One of the reasons I am a staunch advocate of limited government is the seemingly endless quest of elected officials to pick winners and losers in almost every aspect of our economic life. The Colorado legislature, both Democrats and Republicans, are grossly negligent of this illness. Their current target - sales of liquor in grocery stores.
A bill to allow limited sales of alcohol in grocery stores passed the Colorado Legislature today — despite representatives from grocers Safeway and King Soopers confirming they have no plans to pull their more expansive ballot initiative, even if Senate Bill 197 is signed into law.
SB 197 would allow grocers who now can get only one full alcohol-sales license per chain to acquire 19 more over the next 20 years, after which time they can get as many licenses as they want.
To acquire the extra licenses, they must buy out the licenses of two liquor stores near them — or all of the liquor licenses within a 1,500-square-foot radius if there are more than two in that area.
Conservative Republicans - and liberal Democrats - are behind this stupidity. They actually believe that it is good legislation to force grocery stores to buy out their competitors if they want to sell beer, wine and hard liquor.
A lot of idiocracy in government irritates me, but perhaps nothing more than the self-indulgent, arrogant, holier-than-thou attitude of elected officials who think it is in the purview of government to decide who wins and loses in the marketplace.
I understand why the two major grocery chains in Colorado want to put the issue to the voters, but this is an issue that should not go before the voters. Government should get out of the business of licensing the retail sale of liquor. They should certainly get out of the business of restricting new entry into the liquor marketplace by requiring new entrants to buy out their competitors.
I understand that if liquor sales were opened to grocery stores that some small liquor stores might go out of business. That is the nature of a free market. Opening the market up would force smaller stores to compete by becoming more niche-oriented; or offering a higher quality selection. And, some stores would simply go out of business.
But that should be decided in the marketplace, now the state house.