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HBO’s Boardwalk Empire: The Most Entertaining Anti-Prohibition Argument Ever

Posted on September 20 2010 6:37 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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Last night — over several glasses of wine — The Wife and I drank up HBO’s hot new drama “Boardwalk Empire.”

Yes, it looks like we have a new Sunday night ritual — one I can finally participate in. (I always bowed out when April and her friends would watch the ridiculously-overrated, soap-opera-with-sex “True Blood.”)

Watching “Boardwalk Empire,” a series which begins on the day prohibition went into effect, we see what happens when government abandons the principles of the founding fathers.

Read Debra Saunders’ Townhall column from yesterday which lays out the conservative case against the prohibition of marijuana in far more depth than I did in my debate with Mary Grabar last winter.

A few of my favorite gems from the piece:

In 2005, Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron looked at the cost of marijuana prohibition. He estimated that legalizing and taxing marijuana would yield $6.2 billion in annual tax revenue nationally — assuming that governments levied taxes comparable to alcohol and tobacco taxes. In addition, the federal government would save $2.4 billion, while state and local governments would save $5.3 billion on enforcement.


On the other hand, it’s not as if prohibition has put a dent in teen usage. The same survey that found that found 38 percent of high school students had used marijuana found that 39 percent consumed alcohol in the past month.

Okrent believes that legalizing and regulating marijuana could make it harder for young teens to get. The repeal of Prohibition — with closing hours, age limits and government’s ability to shutter violators — “made it harder, not easier, to get a drink.”

This last point is dramatized perfectly in “Boardwalk Empire.”

For many conservatives, though, this issue comes down to their children’s well-being.

Who is responsible for raising your children and making sure they act responsibly? Who is better capable at accomplishing this task? You or the federal government?

And see the above 38-39 figure, thus demonstrating that the legality of a substance has a marginal effect on whether teens use it.

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