Are Prohibitionists Trying To Make the Tuccille Family Rich?



I don't really understand the prohibitionist impulse, which is probably no surprise, considering that I work for Reason, where I like to think the only forbidden word is "forbid." But I admit that I have more than a philosophical objection. In fact, I have more grounds than most people to understand that making things illegal doesn't make them go away. Provided that there's demand for the subjects of a ban (and would anybody bother banning something that nobody wanted?) making things illegal creates business opportunities for those willing to work in the shadows, and despite the law. I know this, because much of the history of my family in the United States consists of providing goods and services that government officials don't want Americans to have. So when former Rep. Patrick Kennedy and his cronies demand that the federal government enforce marijuana prohibition against the explicit wishes of the residents of Washington and Colorado, I have to wonder if my extended relations are breathing a sigh of relief. And when a gaggle of ill-informed congresscritters cook up an unlikely scheme for banning certain firearms and related accessories, I peer into the background at the press conference, looking for the familiar face of a cousin or uncle of mine suppressing a grin.

Finding business opportunities under the legal floorboards became a family tradition soon after my great-grandfather, Giuseppe "Joe" Marano, arrived in this country. As my father documented in his book Heretic:

When Prohibition was imposed on the nation ten years later, Joe's ristorante was flourishing openly as the most successful speakeasy in the Bronx. Marano's Bar and Restaurant was the place where some of New York City's leading politicians, including the police commissioner, adjourned to drink contraband beverages far from the scrutiny of nosy reporters.

Giuseppe made a mint — and spent it before his son-in-law, my grandfather — could get his hands on it. Which is why Salvatore Tuccille was still running illegal games along the New York City waterfront at the outbreak of World War II. One of Salvatore's nephews collected debts for a loan shark — an occupation made possible by restrictions on high-interest, short-term loans. Another relation of mine was involved in what became known as the "French Connection," though I'm quite happily ignorant of the details of that venture. Financial services were in the mix, too — scrubbing dubious dollars that might otherwise run afoul of the tax man to get them gleaming and boasting of impeccable origins.

Personally, at one time in my life I "corrected" identification documents to help customers work in accord with drinking-age laws, and I also made certain herbal goods available at very competitive prices.

Let me be clear here, that these black market businesses often extended into other illegal ventures that weren't so victimless. People were bribed, extorted, hurt, robbed and more because criminal enterprises sprang up and thrived where legitimate ones weren't permitted to operate — and then they extended their reach.

The idea that doubling-down on marijuana prohibition, especially in light of shifting public opinion, and banning "assault weapons," also in defiance of widespread sentiment, will do anything other than open up markets for the likes of Giuseppe, Salvatore and assorted others, related to me or not, is laughable.

Of course, prohibition brings opportunity not just to those who defy the law, but to those who take advantage of its enforcement. My colleague, Mike Riggs, points out that Patrick Kennedy's prohibitionist pleading letter was signed by "[a] coalition of interest groups whose members profit off marijuana prohibition, including the former leader of a chain of abusive teen rehab centers."

So maybe it's understandable after all. Banning things that people want doesn't have the slightest chance of making them go away. But people will get rich as the powers-that-be go through the motions.


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  1. You can stop trying to impress all the libertarian women out there, JD: we in the comments section drove them all off after one too many uses of the word, “cunt”.

    1. Can’t

      1. Could

        1. Cops

          1. That’s backwards, Alm.



            1. Arg!


    2. So you’re the reason there are no libertarian women?

      1. Don’t try and deflect from your own responsibility, Hugh.

        1. Well excuse me for trying to set some standards around here. I thought the sign reading “Your tits must be at least this big” under Jimbo’s photo was helpful.

          1. Hugh, think for a minute. If you set standards, who is JJ going to score with? He’ll have nothing to work with.

            1. That’s why we need to turn the lights off, Epi. That way it doesn’t matter who he scores with, really.

                1. Wow, Chumchucker is actually pretty good.

    3. You can stop trying to impress all the libertarian women out there, JD

      Sorry, Trouser, but the real reason he can stop trying to impress us is because we already know how dreamy he is.

      1. Hey, Toots, I already sub-contracted you to be the president of my fan club.

        Don’t make me sue you for breach of (fake) contract!

