Arguments for and against legalization in the United States

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Legalization of beer, that is. This is from 1932.


Sheppard and Binghom Present Opposing Sides in Revenue Controversy

(Note: -- Anti-prohibitionists have forced the beer issue to the fore again as the senate takes up the new tax bill, with Senator Binghom, Repn., Conn., leading a fight to legalize and tax four per cent beer. Arguments for and against this proposal are set forth today in exclusive United Press interviews with Senator Bingham and with Senator Morris Sheppard, Dem., Tex., author of the 18th amendment.)


"The wets could not get more than twenty-four votes for their petition and I doubt veryseriously whether they can muster that many for a beer tax." (Sheppard referred to the senate petition for a vote on the four per cent beer bill which Senator Binghom, Repn., Conn., introduced before the tax measure came up.)

"Not all of those are in favor of legalizing beer by means of a tax measure.

"The tax itself is unthinkable."

"There can only be so much employment for every thousand of dollars of capital engaged in industry. The money which would finance the production of beer would be taken from properly productive capital.

"In effect, the tax would be a tax on waste and crime and would create the very waste and crime which it sought to tax. It would be a recognition of crime.

"When you think of the money it would take from the public to pay this tax, the proposition is even more unthinkable. To raise a tax of $200,000,000 you would have to sell $1,000,000,000 worth of beer, a wasteful and injurious product.

"All this money would have to come from sources from which it might otherwise flow into channels of constructive production. It would deprive workmen of jobs in other fields to create comparatively few jobs in a wasteful field.

"There is not enough public sentiment or political sentiment back of the proposals to give it any standing before congress. No, there will be no beer tax."


"I am amazed at the reluctance of congress to resort to beer for revenue purposes. Here are two bodies of a great congress faced with a tremendous financial problem. At one stroke they could raise half a billion dollars on beer which would be perfectly legal under the constitution and at the same time eliminate a large part of the taxation burden which otherwise must be imposed.

"Beer offers the most reasonable and equitable means of raising large revenue. It would not take the money from the pockets of the poor or even of the rich. That $500,000,000 would come from the pockets of the bootlegger by diminishing his business.

"It is true that there is but small chance that congress will follow a wise course with respect to beer. But I shall not refuse to work for a cause merely for the reason that the fight is just beginning.

"It would not be necessary to fix any new beer taxes. They are a holdover at $5 or $6 a barrel from pre-Volstead days. That rate amounts to about two cents a pint bottle and it would raise $500,000,000 for the federal treasury.

"The amendment I propose to offer merely would change the Volstead act by making it effective only on beverages containing more than four per cent on alcohol."
Wikipedia pages for the two: Morris Sheppard, Hiram Bingham. The latter senator was the one that rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911 (this was before he was elected to office).


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