Sour Mash, Bitter Man: or, Hit the road, Jack Daniel’s

By: Daniel Clark

If you read the label on a bottle of Jack Daniel’s (not that one happens to be handy), you’ll see that it’s made in “Lynchburg (Pop. 361).” Perhaps this should be updated to say, “at least one of whom is a raving Communist lunatic.” That person is Charles Rogers, a “concerned citizen” who has proposed a measure, passed by the Moore County Council (no relation to Michael), requesting permission from the Tennessee assembly for a referendum to impose a new “barrel tax” on the famous whiskey manufacturer.

Supposedly, Rogers wants the tax in order to pay for infrastructure projects, but he let the real reason slip when, according to an October 21st Fox News story, he explained, “We are entitled to more money from the only industry in the county. They created the image of this little old hamlet down here being the place where this fantastic whiskey is being made, and the people didn’t realize what was going on.” O, the exploitation!

Jack Daniel’s general manager Tommy Beam responded that the company is already heavily taxed, and that, being the county’s largest employer, it has expanded the tax base dramatically. The population of Lynchburg is now actually close to 6,000 (The 361 figure on the bottle is from the time that the label was trademarked, about 50 years ago). In addition, the distillery brings in an estimated 200,000 tourists every year. This demonstrates a point that ought to go without saying, which is that a successful industry is beneficial to the community in which it resides. Yet Rogers treats Jack Daniel’s as if it were a deadbeat, failing to pay its “fair share” to the local government.

If Rogers’ attitude sounds familiar, you’ve probably heard Massachusetts Democrat senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren lecture, with window-shattering shrillness, that each individual’s property belongs to everyone else. While angrily patronizing our nation’s producers (“You built a factory out there? Good for you!”), she grudgingly conceded that they may “keep a big hunk of it,” but scolded that they must “pay forward” the rest, as “part of the underlying social contract.”

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — Nobody!” she seethed. “You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.” Mind you, she’s not referring to some “too big to fail” bailout recipient here. She’s talking about the vast majority of business owners who either succeed or fail legitimately, and who already pay a disproportionately high percentage of the taxes.

Liberals like Rogers and Warren view society as a high school group project, and they’re the lazy kids who have no compunction about leeching a share of the credit from the kid who does all the work. What would they do, though, if all of a sudden, that one industrious kid was no longer there? Lynchburg may soon find out.

Dawson County, Georgia has sent a letter to Jack Daniel’s, asking the company to consider relocating to the town of Dawsonville. County Commissioner Gary Pichon expressed surprise to the Gainesville Times at the Tennesseeans’ treatment of their most productive citizens. “That they would try to extraordinarily tax them is shortsighted to me,” he said. “We’d love to have them.”

So now it’s put up or shut up time for Rogers, and whoever else in Lynchburg believes in Warren’s underlying social contract. If they truly believe that the whiskey maker is freeloading off their community, then they should be more than willing to say good riddance.

They won’t, of course. Once they’re faced with the reality of losing everything the business brings to their town, they’ll be forced to admit, however tacitly, that their underlying social contract is a lie. They don’t seriously think successful enterprises like Jack Daniel’s are indebted to government. They just want to tax them more for the simple reason that they want the money.

Big-government liberals love to sermonize about greed, but there’s nothing greedier than claiming an entitlement to ever-expanding percentages of other people’s earnings. What they don’t seem to understand is that the more money they take, the less incentive there is for the producers to earn it. If the people of Lynchburg destroy the incentive for Jack Daniel’s to do business in their town, they might as well be telling person #361 to turn out the lights.

Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.

About The Author Daniel Clark:
Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.

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