June 22, 2010 2 Comments
COSTCO has gotten behind a voter initiative that would privatize liquor sales in the state of Washington. They had tables set out at stores, and after only 16 days, say that they have enough signatures to get it certified for the ballot this fall. If passed, it would eliminate state-run and state-contracted liquor stores. It would also eliminate the state-owned warehouse and distribution of liquor, allowing private businesses to exercise some free-market principles in meeting consumer demand. The industry would, however, still be heavily regulated, with licensing and permits being required to ensure that only responsible businesses are engaged in this trade.
According to page four of the Informed Voter Guide, published by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, state taxpayers subsidize the state with hundreds of millions of dollars for its warehousing and distribution of liquor. Operating costs alone run $120 million each year, with liquor taxes collected on top of that.
This is not a line of business that we need government involved in. It is a prohibition-era monopoly that has outlived its usefulness.
A resolution supporting the elimination of state and contract retail liquor stores, and allowing the sale of distilled spirits to be sold in grocery stores and other retail outlets as wine and beer is now sold; while also eliminating the state’s monopoly on the wholesale of distilled spirits and allowing private companies to wholesale liquor was approved by the Platform Committee of the Washington State Republican Party, and recommended as “Do Pass” to delegates at the Party’s recent convention.
Republicans are not the only ones that support the idea of privatizing liquor sales. Back in January, State Representative Kelli Linville, (D-Bellingham) Chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was asking her colleagues in the legislature to consider privatizing not only liquor sales, but also technology services and other functions within the state government. Unfortunately, the issue of liquor privatization did not make much headway in the legislature, as the entrenched interests in the current regime prevented its passage.
Thanks to the hard work of people at COSTCO and others, it looks likely that the issue will be certified for the ballot, so voters can make their wishes directly known, without the influence of lobbyists protecting special interests.
The Seattle Times: Wash. lawmakers, governor talk gov’t reforms
Evergreen Freedom Foundation: Informed Voter Guide