Via Instapundit (and numerous other places), comes this video from the libertarian outfit, Reason. Apparently, Virginia’s new governor, Bob McDonnell, has elected to take the leap and privatize the state’s liquor stores.
I was raised in Georgia, where liquor store have always been private operations, at least in my lifetime. When we moved to Ohio, the stores here were government operations, just like Virginia’s are now. The stores here were, if possible, even more bland and boring than the one shown in the video above. The selection, even to my then pretty unsophisticated eye, was pathetic. The employees were, frankly, deserving of daily beatings for their customer service.
In the early 1990’s, Governor Voinovich browbeat the legislature into a sort of privatization of liquor retail operations. While the state still owns package stores’ inventory, the marketing and merchandising are a private sector concern now. While which items are available statewide are still at the mercy of the Liquor Control Board, the breadth of offering that you can actually find has improved greatly. (Don’t get me wrong, booze sales in Ohio still suck, just not as much as they did when the state ran the whole shebang.)
Just before two minutes into the video, the narrator utters the money quote:
While the state may raise more money, the real benefit will go to consumers.
The argument for privatizing liquor sales in Virginia, as it was in Ohio, was couched in the potential cost savings and potential revenues for the state government. Nice, but it shouldn’t be the real issue. The state exists to serve the people. The actions the government takes should first consider the betterment of service to private citizens.
It’s a no-brainer choice. Why is it that so many times, the no-brainer choice is so hard to get accomplished? I hope Governor McDonnell manages to get this one through, and the people of Virginia are allowed a broader choice and competition for their drinking dollar.
Elsewhere in the Cocktailosphere, Marshal has additional thoughts in a more industry-minded vein at Scofflaw’s Den