It’s pretty rare that Alabama makes the national news headlines, rarer still when it doesn’t revolve around the Crimson Tide (which is becoming the New York Yankees of college football), hate crimes, or rising obesity statistics. But that’s exactly what’s happened today, thanks to a story on Salon.com that is currently trending on Yahoo.
The story is entitled “Alabama’s Last No-Alcohol County, Votes Dry, Drinks Wet,” and it’s all about the very last dry county in Alabama (although there are still individual towns that are dry, like the backwoods burg I’m from, which has only been wet for a few years and has so many restrictions on alcohol sales, it might as well be dry), Clay County. I’m going to post a link to it now, because the whole thing really is worth a read.
It’s a study in clear yet unintentional hypocrisy. Many of the people against legalizing alcohol sales cite their reasons as (basically) “The lawd wouldn’t want me to, gawd is good!” And yet they also admit that they drink themselves, and it’s easy to drive across county lines and buy it. One man quoted——-Pastor Zenus Windsor (no, I’m not making that name up)—–says he drinks a glass of wine every night, “for health reasons,” but is opposed to making it legal to buy alcohol in his hometown. All together now: “Huh?”
My favorite two quotes from the article are the opening paragraph, which reads: “Clay County has almost 14,000 residents, around 100 churches and not a single place where you can buy a beer legally. There’s no Bud Light in the cooler at the corner convenience store and no fine wine for sale at the Piggly Wiggly supermarket. But bootleggers a few streets away will sell you a can of beer for $1.25.” A town with a hundred churches and not one place where you can buy a beer legally sounds less like “heaven” and a lot more like hell, although it does stick to the proud Alabama tradition of having ten times as many churches as restaurants, and a church-to-nightlife ratio of 100-to-1.
But my second favorite passage is buried deep into the article, and is actually the second to last paragraph: “With the highest unemployment in east Alabama and an economy built on farming and cabinetry shops, Clay County lacks a hotel or a chain restaurant. The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board gives the county about $315,000 annually to make up for the lack of alcohol revenues, said William Thigpen, associate administrator of the agency.”
That’s right, not only is one of the poorest counties in the state turning down alcohol revenue (whenever someone buys a drink, all the money from that is going out of the county, which could benefit from it), and they have no chain restaurants or hotels, but they are also getting 315,000 dollars a year to make up for not selling alcohol. A county that is too ignorant and unambitious to legalize alcohol properly and profit from it is able to somehow benefit from their lack of industriousness and ingenuity, by taking a clear handout from the government agency that regulates alcohol sales.
If that’s not hypocrisy, I don’t know what is. And that’s Alabama in a nutshell. A state that’s too “religious” to legalize a lottery (it’s one of five states that doesn’t sell lottery tickets, although all of the others have a booming casino or oil industry that makes up the no-lottery gap) that would send Alabama’s children to school, but oblivious to the fact that a third of all lottery tickets sold in Georgia are from Alabama residents, not to mention all the tickets sold in Tennessee and Florida to Alabama residents only an hour away from buying as many lottery tickets as they want.
When you make something “illegal” you’re really just turning down the money from it, and encouraging corruption, hypocrisy, and poverty. Colorado and Washington (who just legalized weed) will be doing big business from all the states around them that aren’t smart enough to legalize it yet. Alabama (and Clay County) would do well to understand that lesson.