The Raleigh paper recently exposed some waste and abuse in the North Carolina state liquor monopoly. Sure, government liquor stores create problems, but the private profit motive for alcohol sales, like the private profit motive for marijuana sales, works against public health. My public health friends have understood that tendency since the Rockefeller Report preceding repeal of alcohol Prohibition.
Here’s a letter, just a beginning of a long argument, I wrote the author of the N&O article:
Dear Mr. Doran:
As one of the dwindling number of print subscribers, I applaud the N&O’s muckracking. But state liquor stores need reform, not dismantlement, I think.
Here are some results of the privatization of liquor retailing in Washington State – a result of a ballot initiative funded primarily by Costco:
“Cross-border sales are one lasting effect of the privatization of liquor sales in Washington. More than six years after voters passed Initiative 1183, forcing the government to relinquish its Prohibition-era monopoly on sales of spirits, many continue to feel pinched by higher prices – and some still look for deals out of state.
. . .
“Before privatization, Washington had nearly 330 liquor stores owned or operated by the government. Now there are more than 1,600 retailers across the state, and gone are the strict limitations on when liquor can be sold.
“The increased availability has enabled liquor sales to spike and then continue on an upward trajectory, despite rising prices.
“According to Washington’s Department of Revenue, retailers in the state sold more than 34 million liters in the fiscal year that ended in June, a 22 percent increase from fiscal 2012, before privatization.”
Youth use went down in Washington, but it went down nationally, too.
The RAND Report for Vermont goes into this issue in some detail.