MoonShining


My Goal:To have legislation passed that increases the penalties of moonshining.



I guess I'll start off with some info on moonshining. Moonshining is the illegal practice of distilling and selling spirits with an alcohol content greater than or equal to 40%. The reason this practice is illegal is because the liquor is so highly taxed; therefore when someone brews their own liquor they're depriving the federal government of large amounts of tax money.

I want to have harsher penalities dealt to these moonshiners! I say this because moonshiners could sell a faulty product to anyone; perhaps a tainted spirit, and get off scot-free because they're operating under the radar. I highly doubt anyone harmed from this substance would press charges though, considering they're buying an illegal substance. But if you do report them good luck proving it, for all you know they could have left the area already. There aren't any consumer rights protecting you from any ill-effects of moonshine, putting you at the mercy of the distiller.

Laws were made for a reason, and these criminals could jeopardize the welfare of anyone they sell this product to; therefore I'm against the practice of moonshining.

Famous Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton
Famous Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton


Taxes

My initial reaction to this article was surprise, I knew beer wasn't highly taxed, but I had no idea the tax on liquor was $2.14 while beer was only around 5 cents. This is fairly high because of an excise tax, which is a tax on products set by the government on specific products. Sometimes the government sets these taxes on products like alcohol or cigarettes to discourage consumers from using substances that could be harmful to their health. This makes the large tax on liquor make more sense, considering you're drinking a product that's 40%+ alcohol. I do however think this tax could be decreased by at least 20 cents; hopefully decreasing the amount of consumers who illegally buy moonshine/liquor.

external image marshall.jpg

I wouldn’t want to decrease this tax any further though, in order to prevent a large increase of liquor

purchases. I also wouldn’t want to decrease this tax any further because the profits received from this product could be used for many beneficial government projects and programs. Although, I’d like to see the penalties against moonshining increase in turn.






Source(s):
Tsai, Michelle. "Why Is Moonshining Against The Law?" Slate. 18 Oct. 2007. Web. 7 May 2012. <http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2007/10/why_is_moonshine_against_the_law.html>.

external image moonshine.jpg

Still Dangerous

While I agree with the author that today's hard drugs are more dangerous than moonshining, I still find that moonshining can be extremely dangerous to the health of those who consume it. I say this because on December 15, 2011 an article was released depicting the terrible casualties dealt to the civilians of West Bengal India by illegal moonshine vendors. Over 133 citizens were killed and at least 327 victims were hospitalized.

While moonshining may be innocent at heart, being rebellious and such, it can also be dangerous.It could be easy for a moonshiner to accidentally taint a batch, mistakenly poisoning and possibly hospitalizing or even killing an unsuspecting consumer. I'd imagine that many of these citizens figured it was just as safe and cheaper to buy the bootlegged alcohol; unfortunately it wasn't. Product quality is impossible to regulate considering moonshining is an illegal activity, so literally every time you open a bottle of moonshine you're risking your health and maybe even your life.

Are hard drugs worse today than they were 50 years ago? Probably, but that doesn't make moonshine a safer alternative.



Source(s):
Camfield, Tom. "Moonshine Liquor: The Old Days in P.T., Better or Worse?" Ptleader.com. 4 Jan. 2012. Web. 7 May 2012. <http://ptleader.com/main.asp?SectionID=218&SubSectionID=561&ArticleID=30693>.

Singh, Harmeet. "Moonshine Kills at Least 133 in India." CNN. 15 Dec. 2011. Web. 07 May 2012. <http://articles.cnn.com/2011-12-15/asia/world_asia_india-moonshine-deaths_1_moonshine-liquor-vendors-poor-villagers?_s=PM:ASIA>


What Makes Moonshine so Dangerous?

Well, for one thing, you have no idea where and how it was made. For all you know the "Brew Master" could have thrown a few additive ingredients into the mix. God forbid you're violently allergic to one of these ingredients. It's not like you could read the ingredient list, it's backyard moonshine! But there have been worse things found in moonshine, like manure. I wasn't surprised that some moonshine had some disgusting ingredients when I read this, considering these Moonshiner's have zero regulation. However I was shocked to see that these ingredients included: lye, rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, bleach, formaldehyde, embalming fluid, chemical fertilizers, and manure. Ew. The author of this health article also made a good point regarding the safety of the fermenting moonshine, mentioning that for all we know animals could have fell into this brew while it sat unguarded. But you couldn't have known. You could even go blind from moonshine made with rubbing alcohol!


Yummy Embalming Fluid
Yummy Embalming Fluid

Delicious!!

While you imagine the disgusting ingredients I'll define a few

Embalming Fluid: A compound used to preserve decaying bodies.

Manure: Take a guess.

Rubbing Alcohol: A poisonous 75-95% ethanol mixture. This is NOT consumable and can cause permanent injuries like blindness. It could even kill you!


Paying a two dollar tax for liquor doesn't sound too bad now, unless you like drinking manure and being blind.


Sources:
"Health Concerns and Moonshine." Health Concerns and Moonshine. Ibiblio.org. Web. 09 May 2012. <http://www.ibiblio.org/moonshine/drink/health.html>.
"What Is Rubbing Alcohol?" Wisegeek.com. Web. 9 May 2012. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-rubbing-alcohol.htm.


