After my dad passed, I found his old Iowa Liquor Permit in his effects.  After Prohibition was voted out of existence by a public sick of the war on booze, Iowa couldn’t bring itself to completely release its nanny grip on alcohol.  Iowa said, “While we can’t make alcohol illegal--we tried--we failed.  We can still make some rules.  Drinking isn’t a right; it’s a privilege we can regulate.”   So Iowa began its long experiment with State Liquor Stores selling booze only to those holding a valid “permit”—a booklet recording every purchase. On the back page of the booklet was a list of rules:

      “No liquor may be consumed where purchased, nor during transportation, nor upon any street or highway, nor in any public place.  This permit may be revoked if you are guilty of:

1.        Drunkenness.

2.        Pretending to be intoxicated.

3.        Failure to support family or dependents.

4.        Desertion of family or dependents.

5.        Commission of any crime in which liquor contributes.

6         Allowing any person other than yourself to use this permit, for it is personal to you and not transferable.

                   Be Temperate and Obey the Law.

 As an aside, there were no liquor purchases in my dad’s permit book.  Instead he used it as a diary while he was in Burma during the war. 1944-1945

 In 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933, but it took until 1987 for Iowa to release its grip, closing the State Stores and opening liquor sales to the private sector.  (It still controls supply at the wholesale level.)

 A couple of these rules are intriguing though.  Iowans were so bent on preventing the destructive power of alcohol that even if you “pretended” to be drunk, you’d lose your permit, and if you failed to support your family or deserted your dependents, then no booze for you.

My inner nanny loves those notions.  But my inner free American citizen (not subject) is revolted by them.  That generation grudgingly learned its lesson:  If the power of government is strong enough to extract virtue, it is strong enough to compel anything, including the removal your freedom.  While Iowa nannies (Methodists) did give up on liquor prohibition, Iowa didn’t give up on the revenue derived from liquor sales.  And she tightened her grip on a long list of other controlled substances…lesson pending.  The nanny gene isn’t recessive.  It’s dominant.  It may skip a generation or two, but it often comes roaring back.

I love Alaska.  I’ll watch almost anything on TV about it.  Alaska State Troopers may be one of the best things out there.  It could be a college level course on human nature--Squalor and Beauty 101.   Watch the episode, “Armed and Bootlegging”.  From the National Geographic webpage, “As of 2011, 34 counties in Alaska have voted to ban the possession, sale, importation and manufacturing of alcohol.  In some rural Alaskan communities, the high rate of alcohol abuse has led voters to ban, not just homebrew and alcohol, but the possession of homebrew supplies.  It is a misdemeanor offense in some Alaskan villages to possess yeast and sugar in pound quantities with the intent to make alcohol.”

How is it working?  Just watch Alaska State Troopers.  The highway patrol has been drafted into the liquor enforcement business.  The native “subsistence fisherman” have been converted into bootleggers.  Formerly the jails filled up with alcohol abusers.   Now they are building more jail cells for bootleggers.   As the troopers haul dads and moms away to jail the officers tell the crying children at the door, “We are just trying to help your daddy and mommy...we are helping them.”     BTW, if the highest aspiration of a village or people is “subsistence” then alcoholism is the least of their problems.  

The nanny grip upon native Alaskans shows no signs of loosening as prohibition shows no sign of working any better in Alaska than it did in Iowa, Chicago or Russia.  Plus, Alaska confirms an even older principle:  “We get more of what we subsidize.”    Take it from someone who lives in Iowa.


Category:general -- posted at: 8:25am CDT





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