North Carolina’s Pay-to-Play, or Else, ABC System

The NC ABC system provides no benefit, but protects its territory with the full force of the state.

by Mike Ross, LPNC Treasurer and Libertarian Candidate for North Carolina Governor

Imagine for a moment that you are throwing a lavish party as a huge boon to your career. The catch is, you can’t afford the party. You hold the event at your home to save cost, but the catering, decorations, and particularly the fancy alcohol are beyond your means. 

To get around this, you charge for drinks. You aren’t looking to make a profit, so you charge just enough to cover the libations and catering. You bring in a tiny bit extra, all of which you donate to charity, for the karma. The party goes so well you are asked to do it again the next weekend.

This time, you up the charge on the drinks just a little. You still aren’t trying to make a profit, but party planning takes time, and you need to get some value back! Again, the party is a smash success, and you agree to throw one every Friday night. 

Eventually, these parties are your full-time income. You take people’s keys when they come in to make sure no one drives drunk, and you refuse to overserve, as you don’t want to see people get hurt or regret coming. The parties get more and more popular.

You aren’t making the alcohol you serve, but you are serving enough of it that you feel like you should report it as income. Being an honest taxpayer, you make no attempt to hide the money. Word spreads about the parties, until one day the police rush in, decked out in body armor and guns drawn, to shut you down and lock you up for the abhorrent crime of serving people drinks without the state’s blessing. 

On Saturday, March 11, the Gastonia PD raided a private business for being a speakeasy, a private facility serving alcohol without a permit. The owner had committed no other transgression. There is no information on how much the undercover sting operation cost the taxpayers. In return, though, the police confiscated:

"... 19 individual packed jello shots valued at $95. They also got 21 bottles of wine ($250 value), ten spirituous liquor bottles ($300), 82 beers ($200), an Apple iPhone ($200), a $300 laptop, and a $200 Square card reader."

This is an explicit example of the government interfering with the ability of private citizens to run a business. Instead of being given the room to succeed or fail on her own merits, the owner of this business was criminalized by the local government. 

Like the hypothetical above, the point at which the ABC can assert dominion is extortionary in practice, and arbitrary at best. Can someone not charge for their time when purchasing alcohol that’s distributed to others? What about charging for a party but serving alcohol for free? Or even buying someone drinks as repayment for something? 

Getting a liquor license is time consuming, expensive, and unnecessary, but it’s used as another way for the state to make money (nearly $23 million last year). If a license is granted, it puts that business under much more tax scrutiny than similar businesses, and holds them subject to ABC visits and pressures from appointed bureaucrats. Further, changes to regulations around alcohol production and consumption during quarantine proved how arbitrary and meaningless these restrictions are.

As governor, I will not watch the state close businesses and arrest people for “crimes” that have no victim and often provide benefits to the surrounding community. Nor am I willing to put police officers at risk by inserting them into situations or environments to enforce laws which exist solely to protect the interests of unelected government bodies. I will begin this by unwinding the corrupt ABC system on day 1.

I will ensure that your hard-earned dollars are used to stop actual violent crimes against person and property, while getting the government out of the way so you can earn more dollars without ridiculous state intervention. This is the core of my Liberty and Prosperity plan, to see all of North Carolina flourish under the simple idea of freedom.

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