Conservatives and libertarians are people who are skeptical of government intervention. So why do they still tolerate it in Idaho when—hold your breath—even some folks in Canada recognize that selling liquor should be a function of the private sector.
Since 1939, the selling of liquor with more than 16 percent alcohol, table and sparkling wine is governed by the Idaho Liquor Act. It gives government the authority to “buy, import, transport, store, sell and deliver alcoholic liquor.” Since when is it government’s responsibility to supervise retail selling?
The Canadian province of Alberta wondered that too in 1993. In an unprecedented move in the country, it sold off all its liquor stores. The results? A sharp decrease in prices compared to neighboring British Columbia (BC), where liquor stores are still government-owned. In Alberta, 83 percent of products are cheaper, including BC wines. There are more than eight times more choices than during the government liquor stores era.
It also gave the Wild Rose province more revenues from the selling of alcohol. Before privatization, it collected about $405 million; it collected $729 million last year.
Finally, unlike what pro-government monopolists keep hammering, social ills such as alcohol-related deaths and underage drinking are not on the rise. In fact, Alberta’s other neighbor (Saskatchewan) still runs its liquor stores through governments. And yet, the province remains is in the top three for alcohol-related ills.
So don’t get seduced by the siren calls against liquor privatization. They mainly come from people with a vested interest in the status quo.