9th February 2013
I don’t really understand the prohibitionist impulse, which is probably no surprise, considering that I work for Reason, where I like to think the only forbidden word is “forbid.” But I admit that I have more than a philosophical objection. In fact, I have more grounds than most people to understand that making things illegal doesn’t make them go away. Provided that there’s demand for the subjects of a ban (and would anybody bother banning something that nobody wanted?) making things illegal creates business opportunities for those willing to work in the shadows, and despite the law. I know this, because much of the history of my family in the United States consists of providing goods and services that government officials don’t want Americans to have. So when former Rep. Patrick Kennedy and his cronies demand that the federal government enforce marijuana prohibition against the explicit wishes of the residents of Washington and Colorado, I have to wonder if my extended relations are breathing a sigh of relief. And when a gaggle of ill-informed congresscritters cook up an unlikely scheme for banning certain firearms and related accessories, I peer into the background at the press conference, looking for the familiar face of a cousin or uncle of mine suppressing a grin.
Baptists and bootleggers both want booze banned. But markets work even when you don’t want them to.