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by Peter Moskos

May 21, 2008

156 Die Drinking Tainted Liquor

You don’t see headlines like this much in America anymore. But we used to (google “Jake Leg” if you’re interested in a tragic little footnote in American history). Fewer people die when drugs are legal and regulated.

Prohibitionists in India wanted to protect poor people from themselves. So, in an entirely predictable bit of failed prohibitionist logic, they made liquor drunk by poor people illegal. The New York Times reports:
The hooch deaths, as they are called, are occurring a year after the government prohibited the sale of arrack, or country liquor, arguing that it was ruinous to the poor, but left other kinds of alcohol untouched. Since then, plastic sachets of illegal brew have turned up occasionally in Bangalore’s poorest neighborhoods.

It used to be like that here, from 1920 to 1933. Then we wised up. But not before a lot of people had died. Now we do it with other drugs. And a lot of people still die (33,541 American in 2005 alone). And then we have the gall to blame the poor and powerless for killing themselves rather than arrogant prohibitionists for passing bad laws that kill other people.

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