Unclear on the Concept

One of my favorite cartoonists is Joe Martin’s Mr. Boffo, his omnipresent, hapless, everyman who is often featured as “unclear on the concept.”

Part of the problem Maryland is facing with its budget is that the legislature is really unclear on the concept of how business activity generates income and how taxes are derived from that income in all its permutations. A friend of mine on RedState coined the term “venture Marxists” to describe the illusion that somehow taxes are an “investment” or that the government “earns” money.

Take this editorial in today’s Examiner, for instance, on the Maryland wine industry:

The industry is growing, but remains tiny and will stay that way without
structural changes to the state’s laws. Last year sales at Maryland’s 26
wineries were $10.6 million, up from $8.9 million in 2005, according to the
Maryland Wineries Association.

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Except for a couple of exceptions, under Maryland law wineries must
sell to wholesalers, who then sell to retailers and restaurants, raising the
price of a bottle of wine at every step in the process. Maryland wineries can’t
ship wine to state residents and are limited to showing their wares at 12 events
throughout the state per year with no more than three in one jurisdiction.
Consumers can’t order wine from out of state and could be arrested for bringing
more than two bottles across state lines.

This is silly. Maryland’s taxpayers pay to growers to plant vines and to market the product. So we have a situation where we have boneheaded state laws which hamper the ability of Maryland vintners to sell the product that Maryland taxpayers pay them to market.

I’m by no means suggesting that the Maryland wine business will balance the budget, but this is a metaphor for the hostility to private enterprise, the love affair with government intervention, and the incapacity to comprehend basic economics that has caused the problem in the first place.

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