Starting a Debate

Today was a great day for PrivatizeNC. We received our first email in opposition to privatizing the ABC system in North Carolina. This is good news as it means we are getting noticed and can really start a debate and conversation about this issue in our state.

I wanted to share the email and our reply here as I think the questions raised will be important to address in this debate. We have taken this as an opportunity to start a Frequently Asked Questions page. If you have any comments, suggested or other questions feel free to contact us..


Wow! You really make some great points as to why the current system should be dismantled. What you don't do, however, is mention the benefits to the local communities (not just the state) of the current system. North Carolina's system is like none other in this country and all profits of each store (after normal operating expenses and monies due to the state) are returned to the communities in which they are located. These funds are IN ADDITION TO the funds given to local law enforcement and to alcohol education efforts in the local communities. Needless to say, all these benefits would simply go away after privatization...all while alcohol becomes easier to buy (legally and illegally), causing unforeseen problems in many aspects of life. Not to mention that the big box stores would simply start raking in more money when allowed to sell spirituous liquor!

As a small business person myself, I understand the competitive value of privatization but simply cannot justify the negative impacts it would have on small communities such as the one in which I live. Be assured that we will do everything in our power to alert the citizens and legislators in our state of the BENEFITS of the current system. I will be happy to address any issues you may have with the above.

Our Reply

Thanks for the email,

I had a couple of questions and observations.

I am not sure why exactly you think all the benefits to local communities would go away. Legislation doesn't have to be absolute or exclusionary in nature. You can take the existing boundaries of local ABC boards and allocate a percentage of each bottle sold to the same funds as today. Further, a private system could allow for more stores with better thought out locations that may actually generate more revenue for the state and local activities. Could you elaborate on why you think this would have to change in such an absolute way?

In the state of North Carolina we have the private sale and distribution of beer and wine. Big box stores and small bottle shops across the state sell these beverages and North Carolinians get to choose what they want and who they want to buy it from. Are you also for applying the same arguments used for maintaining the ABC system to extending it to beer and wine? It is with great joy that I am able to visit my local bottle shop and taste new product, talk with the owners and have access to special releases. None of this is possible with spirits in the government run ABC system.

You mentioned that alcohol would become "easier to buy, both legally and illegally". I am not exactly sure what point you are trying to make here. We already have the private sale of spirituous liquor, beer and wine -- this is how the many bars, restaurants and convenience stores operate. Bars and restaurants can't just order liquor like they can beer from a distributor, they have to actually go to an ABC store to acquire it -- what purpose is that serving? Further, I (a mid 20's male) am not always asked for ID when purchasing from a government run ABC store and they surely aren't running identification under UV light or any other verification other than a glance. The idea that we automatically become a lawless, depraved society as the availability to alcohol increases is the very same argument used in temperance which led to prohibition. It is antiquated thinking and discounts the dozens of other states with private retail sales and the numerous countries around the world who have strong, upstanding societies.

I think that at the end of the day you're defending a system created under the guiding principle that the consumption of alcohol is fundamentally wrong. Our culture is evolving and the explosion of craft beer I believe is a leading indicator of a larger movement which focuses on innovation, quality and variety in alcohol production. Craft spirits are a new, upcoming wave of change that simply do not thrive within a government run system. The ABC stores in North Carolina do not exist to promote their product, to bring awareness to their product or serve North Carolina consumers. We need business, small to large, to be flexible and responsive for the people of North Carolina. I think it speaks volumes that there are no other states talking about bringing their systems under government control -- they are talking about taking public systems private. Sometimes the best way for government to serve its citizens is to get out of the way, let them be free and let them innovate. As someone who has traveled to numerous states and countries where you can buy spirits as you buy beer here, I cannot agree with the points you have made here. In fact, most times I get to visit a private liquor store I come out learning or experiencing something that I had not known before. I am not sure how you can sell the idea that a government bureaucracy with an Excel spreadsheet in Raleigh should determine what alcoholic beverages the citizens and businesses of North Carolina should be able to buy and experience. A system where local managers (who may or may not even care about the product or local demand) order from a provided list simply cannot support the sheer vastness of what is available in the wider market. I will leave you with a simple example -- Japanese Whisky, the selection that we have in North Carolina is pitifully small compared to what you can get in free territories like New York, Washington DC, California, South Carolina, Washington state, etc. Nearly 75% of the American population lives in states where the systems have been privatized and are thriving, I can't imagine the majority of those in North Carolina wouldn't want the same.