Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bible Belt Towns in Kentucky Consider Liquor Sales to Raise Revenue

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 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.

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.
Ironically, as the story points out, Kentucky is a leading producer of one of the strongest types of alcoholic beverage:
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.

”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.“
And, as always, when a widely used product is stupidly banned by the government, it's the criminal element which benefits the most:
”This city has never been dry. It’s just been illegally wet,“ Jewell said.

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.
Ultimately, however, money eventually trumps everything in America...even religious convictions:
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.

”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.“
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.

Bonus: Doug Stanhope on drinking


  1. Can anyone tell me if the US should expect anything other than this:

    The department of health reports that suicides are up 40 percent. And violent crimes including murder are up almost 100 percent.

    1. Gail - what's funny is that Americans have been so completely anesthetized by the mainstream media that things will probably have to get a whole lot worse before that kind of thing starts to happen here--or at least more so than it already does.

    2. I hope your are right...I fear you are wrong.

  2. Interesting to see that news from Greece. Here in Ireland the economy is not yet as bad as Greece and the news is mixed regarding suicide and murder. Suicide is up and the famous Cliffs of Moher once a great tourist attraction are now a suicide black spot.

    Murder has fallen by over 40% since 2007, it peaked when the economic bubble was at its height in 2007. This is mostly explained by a dramatic drop in gang killings, with a lot less money around the cocaine trade has collapsed and the gang wars have subsided. On the other hand burglary is way up.

    We have a lot more crimes against property and a lot less crimes against the person. I think that our history of suffering and hard times may have left us Irish a lot better equipped psychologically to deal with the down turn than the Greeks are. Things are bad economically but there is no rioting and no apparent danger of any.

    People are also much more polite, civil and relaxed now than they were during the bubble era, we are rediscovering many traditional virtues that we lost in the boom. Alcohol consumption is also down.

    So very much a mixed report from Ireland.