Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Full strength beer sales in grocery stores

On occasion, there are bills that come up which represent a clear choice between right and wrong, good and evil.

This is not one of those cases. Tweaking the State’s liquor laws is really just a fight in the Capitol for market share on Main Street. The existing system is convoluted to be sure, and with the exception of last year’s bill to allow sales of alcohol on Sunday by liquor stores, very stable.

While this isn’t a clear case of right vs. wrong, I do think that the argument does represent a case where one side is marginally more right than the other. In this case I place the value on the scale of right and wrong at 65 to 35 in favor of the liquor stores over the convenience stores and grocery stores.

To fully understand the issue, you need to understand some background information.

Under current law, grocery stores and convenience stores can only sell beer and some other drinks where the alcohol content is 3.2% by volume or less. This has been the case for many decades. Until last year, they had an absolute monopoly on alcohol sales for carryout on Sundays. Of course, they can also sell all kinds of other items including gasoline – just envision a Super Wal-Mart and you get the picture.

Liquor stores operate under a completely different set of rules. An individual, and no corporation, can get a liquor license to sell in only one location. That’s why you don’t see chain liquor stores in Colorado. The only way around that is where you see a couple where one person has a license to sell for one location and the other in another location. You occasionally see a grocery store with a full liquor license; they can obtain that license if they have a pharmacy in store and get a combo pharmacy/liquor license.

Are you confused yet?

There are plenty of examples of smart people working their way around this problem of licensing.

I guess it is an example of what you get when you allow government to write the rules and interfere with the market down the minutia of who can sell what. This is proof that socialism is a bad idea.

But here is the kicker:

Real people risked their hard earned money and time to start a business under a given set of rules established by the government.

If the government changes those rules and that change eliminates the investment of those real people, government would be making a mistake.

To be fair to the convenience store and grocery store owners, last year’s change to allow Sunday sales of all liquor in liquor stores did hurt their business in a trade off for convenience for consumers. No one can ignore that, but it pales in comparison to the damage that would be done to liquor stores by the change to allow sales in 7-11 and Safeway. That’s why I place the balance of the scales at 65-35.

Dang it, it is hard to unwind socialism, which is why we should resist any other move in that direction.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Import Gitmo Terrorists?

Governor Ritter thinks it is an acceptable idea to bring terrorists and battlefield combatants currently heal at Guantanamo Bay to the Super Max prison in Colorado.

What an incredibly stupid thing to suggest, there is no gentle way to put this.

I just finished reading Mark Steyn’s “America Alone” where he lays out in great detail the threat to freedom and our modern society posed by the spread of Islam as practiced by Osama bin Laden and his buddies in the Wahhabi sect.

It’s a great book and you should read it so you can understand how supposedly free countries in Europe and elsewhere are gradually creeping toward sharia law.

One of the points that stood out clearly in the book is the risk of conversion of our criminals in prison to this form of Islam.

How dangerous is it for a person who looks like they fit right in in America and who has already exhibited enough anti-social behavior to end up in prison converted to a religion that encourages them to kill non-believers?

How many converts would we see in a prison located right here in Colorado if this move is allowed?

Even the term limited leftist Governor Sebelius of Kansas said “hell no” to moving the Gitmo prisoners to her state and she has an actual military prison.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Today in the Senate we honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a resolution and some speeches. The President, Peter Groff, gave his customary eloquent speech about the advances this country has made over the years because of people like King. Peter is a great man in every sense of the word. He happens to be black, the only American of African descent in the Senate and our leader.

The day was stolen, though, by Senator Dave Schultheis from Colorado Springs, another great man, who along with Senators Renfroe, Harvey, and Lundberg, delivered a series of speeches that highlighted the role of faith in King’s life and of faith in the greater struggle for freedom against tyranny, especially the tyranny embodied by slavery.

Schultheis’ work was brilliant.

You can read it for yourself, and you should, here:

In other news, the Governor unveiled, almost, a plan to raise taxes to pay for roads and bridges in Colorado.

I say almost, because we haven’t really seen the bill, just some proposed fee increases and a hint that a vehicle miles travelled pilot program will be established.

The fees start with an increase of $29 as a minimum and go up from there to around $60 based on the weight of the vehicle, so farm trucks, even those that only see service in July or October, get whacked like they are part of the transportation problem. Motorcycles get a $29 increase too.

The vehicle miles travelled (VMT) tax is supposed to be tried as a pilot. I suggested that since the Democrat Governor likes this so well, it should be a pilot program in Denver and Boulder where all the Democrats live. Seems like a good way to try it to me.

I suppose that VMT could work if we figure out how to adjust for: out of state driving, out of state drivers driving here, the difference between rural and urban needs (i.e. the urban areas are the expensive areas), and one of the big ones, privacy.

Like I said, let’s try it out on Democrats first and see how they like it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Colorado is, like every other state, short of money compared to what we thought we would have for this year and next year. It happens, and we'll balance the budget one way or the other.

What do you suppose, though, will be the most controversial bills of the year?

By controversial, I mean, what bill proposals will drive stories in the papers, on the radio and on TV.

Two stand out right now as barn burners:

1. banning cell phone usage while driving - or some derivation there of.
2. allowing full strength beer to be sold in convenience stores and grocery stores.

What else will we see? Something on guns, unions, or same-sex marriage.

I'll try to write on all of them as we move forward.

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