Voters in the state of Washington are being misled on Initiative 1183.
Negative commercials against Initiative 1183 include graphic pictures of drunk-driving accidents and homicides due to drunk driving. Bending people’s opinions based off emotions is a persuasive tactic that has been used for years in public news, advertising and propaganda. It is in no way virtuous, because the writer deliberately and immediately directs the viewer’s attention to what is shown in the horrifying graphics instead of focusing on the facts. This tactic simply causes a stir in emotions. By the time all of the facts are stated, the viewer may already be biased based on the pictures, instead of the facts. This is not the ethical way to present an argument. Each of us has the independence and right to construct our own opinion on issues without horrific visual stimulus.
We cannot ignore the fundamental issue of I-1183, which is to change the state’s involvement in the retail and distribution of alcohol. With the passage of I-1183, the government will take the more appropriate position as a state regulator by focusing on core services in public safety and enforcement of liquor laws. The focus of government should be on regulations, not retail.
It needs to be clearly recognized that the state will still have complete enforcement and control over penalties and regulations of liquor, as well as taking the state out of the retail business. For example, it will double fines against those who contribute to the sale of liquor to minors.
Currently, manufacturers and suppliers are only allowed to sell spirits to Washington State’s Liquor Control Board, sometimes known as “The Board.” The Board then retails the product to businesses. If this law were to be demolished, as issued in I-1183, then privatized alcohol businesses will have the ability to go straight to the distiller themselves, cutting out the middleman.
Sure, the large retailers will be able to make more of a profit, but in the long run, the price will be lower for the consumer. This fact is one of the biggest issues of opponents of I-1183. Here the middleman would be the distributor, The Board, who would be at a heavy loss of income if the private companies were able to simply take care of their own business themselves. The right course of commerce is supposed to be saving money for the consumer. Consumers should not be putting their money forth to both retailers and distributors.
Another note of importance is that the negative ads against I-1183 insinuate that minor consumption of alcohol will skyrocket due to drastic increases of availability of hard liquor. This is simply conjecture.
As students here at WSU, we are all keen to the undeniable fact that if underage drinkers want to get their hands on liquor, they will find a way to do so – always have and always will. So why try to use this assumption as a main objection to I-1183? It is common sense that with or without this initiative being passed, underage people are going to continue to inappropriately consume alcohol, and unfortunately be factors in negative consequences, such as DUIs and homicides.
Instead of focusing on these types of negative consequences being unfairly blamed on measures such as I-1183, the state should be focusing on prevention and awareness programs. Coincidently, I-1183 includes provisions to do just that. A portion of fees collected from retail spirits licenses and distributor licenses will be dispersed to state agencies to improve and increase the agenda of public safety. Increased funding to public services is necessary, especially during times such as these when we are continuously seeing decreases in public services such as education, social service programs and health care.
So let our state prove that it is a more effective regulator than it is a retailer. Privatizing liquor sales does not mean a reduction in oversight and regulation, rather a rebalancing of state authority. The major issues seen in last fall’s rejected Initiative 1100 appear to have been corrected in this November’s Initiative 1183.
Voting “Yes” to I-1183 will eliminate obsolete laws from the Prohibition Era that should in no way be included in today’s 21st century system of governing. Let’s end this monopoly on liquor business in Washington, presently one of only 18 states in the nation where government poses absolute rule on liquor sale and distribution.
Vote “Yes” to redirect the focus of Washington’s government.