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.