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Letters to the Editor

Liquor bargain

Kevin Burns January 26th, 2011

Regarding the Gazette’s Jan. 19 Commentary about Oklahoma’s liquor laws written by Bill Bishop (“Counterpoint: Paying the price”) and Roy Williams (“Point: Revise outmoded liquor laws”): Mr. Williams asserts that Oklahoma’s liquor laws deserve a fresh look.

He correctly implies that the restrictions currently in place have an adverse effect on quality of life. It would certainly be desirable to have access to wine and quality beer outside the current 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

While Mr. Bishop clearly writes his argument from a stance of protectionism, it is undeniable that the existing structure of Oklahoma’s liquor business keeps much-needed dollars in Oklahoma’s economy, rather than sending the profits to Austin, Texas, or Bentonville, Ark. However, he needlessly complicates the issue by asserting that multiple laws would have to be changed to accomplish greater access to good beer, wine and spirits.

We can compromise here: Instead of opening the sales of quality beer and wine to grocery stores and gas stations, we may keep the restriction of purchasing these items only in a liquor store — no more money would leave the local economy than currently does. We may retain the prohibition of refrigerators in liquor stores.

The only thing that would change would be the hours that liquor stores are statutorily allowed to be open. We could allow liquor stores to be open from, say, 9 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. There would be nothing requiring liquor stores to change their hours; really, there would be nothing keeping stores from entering into a gentleman’s agreement to retain the current hours.

But demand, along with the principles of competition, may cause some liquor stores to conclude that it would behoove them stay open whenever allowed by law. In fact, this may actually put more money into the local economy by increasing the profits of local liquor stores. I have nothing to back this up, but I would bet the only reason Walmart sells so much of the rotgut 3.2 beer is because the good stuff is so hard to get.

—Kevin Burns
Midwest City

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