Sharkansky
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Nov 1, 2010 Sharkansky commented on Honey, I've Shrunk the Government.
jvm@9: Right now the revenue from the liquor system consists of the official liquor sales tax (I-1100 leaves that in place); license fees (I-1100 maintains all current license fees and INCREASES license fee revenue, effectively 20% per OFM estimates, dedicating all new fees to enforcement and abuse reduction); and the surplus "markup" set by the liquor board.

The latter is equivalent to an extra liquor sales tax imposed outside the normal legislative process by the unelected liquor board. It's taxation without representation plain and simple. I-1100 chose to be neutral on the tax question, except to remove the taxing authority from the liquor board (which is unaccountable to the public) and granting the authority to tax liquor solely to the Legislature. We felt that the question of taxation should be completely separate from the question of whether the state should be in the liquor marketing business. There's nothing in I-1100 that limits the Legislature's ability to add some or all of the revenue that is currently the liquor board's extra sales tax into the official statutory sales tax. It's entirely the Legislature's decision whether they let the liquor board's sales tax disappear completely or add some of that current revenue into the statutory sales tax.

Whether or not the I-1053 "2/3 majority" passes, the Legislature will inevitably agree to tax "something". If I-1100 passes, I suspect the Legislature would find it politically easier to adjust the liquor tax to include at least some of what had been the liquor board's sales tax, than to raise taxes on something else.

Generations of Legislatures and Governors collectively created this situation by calling the liquor board's extra sales tax a "profit" and avoiding responsibility for it. If I-1100 doesn't pass, the incoming Legislature should do the fair thing and fold the liquor board's sales tax into the official sales tax and call it what it is.
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Oct 29, 2010 Sharkansky commented on Washington's State and Local Governments Can't Afford I-1100.
Cowgirl @41 -- In spite of the fact that California has 8 times more retail stores per capita selling "hard liquor" than we do, they drink marginally less "hard liquor" per capita than we do. So no, the number of stores does not "predict" consumption. California also has significantly lower rates of underage drinking and alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities. Sounds good to me.

If I-1100 wins, it will be because more voters voted on it in spite of the fact that it is being overspent by several million dollars from out-of-state beer distributors and Anheuser-Busch.
Oct 29, 2010 Sharkansky commented on Washington's State and Local Governments Can't Afford I-1100.
Goldy,

It's interesting to see Mr. Drinking Liberally on the same side of a temperance issue with Pastor Joe Fuiten and the Christian Coalition.

Speaking of Drinking Liberally, can you explain why it makes sense to have only 315 government stores to sell us liquor by the bottle, but 5,700 bars and restaurants selling it by the glass? Imagine how much money we're handing over to greedy corporations by not operating a state nightclub monopoly!

I'll repeat my promise, Goldy. If I-1100 wins, I'll buy you, Sandeep, Joel Connelly and Roger Rabbit as many rounds of Maker's Mark as you can drink without getting too excited.
Oct 23, 2010 Sharkansky commented on Vote Yes on I-1100.
Fnarf @3: Stores currently licensed to sell beer and wine will be able to upgrade their licenses to sell spirits upon payment of the fee, provided that they're in good standing with the liquor board. New stores will be able get licensed too. They'll go through the same license application process that any new applicant for a beer/wine grocery store goes through today. That includes criminal background check, community input period and other review.

Citizen R@8: The initiative was NOT written by a single industry. Brendan Williams is essentially correct about the authorship. I was the primary, though not the sole author. Whatever you might think of my views on unrelated issues, the liquor issue has less to do with partisan politics than any other issue that I've seen. Most of the businesses which are most actively supporting I-1100 are owned and/or led by liberal Democrats. Costco's executives donate generously and almost exclusively to Democratic candidates and liberal causes. Same can be said about most of the people in the restaurant and nightlife businesses who are behind this. The NO campaign might have been started by UFCW, but its biggest funders are the mostly Republican beer companies and a few religious conservatives who seem nostalgic for Prohibition.

