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Commentary: Wet vs. Dry in Adair County

The Year 1933: U. S. Prohibition "The Noble Experiment" ends
The Year 2016: Prohibition in Adair County continues

By Doug Beard
Personal commentary

Author's Note: This is a very in-depth discussion of "wet" vs. "dry" as this issue will be on the ballot in March. It's lengthy in nature but I hope you will read it in its entirety. I recognize that this is a very personal decision and I respect the views of all parties. My hope is that this will cause positive and meaningful discussions on an issue which will impact the future of our county. Thank you! --Doug

HISTORY: The Failures of Prohibition
Many social problems have been attributed to the Prohibition era. Mafia groups limited their activities to prostitution, gambling, and theft until 1920, when organized bootlegging manifested in response to Prohibition. A profitable, often violent, black market for alcohol flourished. Powerful gangs corrupted law enforcement agencies, leading to racketeering. In essence, Prohibition provided a financial basis for organized crime to flourish.

Rather than reducing crime, it seemed prohibition had transformed cities into battlegrounds between opposing bootlegging gangs. In a study of over 30 major U.S. cities during the Prohibition years of 1920 and 1921, the number of crimes increased by 24%. Additionally, theft and burglaries increased by 9%, homicide by 12.7%, assaults and battery rose by 13%, drug addition by 44.6% and police department costs rose by 11.4%. It had been speculated that this was largely the result of "black-market violence" as well as law enforcing resources having been diverted elsewhere.

Despite the beliefs of the Prohibitionist Movement that by outlawing alcohol crime would surely be reduced, the reality was that the Volstead Act led to worse social conditions than were experienced prior to Prohibition as demonstrated by more lethal forms of alcohol, increased crime and drug usage, and the establishment of a black market dominated by criminal organizations.

My opinions are based on the premise that it's all about RESPONSIBILITY.
  1. In any debate or discussion regarding "wet" vs. "dry", we must respect everyone's opinions and hold civil and fact-based discussions focused on the convictions and concerns of both parties. People will express personal decisions on this issue based primarily on their religious convictions, family teachings and influence, personal life experiences related to beverage alcohol and their views on SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY.

    As religious doctrine always seems to be at the forefront of these discussions, there is a publication that I think people would find interesting titled "The Holy Bible repudiates Prohibition" written in 1910 by George G. Brown. It's the most complete document I have found to date discussing the numerous passages in the scriptures related to consumption of beverage alcohol. I think it will be fascinating reading to all who have interest in this topic. It's available to download on-line or it can be ordered in book form. I'm only offering this suggestion as it brings biblical passages related to beverage alcohol into more open discussion, and that's a healthy thing for all of us to do.

    I am certainly not promoting my theological beliefs in this document as these are very important personal decisions and everyone maintains their personal spiritual beliefs and convictions regarding beverage alcohol consumption.

  2. All persons of legal drinking age (LDA) should have the right to decide if consumption of beverage alcohol is a "lifestyle choice" they wish to make. Those who make the choice to drink should have the opportunity to purchase alcohol in their respective area. Their options should not be conducting illegal transactions or making a "road trip" to secure their beverages.

  3. In my view, one of the most important things we can do around the use of beverage alcohol is the promotion of RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION, especially in the formative years of our young people.

    This should be taught in the homes and should be a critical element in our educational curriculum. This should always be mandatory training for our high school students, especially those seniors that will be going away to college or entering the work force upon graduation.

    Some colleges and universities currently have this as a required element of their incoming freshman orientation and I would like to see Lindsey Wilson College adopt this a part of their freshman curriculum as well.

    It's a fact that many students that go away from home for the first time without proper education in alcohol use and responsibility, often fall victim to a pattern of substance abuse which sadly can lead to a destructive life style with devastating results.

    There is much more information available to interested parties through the web-sites of such organizations and the Century Council and The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). They provide wonderful resources related to ALCOHOL RESPONSIBILITY.

  4. In a "wet county", you must be 21 years of age to purchase beverage alcohol. If the licensed store or facility violates the policy, they are subject to ABC license suspension or in cases or repeated offenses, the revoking of their licenses. This is not risk that investors who have spent many thousands of dollars are willing to take. Again, RESPONSIBILITY works.

