Washington State Frees Liquor Sales: some quick thoughts
I hate to let an increase in liberty go by without a little celebration.
For the past 78 years, Washington State has had a set of (effectively) state-operated liquor stores, with identical pricing and inventory. Today, that system is gone, replaced by private liquor sales. The law was overturned by a ballot initiative, heavily backed by Costco.
This is an interesting experiment in letting a little chaos emerge. Unfortunately, it’s not really a transition to a free market, since there are all sorts of licensing restrictions on who may trade in the demon rum. However, there will initially be about 5 times as many legal retailers as were previously present.
The transition is going to be messy. There’s lots of licensed retailers who haven’t obtained inventory. There’s a thousand people who were voted out of their jobs. Change is often messy.
After the transition, I expect prices will be roughly the same because of taxes and fees. What I expect will be much better is the selection and variety, especially of locally produced products from folks like Oola and Pacific Distillery [link to http://www.washingtondistilleries.com/woodinville/pacific-distillery/voyager-gin no longer works]. Many of those businesses were seriously inhibited by the complex and chummy system that was present.
I also expect surprise and look forward to it.
So raise a toast to the slow unwinding of a very silly system of prohibition.