Moonshine and Nascar


The origins of Moonshining began around the Appalachians, with rebellious citizens who of course wanted to avoid the taxes that came with selling liquor. These rebels often suited up their liquor transportation vehicles with super-charged engines and ample space within the car to hide their moonshine. These cars were stealthy and fast; they appeared normal, but the inner workings of these cars were anything but. Eventually this practice of making souped-up cars out of ordinary vehicles evolved into Nascar, where multiple super-charged vehicles race one another around a track.

I found this article to be slightly informative, however I was disappointed by this post because I figured that it would be some radical writing on how Moonshine should be legal because it brought us the "Glory" of Nascar. I say this because it's a fansite/forum dedicated to wonderful Nascar, but I was wrong. There wasn't any crazy posts by others who read this article either. Oh well.

It's interesting to read that a popular sport was created from something that I've been campaigning against. Although, I always thought Moonshine and Nascar went together pretty well. I'm not a huge fan of Nascar, but it's probably the only positive thing that Moonshine brought us.

With that in mind here's a picture of a graceful Nascar fan.


external image take-5-nascar.jpg
Fantastic!


Source:
"Bootlegging Roots - NASCAR." Bootlegging Roots - NASCAR. Nascar Fansite. Web. 11 May 2012. <http://nascarfans.wetpaint.com/page/Bootlegging Roots>.

Discovery's "MoonShiners" Fake?


Now this article surprised me. I actually thought that this show was real. But Kathleen Shaw of Virginia said that this show was dramatized and no actual distilled liquor was being sold on show. Whaaaaaat? I always thought this show was ridiculous but I figured there was some truth to it. You always see those documentaries about drugs like narcotics, showing people using them on-air without getting in trouble. I just figured that the same deal was going on for the cast of moonshiners. But I guess I was being gullible.

Despite the fact that this show is somewhat "fake" I still found it to be interesting. This show was still somewhat informative though, depicting the practices that actual moonshiners use to avoid detection, allowing them to safely distribute their product to their consumers. What I didn't like is how anyone who watches this show could be given tips on how to get into the moonshining business. I remember watching how these so called "Moonshiners" dropped off their products and I thought: "Wow, that's really simple". What if someone else had that same thought as me?What if he actually tried going into moonshining? Well thanks to "MoonShiners" he learned practices that could help him become a successful moonshiner.

It's still a great show. I just think it's a little too informative.
MoonShiners
MoonShiners




Source: Seidl, Jonathod. "Is New Discovery Show ‘Moonshiners’ Exaggerated and Dramatized?" Theblaze.com. 30 Dec. 2011. Web. 15 May 2012. <http://www.theblaze.com/stories/is-new-discovery-show-moonshiners-exaggerated-and-dramatized/>.

Tougher Laws


We need tougher laws against moonshiners, not only are they evading taxes but they are evading common decency. Some of these distillers stupidly throw dangerous ingredients into their brew. Anyway, in this article Roger Smith was arrested for owning illegal distilling equipment, along with manufacturing moonshine, but he was given a fairly light punishment. My reaction? Pissed.

Roger was only given a maximum of one year of jail. Maximum, meaning that he could be given a lesser sentence, with a possibility to get out early, despite the fact he obviously had the intention of selling moonshine. He was also given a 4000 dollar fine.
This seems like an incredibly light punishment, considering how dangerous moonshining can be, for all we know he'll probably start again after his sentence.

Moonshine still
Moonshine still




My opinion: That anyone caught moonshining or having an illegal still setup should be sentenced to a minimum of 5 years in jail. Of course the punishment would be higher depending on the scale of their operation, but I feel that a minimum of 5 years should be required.


Source:
Measley, Travis. "Man Accused of Making Moonshine." The Eagle. Eagle Staff, 2 Nov. 2011. Web. 17 May 2012. <http://www.theeagle.com/local/Man_accused_of_making_moonshine>.


Why is moonshine so profitable?


It's fairly profitable for many reasons. Moonshine is unregulated, tax free, and cheap after awhile. Surprisingly an article I found told me how cheap moonshining could be. In Virginia, moonshine can be sold by the distiller for just about 5 dollars. Which is incredibly cheap compared to the average bottle of whiskey. It's surprising how long moonshining has been a part of Virginia, but a majority of the moonshiners arrested are over 60 which I thought was very odd. But it makes sense if you think about it, they've probably done this their entire lives.

I was also surprised about how big of an operation they were running in this one particular moonshining ring. The exact number wasn't given, but it was said to be a multi-million dollar operation. With enough ingredients being purchased to create over 1 million gallons of the product, which is insane. How did it take this long for them to notice? How hard is it to find these stills? It shouldn't be that hard, considering that the stills they found could hold up to 800 gallons of the illegal substance.
Imagine if someone sold a gallon of this stuff for 10 dollars each. They'd make 8,000 dollars, just off that batch.

Wow.



Now imagine a still that could hold 800 gallons.
Now imagine a still that could hold 800 gallons.


Source:
Libaw, Oliver. "Illegal Moonshine Is Still Flowing." ABC News. ABC News Network, 07 Apr. 0000. Web. 17 May 2012. <http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=91768>.