Reinventing alcohol

Will booze be the next big thing in North Carolina public policy? It has all the makings. Freedom v. fear. The perfect proving ground.

A story worth reading.

Spirituous liquors take quite a journey through the state's government-monopoly alcohol operation to get to the consumer's drink or a bar's shot glass.

To understand that journey, one could follow a bottle of Aristocrat Supreme 80-proof vodka – the state's top-selling brand of liquor – from its distillery in Bardstown, Ky., to when it's purchased at a government-run N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control store.


I am definately at odds here with most:

Alcohol is something someone chooses to use. It is not a necessity. It is not an item that can not be given up as an "unnecessary purchase" when folks figure up their budgets.

Because of that, taxing it is taxing those that choose to purchase it and not those that are required to or are forced to purchase it or can not do without it.

Yes, yes, this is a quantity that should be taxed in not only our state but nationwide. I know it is already taxed significantly, but it should be taxed heavily, exclusively, to help those that are in need. Why not? I have heard all the arguments that increasing the taxes on alcohol will hurt the indigents and the lower income people and so forth, but, um, shoot me if I say What The F..k?

No one HAS to drink and to be honest, even though I am a dedicated North Carolinian, no one HAS to smoke. We should tax things that are not necessities before we go after those things that people need and are not considered bad for us and so forth. Why can we not agree on this? Politics is one thing. Reasonable thinking is another.

You're entitled to your opinion

and I'm happy for you that you're so pure. Following your line of thinking, everything not a "necessity" should be heavily taxed so that those who don't want or need those things can let others pay more than a fair share of tax.

Let's start with toilet paper. Got any old magazines or newspaper laying around? Then you don't need toilet paper. It should be taxed heavily. Do you really need a TV set? Radio is basically free. Tax TV sets and programming heavily. You sure as heck don't NEED the internet or a computer. How about a hefty luxury tax?
Boats...unless you have a commercial skippers license...double the price with taxes.
You don't need a car. Use the bus or a bicycle. Tax cars. Double the price of gas with taxes.

Belts are a luxury. Everyone gets one tax-free set of suspenders a year by gov't decree. Tax belts! Really need underwear? Nah...go commando or pay tax.

Sex. No one HAS to have lets make people buy a sex card good for so many times and if you cheat on the system ya go to prison. Children...Oooooh, there's a biggie.

Yes, I'm being absurd. but, just because you choose one path it doesn't mean others who don't make your same choices should pay more for theirs. By the way, I'm not defending alcohol or tobacco. I simply believe everyone should pay their fair share and no more or less. Fair, in the case of incoime tax, certainly is and probably should be progressive. The "fair tax" might solve that problem...if properly constructed.

Gov't has it's hands way too deeply into our pockets....and what the politicians don't use for their own personal benefit, they give away to buy votes. Think Nebraska.

Stan Bozarth

The "fair tax"

Just another bumper sticker slogan that collapses under the weight of intense scrutiny.

With the income tax, most of the volume upon volume of tax law and regulation revolves around defining and categorizing "income." I mean, there's "income" and then there's "income." We differentiate between "earned" income and "unearned" income, with the result of punishing labor. And we then parse that even farther with all kinds of exclusions and exceptions, before we even get to the "deductions."

On its face, the "fair tax" would levy a simple transaction tax on the consumer purchase of "goods" and "services." The question then becomes how many reams upon reams of paper would it take to define the point of "consumer purchase," and how to define "goods" or "services." Is the weekly haircut a "service" subject to the 23% (or whatever) tax? Would brokerage fees be subject to the tax, or would the entire stock purchase price or home purchase price be subject to the "consumer" tax? Would I have to pay 23% tax when I bought a used car from my neighbor?

I don't claim that it would be better or worse, because I haven't found answers to those simple questions above. And, in the final analysis, it wouldn't be much different.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

We could probably agree the tax laws are badly in need

of revision. I too have concerns and questions about the "fair tax" and primary among those concerns is that anything done by politicians is going to be skewed and screwed..

The idea of taxing on what you spend rather that what you earn (perhaps with a floor exempting the first XXX dollars spent on goods or services and medical care...for example)) and mortgage interest payments of less than XXX dollars (again, for example), would seemingly take some of the burden off the poor and middle class and shift it to those who have and spend lots of money on goods and services....and often completely avoid taxes because of the various loop-holes in the system (say Hedge Funds). With a 14,000 page tax code, anyone with enough money can lawyer-up and find just about any dodge they want.

I mentioned the fair tax idea in my response above simply because I'm frustrated with the current system and the legislature's continuing use of discriminatory taxes against some to pay for the welfare of all. Following Foxy's line of reasoning one without children might say "I have no children so why should I pay the same property tax as everyone else...when 60+% goes to support education of children I don't have."

Stan Bozarth

It's not about "unnecessary", imo.

In my view, it's not about how necessary something is or isn't when it comes to taxes. It is whether or not the tax is open and transparent.

A sales tax are open and transparent. Real estate taxes are open and transparent.

Now the process that was outlined by StarNews looks to be the furthest thing from open and transparent that I've ever seen. If you want to tax the crap outta liquor, great! Go for it, but at least be honest about it.

I would think NC would be much better off by doing away with the system they had now and just increasing the tax on alcohol to try and control consumption. Having ABC County officials raking in $200k/year salaries, having a wharehouse racket going and folks protecting their little profit fiefdoms isn't doing the state a bit of good.

My goodness !

No one has to breathe or have a heartbeat or heal when they're sick. Like you said, "I'm being absurd".

Look, I am not trying to get ludicrous or stupid here. Just presenting my point of view.

Thanks for responding, though, Stan.

