Vote for Initiative 1183: privatize liquor sales
The Seattle Times editorial board supports Initiative 1183, to increase competition in wine and create a regulated private market in bottled liquor.
THE Seattle Times supports Initiative 1183, to close the state liquor stores and allow the sale of bottled spirits to adults older than 21 in stores like Safeway, QFC, Albertsons, Trader Joe's and Costco.
Not minimarts. That is a gross distortion by the anti-1183 campaign, which is trying to scare the people about the evils of alcohol. This campaign is cynically bankrolled by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Inc. and its state counterparts, who represent the very people who sell alcohol.
They are not worried about keeping you sober. They are worried about their profit margins if they have to deal with Safeway, QFC, Thriftway, Walmart, Costco, etc., instead of one placid customer, the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
Initiative 1183 is not about safety. It is an industrial dispute. It is about whether the state should be in the liquor business, and also whether it should have rules preventing price and service competition in the market for wine.
Most states are not in the liquor business. Washington got in it in 1934 partly to use a state monopoly to "control" liquor. That industry has come to enjoy the prison designed to contain it, and now spends more than $10 million on a political campaign to keep this state's rules just as they are.
The other reason for state liquor stores was to raise money for government. That is a legitimate reason. Government revenues would rise somewhat under I-1183, which is not a measure for cheap alcohol. More convenient, yes. Cheap, no.
Why do it, then? Because our state government has to stop doing things that are not necessary so it can focus on the things that are. Selling liquor is not necessary, and government is not particularly good at it.
It is true that alcohol is hazardous. So are prescription drugs. The state regulates them, but private merchants provide them.
That is the right formula for alcohol in the 21st century.
Vote yes on I-1183.
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