Time to Reform the Virginia ABC

The Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control is out of control.  It's a problem when even "small-government conservatives" refuse to give up the lucrative cash flow the state receives from its monopoly on liquor sales.  If gun-toting agents raiding restaurants to enforce an arbitrary ratio of food-to-liquor sales aren't an abuse of government power, I don't know what is.

The state seems like it's doing its best to tilt the playing field against small-business owners — tripping them up to help protect the folks who can afford to make huge campaign donations.  This is what one distillery owner told me about his experience trying to lift a heavy burden of taxes and regulations: "I didn’t realize how corrupt Virginia politics was until I went to Richmond ... asking simply to have whiskey and spirits treated the same as other beverages.  As my legislation started to move through the General Assembly, I was summoned into a room full of lobbyists, where I was told to shut up, get in line, and that if I wanted to get anything done in this state, learn to play ball.  When I asked what would happen if I didn’t, the lobbyists said they’d destroy my business — and me."

I don't care if you're a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or something else: this sort of pay-to-play politics just isn't right.  We're one of only 8 states in the entire country that enforce a government monopoly on liquor sales, and as far as I can tell, there hasn't been an epidemic of alcoholism in the other 42.  

Why don't the career politicians in our state legislature do anything to help small-business owners in Richmond?  I don't know for sure.  Maybe it has something to do with the tens of thousands of dollars they receive in campaign contributions from alcoholic beverage wholesalers.  But what I do know is that we need ABC reform- now.  We need to let entrepreneurs take risks and create jobs without worrying about strong-arm tactics from the government which is supposed to represent them.

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