Prohibition Is Alive and Well in Absurd State Alcohol Laws – National Review

(John Sommers II/Reuters)They only hurt businesses and burden consumers.

Nearly 100 years after Prohibition’s repeal, government still can’t seem to shake its obsession with our vices. Although society has advanced immeasurably over that time, the puritanical obsession with people wetting their whistles continues. The nation’s paternalistic and corrupt experiment with banning alcohol has been widely decried as a failure. Nevertheless, piles of costly, anti-competitive, and inane alcohol laws remain in force today.

The modern vestiges of Prohibition tend to be as corrupt as that failed institution. In the 1920s, Prohibition enriched organized crime, which bribed officials and law enforcement to protect their racket. Today, arbitrary alcohol laws enrich entrenched businesses by preventing competition, and they return the favor with campaign contributions to the politicians who defend those laws.

Idaho, for example, restricts the number of liquor licenses, allowing just one for every 1,500 people. The government claims that the limit is meant to further temperance, which Idaho’s 1889 constitution calls an element of government’s “first concern.” In reality, the limit acts as an anti-competitive boon to the established businesses that already have a license and can keep out new competitors, as well as to the politicians who can grant exemptions through special legislation.

In Indiana, only liquor stores can sell cold beer, while groceries stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies are stuck selling beer at room temperature. There is no good justification for this. The state claims it doesn’t want people chugging cold beer in the parking lot before getting behind the wheel. But how exactly does that justify letting cold beer be sold in liquor stores but not in Whole Foods? Does the state have any evidence that customers are more likely to get sloshed in the parking lot if a store sells both cold beer and organic kale? No,

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