ACTIVITY 2
WHAT CHOICES WILL WE MAKE ABOUT DRINKING UNDER PROHIBITION?
 

     Will Schneider:  Born in Germany in 1885, Schneider moved to the United States when he was 15.  In 1910, he opened a small tavern with his brother in a section of Chicago inhabited by many native-born Americans and recent immigrants from beer-drinking cultures.  Their tavern served as a local meeting place for the neighborhood, and the Schneiders operated it profitably in the ten years before Prohibition.

     Mildred Grant:  Born in Iowa in 1870, Grant became a member of the WCTU in 1893.  She believes that it is immoral to drink alcoholic beverages.  One of her best friends married a man who abuses alcohol, and Grant thinks that Prohibition will help her friend's family.  Because women do not have strong legal or public roles (and will not be permitted to vote until 1920), Grant and her friend believe that Prohibition is the only way to reduce domestic problems associated with alcohol abuse.

     Sophia Fanetti:  Born in Italy in 1865, Fanetti moved to New York in 1895 with her husband and three children.  The Fanettis have always enjoyed a glass of wine with their evening meals.  The Fanetti children, now adults, also continue the family tradition of serving wine with supper.  As Catholics, the Fanettis are also accustomed to the use of wine in religious ceremonies (and this will still be permitted, in a heavily regulated manner, under Prohibition).  Fanetti knows some people who abuse alcohol, but she thinks that many people can drink in moderation.

     Frank Evans:  Born in the United States in 1885, Evans works for a trucking company in Detroit.  He regularly crosses the Canadian border on his job, delivering goods in Ontario and returning with Canadian products for U.S. consumers.  Evens does not drink.  His boss has approached him about a plan to smuggle alcohol from Canada into the United States, using a secret compartment in the truck's cab.  Evans will get high bonuses for the smuggling trips.  He knows other people who think that they will earn a lot of money "getting around" the ban on alcohol.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

Who will support Prohibition, from the above group?  What incentives are motivating them to support it?
Who will not support Prohibition?  What incentives do they have for choosing to criticize Prohibition, or even to violate the law?
How hard will it be to enforce Prohibition?  What will enforcement cost?
Based on the analysis of the group above, and your own analysis, how likely do you think it was that Prohibition could achieve its goal of stopping the damaging social consequences (externalities) related to alcohol abuse?  Frame your answer in the form of a hypothesis.  Give the outcomes that you expect, and the reasons that you have for anticipating those outcomes.
 

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From United States History:  Focus on Economics, @ National Council on Economic Education, New York, NY

Prohibition then, MADD today: Economics Lesson