Wandering Eye: Declining alcohol sales in Maryland, Vermont tries a Latin motto with hilarious push-back, and more

The Maryland Taxpayers Association has raised an interesting point about Maryland's 2011 alcohol sales-tax increase from 6 to 9 percent, saying it has since dampened sales while leaving revenues flat. Similar concerns were aired in 2012 about declining Maryland booze sales after the tax was raised, prompting City Paper to wonder whether there might be coincidental explanation: law enforcers' crackdown on booze smugglers buying in bulk from Cecil County liquor stores near the Delaware line, and trucking the hooch to New York, where taxes are much, much higher. That crackdown continues, and state revenue records bear out the theory that it's hurt sales. Per-capita distilled-spirits consumption, a number calculated from sales volume, declined sharply in Cecil County between 2011, when it was a state-topping 6.9 gallons as the recent crackdown began, and 2014, when it was just shy of 3 gallons. Worcester County, on the Viriginia line, has seen some wild fluctuations too; its per-capita booze consumption went from 4.26 gallons in 2012 to 7.4 gallons in 2013—the state's highest by far—then down to 5.59 gallons in 2014. By comparison, Baltimore City's per-capita booze consumption has remained flat, ranging between 2.14 gallons and 2.35 gallons between 2009 and 2014. The Cecil County numbers, though, raise the distinct possibility that enforcing the law, along with the sales-tax hike, has hurt sales. (Van Smith)


One of the most important things to know in life is the answer to this question: Am I talking to an 11-year-old Ayn Rand fanboy or is this a duly elected Republican United States senator? Let's say your interlocutor claims that he—or anyone—ought not have to wash their hands after taking a dump because "the market will take care of it." If you guessed "boy wiseass," better wise up, according to the Washington Post piece. (Edward Ericson Jr.)


We here at Baltimore's most Latinate alternative weekly were amused to see a story in the Vermont Political Observer about the responses to a Vermont senator's attempt to give that state a Latin motto (at the suggestion of an eighth-grader). The motto: "Stella quarta decima fulgeat" ("Let the 14th star shine bright"). As anyone who has ever visited the Baltimore Sun's site knows, internet comment boxes decrease one's IQ tenfold, so when a local station ran a story on the new motto, the comments assumed the motto was Spanish and referring to Latin America, eliciting such gems of wisdom as this one from Julie Kellner: "No, you a USA citizen!.. Learn & understand the language!!!." Or this one from Dorothy Lynn Lepisto: "I thought Vermont was American not Latin? Does any Latin places have American mottos?" Perhaps this Catullus poem (97) can become the official motto of all comment boxes:

In te, si in quemquam, dici pote, putide Victi,
id quod uerbosis dicitur et fatuis.
ista cum lingua, si usus ueniat tibi, possis
culos et crepidas lingere carpatinas.
si nos omnino uis omnes perdere, Victi,
hiscas: omnino quod cupis efficies. (Baynard Woods)

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