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When thinking about Prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s, do you think that the cultural...

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sj83 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted August 15, 2013 at 12:16 PM via web

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When thinking about Prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s, do you think that the cultural changes and the subsequent government attempt to regulate them contributed to the Great Depression or do you think it is just coincidental?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 15, 2013 at 1:54 PM (Answer #1)

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While it is possible to argue that the cultural changes of the 1920s helped cause the Great Depression, it seems like a bit of a stretch to do so.  In addition, I would argue that Prohibition had nothing to do with the Depression.

Prohibition did not cause the Depression.  First of all, the onset of the Depression came 10 years after the passage of Prohibition.  It is unlikely that Prohibition could have been the cause.  Second, Prohibition came about largely because a rise of nativism gave support to the people who were morally opposed to alcohol.  Nativism has occurred a number of times in our history and has not been seen to cause economic hard times.

Could the cultural changes of the 1920s have caused the Depression?  It is possible to say that the rising consumerism of the 1920s caused the “bubble” to happen.  However, I would argue that it did not.  Instead, I would say that both the Depression was caused by economic factors.  It was caused by such things as the maldistribution of wealth and the excess capacity of industry, not by the fact that people wanted consumer goods.

Therefore, I would argue that neither Prohibition nor the general social changes of the 1920s had much to do with the coming of the Depression. 

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