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October 29, 2006

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Aaron

Amen, couldn't agree with you more. (I'm afraid the measure will likely pass, though.)

The Den Mother

I found this post in a Google search about Question 1. Though I favor passage of this question, I am impressed that your reasons for opposing it don't include the litany of misinformation that has made up most of the anti-question 1 rhetoric. If I see that Somerville police officer on my television one more time bloviating about how this will allow alcohol in gas station mini-marts, I'm going to scream. Gas station mini-marts can already apply for liquor licenses, and not just for wine, either. But I digress. I suspect that if the question 1 opponents had focused on the arguments you present here, they might have more success. They would certainly have more respect from me.

Ryan Biggs

> As someone who drinks wine,
> I would also be concerned
> that wider availability might
> drive down the available
> quality of wine.

Huh? That is the most bizarre bit of logic I have seen in a while. How does that happen exactly? have you ever been out of state, dude? California sells wine in grocery stores - has the quality suffered? What an absurd argument.

Package stores in MA are scumby piles of boxes with zero attention to attractive displays, etc. because they do not need to put any effort into selling their product - the package stores have a stranglehold on the available liquor licenses, and for what reason? How do you explain this, in a free country?

Also - there is absolutely no evidence anywhere that package stores are any better at controlling distribution to minors than grocery stores. The public saftey arguement is false.

I grew up in Connecticut, where you could not buy alchohol after 8pm, but you could buy wine and beer in grocery stores. None of the grocery stores would sell to me and my under age friends - but we found package stores that would.

In a free country, you have to justify a law like this. You have to have a really good reason to explain why some business owners are entitled to participate in a kind of commerce and others are not. That is the bottom line I have not heard anyone address in this debate.

If you trace the history on this issue, you will find a powerful lobby protecting package store owners - people who make their living selling booze, ciggarettes, and lottery tickets. Why should citizens be concerned with protecting them???

David Eisenthal

Den Mother,

Thank you for the kind words; they're appreciated.

Ryan,

Have you been following the election coverage? To call my humble argument on the effect of Question 1 on wine quality "the most bizarre bit of logic I've seen in a while" would put it at a level that exceeds the worst excesses of political bloviation that we've seen this year - a very strong statement.

I would concede that the wine quality argument isn't the strongest piece of my argument. However, I'm still not convinced that changing current economic arrangements produces any kind of public benefit. If you feel that increased supplies - and decreased prices - of wine are in the public interest, then you should vote for Question 1. I don't feel this way. I see costs - to small business owners and to all of us in alchol-related health problems - but not any accompanying benefit.

I think that if one is preparing to change established economic arrangements, then one should have strong arguments. I don't see these happening in favor of Question 1.

Aaron

David, today is election day and I just want to add that lower price in and of itself is a public benefit. No matter what the product, if it costs less then it keeps more money in the general public's pocket. Increased supply of any product is also a benefit in and of itself no matter what product John Q Public wishes to purchase. Small mom and pop shops already cost a little more to purchase from and if you truly cared about thier well being then everyone who votes No on Q1 should then only shop at the local mom and pop liquor store. As far as alcohol related health problems go, if you drink you run the risk of health problems no matter where you purchased the alcohol from and since this law doesn't increase the # of 21 year old citizens in the state then it certainly will not increase the # of alcohol related health issues.

Any way you slice it, you have no argument to vote No on Q1.

David Eisenthal

Aaron,

You make an interesting argument, but I disagree with it. Using your logic, one would not necessarily favor emission controls on cars because they increase the price - lowering the amount of money circulating in the economy. The problem here - with cars and with wine - is with external social cost. The price of wine as it is does not take externalities into account - particularly health-related externalities. (I think that car prices more nearly take into account the external costs of cars.) Lowering the price of wine would only make this imbalance worse. There may be better ways to deal with externalities than "artificially" restricting supply and increasing price, but we have the additional issue that there are existing economic arrangements that will be disturbed if Question 1 passes. Small business owners will be hurt if Question 1 passes. As I said previously, if there were a sufficient public benefit - free of externalities - I would accept this economic shift - but I see no reason to accept it.

Lindsey Mori

In my opinion, the onus should be on the law to demonstrate that it "serves the public interest."
If the law can't adequately be defended on these terms, then it should be removed.
You are arguing that a law shouldn't be removed unless doing so serves the public interest.
If this were the case, we would be saddled with way too many restrictions that will inevitably prevent society from changing at all.

In fact, I don't believe that any of your arguments adequately address how "keeping" the law serves the public interest. How does allowing liquor stores to keep their monopoly serve the public interest? How does forcing people to shop at multiple stores serve the public interest? As a previous poster said, if the public were really concerned about the mom and pop shops, supermarkets would have never succeeded.

The public has a way of deciding what is in their best interest. In my opinion, anything that needlessly restricts their ability to do so is not in their best interest.

David Eisenthal

For most consumer goods, I feel as you do, Lindsey. I don't like monopolies and inefficiencies. The difference here is that we are talking about alcohol - something that brings with it a whole series of external costs. I don't think that making it more easily available is in the public interest.

Jeff

Interesting argumentation. First let me say this, the idea that people will become alcoholics is absurd. It is of the same ilk as people who worry kids will have sex like rabbits if we tell them about condoms. It is just not the case. It is not like wine is inaccessible. It is not difficult to obtain if you are 21+. Let's be honest, it isn't that tough if you are under 21. And anyone who has tried to buy cigarettes someone knows that supermarkets are much more aggressive with ID's.

I can sympathize with protecting small business. My family was the owner of a small business for many years. It is difficult and can be a struggle. I can certainly appreciate anyone who seeks to aid small business. However, I feel strongly that the government, in matters such as these, should use the least restrictive means possible.

As far as the quality issue, even if this had passed, Supermarkets would not be displaying the variety of a package store - much the same way a 7-11 which sells alcohol don't sell much more than basic domestic beer.

Every time I try to shake out the arguments, it simply doesn't pan out. The idea of increased DUI's is not a properly supported cause and effect argument. There is no argument that I have seen, which supports the argument of, "People will become uncontrollable drunks if wine is available at supermarkets."

It just isn't the case.

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