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ballardfam
09-28-2011, 09:01 AM
Anyone here have some info on the financial (for the state) benefit of 1183? The Seattle Times says "The Office of Financial Management reported that liquor sales in 2010 contributed $302 million to the state budget and $69 million to local governments." Is allowing private companies to take over state liquor sales going to provide as much or more in taxes for state income over the long run? Everything I read seems to have an opinion but I'm having trouble putting together a reasonable overall financial picture. Thx

md2000
09-28-2011, 09:19 AM
Many Canadian provinces have government liquor sales. Think about it. You allow a private store - there can only be a few ways for that private owner to make money:

-pay employees less; no longer government employees, they instead get minimum wage like any other retail worker. The folks working at Wal-Mart now essentially decide if the person in front of them is over 18 or too drunk. Yeah, bar employees are in the same boat, but at least they can keep out anyone who looks under 18. MADD will be thrilled.

-raise prices to get profits. Works for bars. You pay several times retail in a bar or restaurant. Or do you expect wholesalers to drop their prices?

-pay less taxes/profits to the government. Smooth move - the government can just raise income tax to make up the difference.

So basically, screw the employee or the consumer or the tax payer to put more money in the pocket of whoever schmoozes the politicians for a license. Or can any Joe simply get one and start selling in every corner store?

-work more efficiently. Really? How much slack do you think there is in a system where stuff comes into a warehouse and then goes out. Is the head office bloated? What's the shrinkage numbers, and what wil they be when a store is "Joe's Liquor" and understaffed with underpaid employees?

The solution in Alberta was that the privatized liquor stores tended to carry a lot less variety (at a higher price), great if you only like Captain Morgan, Kaluha, and Smirnoff, not so great if you prefer fancy stuff. It will be harder to find fancy stuff and when you do find it, it will cost more.

This isn't bread and milk for sale - it's alcohol. If you think it should be as available as milk then open unregulated stores on every corner and away you go. While you're at it why the heck is the drinking age 21 instead of 18? Work on that first...

picunurse
09-28-2011, 10:44 AM
Here is an over-view of prop 1183 (http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/notes/citizens-guide-initiative-1183-end-washingtons-liquor-store-monopoly) by an unbiased think tank.

md2000, I don't think Canada's situation is the same as ours. Liquor won't be available in every little shop, only major grocery stores. Our grocery store workers have a strong union and get paid very well. That can't change. As in California, the selection will actually increase, and prices will go down.
Our minimum drinking age is 21. The law requires the retailer, weather it be a server at a bar, or a checker at the grocery store, to check ID if the buyer appears to be under 30.

md2000
09-28-2011, 12:25 PM
Here is an over-view of prop 1183 (http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/notes/citizens-guide-initiative-1183-end-washingtons-liquor-store-monopoly) by an unbiased think tank.

md2000, I don't think Canada's situation is the same as ours. Liquor won't be available in every little shop, only major grocery stores. Our grocery store workers have a strong union and get paid very well. That can't change. As in California, the selection will actually increase, and prices will go down.
Our minimum drinking age is 21. The law requires the retailer, weather it be a server at a bar, or a checker at the grocery store, to check ID if the buyer appears to be under 30.

So does the law say "minimum square feet X", or "must be unionized"? Or will Sams Club eventually sell liquor? (How would you stop them? How would you write a law that says "any grocery store except Sams Club"?) Once it's in grocery stores, why not corner stores? The more widespread it is, the easier for under-age drinkers or alcoholics to buy it, where in government stores they would be cut off. If you have the "let 'em crash and burn" philosophy, then I guess it doesn't matter. Government store workers making good wages are less likely to put the store's profit motive or general "I don't care" ahead of care in who they sell to. Or as one Wal-Mart manager told me, "I have to get up early tomorrow to open the store for the shoplifters..."

In order to avoid age discrimination suits, many places check everyone. My 92-yo stepmother got carded at the Idaho airport beffore my father could order a drink.

I just don't understand why unlike much of the rest of the world, you forbid 18-20yo's from drinking.

