socialized booze

An analog clock reading 6:422012-05-28 / 2012-W22-1T18:42:15-05:00 / 0x4fc40d57

Categories: politics

The word “socialism” has been frequently misused recently, mostly in hyperbole about the recent health care reforms. However, socialism is alive and well in another sector of the economy, in a number states in which the government has a monopoly on retail sales of spirits. The New York Times describes the liquor control system in the state of Washington, a system which will be eliminated on Friday:

State control, in turn, made generations of civil servants tastemaking critics — their decisions on what to stock dictating what people could order in bars or buy in the stores.

In 2010, for example, a tiny distiller here in Cashmere, called It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, made a grape brandy that the owner, Colin Levi, was quite proud of. Liquor Control Board officials came by for a tasting and did not much care for it, Mr. Levi said, and that was that — it never went into distribution.

Until 2009, I lived in Oregon, another state with a government monopoly on the sale of liquor. In 2002, Oregonians rejected a ballot measure that would have created a single-payer health care system in that state. At the time, I remarked that people in Oregon were afraid of “socialized medicine” but had no problem with “socialized booze”.