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News Blog

The Parallel Liquor Law Universe

by Jerre Wroble
Posted // 2011-08-31 -

After listening to Sen. John Valentine debate the X96 Radio From Hell team over liquor laws this morning, it could be asked if Utah has become an evil parallel universe, like the one Star Trek's Captain Kirk found himself in with a bearded Mr. Spock in "Mirror, Mirror," Episode 33.

In our parallel universe, we have a nondrinking senator with a loving name and a commission of tee-totaling bureaucrats devising agonizing ways to keep profits high, while keeping drinkers low and under their thumb.

Opposing them, we have a group of degenerate "liberals," oddly pro-business, who want to see the Legislature relax regulations on bars and restaurants (on the Zion curtain, for example) and increase the number of liquor licenses for both restaurants and clubs.

This upside down, topsy-turvy world only makes sense if you think in terms of opposites.

In the normal universe, reducing government regulation in the affairs of privately owned businesses would invigorate market forces and in this case, allow Utah's stunted dining and entertainment sectors to grow and become more normal.

Yet, if there's booze involved, it's just the opposite.

This morning, on X96, Sen. Valentine argued that the laws of Utah should reflect the values of the religious (nondrinking) majority. He implied that since there is a majority of nondrinkers in the state, drinkers should realize they imbibe at the majority's pleasure. The majority lets drinkers tipple, but on their terms, and under their control.

Lawmakers love to point out that alcohol "control" is not just a Mormon thing, that Utah is one of 19 jurisdictions in the country (18 other states and a county in Maryland) that regulate alcohol sales. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's Website says that by removing the profit motive from booze sales, it can focus on moderation and law enforcement.

But as this is the world of opposites, lawmakers know they couldn't make ends meet if they successfully convinced Utahns to be "moderate" in their beverage intake. So instead, they maintain a monopoly that collects profits from drinkers that in turn are used to fund state government.

To create the illusion of moderation, though, they make frequent tweaks to liquor laws, which keeps bar and restaurant owners in a constant state of flux and makes them afraid to expand their businesses. It doesn't matter to the lawmakers because they know Utah drinkers will drink at home if need be and will put up with it.

Yes, those who make these laws are Republicans. Yes, they believe in free enterprise and espouse tea-party platitudes. But, when it comes to booze, they become communists (you heard it here, from a degenerate liberal). The DABC's 75th annual report says "revenues that would otherwise go to mark-ups for private sellers are instead funneled into state coffers and used to support public goals of moderation and government revenue enhancement."

Proceeds from liquor sales not only ensure the DABC's operation is entirely paid for, but, in FY 2010, $28 million went to school lunches, $15 million went to sales taxes, and $58 million in profit went to the general fund -- offsetting the tax burden for all Utahns. Very tidy revenue "enhancement" in that.

But what if, in this parallel universe, bars and restaurants stopped buying alcohol from the state and just told customers, "Sorry, we're out of what you ordered. How about a Diet Coke instead?" What if Utahns sobered up for a few months, gave the DABC package stores a wide berth and stopped feeding the beast? Wouldn't lawmakers, faced with a breathtaking loss of operating capital, be forced to deal with all the players more fairly?

It's hard to imagine the collective will needed to make something like that happen. The idea of an abstinent Utah is too radical for most Utah "liberals" -- you know, the ones who advocate for "big business" while decrying the communistic tendencies of the Legislature? Is it possible to be beamed back to a universe that makes sense?




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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 8,2011 at 09:44 I listened to this interview on X-96 driving to work and all I can say is "Kerry" was obnoxious to the point that his behavior became the interview subject at times. I would like to send Valentine to a work camp in Siberia for a year, but "Kerry's" childish sighs and huffing and muttering under his breath right into the mic about everything that came out of Valentine's silly mouth only served to reinforce the stereotype that opponents of our draconian liquor laws are silly and immature themselves. I grew up here and there's a way you deal with Mormons who hold sway over something you're involved with and it's not to make them feel like the bad guys or they will over-react and deliver more of the same, only now with their heels dug in like a mule. You help them see things from your perspective; you help them understand the true concerns from the "other" side without impugning everything they think they stand for. You help them walk 5 miles in your shoes and if you can do that without getting insulting or combative, you will might get what you want and need. I realize that X-96 isn't exactly NPR in the morning, but screaming and throwing your poop at some misguided tool only makes you look like a chimp.