But generally, the profit for these new owners has to come out of somewhere - the taxpayer's pocket, the worker's pocket, and/or the customer's pocket; because profit from the retail stores now in a way goes into the taxpayer's pocket.

alphaboi867
09-28-2011, 01:09 PM
Get real. Government employees aren't any better at checking IDs than any other retail workers. IME they're even worse. Living in Pennsylvania wine & spirits are only availible at state-run liquor stores (or direct from a local winery). Beer can be bought in bulk at beer distributors or to go from select bars & restaurant or recently in supermarkets that got their deli cafes licenced as restaurants. I'm 26 and consistently get carded at bars, clubs, restaurants, and the supermarkets. In 5 years of buying liquor from the state store I've been carded twice. I've even pulled out my ID in advanced and been told they didn't need to see it. The supermarkets that sell beer card everyone.

The clerks at the state stores are unionized civil servants. Which means they're much harder to fire (& they get an appeals process). Private sector employees are likely to be fired on the spot (for cause so no unemployment) for failing a sting on top of being fined. That was the c ause when I worked in a gas station (& that was just for tobacco products). Plus in addition to the offending employee getting a fine the retailer get's a much larger one; the liquor control board can't very well fine itself now can it? :rolleyes: Private employees are plenty motivated at stoping underage sales when a single mistake equals; a big fine, no job (& a bad reference), and no unemployment.

Oh, and the selection in most state stores sucks. I've found more variety in private liquor stores in NY & NJ or even in supermarket wine aisles down South. Despite their higher pay & much better benefits the LCB clerks aren't any more helpful that their private counterparts. I'm not even going to get into their asinine experiment with putting wine vending machines in supermarkets to fend off calls for letting grocers sell wine.

It's true you can't really require all liquor outlets to be unionized, but you can require them to be of a certain size, be specialist liquor stores (as is the case in NY & NJ among many other states), and ban minors from even setting foot in them. You can also forbid them from employing anyone under 18/21. Even allowing supermarket sales doesn't automatically equal more sales to underage or intoxicated customers.

suranyi
09-28-2011, 01:38 PM
I'm not one to say that things are always better in the US -- far from it. But I do need to say that liquor is for sale in pretty much every grocery store in California, and has been for decades, and it doesn't seem to cause any special problems. In particular the selection is excellent in most areas, and the prices are low because of the competition.

picunurse
09-28-2011, 01:52 PM
md2000, beer and wine are already available in every little shop everywhere in WA. So, shouldn't under-age drinking be out of control here already? It isn't. I can't see how it would increase so very dramaticly just because hard liquor was added to supermarket shelves.

As alphaboi867 said, the penalties for selling to minors or over-serving in bars are substantial. The store is fined for a first offense, or even closed if it happens more than once.
I've never seen anyone carded at a state store.

BTW, I don't drink. So, Prop 1183 passing or not will not effect me. I will vote yes, because the board that sells liquor shouldn't be the same board that polices liquor sales.

The liquor control board in WA has had a questionable reputation over the years.
My late uncle was on the board for many years. He was a drunk who never paid for alcohol and admitted to family that he took "gifts" from applicants.

dracoi
09-28-2011, 01:56 PM
On the money front: The basic idea is that the state generates revenue now as the "profits" from their liquor sales operations. Those profits will be replaced with a two-part tax (called a "license fee" so that we can claim the actual tax is unchanged) at the distributor (10%) and retail (17%) levels.

If sales remained flat and the state had a 27% profit margin on its stores, then the new system would generate basically the same revenue as the old system. I think the expectation is that sales of liquor will actually increase, so it's entirely likely that the new system could raise more revenue total. picunurse's link has some numbers to look at that show an increase in revenues.

However, I have yet to see numbers that I consider unbiased, trustworthy, etc. (It's like Mark Twain's "lies, damn lies and statistics" when it comes to this issue.)

ballardfam
09-28-2011, 03:31 PM
However, I have yet to see numbers that I consider unbiased, trustworthy, etc. (It's like Mark Twain's "lies, damn lies and statistics" when it comes to this issue.)

That's my problem with this initiative. I don't see much difference regarding increased drinking or selection (at least for me). I'd just like to know if this is actually an improvement in state revenue or just another way for corporate interests to increase their profit at the expense of the taxpayer.

ballardfam
09-28-2011, 03:34 PM
So does the law say "minimum square feet X", or "must be unionized"? Or will Sams Club eventually sell liquor? (How would you stop them? How would you write a law that says "any grocery store except Sams Club"?) t.

the initiative's major sponsor is Costco so I'm sure Sam's Club would also benefit already. The initiative seems to be written to benefit the largest box stores.

