Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mike Bloomberg and Prohibition

From 1917 to 1933, The United States endured Prohibition, in which the United States Constitution was amended to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages. Two thirds of the state legislatures must approve of a constitutional amendment before it is enshrined in our constitution, which is supposed to weed out fads and attacks of public hysteria from our roster of constitutional amendments.
Although many supporters of prohibition were religious fundamentalists decades of lobbying led up to the congressional ratification of the Volstead Act, constitutionally banning alcohol sale in the United States. The roster of prohibitionists included many abolitionists and women's suffragists who defy the stereotype of blue nose puritans. Indeed, they often waxed eloquent about the ample evidence of alcohol's corrosive effect on the family and society.
During the years of prohibition, many decent people chose to violate the law, increasing the fortunes of many who were anything but decent. According to my mother, my grandmother tried her hand at bathtub gin. A mistake in the formula and a frightening close call in which she accidentally poisoned herself restored her to civic virtue. Organised crime syndicates made a lot of money, as did police and politicians who turned a blind eye to the speakeasies and the rum runners for the right price.
It has been alleged that the Kennedy family of dynastic fame made a lot of money by circumventing prohibition. The alacrity with which they commenced the importation of liquor at the time of repeal would seem to point to connections already long in place.
If a political dynasty can be enshrined and elevated through Prohibition, what new dynastic royalty stands ready to arise from New York City?
We now have in the Big Apple trans-fat prohibition, and a tightening noose of fiscal and logistical restrictions on tobacco. There is already networks of "buttleggers" who by circumventing the law manage to cut two dollars off the price of a pack of cigarettes. I am an ex smoker, but my disgust with the Bloomberg nanny state has tempted me to buy bootleg cigarettes as a political statement.
Imagine what it will be like when the full schedule of fines are in place for the trans fat ban.
We will probably have transfat speak easies. You'll go into a health food store and push aside the human growth hormone stimulators. Then you'll knock on the wall and whisper "MSG", and a secret door will open up in the wall. As you step behind it, the intoxicating fragrances of deep fried donuts will vie with the smell of deep fried foods for your attention. A waiter will hand you a menu on which only the soft drinks are free of trans fats. Meanwhile, out on the street, no one will realise that the cop in his police care is eating a jelly donut that is really mayorally prohibited contraband. I have seen the decor of bookie joints and marijuana sellers who are well camouflaged and fortified. New Yorkers are good at thi sort of thing. Trust me.
As I look at the kaleidescope of new citizens passing through the gateway that is New York, I am grateful for the opportunities that the new Prohibition will afford them. Perhaps a new dynasty is now in formation, accumulating the capital, connections and influence that they can later parlay into a succession of electoral bids. Imagine a staid matron at an inaugural ball whispering to her husband , "remember when we bought a dozen honey dips from his father?' The man would blush and bid her to be silent with a stern glance of disapproval.
Right now, there are parts of the city where crime is going up, where the second hand smoke people fear is not from tobacco but from firearms. Perhaps the hope for our city's salvation will come from the trans-fat speakeasies. So next time my wife tells me to lay off the French fries and donuts I can say, "Don't worry, Mayor Bloomberg already told me.".

In honor of Mayor Bloomberg's support of the new Prohibition, I am including the links of two(!) prohibition parties currently in existence in our country


Copyright 2008 By Magdeburger Joe All Rights Reserved

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