Sometimes government programs have good intentions and sometimes not. And sometimes they try shit just to see what happens.
And while the history of governments doing grossly misguided things is too long and depressing to recount here, these five programs backfired in ways that could impress even the most pessimistic among us:
5Prohibition Causes Horrific Violence, Drinking
Just typing this gives us the whiskey tremors, but here goes: For thirteen years, beginning in 1920, the sale of alcohol was banned in the United States. When the 18th Amendment was ratified in January of 1920, prohibition went into effect and began what would come to be described as "the bleakest time in American history" by that elderly, alcoholic relative we all have.
Hi, Uncle Rick!
Without the evils of alochol abuse, it was hoped that everything from unemployment to domestic violence would decrease dramatically. People would be free to focus their energy on other things like church, work, finances and, of course, smoking mountains of still-legal marijuana.
How It Backfired:
A wise man once said, "Here's to alcohol; the source of--and solution to--all of life's problems." He may not have realized it, but Homer Simpson's profound words on the subject perfectly sum up the problems with prohibition. Taking away booze didn't result in people not wanting to drink booze.
Enter Al Capone, and the many, many guys like him who profited from smuggling newly illegal alcohol. Unfortunately for people who just wanted to buy and sell booze in peace, Capone gained control of Chicago's massive bootlegging and smuggling industry by way of a series of bloody gang wars.
At his peak, it's rumored Capone was bringing in close to $60,000,000 old timey dollars per year. That's money the government could have been taxing, which you'd have to think would have helped later during the Great Depression (we're just sayin').
As if the rising crime rate wasn't bad enough, some people suggest that alcohol consumption actually increased during prohibition. The problems caused by alcohol didn't go away, but taking alcohol away caused new, bigger problems. And the solution to those new problems? More alcohol. Just like Homer said.
Prohibition finally ended with the ratification of the 21st Amendment in 1935, and America learned a valuable lesson. Then marijuana was made illegal two years later.
4Glasnost Kills the Soviet Union
We all know the horrors of the old Soviet Union, thanks to a series of stark portrayals of the regime in the 80s (such as Rocky IV and Red Heat).
Glasnost was supposed to help fix all that. This was Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of loosening media controls and restrictions on freedom of speech. The policy of openness was intended to put pressure on ruling conservatives within the Communist Party who opposed Gorbachev's policies on economic reform (known as Perestroika).
Wow, searching for images for Gorbachev's policy of economic reform is boring as shit.
His hope was that a noticeable decrease in government-issued savage beatings for people who read books would lead to open debate and, eventually, widespread acceptance of his reform policies.
Unfortunately for Gorbachev, all that reading led the Soviet people to but one conclusion: "Man, fuck a Soviet Union."
How It Backfired:
Google Image Search has, like, 900 fucking variations of this picture.
Soon, stories were popping up all over Russia about the incredibly shitty Soviet economic and social situation. It's one thing to know that standing in line for six hours to buy vodka and a gently used sweater is the norm in your little neck of the frigid Soviet woods. That just makes you want to move to a less shitty town. Knowing that those lines are just as long everywhere else and it's your government's fault? That makes a person want to get a new government.
Nationalists began winning elections in the U.S.S.R. and one by one, those republics declared their independence.
Not to distract any of you from the exciting world of Nationalist politics, but Booya!
The situation finally reached a tipping point when the Soviet Union unwisely decided to host a title bout for a certain Rocky Balboa. When the crowd saw Rocky's tenacity and can-do American attitude, they began to cheer for him, instead of the Soviet-sponsored Ivan Drago. Within a few short years, the Soviet Union was dissolved .