Smapti
09-28-2011, 05:33 PM
As an employee of a large grocery store chain in WA, i'd have to disagree with the assertion that "minimum wage workers" would be any worse at checking IDs than state employees, unionized or otherwise. We get the same MAST training that they do and the penalty for selling alcohol to an underaged person is a MASSIVE fine and loss of your job. Our POS system is set up so that you can't ring through an alcohol sale without putting in a birthdate, and it even forces us to card for cooking wine and non-alcoholic beer. I think the biggest issue we'd face at the store level is shoplifting, but our security camera system is top-notch and our LP department is very good at what they do.

ISTR that the text of the initiative limits liquor sales to stores with 10,000 square feet of floor space or more, unless there are no such stores within a given radius of miles (i.e. the Quik-Stop on 388th street in the middle of the boondocks).

As to the revenue adjustment, the state will pick up a sizeable immediate profit from the sale of its stores and its distribution center, and overhead will go down due to not having to pay store staff and building maintenance. As WA's liquor tax is already quite high, revenue to the state should remain about the same as it is now, and may increase if more ready access to liquor causes sales to go up. As it is, you can only buy liquor during the very limited hours the state stores are open - 11 AM to 730 PM in most cases, and the latest any of them stay open is 10 PM, whereas under the I-1183 model they could be purchased during any of the hours in which beer and wine can be sold, 6 AM to 2 AM.

I'm personally for it because, as an ex-Californian, I think the state system here is ridiculously backwards and inefficient.

Johnny L.A.
09-28-2011, 10:42 PM
As WA's liquor tax is already quite high, revenue to the state should remain about the same as it is now, and may increase if more ready access to liquor causes sales to go up. As it is, you can only buy liquor during the very limited hours the state stores are open - 11 AM to 730 PM in most cases, and the latest any of them stay open is 10 PM, whereas under the I-1183 model they could be purchased during any of the hours in which beer and wine can be sold, 6 AM to 2 AM.

I'm personally for it because, as an ex-Californian, I think the state system here is ridiculously backwards and inefficient.

I agree with friend Smapti. Independent sellers != lowering the (extremely high) taxes. I'm voting 'Yes' because I, too, am an ex-Californian. I do like the sauce, but I hardly ever drink it. However I dislike having to go to a separate store whenever I want to make steak au poivre.

Bob Moon
10-03-2011, 08:55 PM
the antiquated liquor policies of both Washington and Oregon since I moved here in 1958. Having lived and visited other States that had liquor laws that didn't come out of Prohibition I am totally in favor of 1183. My question is: why does a 1.75 liter bottle of Skyy vodka cost from $20 to $26 in California and $35 in Oregon and $37 in Washington? the answer, The states hold the monopoly on liquor sales. There are not more per capita cases of sales to minors in Cal. than there are in Wa. and Ore. My position is that the state will STILL retain the taxes but their function will be ENFORCEMENT ONLY which is as it should be. There are many reasons why I believe this is the right thing to do albeit way too late but I'll finish with 'VOTE YES ON 1183".

Goosie
10-03-2011, 09:02 PM
In seeing the commercials from the Vote Yes side and the Vote No side, they both seem to be raising the spectre of "big national liquor companies" supporting the other side.

That is, the Vote Yes side says how the "big national liquor companies" are supporting the Vote No side and the Vote No side says how the "big national liquor companies" are supporting the Vote Yes side.

At least it seems that way to me.
I'm getting kind of "completely saturated" by both campaigns.

Rocketeer
10-03-2011, 09:59 PM
That's my problem with this initiative. I don't see much difference regarding increased drinking or selection (at least for me). I'd just like to know if this is actually an improvement in state revenue or just another way for corporate interests to increase their profit at the expense of the taxpayer.

My bet's on the corporate interests. You can tell they really think there's going to be a big profit in it, since this is the second try, after the first was voted down.

...and just because California does something is no reason we should do it the same way. Last time I looked, CA didn't look like a really well-run state, y'know?

As far as high liquor prices as a consequence of the state monopoly, BFD. I drink very little, and I'd sure rather have a tax on liquor than on something I use, like, say, my income.

md2000
10-05-2011, 11:36 AM
On the money front: The basic idea is that the state generates revenue now as the "profits" from their liquor sales operations. Those profits will be replaced with a two-part tax (called a "license fee" so that we can claim the actual tax is unchanged) at the distributor (10%) and retail (17%) levels.

