• AJ Freeman

Thank You For Your Time, Al Capone

Prohibition was a time when the government of the most liberated society in human history decided that the adults of the nation were mature enough to participate in a war of atrocities spanning nearly the entire globe but could not handle a glass of wine, mostly because it has been consistently full of shit since its inception.

Then as now, most people didn't care very much what the government wanted them to do in their everyday lives, and this is the root of Al Capone's rise to power.

Shrewdly identifying a target market--individuals desiring to get drunk sometimes--Capone established perhaps the most successful bootlegging operation of its era by selling people what they wanted to buy because they were going to buy it anyway.

Capone doing Legitimate Businessman Things.

With the revolutionary idea of providing supply to meet demand, Capone made millions.

Although the infamous mobster's involvement in the illicit industry was something of an open secret like the educational cartels of today, he still had to provide a nominal cover for his booze business that would enable him to deliver his livelier goods through the same bottling and delivery infrastructure.

It is important to understand that in the first decades of last century, before supermarkets and even refrigeration, food production was a marketplace with very little oversight.

Spoiled goods, poisonings, and egregiously mislabeled products were regular occurrences, which was apparently just fine until a close family member of the Chicago kingpin was sickened by tainted milk.

These factors sparked Capone's interest in the milk industry as his corporate camouflage.

He first purchased a local distributor by the name of Meadowmoor, then was able to secure a lower price on milk from a source in Wisconsin.

capitalism breeds innovation.

At first the local union of milkmen refused to deliver the out-of-state product, but ever the problem-solver, Capone was able to address this issue using his considerable business acumen.

He extended the union president a surprise invitation to a mandatory meeting, there persuading him to reconsider his organization's stance, allegedly.

Encouraged by the success of his strategy, he used his totally legitimate connections to the local government to lobby for a law mandating expiration dates be printed on milk bottles both to ensure that children never again have to suffer the effects from tainted milk and also because he had altruistically monopolized the bottle-stamping equipment beforehand.

a healthy, wholesome cartel.

While it is widely believed that Capone was not the first to raise the issue, the fact remains that one of the most beneficial developments in food production was achieved not by vote, referendum, or protest, but through a party with the resources to make it happen directly.

The innovation quickly spread as consumers demanded access to food that was proven safe, and so next time you're at the store and check the expiration date on your favorite dairy product, you can thank organized crime in general, and Al Capone specifically.

Thank you for your time.

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