Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Liquor Lobby's War on Tennesseans' Freedom

Once again, the issue of whether or not wine should be sold in grocery stores in the State of Tennessee, and once again the great opponents are not our Baptist brethren, but the Liquor Lobby:

Thad Cox, owner of Ashes Wine and Spirits in Knoxville, testifying on behalf of other small liquor retailers in the state. "If wine goes in the grocery stores, I guarantee you, each and every (mom-and-pop liquor store) in the state will have to sit down and make a decision about their staff, who they would have to lay off, or even whether they could keep their doors open," he said.

Competition. Boo-hoo.

I suppose I have the advantage of knowing that allowing wine in grocery stores will not drive "mom-and-pop" liquor stores out of business because I have lived in a State where the sale of wine at the grocery store is not only allowed, but has been the long-standing common practice for many years. In nearly all States that allow wine in grocery stores, small liquor store operations are not only still in business, but they are still selling wine.

The reason that liquor stores will remain in business is because when people want hard liquor, the State-licensed package store is where they will have to go to get it. If the General Assembly passes legislation that allows for the sale of wine in grocery stores, we won't see anything at the grocery store with more than 21% alcohol, because that is the standard limit for grocery sales-and it is probably safe to make the assumption that in Tennessee, we aren't going to see much in the way of 42-proof booze being sold at the grocery counter, the Volunteer State just isn't culturally wet enough for that.

The real issue is that the liquor store owners who the lobbyists opposed to this legislation represent simply do not want to have to deal with the competition that will result from other outlets being able to sell wine. Grocery sales of wine will not only cause the price of wine to drop, but will very likely expand the varieties of wine, both domestic and foreign, which are available to Tennesseans. At present, if I want a really good wine, I have to wait until I take a trip to Kentucky or Ohio to get it. The wines to be found at liquor stores in Morristown, while certainly passable for taking with a meal, are not befitting a decent Christmas party-and they are entirely predictable. The sale of wine in grocery stores would likely cause liquor store owners to invest in the expansion of their wine stock or lose customers.

Obviously, the Liquor Lobby isn't interested in delivering a quality selection to their customers, merely in maintaining a monopoly on the sale of wine.

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At Tuesday, November 18, 2008 2:04:00 PM, Blogger Sean Braisted said...

Talk to your boy Stacey...he's against it.

At Tuesday, November 18, 2008 5:53:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

I know-trust me, we have had many a discussion about the issue. Actually, I will say that his position is a bit more nuanced than I can say here.

If you want to discuss the issue some more, feel free to e-mail me. This is an issue where you and I agree, so I see no reason not to work together on it.

At Wednesday, November 19, 2008 10:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think it's a problem. The less alchohol sold the better. Besides, the people of Tennessee are used to this. When I was there it never occured to me that I was being oppressed by not being able to get wine at a Grocery store. Going to the liquor store only seemed natural for anything other than beer.


At Wednesday, November 19, 2008 3:20:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Steve, I am frankly surprised at your position. It is extremely antithetical to freedom, not to mention that it doesn't seem the least bit like you to oppose the sale of anything on moral grounds. Your fellow Democrat Braisted would disagree.

The free market should prevail here.

At Monday, November 24, 2008 9:12:00 AM, Blogger Chris F. said...

As far as I'm concerned, if grocery stores want to sell wine and liquors, that is up to them. Let the free market decide, not lobbyists and their legislative friends.


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