Before we get into a few details below, let us state up front three principles:
- When the legislators’ special interests are satisfied, the general interest suffers.
- The special interests will claim that general economic principles apply to everyone else, just not to them.
- Ridding the books of bad special interest laws and regulations is just as important as creating new legislation.
The issue is simply this: Does the proposed legislation now being debated support the general interest? The proposed legislation would make it nearly impossible for the producer to change distributors under guise of a non-existent franchise to be protected. Both of these provisions constitute unnecessary state interference in the operation of the free market, raising costs for consumers. And where is the impetus for this change coming from, you ask? It would surprise no one to learn that Missouri’s biggest distributor, a large political donor to both parties, but particularly to Democrats, is the force behind the curtain. The corruption here is apparent for all to see. But not for the St Louis Post-Dispatch, which published a rather confused editorial claiming that tying the hands of the producers would serve the public interest. Did we mention that the distributor in question is located in St. Louis? It takes a special form of chutzpah to claim that restricting normal market operations enhances choice and lowers prices. But of course the liquor business is special.
Below are links to some published articles dealing with this issue.
A short article, Free-Market Beer, contrasts the legal environments in the District of Columbia and Maryland. In D.C. beer is not special; in Maryland it is subject to red tape and special-interest legislation due in large measure to “a burdensome and monopolistic wholesaling industry.” In D.C. consumer choices are huge, with 144 craft beers offered at a recent beer-and-food event.
The distributor behind this wretched legislation has been a big donor to Barack Obama and Jay Nixon, giving lesser amounts to Republicans. No matter to the Republican majority: special interest is even more dear to our legislators’ heart than their customary partisan politics. A provision of Senate Bill 121, as originally filed by Senator Schaefer, would, apart from licensing requirements, have eliminated Missouri’s legal interference in the selling of liquor, beer, and wine. In the version as passed by the Senate, however, this provision was stricken. Please contact your representative and senator to protest this travesty and ask for the House to amend the bill to restore this provision. How embarrassing if Missouri were to lag behind the District of Columbia.