Progressive Prohibition, Then and Now

“What we learned from Prohibition: How liberals love to mess with our lives,” Kyle Smith writes in the New York Post today:

“People think of Prohibition as a conservative movement, but not at all. It was a movement that was embraced by progressives,” says historian Wiliiam Leuchtenburg in Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s riveting, rollicking, infuriating and very contemporary documentary “Prohibition.”

“Prohibition,” a three-part miniseries that airs starting tonight on PBS and comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week, has many lessons to teach us about such antiquated, 1920s-era ideas as federal overreach, unfunded mandates to states, runaway taxation, a belief that great political leaders can accelerate human progress, crony capitalism, and of course the dire need of Washington to take steps to improve the lot of the poor and the children.

In other words, “Prohibition” is, to an almost mischievous extent, an investigative report about 2011.


Read the whole thing.

Update: Nick Gillespie and look back at Prohibition as well, interviewing Ken Burns and former NYT ombudsman turned prohibition historian Daniel Okrent. Naturally, as with all things Reason, legalizing the stickiest of the icky is discussed:


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