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LIQUOR: Costco only interested in bottom line

Letter by Michele Simon, JD, MPH, San Rafael on June 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm with 27 Comments »
June 15, 2010 10:10 am

Just how low is a big-box retailer willing to stoop to undermine state authority over alcohol to increase its bottom line? Costco is willing go dangerously low. The retail giant is making its employees gather signatures from customers in Washington for a ballot initiative that would eliminate the state’s control over spirits sales.

Initiative 1100 would remove the state’s role in the sale of alcohol once and for all, as well as remove current restrictions on volume discounts, among other worrisome provisions that would deal a serious blow to state-based alcohol regulation.

Why does Costco want to privatize spirits sales in Washington? So it can sell spirits “at competitive prices” – and if that means by the truckload if a customer is so inclined, why not?

Costco is now reaching deep into its pockets again in an attempt to prevail this November. According to Publicola, “…new campaign finance reports show that the wholesaler backed up its announced support for the initiative with a $350,000 check.”

Whatever happens come November, how Costco is using its employees for political gain is a slippery slope. If this move is effective in changing Washington longstanding law, what’s to stop other big boxes from using their manpower and spending a ton of dough to change laws to their favor?

Marin Institute opposes the action Costco is taking in Washington state. Company employees should not be used for political gain, especially when control states have been shown to benefit public health, while privatization undermines it.

Leave a comment Comments → 27
  1. For a “miles-per-hour?(MPH) Californite to want to re-instate the Bolstad act of 1920 seems ironic. I thought you progs WANTED to legalize vices ala Montel and Sting.But this here is the ‘other’ WA. with all of those robo-cams on every corner bringing in a new revenue flood, why would this state want to go anywhere else but bigger-better-faster-more re revenue acquisition? Competition is sooo evil, especially against nanny and big bro..

  2. BigSwingingRichard says:

    First of all, Michele, you live in California where alcohol is sold in grocery stores, not in State controlled liquor stores like here in Washington. Washington laws are moronic, they require wineries to sell to a distributor who is required to mark up the product by at least 10% for next to no value. Consumers in WA pay too much and wineries are not allowed to sell directly to retail stores based on obsolete prohibition era laws. Wineries should be free to sell to who they want without interference from the State of WA.

    If you want these laws in California, then change your own laws, and let us determine what is best for us.

    PS I agree with Apinpnamedslickback.

  3. Dear Marin County Hot-tubber, Costco is not forcing anyone since they are not a charity or 501 (c) 3 or 527 PAC or a church. I like my Costco stock. I do Not like my union dues automatically going to the blue-dress party(devil w/the blue party dress what do you mean by “is”-party). The initiative process should pass a political “attitude” test administered by—you? seig heil , revenooo-er…

  4. Arizona wine is very smooth and resiliently effervescent–boycott Cali…

  5. Pat_riot says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is. Costco makes more money.. which is a good thing. People get to buy a product a lower price.. which is a good thing. The state gets less control.. which is a good thing. Where’s the bad here? I see no down side.

  6. tommy98466 says:

    Well lets examine who Michele’s clients are. Are they the powerful State Unions? I bet they are. They are the only ones fighting this inititive because they feel that they are going to loose their coveted State cushion jobs. This is absurb. This will increase the private sector, high paying jobs like at Costco, Safeway, Fred Meyer, etc. This is not just a Costco thing for a group of stores in the State of Washington. I’m not impressed with your pedigree Michele. I would have been more impressed with your opinion if you would have been one of the folks from Washington. Keep your comments in the bankrupt State of California. Pathetic.

  7. FreeAmerica says:

    Coming from a state that sells pot over the counter….no wonder

  8. We’ve had two major drunk driving accidents and the last few weeks. Selling more booze and maybe marijuana makes no sense to me.

  9. readingthelatest says:

    atuous says:
    June 14, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    “We’ve had two major drunk driving accidents and the last few weeks. Selling more booze and maybe marijuana makes no sense to me.”

    I doubt there will be more booze sold as a result of the state giving up control. Drunk drivers will continue to kill people regardless of where they bought the vice. It isn’t the stores’ fault- it the State’s for letting multi-offenders back on the road.

    I am certainly glad I went to Costco this weekend. Aside from the 200 rolls of toilet paper, it gave me a chance to sign the petition.

  10. jimkingjr says:

    Tommy98466- all you had to do was google, and you’d have found out that the Marin Institute has no ties to unions. It is a watchdog on the alcohol industry. You might also have learned that their are a lot of folks not connected to the unions opposed to this initiative.

    As for all of you thinking you are going to get cheaper booze- you better read the fine print. And those who see nothing wrong with Costco making its employees gather signatures on this, just wait until the next employer requires political activity…

  11. This letter proves that libs want to socialize everything that isn’t, and retain socialism on items that are (liquor), hence they are national socialists and facists.

  12. “…The Leonard and Beryl Buck Foundation (Buck Trust) was created in 1975 after Beryl Buck left $9.1 million to Marin County, California with the provision that it be used to serve the needs of the County residents. The Buck Trust supports The Marin Institute, The Buck Institute for Age Research, the Buck Institute on Education, and the Marin Community Foundation…”

    As a staff member of Marin Institute Michele how does sticking your nose in Washington State politics serve the needs of Marin County, California residents?

    “Michele Simon, JD, MPH
    Research & Policy Director
    A member of the Marin Institute team since January 2007, Ms. Simon is a public health lawyer who specializes in policy analysis, legal strategies, and industry tactics.

  13. Any business that has competition has

  14. I think it is great that liquor sales could become privatized. It is totally insane to think that only “The State” can control sales of alcohol. This is a huge cost savings to taxpayers of the state. Every corner liquor store, which is funded by your taxes, directly by the state or through contracts, is absurd.