        1. Maybe you should post more booty dancing videos. You know, to keep me inspired.

          1. I’d rather teach you how to do the Barbie.

            1. Awww, Paula! So cute.

              1. I told my wife that when that video came out, she was my daughter’s age (6)…and I had just entered High School.

    4. That’s not true! There are still 3…, errr, 2…, ok, Nicole is still here!

  2. Narcotics, firearms, alcohol, vibrators — it makes no difference. I can’t conceive of a single valid, morally defensible justification for prohibitionism. Liberty is liberty.

    This current miniature outbreak of hoplophobia is just the latest attempt of our would-be slavemakers to subjugate us even further.

    You want them, Feinstein? Come and take them yourself.

    1. Narcotics, firearms, alcohol, vibrators

      Isn’t that a federal agency?

      1. Naah.
        It’s a shopping list.

        1. Ha! I used to have something like that as a SMLR tagline on FIDOnet: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms? Hey, I’ll bring the chips!

          1. Yeah, ’cause someone else has the beer covered.

      2. I like it better as a convenience store

      3. Narcotics, Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, Anal(beads)

        1. I always wondered what NAFTA really stood for.

      4. Department of Justice: Bureau of Alcohol, Narcotics, Firearms, Hookers, & Blow.

        Leadership: Director The Jacket.

  3. “Political tags ? such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth ? are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”
    ? Robert A. Heinlein

    Seems that you, J.D., are a surly curmudgeon. Want to be my neighbor?

    1. Curmudgeon – that’s a BIG word. Can you say “curmudgeon”? Sure you can. “Curmudgeon”.

      /Mr. Rogers

    2. Great quote from RAH; I think of it often. It reminds me of a question asked by a coworker when I moved a few years back: “Oh, a nice liberal neighborhood?”

      “No” I replied “Good neighbors”.

      They all understand the true golden rule: Mind your own business.

  4. You fucking mob WOPs are always making those of us whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers expressly avoided the mafia and any association with it look like criminals. Vaffanculo!

    1. Hey, I’m Russian. We’re all thieves within the law.

      1. Yes, but do you make big trouble for moose and squirrel?

      2. Out of curiosity, where in Russia is your family from?

        1. Rostov-on-Don. Father’s line has Cossack blood; mother’s white Armenian, though not entirely free of Turkish blood.

          Russian-Americans like me have some seriois Mafiosi potential in our genes. Don’t fuck with us, Little Italy!

          1. That’s the west end of the Silk Road. I’m guessing your genes are a bit more varied than that.

            1. They are. I’m not even white, technically, but I’ve never given a shit beyond the basics, to be honest.

              For example, I have cousins who are fully Turkish Armenians — that is, they’ve very dark-skinned, much shorter than my immediate family was, and like funny-ass dances and shit.

              1. Funny ass-dance.

                What a difference the placement of the hyphen can make!

                1. RACIST. Stop mocking my extended family’s time-honored funny ass-dancing tradition.

                  1. Mocking? Nay, my brother. I respect all colors, races, and creeds of ass-dance.

                2. Remind me never to click on your links.

                  That Paula Abdul one was fucking vile.

          2. Ironically, the reason they had to flee to America is because someone walked in Uncle Rostov in bed with Uncle Don.

    2. So you’re saying that your family has always been poor?

      1. There are only a few ways for dagos to make money, Hugh:

        1) organized crime
        2) make money and don’t let the fucking organized crime shitheads extort it from you by having absolutely nothing to do with them
        3) be Sophia Loren

        Number 2 works better when your family has some judges and important landowning businessmen in it, trust me.

        1. But it’s charming that you still gave #3 a shot early on.

          1. You know I had to try, Hugh. If I hadn’t, I’d have spent the rest of my life wondering what could have been.

            1. I’ll never look at Sophia Loren and not think of you

              1. Are you implying that hasn’t always been the case?

    3. That’s why I say Sicilians is …

    4. You fucking mob WOPs are always making those of us whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers expressly avoided the mafia and any association with it look like criminals.

