State Sen. Jim Debakis of Salt Lake City is still rallying support for his ballot initiative to privatize liquor in Utah. There are many political voices in the state that believe it is time for the government to end their monopoly on alcohol. A main argument being used in support of privatization is that the industry is already highly regulated. Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform at the Reason Foundation, stated, “In the states with fully privatized alcohol markets, regulations limit the number of alcohol outlets that are allowed, there are prohibitions against sales to minors, and there are influences over pricing through state excise taxes.” There are also arguments that bring to attention the fact that privatization could help with social issues and safety. The supporting example is how Washington State’s recent privatization has been linked to decreases in “alcohol-related driver fatalities, DUI collisions, DUI arrests, and minor-in-possession charges.” An important side note to make, however, is that taxes on alcohol have dramatically increased in Washington State due to privatization. It will be interesting to see how the ballot initiative plays out in Utah, a state where a portion of its population does not even consume alcohol due to religion.
Source: The Heartland Institute