Read The Economics of Prohibition by MarkThornton Online


It is conventional wisdom that alcohol prohibition failed, but the economic reasons for this failure have never been as extensively detailed or analyzed as they are in this study by Mark Thornton. The lessons he draws apply not only to the period of alcohol prohibition but also to drug prohibition and any other government attempt to control consumption habits. The same patIt is conventional wisdom that alcohol prohibition failed, but the economic reasons for this failure have never been as extensively detailed or analyzed as they are in this study by Mark Thornton. The lessons he draws apply not only to the period of alcohol prohibition but also to drug prohibition and any other government attempt to control consumption habits. The same pattern is repeated again and again. Thornton's treatment of the topic is methodical. He first examines the history of prohibition laws, primarily focusing on American implementation of prohibitionist policies. He examines the prime movers in the alcohol, narcotics, and marijuana prohibition movements. He then examines the theoretical premises upon which prohibition advocates depend, and thoroughly exposes them as fallacious. After examining the history and theory of prohibition, Thornton reveals the effects of such policies on the potency of illegal drugs. He explains how prohibition inevitably creates incentives for producers to increase the potency of drugs and alcohol products distributed via the black market. Also investigated in this book are the effects of prohibition policies on crime rates and government corruption rates. Finally, Thornton discusses the repeal of prohibition, offering both public policy alternatives and truly free-market solutions. According to Murray N. Rothbard, "Thornton's book... arrives to fill an enormous gap, and it does so splendidly... The drug prohibition question is... the hottest political topic today, and for the foreseeable future... This is an excellent work making an important contribution to scholarship as well as to the public policy debate."...

Title : The Economics of Prohibition
Author :
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ISBN : 9780874803792
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 3 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Economics of Prohibition Reviews

  • Nguyễn Quang Vũ
    2019-01-29 05:02

    Nói nhanh, đứa nào bảo "quyển này dễ đọc lắm, cứ đọc đi" là nó lừa đấy. Suy từ bụng mình ra bụng người thôi. Nếu chỉ đọc để "hiểu một vài ý chung" thì OK. Đại loại là Mark Thornton chứng minh rằng việc cấm đoán ma túy (từ cần sa đến côcain hay hêrôin và các biến thể của nó) thì chỉ làm cho tình hình kinh tế xã hội trở nên tệ hại hơn mà thôi. Ông chứng minh bằng cách tính toán các loại chi phí do cấm đoán gây ra rồi đến lợi ích của việc bãi bỏ nó và ảnh hưởng của nó đến xã hội. Ông dẫn chiếu đến Luật Cấm Rượu kinh điển ở Mỹ từ năm 1920 đến năm 1933. Cuốn sách có bổ sung thêm phần phụ lục cũng khá là đáng đọc liên quan đến chủ đề cấm đoán kinh tế, trong đó có cả việc cấm đoán mại dâm, với cùng tinh thần đề cao tự do trong kinh tế.Quyển sách đúng là rất nên đọc với dân kinh tế, với những nhà làm luật hay nghiên cứu khoa học xã hội. Nó cũng là loại sách thay-đổi-suy-nghĩ rất đáng để đọc với những ai thích thể loại này.Mình đọc quyển này cũng vì người dịch nó là bác Phạm Nguyên Trường :D - một dịch giả có tinh thần tự do rất đáng trân trọng.

