Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

“More Imperfect Than Impermeable”

June 29th, 2009 · 2 Comments

We’re fond of gently mocking those who seek to make teetotaling a legal requirement. The Eighteenth Amendment, after all, is widely regarded as a notable (even noble) failure, and we certainly can’t imagine life without the more-than-occasional bomber of Ballantine.

But does that mean all attempts at enforcing prohibition are doomed to have zero positive effect? That’s a big question in Alaska’s native villages, where alcohol abuse has long caused severe problems. That’s led several village governments to ban liquor, a decision that has created a considerable black market. Yet even with the underground hooch trade thriving, piecemeal prohibition in the Alaskan sticks may actually be working:

Villages that prohibited alcohol had lower age-adjusted rates of serious injury resulting from assault, motor vehicle collisions and ‘other causes’. Dry villages with a local police presence had a lower age-adjusted rate of serious injury caused by assault. Controlling for the relative effects of village isolation, access to alcohol markets and local demographic structures, local prohibition was associated with lower rates of assault injuries and ‘other causes’ injuries while local police presence was associated with lower rates of assault injuries.

Note, however, that police enforcement is key. We reckon that’s researcher-speak for noting that heavy-handed enforcement is the only way to make these regimes function properly. Otherwise, the bootleggers doubtless rule the roost in The Bush.

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