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The Economics of Prohibition

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The Economics of Prohibition

The Economics of Prohibition was written by Mark Thornton and published by the University of Utah Press in 1991. The Economics of Prohibition was praised by Murray Rothbard, who declared: "Thornton's book... arrives to fill an enormous gap, and it does so splendidly.... The drug prohibition question is... the hottest political topic today, and for the foreseeable future.... This is an excellent work making an important contribution to scholarship as well as to the public policy debate."

Bruce Benson declared the book to be "a very insightful work that makes what I am sure will be recognized as significant contributions to the economics literature on crime, policy analysis, and illicit drugs."

Contents[edit]

  • Foreword by Doug Bandow vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 3
  1. ECONOMISTS AND PROHIBITION 9
    The Origins of the "Economics" of Prohibition 11
    In Defense of Prohibition 15
    Prohibition's Blue Monday 23
    The Economics of Heroin Prohibition 29
    The Economics of Addiction 35
  2. THE ORIGINS OF PROHIBITION 39
    The Prohibition of Alcohol 40
    National Narcotics Prohibition 56
    National Marijuana Prohibition 65
  3. A THEORY OF PROHIBITION 71
    The Basic Analytics of Prohibition 73
    The Political Economy of Prohibition 84
  4. THE POTENCY OF ILLEGAL DRUGS 89
    The Economics of Potency 92
    Prohibition as a Tax 93
    The Impact of Prohibition on Potency 95
    Potency in Prohibited Markets 99
    Alcohol Prohibition 100
    The Prohibition of Marijuana: A Simple Test 105
    Beyond Cannabis 108
  5. THE CORRUPTING EFFECTS OF PROHIBITION 111
    Crime 113
    Corruption 126
  6. THE REPEAL OF PROHIBITION 139
    Is Effective Prohibition Possible? 142
    Alternative Policy Regimes 146
    The Free-Market Solution 149
    The Extended Free-Market Solution 151
  • References 155
  • Index 167

Figures[edit]

  1. Prohibition's Impact on the Consumer and Producer 74
  2. The Traditional Approach for Determining the Optimal Level of Prohibition Enforcement 76
  3. The Process of Progressive Interventionism (and exit) 84
  4. Effect of Improved Technology for High-Potency Drug Production 92
  5. Federal Budget for Enforcement of Drug Laws, 1973-1984 106
  6. Average Potency of Marijuana, 1973-1984 108
  7. The Impact of Prohibition on the Consumption of Heroin 118
  8. Prohibition's Impact on the Heroin Addict's Budget Constraint 118
  9. Prohibition's Impact on (addict-related) Criminal Activity 119
  10. Federal Convictions of Public Officials, 1970-1988 128

Tables[edit]

  1. Absenteeism Rates in a Delaware Gunpowder Plant 26
  2. Average Annual Percentage-Point Decline in Absenteeism in a Delaware Gunpowder Plant 29
  3. Shipping the Good Apples to New York 94
  4. Federal Expenditures upon the Enforcement of Prohibition 100
  5. Fisher's "Alcohol Price Index," 1916-1928 102
  6. The Effect of Prohibition on Alcohol Expenditures 103
  7. Per Capita Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages in Gallons,1840-1919 104

Reviews[edit]

Southern Economic Journal; January 1993

"Professor Mark Thornton is one of a growing number of outstanding young economists who have helped to revive and to enhance the credibility of the Austrian School of Economics. In this excellent study, economic methodology is carefully married with moral and social philosophy to provide valuable insights into the divergence of intentions and results of prohibition laws. In fact, his approach to the thorny issue of prohibition may perhaps help to restore the credibility of economists at large as interpreters of public policy."

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