  5. To believe more incidents of drinking and driving do not occur more often when people have to drive elsewhere to purchase or consume beverage alcohol is a myth and violates the notion of RESPONSIBILTY.

    How many people do you know that drive to another town for dinner so they can enjoy wine or a cocktail with their meal? It's probably not practical to take a cab ride home, call UBER, or ask a friend to pick you up from another county. If this is the case, they should always plan to have a designated driver, that demonstrates RESPONSIBILITY.

    How many trips are made to other counties every week to purchase beverage alcohol which evolve into having a "couple of drinks" there or maybe one or two on the way home? NOT RESPONSIBLE choices.

    See related information for this article below, linked from earlier comments on the subject from readers of Columbia Magazine: Study: Kentucky counties that ban alcohol have more meth problems, (published in American City and County, Stephanie Toone, Sep 28, 2015,

    Kentucky state police records also revealed that dry counties had higher rates of DUI-related car crashes than wet counties - possibly due to traveling longer distances to get alcohol from wet counties, according to the newspaper.

  6. We do lose revenue to other counties where beverage alcohol is purchased. Dollars spent in other counties are dollars not spent in Adair County. Not only are tax dollars involved, but also revenue lost in food and beverage purchases (new dining venues), and local employment opportunities. See an earlier piece previously linked from Columbia Magazine:

  7. We view our area as a wonderful tourist destination. It truly features some of the finest lakes and recreational areas in our part of the U.S. It is very possible to limit our tourist base by not offering beverage alcohol for purchase. The majority of travelers enjoy beverage alcohol when they are on vacation. If they can't purchase it here, they bring it with them. Or, with even greater financial implications, they simply choose another destination. That doesn't contribute to RESPONSIBLE economic growth of our county. (Related to this issue, Russell County has now taken the necessary steps in making beverage alcohol available in their county and the Lake Cumberland area. They will benefit from this decision and now be able to compete with adjoining countries for tourist dollars).

  8. The facts are that the majority of Americans enjoy beverage alcohol - it's as plain and simple as that. According to a Princeton study from a few years ago, 67% of U.S. adults consume alcohol in some fashion. That's a very strong indicator and in most areas across the country, these adults can purchase these products in the areas where they live.

  9. And let's not forget, there have been documented health benefits associated with the RESPONSIBLE consumption of beverage alcohol:
    The CDC Study Recognizes Moderate Alcohol Consumption As One of Four Key Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors (DISCUS News Release, August 29, 2011)

    Washington, DC - A new study by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that moderate alcohol consumption is one of four healthy lifestyle behaviors that help people live longer.
    According to the CDC, the four lifestyle behaviors were:

    1. Having never smoked
    2. Eating a healthy diet
    3. Getting regular physical activity, and
    4. Moderate alcohol consumption

    Each was "significantly associated with reduced risk of mortality."

    Additionally, the CDC press release about the study stated: "This study adds to the mounting evidence of the substantial gain in life associated with healthy behaviors, and underscores the need for the clinical and public health communities to work to together to promote great adoption of these behaviors."

    But on the other side of the discussion, there are major health and social risks involved with the abuse and excess consumption of beverage alcohol. This is a point that must always be included in any discussion related to this topic. The abuse of beverage alcohol must always be addressed and recognize that there is a segment of the population that must avoid alcohol completely. Alcoholism has always been and will continue to be a problem in our society. Alcohol can easily be obtained in our county today but legalization, government regulation, and educational programs can certainly be a positive step in dealing with this important issue.

  10. All of us have choices to make in life. Our choices when it comes to the RESPONSIBLE consumption of beverage alcohol are personal ones but those who choose to use these products should not be restricted from purchasing these products in our area.

  11. The proponents of prohibition had believed that banning alcoholic beverages would reduce or even eliminate many social problems, particularly drunkenness, crime, mental illness, and poverty.

    In 1925 journalist H. L. Mencken believed the opposite to be true:
    "Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass.

    There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished."

--Doug Beard

This story was posted on 2016-02-11 07:04:40
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