Saturday, July 04, 2009

Government monopoly? No problem!

Yet another preview of government run health care.
[Washington] State workers are scrambling to fix a distribution problem that has crimped the flow of alcohol to customers across the state, as liquor stores and restaurants are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the year.

"For us, the timing is really brutal," said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Restaurant Association, who said some restaurants have been unable to get key ingredients for their most popular cocktails. "For a small-margin industry like ours, where every sale counts, that's an issue."

Dozens of "temporarily out of stock" signs dot the shelves of some state liquor stores, and store managers say they're not sure when their complete product line will again be available.

State officials blame the difficulties on a glitch in a new software system that controls the movement of 18,000 cases of liquor a day through the state's distribution center on East Marginal Way South in Seattle.

...the pinch is compounded by the fact that a state alcohol surcharge takes effect Aug. 1, which will force bar owners to increase prices.

The surcharge, which will add between $1 and $3 to the price of most bottles of booze, was enacted to raise about $80 million to replace money legislators took from a liquor-reserve fund to balance the state budget.

I don't drink, so even if I lived in Washington, this story would have no impact on me. But that's not the point. The point is, if a company operated this way, it would go out of business. The state provides services inefficiently, with no competition to improve behavior and no incentive for workers to satisfy customers. I spent an hour at the Registry of Motor Vehicles a week ago pondering this. A business with a waiting line like that...well, it wouldn't have a waiting line like that. It would put more workers on, or it would open another branch, or it would have the workers moving more quickly, taking fewer break, doing less wandering and chatting. Or it would go out of business. But the state is a monopoly, a monopoly that requires its "customers" patronize it.

Well, if that's true for getting a driver's license, why would anyone expect it to be any better when it comes to getting an x-ray or an appendectomy or a radiation treatment? Government provided health care is the destruction of the health care system, as has been shown wherever it's been tried. How can you think that the federal government will provide health care any more efficiently than the Washington government provides alcohol?

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