January 15, 2010
Mrs. Gregoire: Purveyor of Liquor, Falsehoods
Mrs. Gregoire gave an interview to the P-I last week, pouring cold water on recent proposals in the legislature and by the State Auditor to privatize the state liquor stores.
It's hardly surprising that Gregoire would fight to protect the jobs of several hundred unionized public employees and their unfunded defined benefit pensions. But her stated reasons for opposing properly licensed but private sector liquor business is a mush of hysterical exaggeration and easily refuted fabrications.
Her answer to the State Auditor's proposed option of auctioning off a limited number of liquor franchises, as they did in West Virginia 20 years ago, was:
"This idea that we go the way of auctioning off, like West Virginia, let's be clear, you'll get rid of all your mom and pops," she said. "You'll have what they have, which is Rite Aid sells all liquor,
Hardly. An easy perusal of West Virginia's Retail Liquor licensees
shows that while Rite-Aid is the entity with the single largest number of franchises (43 / 166), it hardly "sells all liquor" in that state. It's clear from the licensee list that there are many entities, including small LLCs and individuals who own a single liquor franchise. A spokesman for the WV Alcohol Beverage Control Administration couldn't give me sales volume by franchise, but he did say that there were "many independent operators in the state who are doing quite well."
I think that many consumers would agree that it would be preferable to allow the market to determine the number and location of liquor licensees (as we do with licensed restaurants and wine shops) than to have the state auction off a small number of franchises per county as they do in West Virginia. But Gregoire argues against any form of privatization, and by making factually untruthful assertions and raising unfounded fears:
You look at our minor consumption sales - we're well below any state that has it privatized, by like 10 percent.
What are "consumption sales"? Is she talking about consumption by minors or sales to minors? I called the Governor's Office for clarification and documentation of that claim. I was referred to Brian Smith, communications director of the Washington State Liquor Board. He wasn't the source of the Governor's statement, and acknowledged that he didn't have any specific figures comparing underage purchases or consumption between Washington and any other state. But he tried to explain the Governor's statement by citing two loosely related facts: (1) the liquor board's own enforcement checks show that Washington state liquor stores have a 94% compliance rate at deterring underage attempts to purchase liquor, while its retail alcohol licensees have only a 74%- 84% compliance rate. So that's where Gregoire's "10%" supposedly comes from. (2) Smith attributed the comparison between Washington and privatized states to the claim that "adult alcohol consumption in states with state-controlled alcohol sales
is lower, on average, than in states without state control".
Whether or not that difference exists, or is statistically significant, let alone evidence of a causal link between a state monopoly and lower alcohol consumption is another question. But it has nothing to do with what Gregoire said about "minor consumption sales" being 10% "below any state that has it privatized". She just made that up. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite of what she implied.
According to the U.S. government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the rate of underage drinking in Washington state is 31.3%, higher than most states with non-state liquor sales and 9% higher than the national average of 28.8%. Underage binge drinking in Washington is 13% higher than the national average. Too bad Sarah Palin didn't say what Gregoire claimed, because then the P-I and Andrew Sullivan might have done the fact-checking before I had to.
More importantly, maybe the difference between state liquor stores and ordinary licensed retail liquor stores has no bearing on underage drinking after all.
Gregoire concluded by asking:
what are the social policy issues that are implicated here and is that the right direction?
Well, according to the National Institutes of Health
, West Virginia has the lowest per capita liquor consumption in the nation, just as they did before they allowed the Bartrug family of Hundred, WV (pop. 344) to sell vodka at the Old Hundred Liquor store.
And Washington's per capita liquor consumption slightly exceeds the national average, even though we're one of only 8 states where the government retains a monopoly on retail liquor sales -- in the guise of controlling consumption. We even drink more liquor per capita than they do in California, even though they can buy their booze in Safeway. Maybe the difference between a state liquor monopoly and ordinary licensed retail sales has no bearing on alcohol consumption and its negative side affects after all.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at January 15, 2010
12:20 PM | Email This
Either we should ban it outright, or allow people to freely buy and sell and trade it. It's really that simple.
Socialism is bad, even when it's applied to something I personally never plan on imbibing.
A few things---Mrs. Gregoire is full of BS. Flat-out lying. You will NOT have big stores only selling liquor. I grew up in California, where we did not have govt. liquor sales. What we DID have is---yes--a lot of mom & pop type places selling it. Everywhere. I didn't even like it, to tell the truth. I differ from many here in this area of preference---I had never seen the clean, non-seedy booze stores like here in WA down in CA. I have to say I prefer them to the seedy places I saw all over the landscape in CA.
OTOH, I completely disagree that the only reason to keep state control of liquor sales is to protect state workers, as Ms. Gregoire apparently sees it. That's all wrong. It should simply be what serves the citizens best. She should stop lying.
