Many of the directors of MADD harbor a distinct anti-business attitude. They are not just against drunk driving; they are opposed to the existence of the alcoholic beverage industry. Andrew McGuire, one of MADD's founding directors, likened the industry to the Mafia when voicing his disapproval of industry contributions to the organization. "Would you want the Mafia underwriting anti-crime programs?," he asked.
The Federal government finances some of the political activities of MADD and dozens of other neo-prohibitionist organizations through the Center for Substance Abuse prevention (CSAP). Although it is illegal to use tax dollars for publicity or propaganda purposes or for the preparation, distribution, or use of any kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, radio, television, or film presentation designed to support or defeat legislation pending before Congress, it appears that much of what CSAP does is exactly that
, CSAP funded a how-to-lobby video
for activists in numerous states about a California campaign to raise excise taxes on alcohol products
and have some of the revenues from the tax earmarked for the very organizations that lobbied for it
. CSAP published a booklet that demanded a 455% increase in the Federal tax on beer, reduction of the legal definition of drunkenness from an alcohol blood content of 0.10 to 0.04, and the legal requirement that beer ads be countered by taxpayer-funded anti-beer ads. CSAP-funded publications oppose designated drivers, for that would mean that someone (other than the driver) could drink, and "moderate" drinking also is said to be unacceptable. Alcohol prohibition clearly is CSAP's agenda, not merely responsible drinking or the elimination of drunk drivers.
There is evidence that much of the political agenda of MADD and CSAP has backfired. Even though Congress raised the national drinking age to 21 in 1984, there is widespread agreement that the problem of teenage drinking is as bad as it ever has been
. One possible explanation of this phenomenon is offered by Morris Chafetz, founding director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: "The law sets off a psychology of forbidden fruit
among young people that gives alcohol an attractiveness it doesn't deserve
." As economist Mark Thorton, author of The Economics of Prohibition, has written, making liquor and beer illegal "heightened the attractiveness of alcohol to the young by making it a glamour product associated with excitement and intrigue."
Elizabeth Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, believes that the complete prohibition of alcohol consumption to responsible young adults (those between 18 and 21) is a major cause of the "binge drinking" crisis on so many college campuses
. "Though the per capita consumption of alcohol in France, Spain, and Portugal is higher than in the United States, the rate of alcoholism and alcohol abuse is lower. A glass of wine at diner is normal practice. Kids learn to regard moderate drinking as an enjoyable family activity rather than as something they have to sneak away to do. Banning drinking by young people makes it a badge of adulthood
-- a tantalizing forbidden fruit