    And as a spouse of a Safeway employee…I take it as an insult that Tommy98466 would say this… “high paying jobs like at Costco, Safeway, Fred Meyer, …”

    Sorry Tommy…but those employees at those stores are not in “high paying jobs” no matter how much you would like to deceive yourself.

  15. to finish my blog. Any business that has competition,selling a product, has to have as good a price or better than its competitor.When there is a state run monopoly on the product,In this case,the state,having no competition is free to charge as much as the customer is willing to pay,I feel the state should not be a competitor of any business in Washington State.Look at it this way,the more businesses there are,the more B&O taxes can be collected.

  16. jikingjr says “and those who see nothing wrong with Costco making it’s employees gather signatures on this, just wait until the next employer requires political activity”. Oh, do you mean like SEIU or AFL-CIO or UAW, teacher’s unions etc? Surely they would never require their employees to get involved in politics, right?

  17. First and foremost any company that is not concern with their bottom line doesn’t last long Now I have lived in New orleans where alcohol is sold @ bars, to the mall & to the local stores, instead of coffee stand every where their are places to get alcohol you can even get through drive thrus. I also lived where alcohol is sold only at state run stores like they are here. I’ve lost more friends to alcohol related deaths and have more firends charge with DUI in the state controll state then I have in New Orleans. I even have know more people New Orleans then in the state controll state. So where it’s sold will not change a thing

  18. johnearl says:

    The letter writer wrote: “…a ballot initiative that would eliminate the state’s control over spirits sales.”

    “Initiative 1100 would remove the state’s role in the sale of alcohol once and for all…”

    These two statements are either gross hyperbole or flat-out lies. Read the text of initiative 1100 (available here: http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/people.aspx) and see in the first section where the authority to regulate, tax, and enforce liquor laws remains with the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB). Regulation is not the issue, monoply is.

    WSLCB’s monopoly control of liquor sales in this state are a tired remnant of the prohibition era. These laws are based on the faulty logic that only the state knows how to properly dispense alcohol and only the state can know exaclty what the right amount to release to the citizenry.

    The state has no more business monopolizing alcohol sales than it would monopolizing automobile sales It’s well past time for state sensibilities to exit the 1930’s.

  19. Another wacko who is against companies making a profit. How do you think Costco is able to pay the employee benefits they offer? Get a clue.

  20. fatuous says: June 14, 2010 at 4:57 pm: “We’ve had two major drunk driving accidents and the last few weeks. Selling more booze and maybe marijuana makes no sense to me.”

    Once again you interject the issue of marijuana with alcohol in referring to automobile accidents.

    There is no justification in doing so and much evidence showing that marijuana and auto accidents are not related. In fact, just the the opposite! The marijuana and driving issue is a canard and part of the marijuana hysteria.

    In previous posts I have provided you with information to allow you to make sense of the marijuana and driving issue. In response, you have provided no evidence to back up your irrational fears.

    Plain and simple: alcohol and driving is a significant public safety threat. Marijuana and driving: not recommended, but it is not a killer or even a significant danger.

    Currently the state has a monopoly on hard liquor sales, (a potentially dangerous and lethel substance), collects taxes, and regulates production and sales.

    Currently criminals have a monopoly on marijuana sales, (a benign substance), untaxed, and unregulated.

    Of course, “selling marijuana” (I-1068) and driving makes no sense to you because you have chosen to ignore the evidence.

    Let’s keep these two issues separate. Fatuous, here’s your opportunity to transcend your fatuous state, and to get sensible.

  21. Sumner401 says:

    Socialism? Fascism?
    Still tossing those words out without knowing the meanings?

  22. Flanagan says:

    Bravo, Costco!!!! I couldn’t sign the petition fast enough. I am waiting for the day I can buy my bourbon with my beer at my local grocery store or wherever I darn well please, without having to pay the wages, healthcare and pensions for unnecessary state employees !!!

  23. “Whatever happens come November, how Costco is using its employees for political gain is a slippery slope.”

    Assuming MPH,JD of San Rafael, CA has a complaint in Washington, have they ever heard of union involvement in politics? Aren’t union members employees?

  24. DAKOTANATIVE says:

    Ya, we can’t have employees getting involved. The next thing we know teachers will be showing up at the capitol. Of course Costco is concerned with their bottom line. What business doesn’t care about their bottom line? If the state wants to control the liquor, they need to accept responsibility for it. The guy who killed 2 kids had an open container of liquor in the truck. If a state run store is the only place to get hard liquor, then I guess the state is responsible for the deaths just like a bar is responsible for deaths.

  25. Dang, gotta swing into Costco today to sign the petition. No reason for the state to be invovled in the sale of liquor. Close the liquor stores, sell it at the grocery stores, save a ton of tax dollars.

  26. Sumner401 says:

    I have to agree, but why not allow both state stores and private sales with licensing?

  27. www_cowgirl says:

    I cannot believe how gullable people are to swallow Costco’s blatant display of corporate greed. It only goes to show how unethical these major corporations are when it comes to making profits with no regard to the welfare of the general public. Mass quantities of easily assessable cheap alcohol lead to a major increase in consumption resulting in raging alcohol epidemics which Russia and the UK are experiencing according to the World Health Organization. The costs of alcohol related problems are far greater to the tax payer overall than the costs related to all other illegal drugs combined. Is that what we want for our state? Wall St. was deregulated and the result was an economic disaster this country is still reeling from. Drilling regulations were lax in the Gulf and we have an economic disaster of epic proportions because of it. We do not need more alcohol related violence and crime in our neighborhoods, say NO to Initiative 1100 and Costco be damned!

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