Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Carry A. Nation, the Reprise

Carrie NationImage via Wikipedia

For those of you too young to remember her, Carry A. Nation was a radical prohibitionist in the latter part of the 19th century famous for hacking up bars with her hatchet. She may have passed away nearly a hundred years ago, but her spirit lives on in group of Baptist ministers opposed to Gov. McDonnell's plans to privatize Virginia's government-run liquor stores.

Their arguments are as devoid of logic as Miller Lite is devoid of taste. For one, the ministers (insert gratuitous “bless their hearts” here) warn of a "lack of control" if the stores were privatized. Obviously, however, the state still controls the location of the stores not to mention the ability to tax the rot gut, so that one fails.

Their other argument is that privatization would adversely affect low income people. I don't get this one either. Last time I was in an ABC, there was plenty of Popov on the bottom shelf, not to mention Thunderbird in the grocery stores.

They didn't make the one argument that could justify greater restrictions on access to hard alcohol: increased public safety. Maybe that’s because there's no meaningful difference in the rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities between states with closely regulated, state-run alcohol distribution (such as Virginia, the Carolinas and Pennsylvania) and those with private liquor stores (California and Nevada).

The bottom line is that this renewed attempt to regulate morality is off-base, particularly here where the privatization would generate revenue we could all use, and increased access to Scotch which I could use.

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