Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bob, Jack and Albert

Last week, The Washington Post ran this story on Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's plan to privatize Virginia's state run liquor stores. McDonnell envisions a one time profit from the sale of $300 million to $500 million. The profit would be used for road improvements in the Commonwealth. At first glance, and disregarding how one might feel about a state government being in the business of distributing and selling liquor, this may sound like a good idea. But upon further review, this may be one of the most assanine fiscal ideas in state history.

The Post article states Virginia's liquour stores showed a profit of $248million in fiscal 2009. That number was almost $14 million higher than the 2008 profit. (As we all know, alcohol sales are immune to dips in the economy. One might even be able to argue that alcohol sales go up when the economy is in a downturn.) With profits running at that rate, McDonnell's planned sale of the stores would do nothing more than provide one to two years of profits in a one time payment to the State. Additionally, the large ongoing profit stream would be gone and only be partially replaced by taxes on the liquor sales, which could probably be estimated at $25 million per year based on taxes collected on liquor sales in Maryland (see the Post article).

As to the $300 million to $500 million being used to improve roads, that funding is just a drop in the bucket compared to the billions of dollars needed to improve roads and transportation in Virginia. For example, a $300 million inflow would be enough money to complete three and a third road projects such as the 2.5 mile widening project on I-66 between the Route 234 bypass and the Route 29 exit in Gainesville, which cost $90 million. Even with a healthy dose of matching federal funds, the profit from the sale of liquour stores wouldn't go far in paying for road construction projects. Here's hoping the Virginia state legislature has the good sense to kill this idea. If it does, I may toast them with a sip of Jack Daniel's.

Speaking of Jack Daniel's, a bottle of which was used as an example of what Virignia, Maryland and D.C. make per liquor sale in the Post story, a friend of mine emailed some friends and me the story I'm about to tell.

Much has been made lately of the fitness test the Washington Redskins required DT Albert Haynesworth to pass prior to taking part in training camp. The requirements of the test are that Haynesworth had to run a pair of 12 back-and-forth 25-yard sprints in 70 seconds each, with a 3 1/2 minute break in between. After the requirements and Haynesworth's repeated failures hit the headlines, it seems everyone and their grandmother set out to see if they could past the test. One of those who tried is my friend and former softball teammate, Billy. Let me preface Billy's story by saying he is a former college baseball player, in his upper 40's and in far better shape than most anyone I know who is that age. Here is Billy's take, in his own words, on the test from the night he attempted it:

Okay, so this whole Haynesworth thing is pissing me off. I decided at 11pm after 2 Jack n' Cokes and a huge plate full of Beef Ribs and Mac n' Cheese that I'd go to the football field at Madison High School with my stop watch and see how hard this can be. As Cody, my dog, as my witness, I was able to accomplish this feat, but just barely. I know that I don't weigh 360 pounds, but I thought the belly full of ribs, Mac n' Cheese and 2 tall Jack n' Cokes and a dog running by my side jumping up and biting my arm every 15 yards because he thought I was playing some kind of dog game would offset the issue of a very large man. I ran the first twelve 25 yards in just under 70 seconds. The last 25 yards was not easy. Then, after the 3 1/2 minute rest, I ran the 2nd set in 67 seconds, but seriously I thought I was going to die. During the last 25 yards, my legs felt like they weighed a ton. It's now almost midnight, and I doubt that I'll fall asleep before 1am!!

Maybe that was Haynesworth's problem all along. He didn't have the proper fuel in him. I'm sure a couple of shots of Jack Daniel's, puchased at his local state owned liquor store would have loosened him right up.

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