There are still eighteen so-called “control states” in America that exert substantial control over the sale of liquor. Oregon is one of them, virtually monopolizing its warehousing, distribution, and sale through the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). You would think that independent-minded Oregonians would have rebelled against such control by now. Next year, they might.
The grocery industry now plans to place a measure on the 2016 General Election ballot that would allow consumers to buy hard liquor in the same private grocery stores where they can already conveniently purchase beer and wine.
While there is likely to be a lively debate over the pros and cons of making it easier, and possibly cheaper, for adults to purchase the alcohol of their choice, this debate should be about more than how one type of consumer product is sold.
It should also be about the role of government in a free society. In that context, we should remember that government in America was instituted to protect our lives, liberty, and property. Oregon state government was not meant to provide our jobs through picking winners and losers in the marketplace, our entertainment through the Oregon Lottery, or our alcohol through the OLCC.
Next November we can hopefully do something about that last item—getting state government out of the liquor business.
Steve Buckstein is Founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.