Monday, July 23, 2012

The Ecomics of the 1920s

The religious fervor that thrust rural values on the nation created a backlash response. In part it was caused by the dazzling upswing in the country. WWI the war to end all wars was over, unemployment was low, wages were up, and many in all classes found themselves with "money to burn." The middle class following the example of the rich began buying on credit and speculating in the stock market which was rising at a fever pitch.

This new confidence in most urban societies led to a change from the old to the new. The new generation resented the old crones with their stranglehold on temperance and their Victorian ideals of society. Those newly rich mixed with the old money crowd, but were resented for their lack of breeding. It was hardly an issue as the main goal was the party.

The Rise of Organized Crime and Bootleggers

Prior to Prohibition the mob was limited to racketeering, extortion, prostitution, and infiltrating labor unions. Prohibition provided a demand for an illegal service that was too lucrative to miss. The money earned from the sale and distribution of alcohol was enough to bank roll the mob, allowing them to become an invisible  force even in today's modern times.

Smaller bootleggers and distributors were squeezed out in the lawless age of tommy guns. Gang wars caused territorial disputes that spilled into the streets causing the nation to rethink the Prohibition "experiment."

In Chicago the Capone Gang was big. They frightened the nation. Smuggling  alcohol in from Canada for private distribution in underground bars called speakeasies. Speakeasies had a number of disguises, like funeral homes with secret entrances and everyone drank "100 proof coffee." Those were now as fronts and often had a burly doorman waiting behind a panel to hear the secret password.


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