Does the Liquor Tax Pay?
There is one standard of value in the business world of our country, by which all things are measured. Whatever meets the requirements of this standard, the capitalist community endorses, an dit finds it s way to popular favor, even when repulsive and undesirable in itself. Whatever is short of these demands, when measured by the business standard, is condemned, even when it possesses intrinsic worth. “Will it pay?” is asked of any enterprise that comes up for adoption. “Does it pay?” is the searching inquiry propounded to any new business that has been inaugurated. If, after a fair trial, it appears that the cost of the business exceeds its profits, and that this must be its permanent status, never to be remedied, it is abandoned. We say, “there is no money in it.”
This evening, I propose to measure this liquor traffic of the nation by this one standard. It calls itself grandiloquently, “the largest and most profitable industry of the United States.” Let us see if it can make its boasting true. “Does it pay?”
In the first place, what does the liquor traffic cost the country in money? The Chief of the National bureau of Statistics at Washington is a United States official, who is appointed by the national government, and whose facts are facts, for he is sworn to tell the truth. From this department, we learn the the drink bill of the United States is nine hundred million dollars annually. That is, the people of the country drink alcoholic liquors, every year, to the amount of nine hundred million dollars. This statement is…
Source: Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice, The story of my life, or, The sunshine and shadow of seventy years … with hitherto unrecorded incidents and recollections of three years’ experience as an army nurse in the great Civil War, and reminiscences of twenty-five years’ experiences on the lecture platform … to which is added six of her most popular lectures … with portraits and one hundred and twenty engravings from designs by eminent artists … Hartford, Conn. A.D. Worthington & Co., 1897, 698-712.