This state headed by the Queen herself has a serious cognitive dissonance problem. On one hand (not the least of which was to protect her tribal money interests) she made sure that the pretty mundane act of gambling on line became a Class C felony in this state while she's peddling her wares of problem gambling (lotto and scratch) and problem drinking (hard liquor) at state-run liquor stores.
Anyone see a disconnect here?
4. I fail to see how state controlled stores versus private liquor stores has any effect on "problem drinking". Anyone who can buy it from a state store, can buy it from a private store just the same. If the issue is underage attempts to purchase, then just have a strict policy of enforcement using undercover test subjects. A lot cheaper than paying state employees to run everything.
I'm down here in Huntington Beach this week for a trade show... Walking around the Albertson's on Beach Boulevard, it's shocking the number of catatonic drunk kids I have to step over to enter the store.
Oh wait, there aren't any. And it was so convenient to buy some vodka when I picked up the crab and other ingredients for dinner tonight...
6. Not Surprised can you say Seat change (in 2012 if not sooner lets make sure Lisa Brown is amoung that magical #!!
I think this is a fantastic idea to raise short-term revenue for the state. What possible argument can there be against it?
I've never lived in a state with state-run liquor stores before, and the concept still amazes me. Trust me though: it works just fine when regular people sell it.
8. The number one reason the state control of the liquor sales and stores will never change is that it's a huge source of appointments and jobs that the governor and his/her party give as political favors great and small. My best friend spent 12 years working for the liquor board staff and it was an open secret. The best jobs are however the distillery representatives. While not government employees, they have to be "approved" by the board (all appointed by the governor). Each savvy distillery reviews the who-who's of the party in charge and submit a list of names for consideration. This goes back and forth until they hit upon the name they are thinking of but never come out and say of course who they want it to go to. These jobs pay huge $ and have very little to do (mostly because they are so limited by laws in Washington [one tasting event per year, only so much product used, etc]). These events are done by the board "in executive session" so hardly anyone outside of the board knows what really goes on.
9. The package store at the NAS Whidbey Island Main Exchange was always a good place to screw the state when the other clone, booth gardner was in the gov hole in Olympia.
Wow, what a lot of blather, all to backhandedly confirm what Governor Gregoire said. Why not just admit she was right, and avoid these many contortions?
So that's where Gregoire's "10%" supposedly comes from.
Yes, amazingly enough, 94% - 84% = 10%. (Note that Governor Gregoire was erring on the side of caution; she could have claimed 15%, or even 20%, without exaggerating.)
According to the U.S. government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the rate of underage drinking in Washington state is 31.3%,...
Here's where the author of the post confuses two completely different sets of statistics. Gov. Gregoire, despite the author's (feigned?) confusion, was clearly talking about sales of alcohol to minors, over the counters of liquor stores. The National Survey is about consumption, without any reference to how the minor obtained the alcohol. (When I was a minor, my parents bought beer for me. Thus, there was no illegal sale of alcohol to me, but I did illegally consume it -- just as the disparity between 10% and 31.3% here suggests.)
Now, had the author read Sound Politics' recent post about heathcare, he would know the huge role economic incentives play in human behavior -- the very act of paying an insurance premium helps to determine intimate personal choices, according to that post. Now, who has more incentive to sell alcohol illegally: a union employee at a state-run store, who could lose his well-paying job with benefits, or a minimum-wage employee with no benefits at a private store? That's the driver behind the 10-20 per cent difference the Governor accurately stated.
So, is the confusion here feigned, or the result of chronic heavy alcohol use?
Hmmmmm, according to my recollection private retail businesses already sell beer and wine in Washington State. They are also monitored for legal compliance by the State. If we already have inspectors checking for legal compliance with regard to beer and wine sales, why can they not also do the same with regard to hard liqor sales?
In my experience with the the private sector, if an employee sells tobacco or alcohol products to a minor it is grounds for immediate termination. That was pretty strong motivation not to sell alcohol and tobacco to minors.
I was an 18 year government employee and though it may be hard for reds to comprehend, there actually are union member dirtbags employed by the state who actually do bad things while on the job. I can think of a union turd who was shooting up in stairwells while on the job.
Instead of subsidizing union jobs and incoveniencing the public, we should end the state liqor monopoly in Washington State.
Bottom line: Gregoire and Tensor only want public welfare for liberal union goons. They don't give a rat's behind for kids or substance abuse. It's all about, and always has been about, AFSCME and SEIU jobs.
12. I can't help but notice that Queen Christine gave the interview to an online publication, most likely in hopes that exposure of her lies would be to a minimum. So much for transparency and open government. I can't tell which Washington is emulating the other in defecating on the citizens.
