ESSE QUAM VIDERI: NC House Bill to Privatize ABC System, Allow Retail and Sunday Sales

RALEIGH – To be the ‘First in Freedom’ state, North Carolina has sure had a high Big Government content when it comes to the sale of liquor. Indeed, we’ve had a state monopoly on the sale of liquor, and all the bloated bureaucracies, asinine regulations and restrictions, and political squabbling that comes with such a thing.

Years long attempts at reforming the State’s outdated ABC system have been like pulling teeth. The interests are entrenched; many local governments have become dependent on the revenues they collect from steep alcohol taxes. Their many worry is how they are going to replace the revenue, as if that is a good enough reason to perpetuate Big Government at the county level. The local ABC Boards, too, spend a lot of time finding reasons to justify their own existence. Maximizing revenue is literally part of their mission.

Meanwhile, the people of the Old North State are burdened with regulations about who can sell them liquor, and when. The prices they pay, naturally, are artificially inflated.

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So, to move, generally, in the direction of freedom, we should all be rooting for House Bill 91, a bill whose authors want to modernize the system. Reps. Pricey Harrison and Jon Hardister, both from the Greensboro area, are hopeful they can gain support for doing just that.

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From CBS17 in Greensboro:

“[…] “WFMY News 2 spoke with Harrison and Hardister on Sunday about the new bill. They both stressed that the bill is still in its early stages and likely will not become finalized for at least another two years.

“There are a lot of 100-year-old rules in our books relating to alcohol sales that probably need a revisit,” said Harrison.

“We need to modernize our system. I don’t see any reason why the government should own and operate ABC stores. I think it’s service best left to the private sector,” said Hardister. “It’s something most other states have done. Really I think our laws in North Carolina are outdated.” […]”

Hardister is right; government has no business running a monopoly liquor business in our state. Getting government out of the way seems a little more unusual for Harrison, though, a Far Left Democrat with a history of supporting Bigger and Bigger Government.

Quotes like the following are remarkable considering the source:

“[…] Representative Harrison said privatizing liquor sales would most likely cause liquor prices to go down for consumers.

That’s the way it’s worked in other states because there will be competition. And what’s kept prices somewhat higher than our surrounding states is that we have a government-run monopoly on liquor sales,” said Harrison.

Harrison said some people travel out of state currently to avoid paying higher prices on liquor. […]”

This perspective is coming from the same lawmaker that sponsored a resolution int he N.C. House to force the entire State of North Carolina to abandon fossil fuels and mandate 100 percent renewable energy use.

That being said, her points are absolutely valid. Freer markets and less government intrusion are always better for better producers and consumers.

In this case, the bill would toss the old ABC system and instead offer licenses for the sale of liquor at retail businesses. ABC store assets would be sold to the highest qualified bids and inventory would be liquidated. It would also allow liquor sales on Sunday (if the local government approves it) and give the growing North Carolina distillery industry more opportunities to capitalize on their product.

Harrison, the died-in-the-wool Lefty, again strikes a weird capitalist tone in support of all this.

“[…] “The issue about privatizing the ABC system has been around since I was first elected 15 years ago,” said Harrison. “I gave a good look at a lot of our ABC rules. Many of them are anachronistic. They date back to the prohibition era. And there was a lot of modernizing that we needed to do. And deregulation, taking the handcuffs off of entrepreneurial businesses which craft brewers and craft distillers have turned into a big part of North Carolina’s economy.”

Harrison said she became involved in revamping liquor sales in North Carolina after working with craft breweries and distilleries. She wants to remove regulation to allow distilleries to thrive. […]”

Again, weird rhetoric from Harrison, but still the right approach. In fact, this laissez faire approach is the right one to take with ALL industries for ALL the same reasons.

Still, the unlikely duo, Harrison and Hardister, caution that this is not going to happen overnight. It will take years, they say, to fully modernize the system. Yet, considering that our official state motto, Esse Quam Videri, means ‘To Be Rather Than To Seem‘ – we should work hard to BE the First in Freedom State in liquor sales, and all other corners of the economy too.

Read more about the bill and its implications here.

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