Thursday, November 9, 2006

Wine stores ... protectionism or free market?

  If citizens had their way –- as opposed to politicians who are influenced by protectionist forces –- would they prefer more free-market solutions to land use questions?  In an interesting development, Massachusetts voters defeated on Tuesday a ballot question that would have permitted grocery stores to sell wine.  Under current state law, only licensed liquor stores may do so.   

Wine   I’ve often been amazed and frustrated by what I’ve viewed as antiquated liquor sale laws.  How much better, I’ve thought, to live in a state such as California, where one can buy bottles of bourbon, chardonnay, and beer at the same time that one buys fish, dill, and lettuce!  Restrictions on liquor sales appeared to be either examples of unworthy protectionist land use laws or relics of prohibition. 

  But the voters of Massachusetts appeared to disagree.   From reader comments on, significant factors included the desire to protect small liquor store owners, as well as a desire to avoid a “Wal-Mart-ization” of wine sales.  Haven’t the Bay State voters read their Smith, Friedman, and Posner?

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