August 7, 2010

MATT WELCH: What Beer Deregulation Can Teach Us.

I personally find it particularly meaningful that government and industry and (I presume) anti-drinking scolds colluded to criminalize a behavior that wasn’t just victimless, but downright awesome; and that the removal of that appalling bit of illiberal nannyism helped usher in a phenomenon I would have bet the house against two decades ago: a thriving and variegated American industry of delicious beermaking.

And given that, what’s wrong with making deregulation a “starting point”? Imagine for a crazy moment a world in which the default expectation would be for government not to flop its grotesque belly onto the forehead of various industries, not to meddle in the affairs of pre-pubescent drink vendors, not to redistribute $20 billion a year (give or take) of our money to mostly well-heeled agriculture companies just to make sure they don’t face competition from poor people. I’m not talking about no regulation here, but rather the idea that if such-and-such activity isn’t hurting anybody it shouldn’t be subject to governmental micro-managing, license-imposing, winner-picking, and even arrest.

Indeed. Read the whole thing. And there’s also this: “Did you hear about the guy who got arrested after a government sting operation revealed he was giving free rides to folks who were drinking to keep them from drunk driving? . . . Barney Frank likes to say that ‘government’ is just the name for ‘the things we choose to do together.’ That pleasant description somehow doesn’t ring true here.”

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