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Sunday, the Day of Rest, When I Get to Talk Trash

Posted by Bob on September 23rd, 2012 under Coaching Session


Despite our discipline, the Old Man would like to enjoy the privilege of every now and then, for one day, of breaking ranks and telling you telling you irrelevant stuff for fun.

Until about 1960, the maps showed two only two states that were legally dry, Oklahoma and Mississippi. In Oklahoma this was straightforward: alcoholic drinks were prohibited with all the earnestness and success that the policy had been pursued under Prohibition.

But if you moved from the Dry State of Oklahoma to the Dry State of Mississippi, you would have been terribly confused.

You see, the reason Mississippi was officially dry was because the Baptists and others wanted their state to have prohibition. And they had it: Mississippi banned the making, transportation and sale of all alcoholic beverages, with prescribed penalties, throughout the state.
End of Prohibition in Mississippi
Now come the complications, which delight me as a political scientist. The twenty first amendment which abolished the Prohibition in the eighteenth amendment has an interesting — to me — addition. It specifically gives over power over policy with regard to alcohol to the states.

As a result, passenger trains in interstate transportation, which were specifically under the interstate commerce clause under Federal jurisdiction, had to be close the Club Car when they passed from wet Louisiana to dry Mississippi. I do not know whether a truck carrying bourbon from Tennessee to the thirsty New Orleans market really had to go around Mississippi.

Another ingenious addition to the Mississippi dry law was just plain fun. The only person who could ENFORCE the dry law was the county sheriff.

So on the map, Mississippi looked like the Only Deep South Bible Belt Holdout Against Demon Rum.

Inside the state it looked a lot like local option.

A LOT of local option. Unlike other local option states, the State of Mississippi did not have a single law with respect to alcohol. Biloxi elected a sheriff who made the place so wet it embarrassed New Orleans, where mixed drinks were served in supermarkets.

If liquor does not exist, how can you regulate it?

But the crowning touch is yet to come. The beer and liquor tax is fundamental to state financing. But there could be no taxation of something that was totally outlawed. So, I kid you not, Mississippi established a Black Market Commission. Any item sold on the Black Market was subject to taxation.

The Black Market Tax, unlike Prohibition, was enforced by the state government. So if you bought liquor in a store it had to have the Black Market Commission stamps, and of course Federal stamps, on it.

But there was no real regulation. I fondly remember going to a liquor store and buying a half pint of clear alcohol whose only label was, “Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith, Route 3, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.” It was written by hand and stuck on the bottle, along with the stamps and nothing else.

I just enjoyed telling you this.

Maybe we could get a moral out of it and not spoil the fun. We COULD tax illegal drugs.

Alcohol is a drug, and Mississippi taxed it.

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  1. #1 by Jason on 09/23/2012 - 8:15 am

    I love these stories, I’m sure everyone does. It helps me flesh out the abstractions of political science.

    Someday people will look back on us the way we look at previous periods. They will be amazed at our laws against such things as segregation and all-White neighborhoods, and laugh at the various ways people tried to get around them, without openly admitting it.

  2. #2 by Dave on 09/23/2012 - 11:57 am

    I look at it as the “wrought up” (Baptists) leading the “wrought up” (drunks).

    There is nothing better than watching a dried out skid road bum walking down the street yelling, “I thought I knew SATISFACTION until I met JESUS!” Of course, the bum’s new found faith is just trading one addiction for another, a metaphor for the whole of society.

    This is also why I get a kick out of watching thousands in the Moslem world riot because “the Prophet was defamed”. I understand them completely.

    • #3 by Jason on 09/23/2012 - 6:59 pm

      That’s a good point about the drunk alternating between Wild Religion and Wild Turkey.

      On the rabid Muslims overseas, the Middle East looks like it has some serious dysgenics going on. The mobs look really brown. Much browner than images of Arabs/Muslims a few generations ago.

  3. #4 by Dick_Whitman on 09/23/2012 - 1:25 pm

    I think this post applies perfectly to our struggle. It’s ridiculous to outlaw alcohol the same way it’s ridiculous to outlaw self-separation. Outlawing either requires ridiculous amounts of silliness to maintain the law.

    As far as legalizing drugs, I think legalizing pot would be OK, but I can’t see legalizing the others.

  4. #5 by cecilhenry on 09/23/2012 - 1:26 pm

    Wow, finding a way to tax something that is illegal and outlawed –only government could pull such cognitive dissonance.

    Perhaps they should do the same thing for the illegal drug trade. Its a huge non-existent business too!!

    Really, why haven’t the governments come up with some way to get at this potential cash cow?

  5. #6 by elcyCesreveR on 09/23/2012 - 6:35 pm

    wont it be great when free speech is legalized and prohibition of speech is ended?

  6. #7 by Tom Bowie on 09/26/2012 - 8:29 am

    Since we’re off on a day of rest post;
    Monica Stone said I should say hi for her and that I should ask you (Bob) if you had had any good Satsa.

    You know; when most people say they’ve “been there and done that” they’re not making an understatement. When Bob says it; he says it, it is an understatement.
    Somehow your name (Bob) came up and boy oh boy did I learn a bit about what been there and done that is about.

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