 

Posted // September 8,2011 at 14:39 - Yep. You're so right. And that's why I stated that the Mo/Anti Mo factions can keep the place. I don't care for either mentality. I've been here for a long, long time, too, and the thing that sticks most in my mind about Utah, other than the wonderful desert and mountains, is the US versus Them attitude that permeates everything. I'll be glad for the day I don't easily find in the publications I read references to something dealing with Mormons or Anti-Mormons. The funny thing is, many times I've been guilty of what I am complaining about here, and I don't like it. But I have a very hard time readjusting my own mentality while surrounded by the Pro/Anti factions, and I know plenty of both. I think you really nailed it, Bill, but I think your observation is applicable anytime, anywhere, with any type of person. You explained the proper and respectful way to reach consensus between any two parties with differing beliefs.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 2,2011 at 16:39 Convert to the "faith" and be changed. Oh ye of the 'consuming alcohol' tribe. Convert and be enlightened. If thou were to 'convert' well then, you'd understand how it is that a rube like Valentine can and will dictate to you how ye shall live thine lives.
After all, Utah reflects the "views" of the Mormon MAJORITY and therefore, resistance is futile. It is the will of the Mormon Borg and you will be assimilated. Or cast out or taxed to death or marginalized or discriminated against or made to resort to brown paper bags.
Convert and be homogenized and ye shall enter 'alcohol free Zion' and live happily ever after.

 

Posted // September 6,2011 at 10:02 - No thanks. I think I'll just continue with my plan and move away from here. The Mo/Anti-Mo factions can have it.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 1,2011 at 12:07 As a business owner who already has a liquor license, I totally
support Valentine's actions. He has limited my competition by not
allowing any more liquor licences to be issued, thus chasing away any
other business from Utah who might fancy opening new business in my
industry. He has increased my margins by making it illegal for me to
discount liquor at any time. He has made my business more valuable by
allowing licensees to sell their licenses on ther open market. He won't
allow regular strength beer in the State so my customers can drink even
more beer than they normally would, increasing my revenue. He has made
it illegal for children to be in a bar at ANY time (Children bug me).
He has made it so uncomfortable and difficult to get a drink in a
restaurant that the only place to really enjoy a drink is in a bar out
of the sight of children. Thank you Senator. You shoiuld just come manage my bar for me, you seem to know better than me how to run this industry.

 

Posted // September 1,2011 at 14:37 - Valentine is just another arrogant twat with nobody's interests in mind but his own. He and his ilk are the only ones that matter and he doesn't mind saying so. While in office, like most other politicians, he feeds his ego to the detriment of his community and does little else. The Mormon majority in this state is nearly non-existent, if it exists at all anymore, and literally dwindles by the day. One day soon, the white Mormon overlord will have to answer to the brown man, his family, and his kids that he seems to churn out as fast if not faster than your average Mormon, as difficult as that seems. Yes sir! The Lamanites are coming and the Lamanites drink! Yeah? You think I'm joking? The student body of the elementary school near my home in SLC comprises 70% Latino students. After dropping some donations off the other day, I'm inclined to think that percentage is even higher. Fifteen years and you will no longer recognize Utah for what it was, and I'll laugh and laugh when that happens. Where, or where, will the chosen righteous go then? Zion is up for grabs, bitches.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 1,2011 at 10:30 "Utah is one of 19
jurisdictions in the country (18 other states and a county in Maryland)
that regulate alcohol sales." Someone tell Valentine that is less than a
majority.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 1,2011 at 00:09 I have been thinking the exact same thing. I'll continue to support local bars and pubs, but after a recent trip to a Costco in Nevada, my liquor cabinet will be stocked through next spring. The legislators who write these stupid laws do not care about the people or businesses they affect. The only language they will understand is money, and I'll spend as little of mine as possible in any Utah DABC store until some sense of reason and respect gets demonstrated here.

 

 
 
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