Sunday, June 27, 2004

Deconstructing Iowa

The Des Moines Register reported that Iowa may be taking an important step to liberalization as calls for ending the state control of liquor wholesaling gain voice. The arguments against public ownership are the same—it’s expensive, inefficient and poorly run.

But this case involves an interesting twist. A large part of the work force for the state monopoly comes from Iowa’s prisons who are being paid 37 cents an hour which saves the state millions of dollars and provides job training. But people who cite this argument as justification for a state monopoly miss the point. There’s no reason why the private sector couldn’t employ these inmates instead. Nothing would have to change. And for those that don’t want the state to loose the money, they need to be reminded of the role of government. Governments are not supposed to make money; they are supposed to ensure that other people can make money.

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