Maclean’s Magazine: Ridicule flung at The Beer Store

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Maclean’s Magazine’s Colby Cosh takes on the fiction emanating from The Beer Store:

“It is encouraging to see so much ridicule being flung at the Beer Store’s “study” defending its role in the Soviet-flavoured Ontario liquor retailing system. The effectiveness of the Beer Store’s white paper depends on its Ontario audience knowing no practical details of freer retail schemes, particularly Alberta’s: yet, by an amusing paradox, the ur-source for the report appears to be Alberta. No one was willing to attach his name to the report itself, but it comes with a foreword by the Parkland Institute’s Greg Flanagan, who deems it a “valuable contribution”—one that, on an unrelated note, makes heavy use of Flanagan’s own past polemics against liquor privatization. What a terrible shame nobody took credit for this excellent document!

I think one sentence emblematizes the self-interestedness of the white paper well:

Although sometimes referred to as a monopoly the Beer Store might be more accurately described as a “beer commons”.

It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at such a verbal pirouette, so reminiscent of the deftness with which the Ontario horse racing industry attempted to defend similar interests against the forces of free trade and common sense. But if you are more interested in the nitty-gritty, the main trick used in the Beer Store report is to uphold average retail prices for beer and liquor as an indicator that Alberta consumers have been played false. The spread in prices is never mentioned; there is no reporting on the standard deviation of Alberta retail prices on like items, for example.”

Read the full story here: http://www2.macleans.ca/2014/02/12/in-ontario-the-tragedy-of-the-beer-commons/