EDITORIAL: Stop taxing Oklahoma's best beverage
Our view: Moonshine made for personal consumption should not be penalized.
Agents of the Oklahoma state government arrested two men Jan. 4 in southeastern Oklahoma on suspicion of running an illegal moonshine operation. Because alcohol is not illegal, the charges boil down to failure to pay taxes and not having a license.
We think arresting people for boiling a clear liquid is ridiculous. Distilling moonshine for personal use is a God-given, American right. Our state government can stand up against oppressive federal restrictions by ending the moonshine tax in Oklahoma.
The Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission in Oklahoma says moonshine operations are on the rise, according to a report on npr.org in October 2012. The commission bases its assessment on anecdotal evidence because operations are difficult to detect.
Many operations are in southeast Oklahoma, where unemployment rates are the highest in the state.
Moonshining in southeast Oklahoma might be on the rise, but anyone familiar with that part of the state knows it’s nothing new. In 2006, another still was shut down in Pushmataha County. Our moonshining history in Oklahoma reaches back before statehood.
When Oklahoma was Indian Territory, federal law prohibited the sale of alcohol to Native Americans. When the state was opened to non-native settlers, operations serving alcohol were established along Oklahoma’s southern and eastern borders, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. The southeastern part of the state was nearest to Native American lands — the same area where moonshining is prevalent today.
But the wig-wearing politicians in Washington D.C. always have had a problem with moonshiners. Taxes and restrictions have been in place since the 1780s.
Our moonshining forefathers didn’t take liquor taxes lying down. The Whiskey Rebellion in 1791 was a response to a new tax on distilled spirits. The tax was implemented to help pay down the national debt; sound familiar?
The federal government eventually put down the rebellion, but the rebellion was one of the earliest examples of local resistance to federal taxation.
Making moonshine to sell is one thing, but taxing a product made purely for personal consumption is wrong. Would we tax a backyard vegetable garden or chicken coop making eggs?
Let’s kick the feds out of our bottles and make moonshine legal for personal consumption in Oklahoma without licenses or taxes.