Drunk money

By AL DIAMON  |  September 19, 2012

Trouble is, the folks who run liquor wholesaling operations are notoriously sharper at negotiating deals than government bureaucrats. There's no guarantee the next contract won't be long on promises and short of expectations.

Perhaps, instead of trying a slight variation on the failed policies of the past, Maine should do something bold.

Such as: deregulation.

You know, a little free enterprise. Sell spirits the same way beer, wine, and almost everything else is sold. No wholesale monopoly. No state control over retail prices.

Maine could still make decent money off alcohol by licensing wholesalers (there could be several, as many as the market would bear), licensing retailers (who'd be able to offer discounts that would make them competitive with New Hampshire — and each other), and collecting taxes (just as it does now).

Since that sort of reform would retrieve much of the $20 million in annual profits that cross the border, it could boost the state's retail sector significantly, as well as providing a nice bump in state revenues.

The neo-prohibitionists will wail about how such a program will result in more consumption of intoxicating beverages. The reality is that it would only result in increased imbibing of locally bought booze.

Because that 58 percent that claimed they never shopped for liquor in New Hampshire would finally be telling the truth.

Raise a glass of Courvoisier VSOP cognac ($39.99 for 750 ml in Maine, but only $36.99 in New Hampshire) to my plan, and then email your regards to aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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