Cato’s Dan Ikenson delivers the bad news that a trade war between Uncle Sam and Beijing looks more and more likely. (A trade war, for those who are unaware, is one in which each government seeks to inflict on the consumers, investors, taxpayers, and businesses [save for a few politically powerful ones] within its jurisdiction a greater amount of damage than its adversary government inflicts on the consumers, investors, taxpayers, and businesses [save for a few politically powerful ones] within its jurisdiction. The damage so inflicted is called “benefits,” and the government that inflicts the greatest amount of such “benefits” on its subjects is the declared winner.)
The war enabled the American equivalent of the Taliban to triumph on the home front. Prohibition advocates “indignantly insisted that… any kind of opposition to prohibition was sinister and subversively pro-German,” noted William Ross, author of World War 1 and the American Constitution. Even before the 18th Amendment (which banned alcohol consumption) was ratified, Wilson banned beer sales as a wartime measure. Prohibition was a public health disaster; the rate of alcoholism tripled during the 1920s.
To punish lawbreakers, the federal government added poisons to industrial alcohol that was often converted into drinkable hooch; ten thousand people were killed as a result. Professor Deborah Blum, the author of The Poisoner’s Handbook, noted that “an official sense of higher purpose kept the poisoning program in place.”