Moonshine is, of course, against the law. Moonshine is also not impossible to find in Philly if you head to North Philly neighborhoods with a decent amount of first-generation arrivals from the South (bars with backrooms, yadda yadda yadda…). But why is moonshine illegal? Slate attempts to answer the question. It all comes down to economics:
Because the liquor is worth more to the government than beer or wine. Uncle Sam takes an excise tax of $2.14 for each 750-milliliter bottle of 80-proof spirits, compared with 21 cents for a bottle of wine (of 14 percent alcohol or less) and 5 cents for a can of beer. No one knows exactly how much money changes hands in the moonshine trade, but it’s certainly enough for the missing taxes to make a difference: In 2000, an ATF investigation busted one Virginia store that sold enough raw materials to moonshiners to make 1.4 million gallons of liquor, worth an estimated $19.6 million in lost government revenue. In 2005, almost $5 billion of federal excise taxes on alcohol came from legally produced spirits.
[Image via Washington City Paper]