Opinion

Keep liquor sales in state’s hands

RE: “State should get out of the booze business,” Michael Reitz, Guest Column, May 29.

State control over the sale of hard liquor has served the people of Washington well for more than 70 years. Instead of letting any grocery or corner mini-mart sell hard liquor, we wisely sell this product at an appropriate number of state- controlled stores, with limited hours and experienced staff.

These state stores have no advertising and no incentive to sell more liquor. And they have employees with an average 17 years of experience — just one reason why there are far less alcohol sales to minors than other stores.

I wholeheartedly agree the private sector is the place for most merchandise to be sold — be it tires or loaves of bread. But I think we can all agree hard liquor is not like a tire or a loaf of bread.

It is a product that, in the wrong hands, can be dangerous and cause serious health and public safety concerns, especially if sold to minors.

And the public benefits from the $100 million in profit each year from controlled liquor sales.

Certainly there are some who would benefit if those profits went to a private retailer. But the taxpayers would be the loser.

This money currently goes to support all sorts of state and local programs for the people of the state.

Despite claims the state should dismantle the system of liquor control, there is no outcry from the public.

Those who claim we should deregulate the state liquor control have the same mindset as those who pushed for deregulation of Wall Street and the banking systems that helped lead to our current economic crisis.

The fact is, some things are good to regulate — mortgages, buying and selling of stocks, and liquor are three of them.

Selling liquor at the local corner convenience store is not a new idea, just a bad one. The public is not clamoring for selling hard liquor next to Cheerios or in every mini-mart — and for good reason.

In some cases it is better to have some level of government control. The sale of liquor is not something that should be deregulated.

This question has been studied, researched and rejected by former Republican and Democratic governors alike.

The answer is the same today. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Keep the system running that works to protect public safety and works to curb alcohol abuse.

DAVE SCHMITZ

President,

United Food & Commercial Workers

Local 21

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