  • Mark Geise
    2019-01-23 02:18

    I really enjoyed "Economics of Prohibition". It is a short book (under 200 pages), but it is long on information and short on speculation. Some knowledge of economics would help one to understand some of Thornton's points more clearly, but the terminology and concepts can easily be looked up by complete economics novices.Thornton lays out this book by discussing the history of prohibition, the effects of prohibition, the theory of prohibition, and the future of prohibition. He tends to focus primarily on the prohibition of alcohol in the early 20th century and narcotics and marijuana prohibitions throughout the rest of the 20th century. He looks at prohibitions from an economic and free market perspective, illustrating how prohibition rises the prices of drugs and decreases users' real incomes. This necessarily reduces their standards of living, as they have less to spend on food, clothing, shelter, and other products and services. This reduction in real incomes makes crime more attractive; the risks to one's job and future income are now less valuable and less stark. The opportunity costs of crime are now lower, so more crime will be committed all else being equal.Also, Thornton explains that more law enforcement resources are diverted to the enforcement of drug laws under prohibition than under other forms of government intervention. These resources are diverted from enforcement of crimes like theft and rape. These crimes all the sudden become less costly to the criminal under prohibition because the chances of being caught are lower. This two-pronged effect increases crime from both ends. The interaction between those two factors was something I hadn't thought of before reading this book.Another important thing I took away from this book was Thornton's history of prohibitions. They have tended to be formed due to some combination of racism/anti-immigrant sentiment, coalition building by major political parties to garner support of interest groups, and the direct support of large corporate interests. Not surprisingly, the progressives of the early 20th century, with their brand of racism and belief in big government, absorbed prohibition into its platform. I believe that if more people understood the original sources of prohibition laws, there would be more public outcry against them.I'd recommend this to anyone that is interested in drug and alcohol prohibition and a free-market perspective on those topics. Though it seems as if everyone is in favor of marijuana legalization now, I was happy that Thornton strays from marijuana legalization and talks about the legalization of heroin and other narcotics. This is a much more controversial topic, but I believe he handles it with aplomb. Heroin prohibition has the same effects as marijuana prohibition, so if one embraces one, he should embrace the other. This is a thought-provoking book with a lot of quality information from disparate sources. Best part about it: it's available for free from the Mises Institute website in PDF form!

  • Jon
    2019-02-14 05:01

    Let me start off by saying that I've read a few titles and watched many documentaries on the harms of prohibitionist policies, each having their own specific elements and focus, but largely touching on the same things:Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts: A Review Of The Scientific EvidenceDrug Crazy : How We Got into This Mess and How We Can Get OutMarijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?The Revolution: A Manifesto <-- Chapter 5.The books covers alcohol and narcotics prohibition and all of the unintended consequences. It is very well cited and presents both sides of the arguments. Its focus is mostly economic but covers other social sciences as well.Mark Thornton's book is the most well researched of the ones I've read, I'd attribute this to his presence in academia and/or hard work.Quote from Wikipedia: "Thornton received his B.S. from St. Bonaventure University (1982), and his Ph.D. from Auburn University (1989). Thornton taught economics at Auburn University for a number of years, additionally serving as founding faculty advisor for the Auburn University Libertarians. He also served on the faculty of Columbus State University, and is now a senior fellow and resident faculty member at the Ludwig von Mises Institute."Mark tries to hit home on public policy, emphasizing the free-market approach as the best solution. The book touches on a huge variety of studies in various fields: political economy, sociology, criminology, psychology etc.There's an entire chapter dedicated to economic theory, hence the title, a variety of supply and demand charts and some indifference curves to illustrate basic concepts. The book is also full of statistics, graphs/ed. Mark briefly talks about the Austrian approach, by introducing praxeology as well.A thorough history of the prohibitionist and temperance movements are covered starting with colonial times and proceeding through the progressive era (1900-1920).Right off the bat, Mark makes the distinction between "rent seeking" behavior and "corruption" as this plays a big part in analyzing the incentives of the rampant crime coming from governmental institutions.Mark touches on different schools of economic thought (German Historical School, Chicago School, Austrian, Classical) and the role of influential economists on public policy, the most notable proponent of prohibition being Irving Fischer and opponents being, Milton Friedman and Gary S. Becker.Fischer was "champion of Prohibition within the profession. He organized round table discussion of the topic at the American Economic Association meetings in 1927.".."Fischer was clearly an advocate of government intervention in the economy"."A key insight into his viewpoint....his speech at the Yale Socialist November 1941.."I believe [William Graham Sumner] was one of the greatest professors we ever had at Yale, but I have drawn far away from his point of view, that of the old laissez faire doctrine".Thornton breaks the development of prohibition into three periods: the birth - from colonial times to Civil War, the politicization - from Civil War to around 1900, and the national prohibition adoptions - in the Progressive era (1900-1920).Origins, Colonial Times:"First, while alcohol was an accepted part of society, the Puritan ethic did discourage excessive use of alcohol. Puritans established sumptuary legislation designed to limit alcohol consumption and to prohibit tobacco consumption. This type of legislation was found to be in-effective and self-defeating and was later abolished""Second, legislation was passed to prevent the sale of alcohol to Indians, slaves, servants, and apprentices""Third, the colony of Georgia was organized as an experimental society by George Oglethorpe to promote temperance. In 1735, restrictions were placed on spirits, and subsidies were provided for beer"Temperance to Prohibition:"The temperance movement had grown to over a million members by 1833, consisting largely of northern evangelicals from the Baptist, Congregationalist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches. Born in the revival movements of the 1920s and the 1930s, evangelical Protestantism is best described as post millennial pietism because its adherents believed that there would be a thousand-year kingdom of God on earth and that it was their job to prepare the world for Jesus' return. It is not surprising that as this group matured it turned increasingly to the power of the state to bolster the battle against alcohol."Mark covers many groups and parties that developed, along with the role of women in prohibition:Anti-Saloon League (evangelical group), Women's Christian Temperance Union (protestant women), Prohibition Party, American Temperance Society, National Women's Suffrage Association, American Woman Suffrage Association, United States Brewer's Association, National Retail Liquor Dealers etc.Mark touches on the involvement of the American Medical Association and the American Pharmaceutical Association in prohibition movements.He then delves into the history of the Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914 and continues to marijuana prohibition, cocaine, and heroine.Fun fact: Excise taxes led to more nicotine content in each cigarette.Fun fact: The alcohol industry were one of the biggest supporters of narcotics legislationMark becomes a heavy hitter on negative externalities/the unintended consequences of prohibition e.g. alcohol prohibition led to an increase of hard liquor consumption, "the alcohol prohibition movement unwittingly played a significant role in the spread of opium addiction".Different theories of crime and economics are touched on:Two hypothesis for the discussion of the origins of marijuana prohibition:"Anslinger hypothesis" - Harry Anslinger, prohibitionist commissioner of the Federal Narcotics Bureau, played an entrepreneurial role in bringing marijuana attention to the public... and the "Mexican hypothesis" - discrimination and racism of others who are known to be users of the drug.Mark argues that they are both right and one needs to put them together for a more mature understanding.In the chapter on crime, he discusses different views of crime: economic theory (standard of living), sociological (environmental factors), and the Marxist theory (social class)There is so much information in this book, I wish I could share more of it with you.In sum: prohibition leads to more crime, dangerous drug substitutes/alternatives, an increase in potency, higher costs of drugs, increase in poverty, more death/homicides, political corruption, more individuals in prison, more tax payer dollars, rise of organized crime etc.It is a slippery slope, the demand for drugs is inelastic, cutting out the suppliers only draws more into this extremely lucrative business.

