Epic Nation

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Good news for Swedish college students

The Swedish government has a complete monopoly on all alcoholic beverages sold in the country. Meaning that when you want to buy a bottle of wine or a few cans of beer, you have to wait in line at a government run store that could only have been designed by the fine folks who brought us the DMV.

A typical liquor purchase, let's say a liter of Sweden's own Absolut vodka, will begin by taking a number and waiting for the LED screen above the service counter to signal your turn. As you wait you must browse the catalogue to find the reference number for the product you want and filling out a card with your order on it. When its your turn you will hand your order card to a clerk who will then wander into the rows of shelving behind the counter and fetch your bottle of vodka. So far, so good.

Now comes the painful part, paying for that single liter of vodka. The horrible dollar to SEK (Swedish Kronar) exchange rate aside, the tax levied on a single liter of alcohol by the Swedish government is roughly $27.00! Add that to the already inflated price of the liter and you're throwing down $40.00 for one liter of vodka.

But relief for Swedes seems to be on the horizon. The MaconTelegraph reports:

Sweden's strict regulatory policies have come under pressure in recent years because of its membership in the European Union, which is based on the free flow of goods and people. Now, in the latest concession to new realities, a government panel, backed by alcohol officials, has recommended that Sweden cut its steep tax on hard liquor by 40 percent.

"New realities" is socialist-speak for consumer choice. Because Europeans are now free to move about between countries they can choose where they will buy goods, alcohol included. What most business students learn in the first week of ECON 101, it takes an entire government panel of socialist bureaucrats to discover in Sweden.

"Our taxes were decided in a situation where the borders were closed. Now they are open," said Bjorn Rydberg, spokesman for Sweden's liquor, beer and wine monopoly, Systembolaget. "It's impossible to have this high tax today, because people can go buy their alcohol in Germany or Denmark. And sometimes they turn around and sell it here illegally.

Go figure. Did any of those pinkos care to research the correlation between organized crime and prohibition in the United States? Nah, why do that when you can use canned government talking points to goad the public into a sense of fear over the free market:

"We want alcohol to be sold with age controls and with social controls, not in dark parking lots from the backs of trucks."

Wow, that single sentence covered the three primary elements of socialist propaganda:

  1. We're doing it for the sake of children - "age controls"
  2. You couldn't possibly know what's good for yourself - "social controls"
  3. Beware the dark forces of capitalism - "dark parking lots from the back of trucks"
Socialists are rendered rhetorically impotent in the face of common sense, so they resort to the standard pinko playbook: mischaracterizations, fearmongering, and dishonesty. They see a huge revenue source slipping from their grasp and it scares them. The inability to control other's wealth means the inability to control their livelihood's. How's a government technocrat with no marketable skills to amass a fortune without the ability to extort their own citizens? Quite a conundrum.

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