The drafters wrote it entirely from our own pro-consumer perspective and without any industry behind us when we started. The initiative was designed to provide a fair marketplace to benefit consumers and the businesses that do the best job of serving us. My pro-consumer philosophy, in a nutshell: Consumers deserve to be sovereign in the marketplace and to have freedom to choose where they shop and who they buy from. Businesses should have to compete to win our business. The government's role in the consumer marketplace should be limited to enforcing product safety laws, other laws that protect people from physical harm and regulations to prevent predatory pricing and monopolies. Other than that it's not in the public's interest for government to subsidize one business at the expense of others, or to "protect" some businesses by outlawing fair competition or mutually beneficial business deals that are freely entered into.

I-1100 would create a fair marketplace based on those principles.

The businesses that support it are mostly retailers (from the very small to the very large), bars and restaurants, and a lot of small wineries. These businesses believe that the free and fair consumer-driven marketplace will allow them be more successful.

The businesses that hate I-1100 most and are spending millions to defeat it are the big multinational breweries (e.g. Anheuser-Busch/Inbev, now based in Belgium) and beer distributors from around the country. Breweries and beer distributors benefit now by having the state liquor stores keeping many alcoholic beverages out of grocery stores, and thereby protecting beer from competition for shelf space and customer choice. Also, the beer and wine industries are regulated with antiquated laws, which have nothing to do with public safety and don't exist for any other consumer product. Some of these businesses feel these "protect" them from competition with their rivals. But the main effect is to reduce consumer choice and raise consumer prices.

Brendan @11: I-1100 maintains the $220+ million annual revenue from the statutory liquor sales tax. The revenue that would be discontinued is the liquor store "markup" which is in essence an extra sales tax imposed by the liquor board instead of the Legislature. The extra sales tax brings in less than $60 million in a normal year. Much of that will be made up anyway by B&O taxes. I think that it's the Legislature's job to set taxes. If we want the sales tax which is today imposed by the liquor board to continue, then it deserves to continue as a transparent and properly legislated liquor sales tax. I have no doubt that someone in the next session of the Legislature will introduce such a bill to increase the liquor sales tax so that the total effective tax on liquor is maintained, and you can encourage the members to support it.

But the issue of taxation is completely separate from the question whether or not it's a core function of government to sell Kahlua and Triple Sec
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Oct 20, 2010 Sharkansky commented on Ignore the SECB on I-1100... They're Drunk.
which part of FOUR TIMES THE VIOLATIONS don't you get, Sharksy?

The part that no documentation has been produced to support that claim.
Oct 20, 2010 Sharkansky commented on Ignore the SECB on I-1100... They're Drunk.
Hey pugetsounder @95, you're drinking too much of the NO campaign's Kool-Aid.

Even if you accept the state liquor store's "94%" compliance rate, their failure rate is 6%. That's pretty lousy given that keeping alcohol out of the hands of kids is the most important job they claim to do. And it's far from the best in the country. For example, Washington sells to minors twice as often as Virginia, base on their reported 97% compliance (3% failure) rate. [source Virginia Alcohol Beverage Commission annual reports]

I've found no documentation for the claim that privately-run store clerks catch only 75% of minors, and I challenge the NO campaign to provide documentation from the liquor board or anybody else which proves that number is correct. I doubt that number is close to correct, but even if it is, it mostly reflects poorly on the liquor board, whose job it is to enforce the laws and otherwise work with licensees to improve compliance.

Besides which, the proof is in the pudding. Washington's underage drinking rate (based on Federal data) is still worse than the national average and the average in states with private sector liquor sales.

You are correct to use the term "alcohol outlet" in connection with the research on the AMA website. "Alcohol outlet" means any business that sells alcohol. Those studies don't distinguish between bars and retail stores that only sell beer and wine (and malt liquor) from retail stores that sell beer, wine and "hard liquor". Besides which, those studies only show correlation, which is not the same as causation.

