Commentary

Those “Dang revenuers!”

By Clint Parker

I’ve been waiting for an issue that would allow me to say this and this week I’ve found it. So here it goes. Liquor sold in a state-run ABC store should never carry the label of moonshine. It’s false advertising. Moonshine is “illicitly distilled or smuggled liquor.” Hence, if it’s legally sold it’s not moonshine. It’s just white liquor.

On that note, they say confession is good for the soul so here goes. Several years ago I was the recipient of a couple of gifts from a reader who wished to thank me for an article we published. It was five pounds of Vidalia onions and a pint of Apple Pie Moonshine. And yes, I am using moonshine in the proper context. I also have an amusing story about how that was delivered to me, but that’s another story for another time.

Now, down to the real reason for this commentary. State Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson/Buncombe) is looking to change the way liquor is being sold in North Carolina with a couple of different bills he has down in the state capitol (see article page 1). I had a few thoughts and questions on the story we are running this week.

First, McGrady’s HB 91, the ABC Laws Modernization/PED Study, would enact several changes to the way liquor is being sold in the state and some of those points I’d like to address here, but first, full disclosure is in order. I’m a Christian by grace and a Baptist by choice. And yes, the old saying is true that the difference between a Baptist and a Methodist (or almost any other faith) is that the Methodist will speak to you in the liquor store, but a Baptist won’t.

Also, in the way of full disclosure, I’ve been going into ABC stores since my early 20s when I was working as a field service engineer for a cash register company and the ABC systems in several counties were customers of ours. That’s not to say that I’ve never bought liquor from the ABC system because I have and for several reasons, including for medicinal purposes or for use in cooking.

Now, with that out of the way, as for the provision of the bill requiring “…the merger of ABC systems located in a county with two or more ABC systems,” I say if the state asked these town’s to set up systems (which means a town’s putting it to a vote of the people, borrowing money to start the system and setting up the infrastructure) to sell the liquor, then the government shouldn’t go changing that system now. That’s like asking a rider to change horses midstream. Someone’s apt to get wet.

Another part of the law would allow local governments the option of operating ABC stores on Sundays. What? Six days a week isn’t enough to get your liquor fix? I guess this is where the Baptist in me comes out. I think this is nonsense. I think we can give the ABC system and its workers one day off a week. Heck, even the Lord took a day off.
The last portion of the law I want to address is the allowing of “spirituous liquor tastings at ABC stores.” Really? What could go wrong here, right!

So now the ABC store would have to keep an open bottle of every type and brand of liquor in the place? Would they be liable for those who left a little too happy from all the sampling and get into an accident? Who would be responsible for the open bottles in the liquor store? More record-keeping for the store clerks? Would ABC employees be allowed to sneak a snort?

Finally, McGrady’s HB 971 would privatize the sale of liquor and take it out of the state’s hands altogether and put it into the hands of retailers.

I think this harkens back to my response a few paragraphs earlier where I said “…the government shouldn’t go changing that system now. That’s like asking a rider to change horses mid-stream. Someone’s apt to get wet.”
Besides, something Weaverville ABC Chairman Rob Chason said also strikes me. “We didn’t vote for it on every corner.” Meaning there would be a lot more outlets in which minors and alcoholics would be able to obtain something they don’t need.

Am I disturbed by the finding of the State Auditor’s report on the ABC system? Yes, but not to the point I want to allow any and every place to sell liquor. Tighten up the state ship and soldier on. No, Rep. McGrady is dead wrong on these bills to change the way alcohol is sold in this state. “Dang revenuers!”

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Clint Parker

Publisher & Editor Weaverville Tribune

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