Forum Left, 5/1/12

Government Tries to Solve Another Problem It Created

By Mark Leudtke

It’s a simple law of economics: when government rations a good, it creates a shortage of that good. It doesn’t matter what the good is, the law still applies. The consequences of these shortages are always bad. When government rations alcohol permits, the consequences of the shortage are especially bad.

By rationing alcohol permits, the government funnels more drinkers into fewer places. Zoning laws aggravate this problem by forcing people further from their homes into bar zones like downtown or the Oregon district. The consequences of forcing a bunch of drunks into small areas far from home are pretty obvious: an increase in violence, especially late at night after everybody is lubed up, and an increase in drunk driving. And those are exactly the problems we have in Dayton.

The Dayton police have been playing whack-a-mole with downtown bars. Because the city rations liquor permits, drinkers conglomerate in just a few bars. Some of those bars have lots of trouble, and the police get called there an inordinate number of times. They’ve shut down the 88 Club, the A-List and others, but that doesn’t solve the problem of too few bars. It makes the problem worse. As a result, the problems inevitably move to other bars.

Hammerjax is next on the city’s target list. According to WDTN, “Police say Hammerjax had 62 calls for service and 17 crime reports last year. Just a few weeks ago, a bartender there was shot.” Shutting down Hammerjax will not solve the problem. It will just move the problem to another bar and make it worse.

Liquor permits are euphemistically named to hide their true nature. The name makes it seem like a benevolent government is allowing bar owners to sell liquor, but that’s backwards. In fact, our oppressive government is banning everybody else from exercising their natural right to sell liquor. This is an act of aggression by the government. It is a threat of violence backed by violence. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that this immoral aggression by government produces and causes violence in society.

If government officials really wanted to stop the violence in bars, they would end their own aggression. If people were allowed to exercise their natural right to sell liquor anywhere in the city, the shortage of bars would end. Drinkers would no longer mass in certain bars or in certain districts of the city. Many would walk to bars instead of driving. The violence and the drunk driving would be reduced to almost nothing. We would need far fewer cops, prosecutors, judges and jailers. We could dramatically reduce the giant socialist jobs program that is our misnamed justice system.

But politicians and government agents aren’t interested in public welfare. They want power. They want money without having to do the hard work of providing a quality product in the marketplace. Liquor licenses are a source of revenue for an entire bureaucracy. The crime created by government policy is used as an excuse to steal a tremendous amount of money from the people in the form of taxes, and it funds an entire industry of prisons.

So government agents blame others for the consequences of their coercive policies. The argument is always put forth that these establishments put an inordinate amount of work on Dayton police officers, or somehow threaten the rights of individuals in close vicinity to the establishments. God forbid we legalize selling alcohol for all and the Dayton police have to enter the marketplace and try to earn a living in a system of voluntary exchange.

Leave Hammerjax alone. Government coercion is the problem.

Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at


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