The night of Repeal, now many months heralded by brassy clarion sounds and the low moans of boot-leggers, is the finish of a flaming column in the scroll of American delusion. Presumably, it ushers in a day of betterment: there will come the fall of the beer baron and rum runner; the stomachal conditions of the ailing members of every University in the country will be improved; revenue will come to the government, and wine to the table; and finally, the course of a few generations may see the people of the nation taught to appreciate fine liquors. As a theoretically certain improvement, Repeal stands before the States, needing no comment; but as a practical happy hunting ground for all the vast breed of gipps and quacks, legislative and commercial, it has already become an abomination.
The prices of the liquor offered yesterday and predicted for the future were, to put it plainly, absurd. Gin, the equal of which anyone can make for fifty cents a quart, was on the market at about two dollars; whiskey, particularly the better variety, was selling at a prohibitive price, and the cost of imported wines assumed astronomical proportions. These unfortunate circumstances have been laid off variously to taxes, protection of home industries, and to what retailers vaguely call "high wholesale charges." The fairly evident fact that the manufacturers are putting on the screws in the face of a great demand was not mentioned by any of the merchants.
In order to put good liquor within the reach of everyone, and in order to settle the hash of the bootlegger for good, the government must see to it that taxes are reasonable and that prices are maintained at a fair level in the future. It is does not do this, it will be making Repeal the same sort of empty word that Prohibition was, and will have encouraged and fattened its parlour pet, the criminal.