Any other numbers you want to provide to prove your point?
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Oct 19, 2010 Sharkansky commented on Ignore the SECB on I-1100... They're Drunk.
David, David, David, I've always said you were a more talented writer than I am -- but only when we're talking about fiction, like you've written here:
more alcohol-related health costs, more domestic violence, more crime and more drunk driving fatalities. That's what's happened in other states that liberalized their liquor laws, and that's what will happen here.
You and the other opponents don't cite any actual studies or data to back this up, because there aren't any. In fact, for example, most states with private sector liquor sales have lower rates of underage drinking, DUI traffic deaths and other alcohol impacts than Washington. But don't let inconvenient facts intrude on your belief in G-vernment.

I knew that if I waited long enough I'd find you and Pastor Joe Fuiten on the same side of a faith-based issue!

And what now, are you going to change the name of "Drinking Liberally" to "Drinking Like a Church Lady?"

I'll tell you what: if I-1100 passes, I'll come back to the Montlake Tea House and buy you and Sandeep and Joel Connelly and Roger Rabbit as many rounds of Maker's Mark as you can hold without getting too excited.
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Oct 14, 2010 Sharkansky commented on VOTE, BABY, VOTE!.
cb @69

(and sorry for the double post at 62/63. My lame)

I'm a fan of craft beer. Like most folks who prefer craft beer, I'm willing to pay more for the good stuff and will never switch to Budweiser no matter how cheap it gets.

I also have faith in American entrepreneurs and their ability to innovate and compete for customers when given a fair chance to do so.

And again, Anheuser-Busch/InBev is one of the biggest investors in the NO on I-1100/1105 campaign. They have more financial analysts working for them than the local craft brewers do. I suspect they've projected that the free market will give them tougher competition from good beer as much as it will give them tougher competition from good whiskey.
Oct 14, 2010 Sharkansky joined My Stranger Face
Oct 14, 2010 Sharkansky commented on VOTE, BABY, VOTE!.
The argument for I-1100 is well researched, well written and spot on. Nice job, SECB!

thunderchaps @42: The local wineries and artisan breweries are divided on this issue. Some, like the Family Wineries of Washington State strongly support I-1100. I've spoken with individual brewers who welcome I-1100. Other producers oppose it.

What's driving it the opposition is that at present there are all kinds of laws restricting competition in the alcohol beverage industries that we don't have with any other consumer products. The restrictions don't do anything to protect public health and safety. Some firms benefit from them at the expense of other firms, and at the expense of consumers. The laws are relics from post-Prohibition, but Legislatures find it hard to get rid of them because of lobbying pressure from the firms that benefit most from the special treatment. For example, it's illegal for a grocery store to buy beer and wine from a supplier on credit. No other products have that restriction. It generally helps better-known brands --if a grocer has to pay cash up front to stock a product, he'll be more inclined to stock a known-quantity product which he believes can sell quickly, and less likely to take a risk on a lesser known product if he doesn't know how quickly it will sell.

I-1100 gets rid of the outdated economic regulations while preserving the regulations that protect public health and safety. It creates a free and fair marketplace that benefits consumers and the companies that serve them the best. Some winemakers and brewers feel that the current regulations protect them from competition. Others think they can be even more successful in an open marketplace where they're free to enter into mutually beneficial arrangements with retailers who might not otherwise carry their products. A lot of small winemakers know that if they can sell on credit, it would make it easier for smaller stores to take a risk to try putting their lesser-known products on the shelf. So they support I-1100.

As a consumer, I think we're served better by an open marktplace, not by regulations that make it harder for companies to compete for our business.

The ones who are most motivated to keep the anti-competitive regulations in place are the big brewers and beer distributors. That's why they're pouring millions of dollars from around the country into this campaign in order to preserve their favored position in the marketplace (= reduce choices and raise prices for Washington consumers)
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