Jonathan Turley, in USA Today.
Seventeen states continue to exercise control over liquor as absurd relics from the 1930s. Ironically, there is no better example of the failures of central planning than the “ABC stores” around the country from Alabama to Pennsylvania. Indeed, if Karl Marx were alive and trying to buy Schnapps today, he might reconsider aspects of Das Kapital after dealing with our central alcohol planners.
These and other laws seem based on the belief that “for the bureaucrat, the world is a mere object to be manipulated by him.” The man who said that was Marx, a great believer in central control. These states have allowed a fixed bureaucracy to take hold of a market — a self-perpetuating and inefficient middleman in the market.
Unlike Marx’s vision, free enterprise is the touchstone of our society. With such free enterprise comes free choice — not simply the freedom to choose between the options approved by the government. Smith in The Wealth of Nations stressed that “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”
Smith could just as well have added that it should also not be from the benevolence of the bureaucrat any more than the brewer — at least in deciding our drink of choice.
Turley starts the piece with a salvo at conservatives for giving a pass to state-run liquor stores, while seeing socialism just about everywhere else. That might be true in Utah, but in states considering reform right now, it’s generally Republicans who are trying to privatize state-controlled booze, and Democrats who are opposing them.