Before I came to live in Utah I was mostly a law-abiding citizen.
Is say "mostly" because you have to obey a bajillion laws and statutes just to drive a car. There's plenty of opportunity to break the traffic code even in semi-innocent ignorance. So, like an average citizen I occasionally get caught violating a traffic law. I say "occasionally" because the last time I paid a fine for a traffic violation was a quarter-century ago.
So, up until 1999 I scrupulously tried to come to a full stop at stop signs, didn't run red lights, drove within the speed limit, paid the taxes various governments claimed I owed, resisted the temptation to rob banks, and committed no axe murders. I used to be pretty close to living as a model, law-abiding citizen -- but not in Utah.
Here's what happened.
My wife and I drove to the United States of America to visit our children and grandkids. Then we drove back to Utah. After we returned we described our trip to our friends, including a report about some of our shopping. There were gasps, "You know that's against the law in Utah, don't you?" No we didn't. We had unknowingly committed a Class B misdemeanor.
It seems that driving to the United States of America, filling the back of your SUV with several cases of wine, and then crossing back into Utah without looking up a Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control official to have your vino inspected and taxes paid is bootlegging.
So now I was a misdemeanant.
My new criminal status gave me a satisfying sense of connection to my family's history. After what some in my father's clan refer to as The War of Northern Aggression, his grandfather was unemployed. That status was largely due to being a member of a class called "poor white trash" who could only get jobs looking after other people's property, including slaves.
But in true American entrepreneurial spirit, my unemployed ancestor turned to light manufacturing. His product was produced out in the woods in stills and was sold to his customers without benefit of paying taxes to the despised Federal government. But he was only a semi-successful moonshiner. One day he up and stole the whole pot of the businesses' proceeds from his partners and fled west. His victims pursued him across the country for a while, but finally let him go. They figured that life in Emery County, Utah, was far worse than anything they had in mind for him.
It turns out I am surrounded by 21st century bootleggers. Just last night I was in the kitchen at church amid a bustling crew who were setting up for Maundy Thursday worship. There on the counter was an illicit bottle of Two Buck Chuck, the value-priced Charles Shaw table wine only available at Trader Joes. You see, the vast majority of the members of my congregation are not from Utah. These Christians routinely travel to the free regions of our country and bring back bottled contraband. Some even fill orders for friends and neighbors.
Very simple. The grocery, department, and liquor stores in the United States of America have products that are simply not available at Utah's socialist DABC stores. Moreover, even with a Presbyterian bootlegger's transportation costs figured in, beer, wine, and Old Stump Blower purchased in the United States of America will be about 25 percent cheaper than the same item at a Utah socialist DABC store.
So, it's no surprise to me that Utah's socialist DABC stores are profitable. Like all socialistic monopolies, the DABC can overcharge with impunity. What's bizarre is the Utah Legislature's feckless plan to further restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages by closing DABC outlets.
Of course the smart thing for our Republican-dominated state government to do would be to abandon their socialistic approach and allow free enterprise to handle the overhead costs and tax collection for alcoholic beverage sales. That's how it's done in the United States of America.
I would be among the thousands of Utahns who would be grateful to be liberated from our smuggler's misdemeanant status. However, that won't end my alcohol-related crimes. I have this habit of offering wine to minors several times a month.
You can catch me at it every Sunday morning, so come and get me. Just be ready to repent.