Bean: Put liquor on the free market

By By Alex Bean and By Alex Bean

By Alex Bean

The Republican Party, Utah’s dominant voice in politics, generally does whatever it can to promote a free market. From health care to education, the power of capitalism can be seen working its magic in the Republican Party’s philosophy.
All Republicans who are worth their salt oppose a nationalized health care system. The best solution is to privatize health care and let the free market fix the issue. In addition to health care, Republicans suggest that the free market can also fix Utah’s substandard education system. Last year, many Republicans supported Proposition 1, which would have allowed parents to obtain vouchers to use toward paying tuition at private schools. Some Republicans even suggest a free-market solution to the ever-touchy subject of global warming. They call for a “cap and trade” private solution to greenhouse gasses, instead of a government regulation of private businesses. A bloated bureaucracy isn’t going to solve the problem, so let the free market do it instead.
However, there is an exception to this philosophy: Utah’s liquor laws. Rather than let businesses freely sell alcohol, the state heavily regulates the distribution and sales of alcoholic beverages. This is becoming a problem in a rapidly changing Utah.
Utah’s demographics are in a state of fluctuation. The ratio of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to other residents of Utah has been shrinking recently because families have moved here from across the country.
In order to meet the increasing demands of alcohol consumers throughout the valley, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control built a large warehouse near downtown Salt Lake City that contains several thousand cases of liquor and beer. The warehouse, which was built five years ago, acts as the center for distribution for the state’s liquor stores. Although it was expected to satisfy the state’s needs for about 10 years, the building is already operating at full capacity, according to a May 11 article, “Utah struggling to keep up with its drinkers” by Kathy Stephenson in The Salt Lake Tribune.
It seems clear that with the recent change in Utah’s population our liquor laws are becoming outdated. The demand for alcohol isn’t going to go away, and the complicated laws governing the distribution of alcohol just won’t work. Instead, our governing body should perhaps excise the bloated bureaucracy in charge of alcohol distribution and let the free market solve the issue. If the free market is good enough to save our planet and educate our children, it ought to be good enough for those who purchase alcohol.
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Willis Branham