It is a classic case of cowardly, unprincipled, anti-freedom legislators pandering to “concentrated interests” at the expense of justice and the dispersed populace.
Grocers have the right — the right — to sell products of their choice, including regular beer, to willing buyers (who are adults). And consumers have the right to shop for the goods and services of their choice from willing sellers. That is, grocers and their customers have the right to freely exchange goods on mutually agreeable terms.
Yet Colorado law violates this right of free exchange by restricting grocery store sales (except for a single store of a chain) to low-alcohol beer, which only weenies drink. The law is wrong, it is protectionist in nature (meaning that it protects special interests at the expense of select merchants and consumers), and in the name of justice and liberty it must be overturned.
Last year the legislature overturned the law banning Sunday liquor sales at stores. Some liquor stores went along in the hopes that they’d pick up more business. But the justification of the law — and many politicians and reporters are confused on this matter — was not any impact it might have had on overall sales. The justification of the law was that it expanded liberty and protected individual rights, in however small a way.
Now it is time to complete the repeal of Prohibition.
If 38 other states can allow the sale of normal beer in grocery stores, why does anyone think the sky will fall in Colorado if the unjust restriction is repealed?
First beer brewers, teaming up with liquor stores for the protectionist racket, argued that the protectionist legislation expands the number of beers sold. I pointed out that, first, the argument is likely false, as grocery stores would offer an expanded market to many breweres, and, second, that the argument is irrelevant, because sellers and buyers have the right to sell whatever products they want on mutually agreeable terms.
Then the protectionists joined with the social activists to argue that protectionism is needed “for the children.” I answered that protecting minors does not require and does not justify violating the rights of adults. Besides, beer sales would be at least as tightly monitored at grocery stores as they are at liquor stores.
Thankfully, the forces of freedom are not backing down. The Denver Post reports:
Bill sponsor Rep. Buffie McFadyen, who delivered 66,000 signatures from shoppers favoring expanded strong-beer sales, said she thinks the issue could end up on the 2010 ballot.
“And they will certainly want to include more than just beer,” said McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, hinting that wine and spirits could be included in a future initiative.
Of course, restrictions on liquor store food sales should also be lifted.
Though the Post claims the bill was defeated by a 7-4 vote in committee, the legislature’s page reports that House Bill 1192 was killed in the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee killed the bill on March 11 by a vote of 8-3. (I called the capitol to verify this.) Following is a list of legislators who voted for and against, again according to the legislative web page. (The vote was whether to “postpone indefinitely,” or kill the bill, so a “Yes” vote was a vote to kill the bill.)
For Liberty, Against Protectionism
David Balmer, Republican, Arapahoe
Larry Liston, Republican, El Paso
Edward Casso, Democrat, Adams
Against Liberty, For Protectionism
Laura Bradford, Republican, Mesa
Sara Gagliardi, Democrat, Jefferson
Kevin Priola, Republican, Adams
Su Ryden, Democrat, Arapahoe
Christine Scanlan, Democrat, Eagle, Lake, Summit
John Soper, Democrat, Adams
Amy Stephens, Republican, El Paso
Joe Rice, Democrat, Arapahoe, Jefferson
So Republicans on the committee voted against the measure by 3-2, while Democrats voted against it 5-1, even though McFadyen, the bill’s sponsor, is a Democrat. On net, both parties continue their hostility to property rights and freedom of association. (The Denver Business Journal reports that “several legislators said that while they agree that the state’s liquor-sales laws need reform, they felt it should come in comprehensive fashion, not just in a piecemeal bill that benefits grocery and convenience stores.” But when is more liberty ever a bad thing?)
It is time for the people of Colorado to take back their liberty.