I’m voting “No” on Massachusetts ballot Question 1
In Massachusetts, alcohol is sold at liquor stores (called “package stores” here) and at a limited number of grocery stores. Most other states have more liberal rules than we do about where alcohol can be sold. It’s the norm in the US to have alcohol sales in supermarkets.
Question 1 on the Massachusetts ballot asks voters whether to expand the number of licenses that can be issued to grocery stores to sell wine. Predictably, grocery stores support the measure while package stores oppose it. There’s nothing principled about their arguments, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t merit to some of what they say.
Supporters, led by Grocery Stores and Consumers for Fair Competition argue that a Yes vote will reduce prices and provide consumers with more choice. They cite the experience of other states.
Opponents, led by Wine Merchants and Concerned Citizens SAFETY (Stopping Alcohol’s Further Expansion to Youth) argue that a Yes would make it easier for kids to buy alcohol, which would increase the number of alcohol related problems such as drunk driving fatalities. This is especially likely because there is no provision to increase resources for enforcement of minimum age laws.
I agree with the wine merchants more than the grocers. I don’t believe that Massachusetts will do a good job of keeping grocery stores from selling to underage buyers. I don’t doubt that the owners of the stores will try to avoid selling to kids, but when a large part of the checkout staff are themselves underage I think it will be hard to stop.
A better idea might be to hold the package stores to a higher standard, putting them at greater risk of license forfeiture for underage selling.October 27, 2006