1183

Rarely do I write anything political, not because I don’t have views, but just because I like to have good manners. Sometimes things get SO contentious on Facebook and the blogosphere. That said, I STRONGLY URGE people to vote NO on Washington State Initiative 1183. I am speaking up about it because I don’t think this is as much a political issue as a public health issue. The simple truth is that 1183 will result in four times the amount of stores that can sell hard liquor. A lot of focus is placed on the danger to teens. I think that misses the point. The greater access to hard liquor will increase drunk driving regardless of whether the drivers are of age. I don’t think the possibility of lower liquor prices to consumers to be worth the cost to public health.

I also oppose the initiative because the wholesale pricing deregulation makes it easier for the large wine producers in our state to offer deep discounts simply because they can, due to economies of scale. The small winemakers–I know a few–will not be able to compete.

Now I’ll get a little political, although I believe it is more a justice issue than a political one. The supreme court ruled a couple of years ago that corporations have equal rights to individuals with regard to First Amendment protections; therefore, there can be no limits imposed on how much corporations spend on political advertising. Costco, the wholesale warehouse chain based here in Washington, has spent $22 million on its Yes on 1183 advertising. $22 million! They stand to make a lot of money through hard liquor sales; obviously at least $22 million. Looks to me like they are trying to buy this election. Are we going to let them?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “1183

  1. Kelly, I respectfully disagree with your assertions. Let me clarify—I mostly disagree with them. Here’s why. Your position, like so many others on both sides of the issue, is based upon presumption without recitation of facts easily in evidence. To address one of your concerns with regard to competition; while I believe smaller winemakers may, more than likely, face declining floor space at retailers who discount, prices are not inflated very far above production costs now. That question and its answer are not however, central to the issues in the debate. Further, small winemakers would have faced similar barriers, if any, had the state of WA never taken such control of spirit sales in the first place.

    When I look at this question and hear all the clamoring conjecture about what will and won’t happen, I find it mostly incredible that none of the opponents or proponents are making their case by citing similar change recently adopted by another state. Further, I find it even more interesting that the audience of the conjecture seem unaware that there is evidence elsewhere that political ads. This one for example: http://pointsadhsblog.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/washington-state%E2%80%99s-prop-1183-the-iowa-dustup-and-trends-thereafter/ I think even a casual skimming of this article puts more light on the topic than all of the money spent on both sides of this issue here in WA. This wasn’t hard to find. It paints a factually based picture of declining sales. It does not paint a picture of trending teen-aged drunkenness or any increase whatsoever in alcoholism. What it makes abundantly clear is that regardless of the fact that both sides of the issue remained at heated odds with one another for a decade following privatization in Iowa, increasing the availability of alcohol did not and does not necessarily increase its consumption—the extrapolation so easily bandied here in WA by opponents… even citing CDC stats that are, effectively, inert by virtue of more substantive, material evidence to the contrary—one reason why the CDC stat has disappeared from the ads. Further, the Iowa privatization occurred in 1987…. we are now a quarter-century beyond that vote and there is still no trend in that time in Iowa that isn’t shadowed by the rest of the country, including our state of Washington.

    So, if 25 years of evidence (in a state hit hard in it’s farming bread-basket in the last 25 years) that privatization of spirit sales did not increase consumption (or increase risk to public safety) counts for anything, I’d say 1183, at worst, will not hurt us.

    So would I say yes to it, if, in the final analysis, it won’t hurt? Simple—the state of Washington should not be involved in private business. Let the citizenry have dominion over it’s business. Under the states purview and regulation of spirit sales, anything that could be considered harmful is subject to it’s control. How about state control of your food at your grocery stores? If one believes there is no such dialogue going on inside the state of Washington with lawmakers, think again.

    Liquor laws in this state go back to the prohibition and have been moving away from state control steadily since. Few people know that the word “skidrow” was the name of the avenue down which logs were skidded in Seattle’s early logging history. It is now called Yesler Way but the word, skidrow, is now an arcane reference to what had been a period of open prostitution and public drunkenness, the likes of which haven’t existed for close to a century…. and not because of current WA law.

    So, I am for 1183. It is power to the people. The current law serves no substantive public purpose. Opponents of 1183 argue increased risk. However, extraction of perceived risk is not, in and of itself, safety… it is perceived safety at best until proven otherwise. The Iowa case underscores this handily and is the most reliable evidence there is that privatization does not necessarily mean increased consumption.

    Respectfully,
    Mark Wilson

  2. Corinne Grandbois

    Kelly, I agree with you! Not to mention that my mom would lose her job as a liquor store manager. In these days where people are struggling to find jobs is this really the time to put all of the liquor store employees out of work?

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