Thursday, November 19, 2015

When the Smugglers Are the Government

Smuggling happens whenever the government decides that  something -- and it really does matter what that something is -- is "not allowed" to the people. What invariably happens is that someone -- and it really doesn't matter who that someone is -- will procure that forbidden something at great personal risk, even braving death, so that the people can have that something they crave.

At around the the time of the War of 1812, the something was manufactured goods from abroad and illegal slaves. That someone was Jean Laffite, together with his Baratarian associates. Later they moved to Galveston, and kept doing the same. When they were eventually run off, do you imagine the smuggling stopped? No, it continued, only it was Beverly Chew of US Customs who profited from this "illicit" trade. And he charged more than the Laffites did.

You can read more about it in this groundbreaking new article by Pam Keyes on Historia Obscura:

At the Weihsien Internment Camp for Enemy Aliens, the forbidden item was eggs, and the smugglers were local Chinese farmers. When the Commandant of the camp cracked down on smuggling by shooting the farmers he caught smuggling, do you imagine that the smuggling ended?


  1. Yes, the government should not control the price of food, or other resources.