  • Hiep Nguyen
    2019-02-14 04:54

    Not easy-to-read book with...dozens of unable-to-understand graphs & charts.Yet, it's very mind blowing with deep discussions over various economical consequences resulting from prohibition (liquor & heroine markets) such as: corruption, control costs, worsening effect of heroine innovations, seeking of lethal alternative drugs & killings among underground parties. The main implication is to free the market, following demand-supply principle so as to avoid those issues. It also relates to a similar prohibition market (i.e. prostitution) with interesting explanation. A worth-reading book.

  • Kathryn Muratore
    2019-02-11 04:09

    This would get 5 stars if it contained better prose for the amount of information that it contains. I think this was a dissertation thesis first, so the intended audience would not have been the layperson, but rather other economists, and that explains the inferior readability.The author focuses his data analysis on the prohibition of alcohol in the US in the 20's, but he also gives a history of the drug war and temperance movements as well as a theoretical explanation of the effects of prohibition (of anything).Prohibition of substances has historically been racially motivated and backed by guild-like organizations like the AMA and APhA as a way to limit competition. An economic history analysis of alcohol prohibition shows that it was bad for the economy - more resources are put towards evasion instead of other productive uses - and society - higher crime, stronger alternative substances are developed, corruption, etc... - in numerous ways. In fact, the major political motivation for repeal was to raise tax income during the Great Depression. This would lead one to hope for repeal or loosening of the Drug War in the current depression, but the Obama administration is not as progressive on this point as one would hope.But the real crux of the argument is theoretical. Of course prohibition causes harm to the economy, corruption, crime, and other ills. Just follow the logic to its conclusion. Today we see the ravages of the Drug War everywhere, but especially in our prison population. What the state is doing is immoral - it is telling people what they can and can't put in their own bodies at the point of a gun. We are told lie after lie to justify the war, but it is really about control of political power. The best thing - economically and otherwise - is to get rid of these dangerous prohibitions.

  • D. Jason
    2019-01-21 03:00

    Gets a bit heavy on comparing what various economists said in which publication at times, but apart from that this is an absolutely fascinating look at how prohibitions increase (or even create) the problems they are claimed to be trying to prevent.

  • Justin Miller
    2019-02-08 03:59

    This was a great book that I used to help support a paper I wrote for a history class covering 1919-1941. I found it to be a very enjoyable read and easy to understand what was going on at the time.