I know, sometimes I’m one myself; like, I just reported a car that was dumped across the street from my house at the beginning of June 2012, and it was still there on June  25. I went out, had a look… the dust that had accumulated on it was enough that I could have taken my busybodiness a step further and written “wash me” in a window. The front end of it had what first looked like mud splashed all over it. Then I realized, someone had run the junk out of it, to the point that the radiator had exploded and sprayed the entire inside of the engine under the hood. (Who hasn’t done that at least once?) My busybody mind got to work… “I wonder if someone stole the car, took it for a joy ride, drove it like fury, and burst the radiator?”

Probably not, but that’s our nature… Minding other people’s business.

Heck, the US of A was settled to escape religious persecution. In a genealogy book I have on my “Clarke” side of the family… Elisha Clarke (John 1 – his father), born April 12, 1665, Wenham, MA, about 65 in March 1729/30, deposed that he knew Salmon Falls in 1688. He married 1690 Sarah (Taylor)… Elisha and wife Sarah appeared in court “for not frequenting the public worship of God on the Lord’s day,” in 1696.

Who squealed on them, I can’t help but wonder?

Didn’t our forefathers come here to escape religious persecution? The separation of church and state was still so far off into the distance that the Quakers who came here to escape religious persecution thought nothing of persecuting the very next generation.

Yup… We’re all a bunch of busy bodies… That’s what I thought when I read Rob McMillan’s SVB on Wine’s headline… Neo-Prohibitionists are Alive and Well. Now, understand, Rob’s not the busy body, here. It’s his subject matter from others that counts. He opens with…

Taxing alcohol will save us from all sorts of ills, or so many would have you believe. Here’s a quote that got my attention this past week:

“Returning alcohol taxes to their 1977 levels (when the government collected $57 in 2009 dollars per gallon of alcohol) would raise an additional $18.5 billion in revenue across all levels of government — and also lead to reductions in drunk driving, violent crime and disease.”

Not only did I enjoy reading his story’s opinions, but I also began to click around on his story, which led me to a story written by Mark Kleiman on The New Republic’s Website, titled: Deficit Hawkery and Alcohol Taxation (November 18, 2010). The story is so full of busybodiedness, with the last paragraph so telling, as Kleiman tried to make a case for taxing alcohol at a much higher rate. He wrote:

“If you’re a pessimist, the current level of alcohol taxation is an outrage. If you’re an optimist, it’s an opportunity for a free lunch. If you’re a “deficit hawk,” you can’t even see it, as you scan the horizon for people to hurt. The Very Serious People really ought to restrict their S&M proclivities to their bedrooms.”

Enjoying wine will lead to S&M? I wonder at what point that kicks in, being the Very Serious Person that I am about enjoying my wine?

Look, it’s clear to me that Prohibition in the 1920s was set into motion because too many men had begun to abuse all of their family privileges by getting drunk at night (no TV sports to watch), then going home and beating up there wives. The PBS documentary on Prohibition (Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick) ties it all with with Suffragettes, and it then makes some sense about “why,” but not abut a real solution. Inhibition just caused a legal beverage to become illegal, and people weren’t going to have it… so alcohol crime was created. Trying to eliminate  what exists, like trying to eliminate oregano, will only cause people to find another way to have it.

But, to try to tax it out of existence is absolutely ridiculous. I’m with Rob, who makes a great point, which I can’t even try to recreate, but needs to have his message spread…

Twenty years ago give or take, we had a spate of neo-prohibitionists canvasing the wine business, some well intended with positive agenda’s like MADD whose sole focus was to reduce deaths and maimings by drunk drivers. Others flaunted a religious anti-alcohol bias. Some focused on health as well as the costs and damage alcohol abuse can cause families and communities. Governments decided it was a safe way to raise taxes and not irritate their constituents. Wholesalers simply tried to hold on to their monopoly and funded congressional and state campaign coffers to make sure that happened. It was a strange group of bedfellow aligning the Dry Religious Right with Wholesalers and the Government.

I love Rob’s closing line:

But one thing is clear: Neo-prohibitionism may be less visible, yet the underlying agglomeration of strange bedfellows isn’t yet dead.

This leads me right back to Mark Kleiman’s outlandish statement on S&M. Isn’t there a saying about accusing others of what we don’t like in ourselves?

We’ll never be caught saying that Noe-Prohibitionsits aren’t creative in the their way of thinking, but they certainly are boring (even when they’re somewhat amusing) in their efforts.

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