Sunday, January 13, 2013
The Sort of Democrats Who Give Government a Bad Name
Full Disclosure: Mad Dog does not drink alcohol much. He prefers O'Douls and Kaliber, which are non alcoholic, but on a trip to Ireland he did learn to drink Guinness without adverse effects, although his intake seems to be limited by some unforgiving gene. And, beer had something, indirectly, to do with bringing Mad Dog to the Seacoast. Having been lured to Portsmouth by the promise of a job, Mad Dog wandered the streets with his wife, on a snowy February night in 2008, and they happened to take refuge in the Portsmouth Brewery, where people were happy, lively, engaged in conversation.
Taking our seats on the upstairs balcony, we looked down to the brick wall facing us and noted the framed, iconic poster of Mr. Obama, the Ferry poster, hanging quietly on the wall, just as the 2008 campaign was beginning to percolate up, making a quiet, courageous statement about the sympathies of the Portsmouth Brewery, saying something about the value its owner placed on his deeply held political and social convictions, as opposed to what might be best for business And Mad Dog looked at his wife and she at him, and they both looked at that poster on the wall and they said, almost in unison, "We could live here."
Now we learn Mr. Peter Egelston, owner of the Portsmouth Brewery, and owner of the Smuttynose Brewing Company which is building a new place in Hampton, employer of waitresses and brewmasters, purveyor of good pub food and general all around good citizen, is facing a 10 cent per gallon hike on beer, a bill put forward by Democrats, a Mr. Charles "Chuck" Weed (D-Keene) and Richard Eaton of Greenville.
But get this, these two members of the legislature are saying the dollars collected will be used for "alcohol treatment programs."
Now Mad Dog is not an expert in alcoholism, drug addiction or taxation. Nor has he read widely in the pathways to ruined lives followed by alcoholics, but he does remember taking care of alcoholics on the wards of big city hospitals. When they talked about their friends, sitting around the ward with their failing livers, their bleeding esophageal varices, their bouts of pancreatitis, their hypogonadism and their rapidly progressing dementia, they would say, "Oh, Jim, he liked his Chivas," or "Sally, VAT-69 Sally, when she could afford it." They knew each other by what they drank and I cannot recall anyone ever referring to a fellow drunk as a "Bud Johnny" or "Coors Sammy." Real drinkers did not, at least in those days, waste their time on beer.
Over the years, Mad Dog has know people who drank a 6 pack a night and likely were harmed by that, but the real alcoholics, if they drank beer usually used that as an appetizer and moved quickly on to harder stuff.
So the idea of beer as a sort of crack cocaine to any significant part of the population strikes Mad Dog as a rather odd expression of concern--rather like trying to launch an attack on prostitution by outlawing Victoria's Secret franchises in New Hampshire.
And the idea devoting the income from this new tax to alcohol treatment programs is even more revealing--as if the whole idea is not to punish the beer maker but to rescue the victims of this dreadful thing called beer. As if such programs actually work.
Talk about sanctimonious. Let us put a picture of Mr. Weed and Mr. Eaton next to that word in the dictionary.
Mad Dog wonders: What are these men thinking?
It surely can have nothing to do with a burning desire to fund alcohol treatment programs.
If the state of New Hampshire needs to raise money, and the people of New Hampshire like beer and spend lots of money on it and beer seems like an attractive target, as opposed to say, gasoline, well, okay let's just say we need the money.
Actually, If Mr. Weed and Mr. Eaton had real guts they would place that 10 cent tax on gasoline and then we'd see some real money, and maybe less driving or a shift to more fuel efficient cars. Or maybe we could put the money into twelve step programs for drivers who are addicted to unnecessary or overly long car trips.
Personally, Mad Dog would prefer the legislature to legalize marijuana and tax that at a very high rate and we'd all be happier.
If you really wanted to get progressive, Mad Dog would vote for legalizing and licensing prostitution. That way we could do monthly HIV and sexual transmitted disease testing, and we could protect the sex workers from violence with more efficacy, and we might do the public health some good. Mad Dog realizes with this paragraph he has lost most of his readership, but that's what a blog is for--float new ideas and see what comes back. So, Maud, pick yourself up off the floor, and fire away. Mad Dog can take it. His love for you will never die--certainly not over this.
Mad Dog is ready for the slings and arrows.
But leave Mr. Egelston alone. He runs good businesses, employs a lot of people, and does the state of New Hampshire a lot more good than harm. How many of us can say that?
He was, eventually, moved to replace the Obama poster with a parody, using the Smutty nose seal in place of Mr. Obama, but we still remember Mr. Egelson's courage when it really counted.
Posted by the phantom speaks at 8:46 PM