Opinion

No 1100, 1105; yes on 1098 | Editorial

If initiatives 1100 or 1105 pass, liquor will be cheaper and more available. Is that desirable? Sure. But is it necessary? Maybe some think so. What is certain is that if one or the other or both initiatives pass, it is likely more people will buy cheaper liquor, more often, at more places. Good for retailers. Good for consumers. But ultimately there will be a price. For despite how supporters spin it, many of those buyers will be underage — looking to snag a bottle or two of that new candy-flavored hard stuff seemingly targeted directly to underage drinkers.

While disparaging the state for its management of liquor, sponsors of these initiatives still want them to enforce who buys it. Enforcement is the most important piece of the sale of liquor to the public — not price or convenience. Such enforcement depends on literally thousands of workers who man the counters of mini-marts and grocery stores across the state in the name of free enterprise. But liquor, like guns, cannot be treated like milk or candy bars or DVDs. Stopping underage drinking needs to come first, before setting out hundreds of new channels for buying booze. Are consumers really being harmed by not buying liquor in bulk at Costco? No. The potential harm comes from underage kids having access to liquor at convenience stores in Lakewood or Redmond or Factoria. It is next to impossible to buy hard liquor at a state store if you are underage. That fact trumps convenience or the promise of lower prices any day or night.

As many have repeated, the state’s financial woes have more to do with spending than they do with revenue. That may be true. However, I-1098 will deliver money directly to schools where it is sorely needed, right now. It is not perfect. There needs to be a few tweaks. But unlike other initiatives set forth this year, Aubrey Davis and Bill Gates Sr. have no financial stake in its outcome and only have the interest of state citizens in mind.

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