Across the border in Nebraska, Sheridan County Commissioners take public testimony tomorrow on liquor license applications for the four stores in Whiteclay that keep lots of Pine Ridge residents drunk.
Perhaps South Dakota taxpayers should send a delegation to testify against issuing the licenses:
South Dakota, where nearly all Whiteclay beer is consumed, doesn’t see a penny in tax receipts. Instead, every can consumed by South Dakota residents costs their state $1.59, according to a 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on a standard-size alcoholic drink, like a shot of whiskey or a 12-ounce beer, the CDC number takes into account all costs attributable to excessive drinking, including those in the health care, law enforcement and criminal justice systems as well as the cost of reduced workplace productivity.
But $1.59 is an average cost to South Dakota for each alcoholic beverage consumed in the state. Whiteclay alcohol is likely to carry an even higher price tag; at 24 ounces, cans of Hurricane and Camo Black Ice are twice the size of a standard beer and four times the alcohol content [Natasha Rausch, “Whiteclay’s Sales Cost Taxpayers Tens of Millions Annually,” Lincoln Journal Star, 2017.01.02].
Ah, externalities. Maybe while we fuss about taxing Internet sales (by the way, Amazon is collecting sales tax for 33 states and D.C. but not us), we should also be looking for a way to get Whiteclay beer sellers to pay South Dakota for the mess their $1.50 24-ounce cans of get-drunk-now make on their neighbors’ lawn.
Or maybe we should enlist the Dakota Access protestors to occupy Whiteclay, assert treaty rights, and help South Dakota and Pine Ridge annex the town. (By the way, on average, it’s 13°F warmer in January in Pine Ridge than up in Fort Yates.)