It seems incredible that nearly 80 years after the passage of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution overturning Prohibition in America that there are still plenty of dry jurisdictions around the country. My own hometown still had a Sunday ban on liquor sales when I was growing up, and even that seemed old fashioned at the time. In my January 18th post, "States Doubling Down on Bad Gambling Bets," I commented on a story about how cash strapped state governments are now turning even more to casinos in a desperate attempt to try and raise money. Not to be outdone in chasing the sin tax dollar, here is the Courier-Journal.com with a story about dry Kentucky towns considering allowing alcohol sales to raise tax revenue:
In this Appalachian college town where socially conservative views are bedrocks of life, some people want to do what was once unthinkable: legalize liquor sales.Ironically, as the story points out, Kentucky is a leading producer of one of the strongest types of alcoholic beverage:
Supporters say passing the measure in Tuesday’s special election in Barbourville would tap a new revenue source in a place where hundreds of jobs are evaporating as one plant shuts down and another cuts its workforce in half. But from the pulpits to the courthouse square, opponents have been pressing their case that uncorking liquor sales would irreparably harm the town of about 3,200.
“We’ve got a fine community,” said the Rev. Leonard Lester, a leading spokesman for church-related groups and other opponents that have rallied and waged an aggressive media campaign. “To reverse that and to bring decay into our community is senseless and dangerous.
”There is nothing good about liquor,“ he added.
The issue in the town that’s home to Methodist-affiliated Union College is the latest in a series of special elections popping up all over small-town, socially conservative Kentucky, where voters are asked whether they want to approve liquor sales as a way to bring in much-needed tax dollars.
The state brags about its title as the world’s bourbon capital, where distilleries churn out fine whiskeys and lure tourist dollars. But elsewhere, temperance attitudes have preserved broad pockets of territory in Kentucky where liquor sales are outlawed. Nearly one-third of the state’s 120 counties are dry.There also would likely be a bit of a zero sum game here that would raise revenue for the dry counties by draining it from those where alcohol is already legal:
Some people in town like to imbibe, but Barbourville isn’t reaping any financial benefits, area resident Kenneth Gregory said. Now, they have to drive about 15 minutes to have a drink while dining out, and more than twice that far to pick up a six-pack of beer.And, as always, when a widely used product is stupidly banned by the government, it's the criminal element which benefits the most:
”Why send our taxes to other counties and let them get the use out of it,“ said Gregory, 56. ”Boy, this is 2000-something. This ain’t back in the 1950s again. That’s what they try to run it like.“
”This city has never been dry. It’s just been illegally wet,“ Jewell said.Ultimately, however, money eventually trumps everything in America...even religious convictions:
A vote to legalize liquor sales would effectively drive bootleggers out of business, he said.
Bootleggers typically load up their vehicles with beer and whiskey obtained in wet areas, then return to resell the alcohol.
In Paintsville, liquor sales generated about $150,000 in tax revenue in 2011, said Bob Porter, mayor of the eastern Kentucky town. The town of about 4,000 has package sales and by-the-drink sales at some restaurants.I'm not in favor of any kind of prohibition, of course. I'm merely pointing out that this story represents another telling sign of the times completely at odds with the national mainstream media narrative about our supposed economic recovery.
”It’s not the savior, but it helps,“ he said. ”It’s allowed us to put off or not administer any additional taxes to this point.“
Bonus: Doug Stanhope on drinking