December 5 isnít a national holiday. You wonít find it circled on any calendars, and you certainly wonít get the day off work.
But when you hit happy hour tonight, make sure you raise a glass to toast the very thing youíre holding in your hand: Itís the 74th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition on December 5, 1933.
Of course, nobody stopped drinking during Prohibition, they just stopped drinking legally. The social experiment-gone-awry turned thirsty Americans into petty criminals, and it turned real criminals into very wealthy men. Al Capone, just to name the most infamous, made a lot of money importing liquor from Canada and the Caribbean. A lot. When booze is outlawed, only outlaws can sell booze.
When Capone was finally put away for tax evasion, it was for unpaid tax liabilities of $200,000. Nationwide, the government supposedly missed out on $500 million each year in lost tax revenue during Prohibition. In 2004, the beverage industry paid $16 billion to state and local coffers, according to the trade group Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
Thatís a lot of dough. But more importantly, you can add your $2 to that total any time you want, without making your own bathtub gin and without knowing the secret password to get into your local speakeasy.