Friday, January 16, 2015

Lewis Black lays it out in Madtown

Isthmus has an interview with the always-great Lewis Black in advance of his stand-up performance at the Barrymore later this month.

Here’s Black’s version of the State of the Union.
Is it tough to find new things to yell about?
Oh, not anymore. If anger was fuel, I could power China. Every time you think there's nothing left to talk about, there are six more things. We have all the trappings of a goddamned banana republic. In the midst of discussions of racism and torture, you get a half-assed budget, so the government can survive that somehow makes things worse.
And here’s Lewis Black sizing up our fair Governor.
I'm not angry at Scott Walker. I'm angry at the person who told Walker that he should run for president. A lot of idiots think they should be president. It's the people who support the idiots and say "yes, you should!" that really concern me.
Exactly. I don’t blame politicians and paid hacks for peddling their well-debunked bullshit (although I do hate their cynicism), I blame the gutless rubes that actually keep voting for it!

And it’s never a complete discussion on Lewis Black discussing the "quiet charms of Wisconsin" without giving you this classic bit (language NSFW).


  1. Jake,
    Lewis Black's bit on WI and drinking reminded me of one of the things that surprised me in the 2014 AFR report… The State of WI only collects $9million in beer excise tax each year, and it appears to be on a slightly downward trajectory. Obviously, brewers/distributors/taverns are a huge lobbying power in the state, but I would think with all the beer consumed in WI that some meaningful revenue could be generated there. Would be interested to hear your thoughts on this at some point.

  2. I've generally supported a beer tax increase, not only for revenue reasons, but also as a method of reducing the low-price advantage macrobrewers have over our state's many small and emerging brewers.

    Also worth noting is that our beer tax is based on volume (barrels) as opposed to price or other factors. Yes, the state collects sales tax on top of the beer tax, but maybe linking it into price is another method to maintain or get revenues from it, because with higher quality and higher alcohol content comes less of a need to buy large quantities. I know I've certainly gone that route more.

  3. Hadn't thought about the micro/macro-brew pricing issue.

    This spurred me to take a look thru the LFB Informational Paper #8 (thank you for pointing these out in an earlier blog post!!), and pg. 14 has a state-by-state comparison, showing us as #3 lowest rate in the country (interesting that Colorado and Missouri are also at the bottom of the list):

    I see there's already a tax credit for small producers (<300k barrels/yr), so one could keep that in place and raise the tax on macros to 3- to 5-cents per 12-oz beer (~$10-16/barrel)… and we'd be in the mid 8-figures for tax revenue and slightly raising the price of the cheapest beer, probably boosting sales of microbrews. Nice!

    Now I'll pivot 180-degrees… Assuming the above scenario can't be accomplished politically, is it even worth the current $9million to bother with administering and collecting the beer tax?

    What would you think of Dems (as part of a larger progressive tax platform) running on eliminating the beer tax altogether? Don't think it would take much of an increase on the highest income tax bracket to offset $9mil. Hate to be cynical, but I imagine that might get some folks excited about voting and/or shift some contributions our way.

    Thanks for spitballing with me on a saturday afternoon. Cheers!