State Liquor Status Quo "Economically ... Doesn't Make Sense"
Am I the only one who noticed that in Robert Mak's piece on the liquor privatization initiatives on KING 5, a supporter of the status quo said that the status quo doesn't make economic sense?
John Guadnola, Executive Director of the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association -- which opposes both I-1100 and I-1105 -- said that if I-1100 passes, "[Safeway] won't have nearly the variety [as it has now] because economically, it just doesn't make sense for them."
But if it doesn't make economic sense for Safeway to have that variety, then why do we do it? If carrying a certain number of bottles in a local Safeway doesn't make economic sense, scaling up as we do now can't fix that problem. So Guadnola is basically admitting that -- in a time of severe recession, no less -- he and his group are backing a system that wastes money.
Of course, the truth is that wide variety will continue to exist. I've lived in several other states, all of which allowed retailers to buy with volume discounts and decide what they wanted to carry, and all of which had a wide variety of liquor widely available. We have one of the only states with this sort of a system, and all you have to do is look at the other states and see that almost every criticism of I-1100 is based on fantasy. The only true criticisms I've seen of I-1100 are that it would give us more access to the products we want to buy, which is, as best I can figure, a good thing.
(Oh, and I should also mention that the criticism that this takes money from schools is necessarily false. Any revenues lost by the schools -- if required to make "ample provision" for education -- must be made up by taking it from other programs, or increasing other taxes. Our Constitution requires it. For I-1100 to significantly hurt schools, our state government would have to violate the Constitution.)
Another truth is that the people most ardently defending the status quo, as well as the people behind I-1105, are no less influenced by their bottom lines than the backers of I-1100 ... and probably moreso. There are many people -- like me -- who don't consume liquor or are not in the liquor business, but value the freedom I-1100 provides.
But all of the people I've seen backing I-1105 or the status quo are in businesses that do, or would, profit from the government protection of their business interests, such as Guadnola's organization, whose members control about 95 percent of all beer and wine distribution in the state ... a virtual monopoly that is jeopardized by privatization. Of course, I have no problem with any of the companies represented by the WBWWA. They are probably all fine businesses doing fine work. I do have a problem with government being used to protect their interests, at the expense of the other interests of other companies and individuals.