In Letter and Spirit: Equal Treatment Under the Law

A Washington Post blog pointed out last week that the State of Virginia is looking into privatizing its liquor stores. My recent pieces comparing New York and Virginia show that Virginia has done a pretty good job allowing competition to flourish within the wine and beer industries, and that serves consumers very well. Why not allow competition for spirits sales?

The so-called temperance lobby says that spirits are fundamentally different than wine and beer because they usually contain more alcohol per unit. They ignore the fact that spirits are often diluted with other liquid, which means mixed drinks don’t necessarily contain more alcohol than other drinks.

Ironically, alcohol abusers seem to know something better than government bureaucrats: you don’t need whiskey or “hard liquor” to abuse alcohol. Of interest, I recently discovered an article with data showing that people who abuse alcohol are mostly beer drinkers!

That is not to suggest that beer is somehow a bigger villain. It simply shows that alcohol is alcohol. Demonizing one over the others is plain dumb. The article suggests equal regulations for all alcohols, which makes sense. It foolishly advocates more stringent regulations for all alcohol. Let’s face reality. Binge drinkers will simply find ways around such laws. They did during prohibition, and it was a disaster! And it’s wrong to penalize responsible drinkers because kids in college drink too much.

Ultimately, everyone should be responsible for themselves; if you have too much, that’s your fault. And if you harm someone else, you should pay a big price. As for “the children,” supermarkets and other retailers can police that as well as or better than government bureaucrats.

Those of us who enjoy wine and spirits responsibly should have the convenience of picking up our spirits, wine, and beer along with our groceries. Why should I have to hunt down a government store so I can offer Margaritas at my next barbecue?

This move toward liberating spirits in Virginia seems to be part of a progressive trend in the state to liberalize liquor laws. Just recently, they lifted silly restrictions against liquor tastings.

Cheers to Virginia’s new governor for recognizing these common-sense realities and for calling for equal treatment of spirits. After all, equal treatment under the law is a basic constitutional principle. Picking and choosing one industry over the other is unfair and frankly, un-American!

Image credit: wickenden’s photostream on flickr.