      My grandfather was a mechanic and business owner. He was the most honest and even-keeled man I’ve ever known. But, there was one topic that would make him spit venom, and that was the ‘mafia’. He knew the local thugs and wasn’t afraid of them. He grew up with them, and he made damn sure that anyone in his family wouldn’t associate with such scum. We were taught that there is no romance is a piss-ass, common criminal no matter the suit he wears.

      The romanticization of ethnic gangs is just another form of authority worship. There is no rebellious nature to the gangster, he’s just mad that he’s not the one with power.

      1. Indeed. And it is telling that even movements for liberation aren’t immune from deevovling into gangsterism once their mission is complete, e.g. the Chinese Triads, Sicilian revolutionaries, the Salvatrucha, et al.

        1. GBN and HM:
          Great posts.
          That sort of crap is what leads to governments to ‘protect’ us.

  5. My great-grandfather’s farm still remained in operation well into the 1970s. That’s why I know Applejack isn’t a cereal and corn liquor isn’t a gasoline additive.
    And yes, the county officials all knew where to get the Good Stuff.

    1. I could go for some applejack right now…

  6. “Banning things that people want doesn’t have the slightest chance of making them go away, but people will get rich as the powers-that-be go through the motions.”
    And the incentives are all there to keep things ‘illegal’; the folks in the valley between Cloverdale and Ukiah, CA voted to keep dope illegal. If it was legal, there’d be more competition.
    BTW, midway between the two on 101 is a place named Hopland, if that gives anyone a hint.

  7. Soudns like one crazy plan to me dude. Wow.

    1. Tuccille’s just peddling a get-rich-easy scheme.

      1) Traffic dope.
      2) PROFIT (TAX-FREE!11)

  8. I say we send Patrick Kennedy door to door in WA and CO to personally confiscate any evil weed that he finds on the premises. Never has there been a more punchable face.

    1. Henry Waxman, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, Chuck Schumer – all more punchable in my book.

      But I’d still punch Patrick Kennedy – he’d just have to wait his turn.

      1. I would be wearing some type of toxic waste suit before I punched Waxman in the face. I am not sure what sort of disgusting vile stuff might come out of that giant pig nose.

        1. The consensus around here is that there are prairie dogs in his nostrils.

  9. My roommate in college corrected ID’s, too. Once he got the magnetic strip-encoder, his products were works of art. He made a hundred bucks a pop making people from Texas who hadn’t previously been from Texas, and I got a Texas license that was identical to my government-issued one except for 1 digit on the DOB. Needless to say, he was highly supportive of the 21-year drinking age.

    1. “Corrected” – I love it!

      I’m trying to think of all the little euphemisms we had – “Vitamin M” for teh weed, “skipping rocks” for going to smoke weed down by the lake, “playing Rush Limbaugh” for doing prescriptions drugs, “Vitamins” for cigarettes (if we didn’t call them “Squares” – for the brothers), “going for a walk” for all activities requiring exiting the premises.

      Good times, good times…

  10. The other classic was my best friend and me giving away weed that we grew to our friends – cause, y’know, we didn’t want to be DEALERS!!!!

    Funny – like it made any difference. We never did take a cent for it. It was a big deal to us – “it just grew in the ground – didn’t cost us nothin – wouldn’t be right to charge you for it.” Not as smart as Tuccille’s family, I guess 🙂

    1. Yeah, don’t *use* the product, just sell it.

  11. What, have you just discovered SEK3 or the Silk Road?

  12. So maybe it’s understandable after all. Banning things that people want doesn’t have the slightest chance of making them go away. But people will get rich as the powers-that-be go through the motions.

    We give the people the things that they want that the government won’t let them have.

    John Gotti

  13. Just end the drug war and there will be a significant decrease in gun violence right across the America’s.

  14. Its the standard “progressive” technique. Find someone who is “suffering” and needs to be saved, demonize the cause of the suffering, and erect a bureaucratic edifice to control/tax/ban the offending substance/behavior. It also generates LOTS of NGO jobs, and LOTS of stories for writers to write about (everything is about JOBS). The EU has just agreed to devote 20% of its budget to environmental/green stuff for the next 20 years, or so.

  15. “an occupation made possible by restrictions on high-interest, short-term loans. ”

    If only there were, like, institutions where people could borrow money? hmmm….

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