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Pull government out of the liquor business

 

Washington voters decided last week to kick their state out of the liquor business. That’s progress. Oregon voters should get the chance to do the same.

The issue is not about eliminating liquor taxes or halting liquor regulation. Oregon should regulate liquor, not be in the liquor business.

 

The liquor business is not an essential government function. In both Washington and Oregon, state government has been too heavily involved.

Liquor is still going to be taxed in Washington, as it should be here. Liquor taxes will still raise at least as much revenue in Washington, as they should here. Liquor is still going to be regulated in Washington, as it should be here.

Oregon has a state liquor warehouse, state liquor purchasers, state distribution and state-licensed stores. Why does it need all that?

It doesn’t. In Washington the state will regulate which stores can sell liquor. Liquor will be taxed, to raise revenue, discourage consumption and fund programs that help compensate for the problems alcohol can create.

That’s the kind of system Oregon should have.

Opponents in Washington fought the measure there on several levels. They said it was the work of one giant corporation, Costco, trying to buy an election.

Yes, it’s true Costco did contribute about $22 million to the campaign and some $18 million was spent. Opponents also spent some $12 million. Not an equally balanced fight, but it has to be an insult to voters to assume they are so easily swayed if one side spends more money.

Opponents also argued that Washington will be less safe, because people will have more opportunities to buy liquor. That may or may not be true. It won’t be true if Washington regulators are good at their jobs.

Oregon voters should get the chance to make the same choice Washington did.

— Wescom News Service (The Bend Bulletin)

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