works? Beware. (Can you tell I'm in a pissy mood after a loooooooong week at the keyboard?)