The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

15 March 2005

WA: Seattle Times Loves Government Control of Everything

Why, Oh Why, Is Washington in the Liquor Business?

What's more of an outdated relic than government-run liquor stores? Aren't the 1930s over and done with?

In Washington state, the agency that runs the liquor store monopoly actually has a stated social mission, to discourage consumption of hard alcohol as much as possible, via government control and regulation. How should this be Olympia's job?

The Liquor Control Board has had its share of scandals, as well. We'll save that for another discussion.

It's big-government liberal puritanism (a strange combination that's commonly found in the Northwest) at work, keeping state liquor stores closed on Sundays, by decree. The other way they "regulate" consumption is through outrageous prices.

They've made so that even if you're just an occasional drinker, it would be insane not to pick up something at BC duty free shops before returning to Washington state. The prices can be 40-50% lower, even with the current crappy exchange rate. The selection is sometimes better too.

And high prices and closed stores send Washington shoppers over other borders, in some cases, for those living within driving range.

Liberals love to regulate your social behavior to suit their desires and Washington's state-run liquor stores give them real power over its citizens.

In comes the Seattle Times, predictably there to provide a condescending defense of Olympia, the way it always does, this time with excuses for limited store hours.

It's the kind of paper only "Governor" Gregoire could love.

(Seattle Times)

WASHINGTON state can live without Sunday sales of hard liquor to perk up revenues for the state treasury.

This tax-generating scheme is rooted in the optimism of a three-martini lunch. Two bills in Olympia would have the state Liquor Control Board open 20 of the 160 state-owned liquor stores to Sunday sales for at least five hours. Some language talks about a noon opening. The bills also give the 154 contract liquor stores the option of Sunday sales.

The goal of House Bill 1367 and Senate Bill 5487 is to make the liquor stores a churning cauldron of tax receipts through relaxed advertising, in-store merchandizing and Sunday hours.

This change has been attempted before and it usually dies without fanfare, as it should again.


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