If sales remained flat and the state had a 27% profit margin on its stores, then the new system would generate basically the same revenue as the old system. I think the expectation is that sales of liquor will actually increase, so it's entirely likely that the new system could raise more revenue total. picunurse's link has some numbers to look at that show an increase in revenues.

However, I have yet to see numbers that I consider unbiased, trustworthy, etc. (It's like Mark Twain's "lies, damn lies and statistics" when it comes to this issue.)

Huh? If the markup going to the government remains the same, then where does the profit for the store come from? Either lower wages, lower cost of goods (yeah, right!) or efficiencies. So the question is is a government liquor store that inefficient? or is there extra revenue for government store operating profits not added into this equation?

OTOH, if the board has proven itself to be corrupt and the state has done nothing to correct the problem, then they've earned the right to be obsolete. However, someone taking gratuities from applicants is likely the side that hands out and adjudicates license issues (which is not going away), not the retail side. (Other opportunities for self-help would exist there). If the stores have not made an effort to supply sufficient variety or otherwise remain relevant and provide good service, they too have earned their obsolesence.

Are you suggesting that either (a) test shoppers do not check compliance for ID at government stores or (b) government employees get a better deal if caught failing the sales rules? If the govenment is lax in providing quality service, then again they have earned the right of obsolesence.

As for "minimum wage" workers the better the pay differential, the more incentive to not screw up.

Any government service exists on sufferance that they must do a good job, or someone in the private sector will do better.

Blakeyrat
10-05-2011, 03:59 PM
Knowing how many Californian transplants support this makes me, as a native Washingtonian, want to vote against it.

Cyberhwk
10-05-2011, 10:34 PM
I'm a Pinko Commie Liberal and even I don't understand what the hell business the state has in selling products for a profit. (And I want my Costco booze dang it!). :)

dracoi
10-09-2011, 01:38 PM
I've been trying to do some research on how likely it is that the state's controls over alcohol in Washington are effective in reducing/preventing abuse of alcohol and underage drinking. It's harder than you might think to find anything on it - if anyone has good sources, I'd love to know.

In any event, what I did find is here: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k8state/Ch3.htm
Comparing just WA and CA, it's interesting that WA has higher rates of alcohol abuse in almost every category measured. Furthermore, CA appears to have higher rates of people who believe alcohol is harmful. Together, the information suggests to me that education is more important than enforcement...

psychonaut
10-09-2011, 01:58 PM
Here is an over-view of prop 1183 (http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/notes/citizens-guide-initiative-1183-end-washingtons-liquor-store-monopoly) by an unbiased think tank.Unbiased my ass. They even state their bias on this particular issue at the beginning of the report:Washington Policy Center has long recommended getting the state out of the liquor business and allowing the competitive private sale of liquor under regulation by the state.Their opinions on economic policy generally are also spelled out on their "About" page.

Shalmanese
10-09-2011, 09:24 PM
When I was living in WA state, Liquor was just inconvenient to get. There were only a couple of stores and they tended to be in out of the way locations, selection depended on a central purchasing authority which meant obscure and specialty liquors were hard to find (although WA did a better job than some states in catering to cocktail aficionados) and opening hours were short.

Now, living in California, liquor is easy to get, far cheaper and available 24/7.

md2000: Retail is a non-trivial industry and everything from supply side management to discounting to aisle design can impact the bottom line. So yes, I do expect private sellers to be able to wring efficiencies out of the system that the government isn't able to.

md2000
10-10-2011, 01:21 AM
When I was living in WA state, Liquor was just inconvenient to get. There were only a couple of stores and they tended to be in out of the way locations, selection depended on a central purchasing authority which meant obscure and specialty liquors were hard to find (although WA did a better job than some states in catering to cocktail aficionados) and opening hours were short.

Now, living in California, liquor is easy to get, far cheaper and available 24/7.

md2000: Retail is a non-trivial industry and everything from supply side management to discounting to aisle design can impact the bottom line. So yes, I do expect private sellers to be able to wring efficiencies out of the system that the government isn't able to.

Well if the state commission has not being proactive in reducing corruption or exploiting those same efficiencies, then they deserve to be privatized as an object lesson. From what little I know most of the provincial liquor marts here are motivated by the fear of privatization to be up to date in their efficiencies.

Smapti
11-08-2011, 11:54 PM
I-1183 has passed by a margin of approximately 60-40. (http://vote.wa.gov/results/current/Initiative-Measure-1183-Concerning-liquor--beer-wine-and-spirits-hard-liquor.html)