Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
Saturday, April 3rd, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
A new statute is being proposed in Californians called the Alcohol-Related Harm and Damage Services Act of 2010. This proposal, which seeks to increase the state alcohol tax by astronomical proportions, was brought forth by Josephine and Kent M. Whitney, of San Diego, California.
Last year, I wrote an article about Russia raising its alcohol tax by sky-high margins, but if this Act in California goes through (it is going to require around 430,000 signatures on a petition just to go to a vote), President Medvedev will have to bow his head in submission, as his 300% tax hike will look like pocket change compared to the proposed 5,500% to 12,675% tax increase that the Whitney’s have authored.
In reading the details of the proposal, we see a helpful summary that California’s Attorney General wrote, which details what exactly will be taxed, and how much the tax will be; Beer’s six-pack tax will rise from 11 cents to $6.08 USD, a 5,527% increase. With that in place, say hello to $12 six-packs of Yuengling, and a lovely $15 for a six-pack of a good micro-brew, or about the price that a case costs here in North Carolina. The steepest tax increase of almost 13,000% is on 750ml bottles of wine, which aims to raise the tax from 4 cents to $5.11 USD per bottle, which has many people fearing that this will cripple the wine industry. According to one grower with a winery in Soledad, California, the most in-demand product on the wine market are mid-range bottles of $7 to $8. He fears that raising the price on those hot ticket items by an additional $5.11 will reduce the overall demand and put a tremendous strain on local wineries, eventually leading to job losses.
Monday, January 18th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
It was reported several months ago that the producer of Captain Morgan Rum, Diageo PLC (NYSE: DEO), was going to be getting a new factory in the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with $2.7B USD in tax credits and benefits over the next 30 years, which sparked a bit of controversy as they are a British owned company. With this struck deal, Diageo will be moving the Captain Morgan operations from Puerto Rico, where they’ve been operating for generations, to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, while potentially putting the rum culture in jeopardy.
Puerto Rican representatives claim that this business move will cost Puerto Rico about $120M annually in lost tax revenue, which at this point in time is an even harder pill to swallow than in the past. In March of 2009, Puerto Rico’s governor, Luis Fortuno, declared that the government there is bankrupt, with a deficit of more than $3B USD, making it the highest deficit-per-capita in the United States. Over the ensuing months, there have been plans implemented to lay off potentially 30,000 government workers, and to slash salaries across the board in an effort to save money. Union protests have been going on all over San Juan’s financial districts, and the unemployment rate on the Island of Enchantment will soar to potentially 17%.
Friday, October 23rd, 2009
By Christopher McCollum
Culture of Spirits is not a political blog, but we do occasionally cover aspects of the political spectrum that spill over into our main focus, especially when it comes to things such as prohibition. A very hot topic over the past few years has been Net Neutrality, which depending on the way you look at it, is either a very good thing, or a very bad thing. I will try to not get overtly political in this article, and stay on subject, which is the direct or indirect way that our spirited sub-culture may be affected by this topic.
Saturday, October 10th, 2009
North Carolina authorities are reporting the discovery of 929 gallons of moonshine, buried in the backyard of a man following his arrest on suspicions of selling and distributing the spirit illegally.
63-year-old Roger Lee Nance of Wilkesboro was arrested Wednesday on charges of possession and intent to sell non-tax-paid liquor. According to John Ledford, new director of the N.C. Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE), “it’s one of the biggest mountain busts I can remember.” News of Nance’s arrest broke only one week after Ledford was sworn into office in Madison County, where he served as sheriff for the last 10 years.
Nance was storing the moonshine he made in various containers of different sizes and shapes beneath a shed in his backyard. He was arrested following a two-month investigation.
Having only recently taken office, Ledford is already seeing his share of controversy as well. Apparently during his election campaign, funds were accepted from a Weaverville, NC man who supports legalizing video poker and other gambling games. However, the ALE is also the state agency charged with busting illegal video poker. Ledford, who worked as an ALE agent for five years in the 1990s before resigning to become sheriff, says this would not affect his new position, and told the Raleigh News and Observer “I’ll do what I’ve always done as a law enforcement officer — I’m going to carry out the duties of my office fairly and impartially.”