Georgia and Virginia

I've been spending the holidays in Georgia. Georgia doesn't provide direct oversight of hard liquor sales, and liquor appears to be more expensive here. May be coincidental...

I've heard that theocrat Gov. Bob McDonnell wants to privatize Virginia's ABC - apparently "family values" means selling off state resources to reward campaign contributors.

I don't particularly like the

I don't particularly like the idea of seeing liquor stores on every corner. I think there is a benefit in limiting sells to state run outlets.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Yeah I agree

It's universally accepted that alcohol has the potential to destroy lives, and the public has a right to provide oversight and mitigate that harm.

Regulating sin

I prefer letting private businesses do their thing whenever possible, constrained by zoning restrictions, advertising restrictions, and taxes. Other states have proven that alcohol can be effectively privatized, as have other countries.

A state has lost its moral compass when it becomes the distributor of things it considers "sin" in order to control it. That's the case with the lottery (we advertise that abomination on the airwaves) for sure.

We should end modern day prohibition (our idiotic war on drugs) as part of "rethinking" sin.

and forcing your religion on others through the law

I just got back from the grocery store where it is illegal to sell beer and wine only on one morning evey week- Sunday. This is no accident. All the "moral" people need to be able to sit in church on Sunday morning without having to worry about heathens buying beer on Sunday mornings.

If it is legal to sell every other morning, it should be legal on Sundays.

And, that is not all

It is also illegal to sell beer or wine before 7am ANY day. I am not sure but maybe that is so that no one can go buy beer or wine and get drunk before they drive to work.

I agree with you SPLib, these are antiquated laws and have no other basis other than through some religious moral code set up years and years ago.

But, that does not take away from my belief that increasing taxes on alcohol (and tobacco) should be a consideration. That does not come from any religious moral feelings I have, believe me. That comes from just common sense. It is on one hand a very effective way to create income for our state and on the other hand can work to reduce the consumption on these things that are known to be injurious to health. The huge amount of tax money spent every year on people that receive government health benefits because of the use of alcohol and tobacco is well documented.

There are good arguments pro and con on this, I know. I am a "pro" on it so this is my opinion.

What do you propose for the morbidly obese, Foxy?

Those health care dollars spent are also well documented. Document for me where a price increase has actually reduced the consumption of alcohol or tobacco.

When I lived in FL the Christian Coalition shoved an issue onto the ballot that would regulate the amount of skin to be shown by a bathing suit. Maybe they should have simply taxed bikini's. You prob'ly don't wear that'd be OK with you...right?

Stan Bozarth

I get your point, Stan

Yes, I get your point. And no, I really haven't researched whether or not raising prices for either alcohol or tobacco has stemmed its use. I have been into some pretty furious back-and-forths on this exact issue before and in the end, all that happened was hard feelings. I truly do not want to do that here. This is another one of those "navel" things, I know, everyone has one (like opinions).

And, um, no, you would find it difficult to even see me in a bathing suit, my friend. Chubby, bald guys show enough skin as it is. :)

I'll back off too...

It's just infuriating to me when folks dismiss injustices to others because they themselves aren't affected. It's easy to dismiss extra taxes on things when the politicians describe them as "sinful" but that doesn't make the taxes appropriate...nor does it make a glass of wine or a beer or a sip of brandy sinful. People have been doing these things for centuries... and it's just another way the politicians turn us against each other when we should be turning on THEM.

Stan Bozarth

Booze in Fayetteville

Another side of the story. My interpretation:

Any new approach to alcohol should have a tax formula that sustains or increases whatever amount of money currently flows to counties. How difficult could that be?

Marijuana is Safer

As a former alcohol detox center worker and longtime fan of cannabis, I can vouch for the fact that marijuana is safer. Are there any elected officials, executive branch types in Raleigh willing to say this into a microphone?

Not in our lifetime, I am afraid

Marijuana is not only safer than alcohol (IMO), but it should be legalized so that the states can realize the tax revenue from its sale.

Here I go again being radical

But, I doubt that will happen anytime in our lifetime.

Here are the current laws in NC regarding marijuana.




Not sure why I said that

You already used "reply" on DJ's comment. You're a blogging!

Happy new year, Foxy.



The only things that would get them to switch on pot

are (1) the possibility of making up for the budget shortfall from legalizing and taxing cannabis, and (2) being able to redirect funding from the absurd war on drugs.

Elected officials who stand silent on the issue would seem to be either ignorant or cowards.

Pot doesn't need to be in the

Pot doesn't need to be in the system of anyone that is driving or working many jobs even many hours after consumption. It also doesn't need to be inhaled by anyone that hasn't completely both physically and emotionally matured. That means a cut and dry 18 or 21 year old requirement doesn't work very well. While I would like to see a practical way that it might be decriminalized I don't think many realize that it isn't as harmless as might be assumed. Pot makes people lazy, unfocused, and puts the user and others in danger in some instances. It's kind of like prostitution, on the surface it appears to be harmless and victimless but when you scratch the surface a little but there are a lot of negatives.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

There are always trade offs

Our current trade off in the war on drugs results in squandered resources, ineffective enforcement, widespread disregard for laws, extreme violence by cartels and gangs, public corruption, and a steady funding stream for terrorism.

And the benefits? Not so much.

I don't disagree with any of

I don't disagree with any of that. I just think the idea that pot smoking is harmless is wrong and it's not as simple as just, "make it legal". I would love to have a do over for the years 1974 to 1987. :>)

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Do overs

I could use a few, too.

Happy new year, huh.


PS "Huh" is one of my favorite of all time screen names. A good one indeed.

Happy new year back at

Happy new year back at you!

ps I took screen name because I so often found myself reading posts and then saying to myself and out loud, "huh?".

I'm a moderate Democrat.