22.3.06

CARTELS IN THEORY AND PRACTICE. Northern Star columnist Jessica King discovers that the city council has been restricting output.

The DeKalb City Council has repeatedly voted to keep the number of Class A liquor licenses at 16, despite the growth of the city. This trend is a long one. In fact, according the original DeKalb liquor policy from more than thirty years ago, there should be two more Class A licenses in town.

The DeKalb City Council raised the minimum population needed for another liquor license twice, without a good cause.

Oh, but there is a good cause.
In addition, there is no reason why current bar owners should receive special protection from competition. They should have to feel the pressures of the market, just as the owner of a candy store or clothing store should. If new bars close down because they can't attract customers, then so be it. If old bars have to close because the newer bars have better prices or pool tables, so be it.
Reason, meet cause.

Yes, I have been following this liquor cartel kerfuffle (Kartuffle??) for years, and it never ceases to offer material for public policy classes.

The column quotes the mayor, a retired economics professor, advancing a public interest argument for limiting the number of bars. Presumably there is also a public interest argument for limiting the number of outdoor events at bars to not exceeding one per day. I leave that to the reader as an exercise.

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