@3 Rick D,
The only reason for criminalizing online gambling is that the state can't get any tax revenue from the offshore sites. It was and is never about protecting the public, only about increasing the governmental revenue streams.
Eventually we'll see marijuana made legal in this state, and the outlet for sales will most likely be through the state-owned liquor stores.
As far as legalization is concerned, I'm totally in favor of it. It's about time we realize pot is not going way, and people will choose to enjoy whether or not the government approves. The rational thing to do, at this point, is to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. It's not a substance for kids, for sure, but it's not the end of the world as we know it. Marijuana has been around for millions of years, and people have a right to enjoy this substance should they choose to do do. If you don't like it, then, by all means, don't use marijuana.
15. Starve the beast, shop out of state.
Politically Incorrect --
I have no objection to legalizing marijuana, even though I have zero interest in using it myself.
But if it's legal, restricting its sale through government liquor stores makes no more sense than restricting the sale of beer, Kahlua or cigars through government liquor stores. If the citizens want marijuana to be legal, but the sales controlled more than beer or cigars, then why not sell it through pharmacies, who are already licensed and trusted to sell highly regulated prescription drugs -- including ones that have a potential for abuse, such as opium.
Your idea would work with me. I support full legalization of marijuana. The distribution channel can be any number of methods. Whatever works is fine with me.
To all the retards who think legalizing pot is a good idea consider my former college roommates view:
"I grow and sell pot illegally now and have for years- the government doesn't know and will never know. Neither I nor my consumers pay tax on it, why in the hell would I start cutting the government in 'taxing the hell out of it' after it is legalized?"
Do yourself and the world a favor- move out of your mom's basement, find a job and a passion besides smoking pot.
19. It seems eliminating the government liquor monopoly would be a great Eyman initiative.
20. Is legalizing and legitimizing yet another means for intoxication really a good idea for Washington State?
Andy & Attila,
Marijuana ain't goin' away, sports fans. It's time we come to the rational and sane conclusion that people want to use and enjoy this substance. If you don't want to use marijuana, then don't. The libertarian in me says that you're entitled to not do something if you choose to. Let those who enjoy marijuana do it legally and without an oppressive government campaing against personal liberty and freedom.
If Tim Eyman ran an initiative campaign for legalization and sanity when it comes to marijuana, I'd be the first signer on his lists and I'd work for the initiative itself.
Mr. Eyman - I know you read this stuff - what do you say?
22. Once it is legalized the state government will realize ZERO tax dollars from Pot. Why would anyone buy it from a taxed State Liquor Store or a drug store? You can grow it easily indoors, make it a strong or as mild as you like without the state dictating selection. While it is true that the state may save some money on enforcement, the majority will not buy their pot from the state. It's not like setting up a still to make your own booze. The State would screw up the product, and spend millions on patronage jobs to oversee the distribution.
23. Gregoire and the rest of the WA Dems are drunk with power.
It's a matter of convenience - you can brew beer at home, but few people actually do. It's messy and easier to just buy a six-pack.
Sure, some people will "grow their own" when pot is legalized, but the vast majority of those who choose to enjoy this substance will buy it. Wheter it comes from the private sector or a state-owned liquor store is not the issue. The issue is legalizing something that should never have been made illegal in the first place! It's about personal freedom to do what you choose to do.
Sure your friend's customers aren't paying any taxes on that weed they buy, but they sure are paying a lot just for a little bit of weed. Legalizing it will surely mean that the costs will go way down because people won't have to sneak around buying it illegally. The demand these private growers see will go way down because people will just buy it in stores.
I'm a home brewer, so I pay a lot less taxes for beer than I would otherwise buying it in the store. I share my brew with friends, but it is illegal for me to sell it.
I think if pot were legal, home growers would also share in the same way, but why risk doing some illegal when people can just buy it themselves legally? Sure, they could probably undercut the government, but the vast majority who want it will just buy it, just like booze.
Let people drink if they want it. Let them smoke pot if they want it. Get rid of liberal nanny staters.
27. Just how exactly are the revenue agents from the State going to determine if the pot in your baggie is from an approved State source and has been taxed? Are they going to mark it somehow? Will you be required to carry a receipt?
28. If only we had a GOP governor candidate that would have promoted abolishing state liquor stores in either of the past two elections. Instead we had Rossi who in both campaigns never pushed to abolish anything in Olympia.
29. @28 So you got 4 more years of Gregoire Lysander. Hope you're happy with that.
30. One should keep in mind when discussing the state controlled liquor operation in Washington State that besides being an excuse to put more employees on the state's payroll it is also a grand theater for financial rewards to political friends and supporters. Wouldn't you like to be appoointed a representative for one of the liquor companies?