Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This Should Be A No Brainer

Yes! Upon Odin's one eye, privatize the ABC Stores!

Why is the Commonwealth of Virginia doing in charge of these stores to begin with? Besides the obvious. They want the money from the sales and, more importantly, the ability to control the public's access to the stores.
The governor's plan for privatizing liquor sales was endorsed yesterday by all members of his commission on government reform, except for three Democratic legislators who think it will hurt the state budget and lead to more underage drinking.

McDonnell, speaking after the commission vote, said he will soon decide whether to call the assembly into special session next month to vote on his plan for privatizing liquor and other reforms recommended by the special panel he appointed.
[. . .]
McDonnell defended his decision to drop proposed taxes in his plan and abandon an assurance made in his gubernatorial campaign that a privatized liquor industry would generate at least as much money for the state as ABC.

"I said it would be substantially equivalent," he said. "I think we're in the ballpark."

The political challenge for the governor is building enough support to overcome opposition by Democrats, as well as concerns among Republicans about the loss of revenue in tight budget times; the potential social consequences of ending state control of liquor sales; and the fierce opposition of wine and beer wholesalers.
If the Democrats and some of the Republicans are concerned about revenue, the private sector can do a much better job of selling booze than the state government can. Private stores will have more access for the public, better hours and many stores already deal with selling beer and wine. What's one more shelf item that has the same restrictions? And the state will still collect whatever sales tax from the transactions of selling alcohol.

There will be the added benefit in savings. The state won't have to operate the ABC stores. Let the private store worry about personal and the liabilities running a liquor store. The privates store will have better hours and the ability to specialize for the area. Meaning more sales and more sales tax.

Private stores can customize their inventory. Places in Petersburg will stock up on malt liquor in 40 ounce bottles while stores in Midlothian will have Grey Goose and Maker's Mark in stock. Location.

As for the strawman about "For The Children"? Again, many stores already sell beer and wine. Teenagers will drink Natty Light if they get their hands on it. It's not going to change their behavior. Wanting to go out on a Friday night and get drunk at a party can't be legislated away.

Why Virginia has taken on the responsibility of selling liquor when they can just as easily pass it onto the public and still receive the same benefits from the revenue is beyond me. Especially when you consider that beer and wine is already being sold in private stores. Government should be a regulatory agency, not retail. It's not about access to booze but principles of the free market.

I shouldn't have to close with this, really, but it's common sense.

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