No, a Government-Run Retail Monopoly Is Not “Really Cool”

Could the next popular market-disrupting innovation be an app for alcohol delivery?

The R Street Institute’s Molly Schwartz profiles one such app and reminds us of one of the few ways a private citizen can actually run afoul of the U.S. Constitution: by illegally importing alcohol into a state against that state’s laws.

Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, that means we must buy alcoholic beverages other than beer and wine from the state-run liquor monopoly.

An actual tweet from an actual government agency, or absurdist art?

Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, especially now that whatever political capital may have existed for privatizing liquor sales has been squandered instead on a “reform” bill. HB 1776, which replaces the politicized Alcoholic Beverage Control board with a business-minded authority and deregulates some procurement and personnel policies, unanimously passed the House of Delegates this week.

So why not privatize liquor sales and allow the market to work? The mingling of religion and politics is one answer, but that’s just a partial explanation. Fortunately, Virginia avoided misleading, morally reprehensible television ads against privatization like those produced by United Food and Commercial Workers union bosses in Pennsylvania. The patron of HB 1776, Republican Delegate Dave Albo of Springfield, revealed the real reason in not-so-subtle terms:

Having a monopoly is really cool, because you can make a lot of money.

Sorry, Del. Albo. There’s nothing cool about the government doing something it has no business doing.

An alcohol delivery app? Now that’s cool. Just don’t expect to see it in Virginia anytime soon.

About the Author

Nicholas Cote is Editor-in-Chief of Future Dominion and President of Right Way Forward Virginia. Reach him by e-mail at nicholas.cote@rwfvirginia.org

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