Controversy has involved the state agency prior to Ledford’s election, as he replaces Bill Chandler, who retired abruptly in September following reports in The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer about ALE’s implication in two missing assault rifles and other concerns involving use of firearms.
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
Political unrest has surged since the announcement that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, a man convicted of being part of a terrorist plot in 1988, would be released from prison by Scotland. Al Megrahi’s involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland more than two decades ago, caused the deaths of more than 250 people. Advanced prostate cancer is explained as the rational for his release, although Prime Minister Gordon Brown denies that London made a deal with Libya to set him free. Upon arriving in his homeland, Libyans gave Al Megrahi “a hero’s welcome”, infuriating Brown, as well as US President Barack Obama. The 1988 bombing is second only to the 2001 September 11th attacks among the most deadly airborne acts of terrorism.
Of the release, Stephanie Bernstein, widow of crash victim Michael Bernstein, openly criticized the decision to release Al Megrahi, saying “It will be seen as weakness, because that’s precisely what it was.” Among the public discourse resulting from Al Megradi’s release, websites like boycottscotland.com and several others are calling for the boycotting of Scottish industry, including Scotch spirits, as indicated by memos such as this:
The government of Scotland has officially freed the terrorist al-Megrahi to return to Libya, according to the latest AP news report. Americans need to respond to this outrageous miscarriage of justice and betrayal of the victims’ families, who were mostly fellow Americans, by refusing to spend their tourist dollars in Scotland and avoiding any kind of business there. Boycotting is the only way to send a clear and direct message to both the Scottish and British governments that Americans will not tolerate such a flagrant betrayal.
Sunday, August 2nd, 2009
President Obama has garnered a lot of attention lately with the so-called ‘Beer Summit’ at the White House, between himself, Harvard professor Henry Gates Jr., and sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge, Mass. Police Department. The story between these three is well documented by every major news outlet in the country, so rehashing it here seems redundant to me. My interest in this stems from the President using beer as the medium to sort out their differences, and that has caused me to do some research into other spirits of the Oval Office. What have been the preferred beverages of some of our notable Commanders in Chief?
George Washington (1789-1797) was regarded as the most successful whiskey producer in the country after his tenure of President was over. His Mount Vernon distillery produced 11,000 gallons of Rye Whiskey per year, but within a decade of his death, it fell into disrepair. Washington was also known to have dined and drank whiskey at Charleston, South Carolina’s famous McCrady’s Tavern in 1791, during his Southern Tour.
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) is regarded today as one of the healthiest early American presidents, and also the foremost wine connoisseur to have ever held office. According to a letter to an inquiring doctor in 1819, he would drink 3 to 4 glasses of wine at dinner, but never a drop otherwise. He wrote that he did not drink ardent wines or spirits, and he would also water down his wine so as to weaken its effect on him.
Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) was born into a bourbon family; His father was a distillery hand at the site that Knob Creek bourbon is named after today (in a distillery that was owned by one of Daniel Boone‘s relatives, no less!). Reaching adult hood, he applied for and received a license to sell alcohol in Illinois, and went on to operate numerous taverns. Despite the taverns and a grocery store that sold primarily whiskey, his personal stance on alcohol was one of educated, responsible drinking in moderation. As for his personal tastes, it’s hard to figure out because he spent a good portion of his political career appeasing the Temperance group, which eventually evolved into the Prohibition group.
Thursday, January 29th, 2009
While independents and constitutional conservatives in states like North Carolina continue to pursue their battle against proposed REAL IDs, in Utah yesterday the newly introduced HB 129, introduced by Republican Representative Curtis Oda of Clearfield, aims at bringing more severe penalties against those who either provide or use a fake ID used in the illegal sale of liquor to minors.