Should Virginia sell its liquor monopoly?

Governor Bob McDonnell proposes that Virginia sell its ABC stores to private purchasers.  I’m from Michigan originally, where you can buy liquor in grocery stores, drug stores or any other store that owns a “liquor license.”  So it was kind of a shock when I moved to Virginny, where you can only buy liquor in ABC stores. 

And beer and wine sales are restricted to before midnight.  Many times I’ve arrived at the nearest gas station five minutes late, only to find that my thirst cannot be quenched unless I drive to the nearest bar, which can legally sell alcoholic beverages until 2:00 a.m. (I think, I don’t know, because I don’t do bars…)  Makes no sense to me unless they are just trying to drive up sales of beer and wine for bars and restaurants.   

I can only address cost and availability anecdotally, but my poker buddies were just discussing how much cheaper they can get certain liquor in other states.  Personally, I’ve been in liquor stores in other states, and they certainly have more variety.  In Virginia, if it ain’t sold at the ABC store, tough shit.  Out of luck.  And of course, being a government-run monopoly, the ABC stores have almost bank-type hours, so good luck on buying liquor when you really need want it.

The obvious reasons for selling it are 1) the government should not be in the liquor sales business, or any other business that private enterprise could do just as well or better; and 2) the ABC stores can be sold for multiple millions of dollars, and 3) competition will ensure lower prices and better variety for the consumers.   

The reasons for not selling are that the ABC stores, being a monopoly, bring in boatloads of money to the state coffers.   Selling them would be giving up boatloads of money that the legislature can dole out as best helps them get and stay elected.

What strikes me as funny is that Bob McDonnell is catching hell from both ends of the political spectrum.  The independent Baptists oppose the sale of the stores because they oppose the sale of liquor.  [Makes perfect sense to me: I oppose liquor sales, so I want my government to do the selling.  Not.]  Liberal groups, not surprisingly, oppose the sale because, well, McDonnell is a conservative, and because liberals love money flowing into the government.  Hey, why not take over all gas stations, or better yet all Wal-Marts,  if your only goal is to have a government controlled monopoly that brings in millions each year?  Oh, crap, did I just say that? Now some liberal politician out there will propose doing that very same thing. 

What do all y’all think?

John Doe

5 responses to “Should Virginia sell its liquor monopoly?

  1. Being born and partially raised in California, I remember liquor and beer being sold at the grocery stores and Seven-Elevens 24/7/365. Some bars stayed open 24/7 also.

    I do remember when I lived for a short time in Hampton, Va, being able to buy beer at seven in the morning to drink with my breakfast.

  2. Typical Californian, getting it backwards. In Virginia (or at least in that portion surrounding Rugby Road in Hookville) its “being able to buy breakfast at seven in the morning to eat with my beer”.

  3. State liquor stores–what a scam. Several other states of my acquaintance, like Idaho, have them as well, and they’re always supported as not only giving “schools” the money from Demon Rumheads, the limited hours and so on are supposed to reduce drunkenness. Bollocks.

  4. Repeal_The_Va_Radar_Detector_Ban

    As you may know, Virginia is the only state that bans the use and sale of detectors. There is no evidence that the detector ban increases highway safety. Our nation’s fatality rates have fallen consistently for almost two decades. Virginia’s fatality rate has also fallen, but not any more dramatically than it has nationwide. Research has even shown that radar detector owners have a lower accident rate than motorists who do not own a detector.

    Maintaining the ban is not in the best interest of Virginians or visitors to the state. I know and know of people that will not drive in Virginia due to this ban. Unjust enforcement practices are not unheard of, and radar detectors can keep safe motorists from being exploited by abusive speed traps. Likewise, the ban has a negative impact on Virginia’s business community. Electronic distributors lose business to neighboring states and Virginia misses out on valuable sales tax revenue.

    Radar detector bans do not work. Research and experience show that radar detector bans do not result in lower accident rates, improved speed-limit compliance or reduce auto insurance expenditures.
    • The Virginia radar detector ban is difficult and expensive to enforce. The Virginia ban diverts precious law enforcement resources from more important duties.
    • Radar detectors are legal in the rest of the nation, in all 49 other states. In fact, the first state to test a radar detector ban, Connecticut, repealed the law – it ruled the law was ineffective and unfair. It is time for our Virginia to join the rest of the nation.
    • It has never been shown that radar detectors cause accidents or even encourage motorists to drive faster than they would otherwise. The Yankelovich – Clancy – Shulman Radar Detector Study conducted in 1987, showed that radar detector users drove an average of 34% further between accidents (233,933 miles versus 174,554 miles) than non radar detector users. The study also showed that they have much higher seat belt use compliance. If drivers with radar detectors have fewer accidents, it follows that they have reduced insurance costs – it is counterproductive to ban radar detectors.
    • In a similar study performed in Great Britain by MORI in 2001 the summary reports that “Users (of radar detectors) appear to travel 50% further between accidents than non-users. In this survey the users interviewed traveling on average 217,353 miles between accidents compared to 143,401 miles between accidents of those non-users randomly drawn from the general public.” The MORI study also reported “Three quarters agree, perhaps unsurprisingly, that since purchasing a radar detector they have become more conscious about keeping to the speed limit…” and “Three in five detector users claim to have become a safer driver since purchasing a detector.”
    • Modern radar detectors play a significant role in preventing accidents and laying the technology foundation for the Safety Warning System® (SWS). Radar detectors with SWS alert motorists to oncoming emergency vehicles, potential road hazards, and unusual traffic conditions. There are more than 10 million radar detectors with SWS in use nationwide. The federal government has earmarked $2.1 million for further study of the SWS over a three-year period of time. The U.S. Department of Transportation is administering grants to state and local governments to purchase the SWS system and study its effectiveness (for example, in the form of SWS transmitters for school buses and emergency vehicles). The drivers of Virginia deserve the right to the important safety benefits that SWS delivers.

    Please sign this petition and help to repeal this ban and give drivers in Virginia the freedom to know if they are under surveillance and to use their property legally:

    http://www.stoptheban.org

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/repeal-the-virginia-radar-detector-ban

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