I have started reading a book called Last Call which is about the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s which I find similar to the current situation people face themselves here at IBS today. I did find an interesting review of the book by Macleans magazine about the impact and perhaps one might say benefits that accrued to Canada during prohibition.
Extract for Macleans magazine:
Just as all the clichés about Canadian-American relations say—the mouse and elephant, the U.S. sneezes and we catch cold—Canada does not normally benefit when the Americans undergo one of their periodic upheavals. The way their current security consciousness is thickening the 49th parallel and slowing trade is a prime example. But there are exceptions to every rule, and Prohibition—perhaps the maddest of mad American dreams—did pretty well by our nation from 1920 to 1933. As American writer Daniel Okrent points out in his fine social history of the era, Last Call, the rivers of Canadian booze that flowed south enriched not only the Bronfman liquor empire, but our federal government. Canadians did make and smuggle illegal liquor, evading both Canadian taxes and American law, but we also made millions of litres of the legal, taxed stuff, the ultimate destination of which was of no concern to Ottawa. The amount of alcohol subject to excise tax—most of which went south one way or another—went from 36,000 litres in 1920 to five million 10 years later, and the excise tax on it rose to a fifth of federal revenue, twice as much as income tax.
Few in Canada had the slightest inclination to aid the American government in cracking down on alcohol use. When a U.S. Coast Guard cutter in pursuit of a Lake Erie rum-runner ran aground near Port Colborne, Ont., locals looted the vessel, then filled its engines with sand. About the only Canadians Okrent could unearth who thought the Dominion should help Uncle Sam seal his border were those making a fortune selling alcohol to American visitors. One way or another, most Canadians agreed with the smug satisfaction of CNR president Sir Henry Thornton, whose railway was growing fat off liquor tourism: “The dryer the U.S. is,” opined Sir Henry, “the better it will be for us.”
One thing I find amazing is the utter hyprocracy of the US politicians of the day and the fact nothing really ever changes in history. Its the reason Shakespeare sells, the thing that brings you down at the end is the thing that was always going to bring you down.
PBS did a great Ken Burns history on Prohibition. It was available online for a while, but now you have to watch via DVD or probably Netflix or Amazon.
My grandfather’s relatives were commercial fisherman out of New England and I was told during Prohibition they’d buy booze in Canada or the French islands Saint Pierre and Miquelon when they re-supplied. They’d steam back to the US and customs never had a clue. They didn’t resell it but friends and relatives weren’t short of drink either. My other grandfather used to make beer in the bathtub, I wonder if it was drinkable. These things happen near borders when one country tries do something completely different than the country new door.
Another example is I met an old man in Belgium along with his friends. The four of them drove over from the UK to buy rolling tobacco. I said to him why? He said that he made the trip several times a month. They’d legally buy about £1200 between then, bring it back to the UK and sell it to subsidise my “bleedin” pension. You can legally bring back about £300 each. He drove an old “banger” of a car, and said at the time that he lost about 1 load in 20 and if they want the car it’s only worth about £100. He’s still well in profit.
In the US are we going to have families someday travelling out of the US with $9999 cash times 4 people in a car worth about $100 for the sole purpose of avoiding FATCA reporting or worse buying diamonds (like the guy I met once from South Africa – that’s how he got around capital controls at the time) moving out all their cash in one go. For most people it they’re really that determined and willing to pay the “inflation tax” they will get the money out and put it in a safety deposit box until they make up their minds and screw the US and FATCA.
Hey Carl is this the America we really want to become? Not unlike some two bit third world country run by a despot (oh…I mean US Congress). Better yet why don’t you ring dual citizen Bachmann on 202.225.2331 and ask her if she has any plans to move abroad which may include wanting a Swiss bank account and see what she says. Michelle when you’re in somewhere in the EU or Switzerland (because with a Swiss passport you can live and work in the EU as well) try opening up an account and experience first hand “oh…you’re born in the US” and see how it feels being told as a legal resident of a country and somehow Carl Levin’s FATCA is interfering with your right to carry on normal daily life – it pi**es most people off. However Michelle I have hope the small print of FATCA will be ironed out for ex-pats with Swiss or EU passports residing in Europe at some point. We’ll see.