Thursday, January 21, 2010

A brief meditation on the purpose of government

I noted this morning that Bob McDonnell has announced his plan to reopen nineteen rest stops around the Old Dominion. I also recall that in his inaugural address our governor said that he planned to sell or otherwise dispose of Virginia's ABC stores because running ABC stores is not a government function.

Can anyone explain to me why running rest stops (at an estimated cost of $7.5 million to $10 million this year alone) is a government function while running ABC stores (which contributes roughly $300 million to the Virginia General Fund every year) is not a government function?

I have a pretty good idea myself, but I'd really like to hear some conservatives defend these policies. Ready. Set. Go.


Mile66 said...

Well, rest stops at interstate highways are a provided service, and providing services cost money (not that you didn't know, right?), and services are an expected return for our tax money, as long as they are reasonable. ABC liquor stores are not providing a service, are the way the state government has been using for years to control alcohol distribution. Controlling/Deciding what sovereign citizens can or cannot buy is not exactly what governments are authorized to do. Anyway, government should not be in the retail business, leave that to private entrepreneurs, and through competition, quality of service will improve, at no cost (and actually a profit) for the State, and ultimately, for the tax payer.

J.C. Wilmore said...

Can you direct me to any part of the state constitution that supports your argument, or is your argument simply a projection of your political ideology?

Bob McDonnell made what amounts to a strict constructionist argument against ABC stores, but as far as I can see they same argument can be made against rest stops.

Then when you consider that we are in a tight budget situation and rest stops cost us a lot of money while ABC stores bring in a lot of of money, well, it makes little sense to open rest stops and close ABC stores.

J.C. Wilmore said...

And now that I think about it, by providing rest stops at no charge to travelers, aren't we taking money out of the pockets of gas station owners, hotel owners and other private entrepeneurs? And if someone stops to use the bathroom at a gas station, buys gas, and a cup of coffee don't they pay sales tax?

To use your own arguments, private gas station owners can provide the same services at no cost to the state and by paying for public rest stops aren't we unfairly competing against those private business owners while losing the sales tax revenue we would have gained if motorists had visited a private establishment?