For Your Own Good…

We’ll poison you.

To sell the stolen industrial alcohol, the liquor syndicates employed chemists to “renature” the products, returning them to a drinkable state. The bootleggers paid their chemists a lot more than the government did, and they excelled at their job. Stolen and redistilled alcohol became the primary source of liquor in the country. So federal officials ordered manufacturers to make their products far more deadly.

By mid-1927, the new denaturing formulas included some notable poisons—kerosene and brucine (a plant alkaloid closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. The Treasury Department also demanded more methyl alcohol be added—up to 10 percent of total product. It was the last that proved most deadly.

The results were immediate, starting with that horrific holiday body count in the closing days of 1926. Public health officials responded with shock. “The government knows it is not stopping drinking by putting poison in alcohol,” New York City medical examiner Charles Norris said at a hastily organized press conference. “[Y]et it continues its poisoning processes, heedless of the fact that people determined to drink are daily absorbing that poison. Knowing this to be true, the United States government must be charged with the moral responsibility for the deaths that poisoned liquor causes, although it cannot be held legally responsible.”

Do go read the entire article. It should horrify you. How many Americans were crippled, blinded or killed by overzealous bureaucrats in their own government? Nobody actually knows. Understand something here. The consumption of alcohol was not banned by the 18th Amendment, only the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction”.

The victims of this were sickened, maimed or killed by overzealous  bureaucrats for no reason whatsoever. They had committed no crime whatsoever.

Sure, it was a long time ago, a different America, a different time. But ask yourself this: Are you willing to entrust your welfare to bureaucrats? Do you really want them making decisions for you?

Given the history, I don’t think that’s a really great idea.

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2 Responses to For Your Own Good…

  1. feeblemind says:

    Your point is well taken Gaius. They still have alcohol poisoned or “denatured” though.

    I have never understood why the American public is allowed to make wine and beer at home, but the Feds get real fussy if you want to make hard liquor. Apologies for drifting off on a tangent.

  2. This is what happens when a President tries to enforce a law he basically disagrees with. Coolidge was no fan of the Volstead Act. Yet he appointed a legal pit bull, Mabel Willebrandt, to head the DOJ task force on Prohibition.

    Then promptly failed to fully fund her. He made _zero_ effort to get the States to ban booze, so other then the Dry States in the South local law enforcement didn’t care.

    Therefore Prohibition advocates in the Treasury Department pushed the Denaturing of alcohol and steadily increased the toxicity of the brew…without fully informing Coolidge who didn’t bother to check the orders he was signing.

    And why was Treasury so hot on this? Between the Income Tax, the merging of the Revenue Cuter Service with the Coast Guard and the ban on booze, which they used to collect taxes on, they had a lot of law enforcement people sitting around idle. Therefore it seemed easy enough to give them mission creep to stop booze.

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