Wednesday 30 November 2011

A little taste of prohibition

Dec. 1920: Prohibition agents show off 89 confiscated stills.
(From here)

From The Morning Advertiser:

Five men who masterminded a major counterfeit vodka manufacturing and bottling plant in Leicestershire, were sentenced to a total of 17 years and ten months on Friday at Hull Crown Court.

The plot was uncovered in an industrial unit by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) when they carried out raids in September 2009. They seized 9,000 bottles of fake vodka, branded as Glen’s, manufacturing equipment, bottles and counterfeit packaging – labels and cardboard boxes, at the remote industrial unit at Moscow Farm near Great Dalby, Leicestershire.

The court heard there was a complete lack of any fire safety measures which posed a serious and life threatening hazard. The alcohol vapour alone could have triggered a major explosion if the lights had been switched on or a naked flame or cigarette had been lit.

It certainly could. You may recall what happened back in July...

Boston fire blast unit producing illegal vodka

An industrial unit in Lincolnshire, where five men were killed in an explosion, was being used to produce illegal vodka, police have confirmed.

This happened in Boston, England in 2011, by the way, not Boston, Massachusetts in 1921. Easy mistake to make.

This is part of a growing trend, as the UK's sky-high alcohol taxes combine with economic hardship to fuel demand for the black market. Half of all rolling tobacco is smuggled into the country. Counterfeit cigarettes are openly sold in the streets. We've got the smoke-easies (last week I was in a pub in central London where the landlord told people to light up and leave their cigarette stubs on the floor). Now we have criminal gangs producing poisonous moonshine and blowing themselves up with illegal stills. All we need now is Elliott Ness dancing the Charleston and we can have a full-blown 1920s revival.

The neo-prohibitionist fools believe they can avoid the consequences of prohibition so long as society falls short of a total ban. That's now how it works. It's a sliding scale. In The Art of Suppression I write about 'little prohibitions'—bans, price hikes, excessive regulations—which cause the same problems, only on a smaller scale. After all, as John Stuart Mill said: "Every increase of cost is a prohibition, to those whose means do not come up to the augmented price."

Still, at least people aren't getting literally blinded by moonshine like they did during Prohibition.

No, wait. They are.

25p vodka made me go blind

Christmas partygoers have been warned off bargain booze that can leave you blind. Eastern European gangs are flooding corner stores and even going door to door selling illicit drink in a £1billion- a-year trade.

Last night trainee accountant Dale Shaw, 27, told how he nearly lost his sight drinking the dodgy liquor. After being invited to a family party, Dale bought a bottle of Drop Vodka from an off-licence in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

He said: “I’d never heard of the brand before but it was £4 cheaper than the others. After downing a quarter of the bottle, Dale began to feel more drunk than usual and his vision began to blur.

But by the next morning he could not see at all and was suffering excruciating pains in the lower half of his body. “As soon as I woke I knew there was something wrong,” he said. “I was in agony and my sight was almost completely gone.”

Dale was taken by a relative to Bradford Royal Infirmary where a doctor immediately recognised he was being poisoned by the bootleg spirits. The cut-price vodka contained methanol – alcohol used in explosives, anti-freeze and racing car fuel – and not the safe ethanol found in legal booze.

Expect much more of this if Alcohol Concern and the BMA get their way.


Anonymous said...

I predict headlines like

"BMA propose minimum price for homemade wine kits"

The BMA wants a minimum price of 30pence for each unit of alcohol the fermented juice in the kit is designed to produce. The BMA is alarmed that Middle England has turned its hand to homebrewing to avoid the 50p per unit minimum.

Anonymous said...

Alcohol Control don't care. Anything contrary to their faith is just another sin. They have no sympathy for people who drink methanol rather than ethanol because they should not be drinking any of it.

As they see it, alcohol is in itself evil. Health concerns are fake; they are just the means to an end.

Becky Johnson said...

Here in Santa Cruz, Ca. our smoking ban has already resulted in people calling our emergency "911" line to report smokers, and we already have people sitting inside the Santa Cruz County Jail for smoking a cigarette on a public street. BTW, Santa Cruz has TWICE the number of alcohol outlets as the average city our size in California.