Big Government and Your Beer

You would think that the continuing Minnesota government shutdown would have nothing to do with your beer. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. NPR explains what happened:

MillerCoors, which holds “brand label registrations” for 39 beers, including Miller, Coors, Blue Moon Pale and Hamm’s — almost 40 percent of the beer sold in Minnesota — sent in its renewal notice on June 15. But the state Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Agency said that MillerCoors overpaid its registration fees and refused to stamp the paperwork.

MillerCoors sent another check immediately. Julian Green, director of media relations for MillerCoors, pointed out that beer is its business. “We don’t take securing our licenses lightly.” But the state agency didn’t process the check by the time the state government shut down on June 30. Its employees were shut out. Hundreds of taverns and restaurants also worried that they could not sell alcohol because their license renewals were just piling up like wet coasters in state offices.

We have three layers of government intervention in the marketplace here. First, for MillerCoors to sell alcohol in Minnesota it must secure a permit from a state agency. Second is sheer ineptitude — only the government would refuse to approve a license because a company paid too much money. The final level introduces an insane level of irony:  The same government which refused a company’s money shut down over a budget debate. It was this shutdown which prevented the state agency from cashing the corrective check.

MillerCoors is a massive corporation, so just imagine the burden this licensing process is placing upon local bars in Minnesota! Unfortunately, alcohol is one industry where the free market does not reign. Check out Matt Zwolinski’s excellent article at Bleeding Heart Libertarians for numerous examples of stifling regulations on beer and wine. Sometimes, it feels like Prohibition never really went away.

Published in

Post a comment