Privatizing state liquor sales

Really interesting article in the Post yesterday about the budgetary impact of Virginia’s intention to privatize liquor sales.  I know that NC is considering this idea as well.  It seems crazy to me that states should be in the business of selling liquor (and, it is apparently particularly corrupt in NC), but  had no idea it is so profitable.  When you control liquor sales, you are giving yourself a monopoly on a largely recession-proof industry.  The big budgetary impact comes from the profit margin, not the taxes.  From the article:

For drinkers, a fifth of Jack Daniel’s costs about the same wherever they buy it — about $25 in Virginia and the District, a couple of bucks less in Maryland. But for the governments that regulate that bottle, the difference is as stark as a sip and a chug.

In the District and most of Maryland, just a dollar or two from a fifth of Jack Daniel’s goes to government. But in Virginia, where whiskey and every other kind of liquor is sold in state-run stores, more than $13 of the retail price goes to the state

There was also this cool accompanying graphic that showed the most popular liquors in the state and the amount of consumption by county.  Virginians like their Jack Daniels.  It was kind of funny to scroll through the counties in Southwestern Virginia and see per capita expenses on alcohol, generally around $40 or so.  Then, in Montgomery County– my home for 1998-99, it’s $116.  Why?  Virginia Tech.

This Story

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]]>In the District and most of Maryland, just a dollar or two from a fifth of Jack Daniel’s goes to government. But in Virginia, where whiskey and every other kind of liquor is sold in state-run stores, more than $13 of the retail price goes to the state.

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State aid

Fortunately, due to the Republican Senators from Maine, legislation for emergency state aid for Medicaid and education was able to overcome a filibuster.  This will save the jobs of thousands of teachers and truly improve the quality of education (too much can be made of class size, but there’s no doubt that giant class sizes are counter-productive to learning).  Is there nothing the Republicans in Congress can support?  Benen:

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) argued yesterday:

“The American people don’t want more Washington ‘stimulus’ spending — especially in the form of a pay-off to union bosses and liberal special interests. This stunning display of tone-deafness comes at the expense of American workers, who will be hit by another job-killing tax hike because Washington Democrats can’t kick their addiction to more government ‘stimulus’ spending.”

Hmm. Aid to struggling states will help prevent the layoffs of school teachers, firefighters, and police officers. For the House Republican leader, these folks are “special interests.” But when he works with Wall Street executives to kill new financial industry safeguards, or meets with insurance companies to kill health care reform, or meets with polluters to kill energy/climate legislation, these aren’t “special interests.”

In this sense, the “special interests” label is a bit like the “judicial activism” line — court rulings the GOP finds offensive constitute “activism,” and public employees the GOP doesn’t care about are “special interests.”

Yep.  If you can’t deficit spend to save teachers’ jobs, what can you deficit spend for anyway?  (though, this is paid for).  In my recent conversation with a HS history teacher friend, he mentioned class sizes of 45 this year.  That’s just crazy.  But, apparently, if you want to add to the deficit to extend tax cuts for rich people, it’s all good.

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