A. Barton Hinkle on Ending State Monopolies on Liquor Sales


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Virginia made a big mistake four years ago when it failed to end the state's monopoly on liquor sales, and its residents are going to pay the price for that — again.

Opponents of privatization argued that national big-box retailing chains would gobble up all the liquor licenses, leaving none for anyone else — and that seedy, low-rent liquor stores would sprout on every corner like weeds after a spring rain. They fretted that taxes on consumption could never hope to make up for lost ABC profits — and that liquor consumption would skyrocket. They argued that liquor was vile, nasty stuff — and therefore Virginia ought to be the one to sell it, which, as A. Barton Hinkle observes, makes as much sense as state-run sales of cigarettes or porn.