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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 11, 2012 11:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was Bunker opponents will get 15 minutes. The next post in this blog is Next out da kennel. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chuckle o' the Day

Oregon's creaky liquor laws are on their way out. At some point soon, hard booze will be sold in grocery stores, and if voters are careful when they force a change in the law, the prices will be the same as, or lower than, they are now. But since the recent changes to the Washington State liquor rules have resulted in higher prices due to massive state fees and taxes, the change in Oregon will take longer than might have been expected a few months ago.

Anyway, the funny part is the conversation that's going on about why Oregon still operates under an alcohol regulatory regime that was written 80 years ago. Here's the justification given for retaining the current setup, offered by someone who for some reason unknown to us is in charge of liquor in the state as chair of the state liquor board:

The laws may be old, says Cassandra SkinnerLopata, chair of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, but they're effective.

"What's interesting is the OLCC has done such a good job of preventing the abuses that came up during Prohibition," SkinnerLopata says. Other countries, and even some other states, continue to see health problems from "adulterated" liquor, including blindness and paralysis. Counterfeit brand-name liquor continues to be a problem, she says.

Elsewhere, SkinnerLopata also says that Oregon's laws ensure alcohol companies don't market to children, and they keep out the cheap booze that tends to be abused.

Hey -- who is she kidding? The state can and should regulate liquor, but why does it have to monopolize the business of selling it? It's a throwback to an era that's long since over. It's nuts.

Comments (13)

The subject reminds me... Has the OLCC ever done a E Verify of ALL OLCC Employees yet?

And what was the final disposition of all of the citations issued by Doitchin Krasev, the Bulgarian illegal alien OLCC Compliance Supervisor?

After the Iranian citizen, Farhad Monem scandal... might not be a bad idea to check ALL STATE employees.

The last time I checked the state doesn't sell any other drugs.

I doubt that grocery stores will have the self space to stock all brands, so there will still be a market for specialty stores.

We don't the state to run those, but might be a good way for OLCC shops to transition to the new business model.

You know what else is nuts? The idea that liquor is OK in the hands of adults, but if those same adults want to smoke a joint they need to be thrown in jail. Alcohol is more addictive and damaging than weed, but people keep dismissing legalization attempts as crazy "pot-head" schemes. All the while we continue to pay the price of this nutty drug war.

and they keep out the cheap booze that tends to be abused.

A laughable notion to anyone who has wandered around the 7th/Burnside area in the early afternoon.

I can't believe our neighbor to the North may have frogged this long-awaited and decades-overdue chance for us.

"why Oregon still operates under an alcohol regulatory regime that was written 80 years ago."

Because that's pretty much Oregon. I mean if Neil is still pulling strings and we're doing stuff the same way we have for the past 40 years (besides raising taxes and benefits for govt employees) why would we change?

We love dreamers.

What I don't undestand is how Costco could dump millions into the Washington State effort and end up with a program so much more expensive than California's model. Costco DOES have stores in California does it not??

I think Costco is playing a longer game than just that one initiative. They've got their foot in the door and locked out their biggest potential competitors- small stores under 10K sqft. The liquor buying public will either take their frustration out on the legislature to lower the tax or not, either way Costco is making a profit on the underlying product.

OLCC may have it's monopoly taken away eventually but it will be a long hard struggle with the entrenched interests fighting it all the way. Look at the Bottle Bill, also administered by OLCC. The original purpose was to curb litter. Changing cultural attitudes did as much or more than the nickel deposit to effectively end that. Did the bottle bill get shut down, mission accomplished? No, it's expanded with a new purpose of increasing recycling rates.

It's like the well-intentioned bottle bill.

Gov types fawn over themselves for that 40-year-old legislation - but if you are the actual producer, consumer or retailer of bottles you know in practice it doesn't really work so well.

"SkinnerLopata also says that Oregon's laws ensure alcohol companies don't market to children"

Puh-leeze, OLCC still won't stop a motivated 15-year-olod from getting beer. OLCC or not, they can still do mystery shoppers just fine and not mak every ootle of booze run thru Milwaukie which just wastes gas and energy.

I only fear that if we get rid of OLCC, we'll get some kind of f-you tax like WA did.

The real mystery is why/how the add'l taxes were added to the Washington hard liquor purchases. I have a real hard time believing Costco is sanctioning it. It is extremely disruptive to the average consumer.

"I think Costco is playing a longer game than just that one initiative. They've got their foot in the door and locked out their biggest potential competitors- small stores under 10K sqft."

Andrew - To repeat my comment above, I wonder about your comment. Safeway, Fred Meyer and others in the PNW area certainly meet your 10K threshold.

I think all WA stores got burned by the idiotic tax. I may be misinterpreting your comment, but do you think Costco is somehow immune to consumer backlash when they get hit at the register?

In Clark County, consumers now have a significant incentive to cross the border and purchase hard liquor in Oregon.

Cm, I see Costco as one side of price vs convenience. By eliminating the quickie marts from liquor sales, which is what the footage requirement does, they can focus on price. No one (well almost no one) goes to Costco for a single item. Besides, we can't have the winos getting easy access to hard liquor.

On the pricing itself, there seems to be pretty good awareness that the higher price is coming from Olympia not Costco or the stores. If I were running the liquor shelf, I'd hammer that home with signage showing how much the state is adding on. I believe the distributor tax is supposed to drop by 50% over the next two years which should result in lower retail prices also.


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