May 1 2012
Nicole Kurokawa Neily
The Founding Fathers originally conceived a government of limited power – one that would establish a framework for private citizens to operate without choosing winners or losers. Alas, it seems that Washington has lost sight of this last point (a few recent examples include an EPA official’s recent “crucify them” remarks on the oil and gas industry, green energy venture capital grants by the Department of Energy, and the National Labor Relations Board’s attempted intimidation of Boeing with regards to the location of a plant.)
Let’s add another agency that’s become more concerned with advancing an agenda than impartially arbitrating an industry: the Center for Disease Control.
To address society’s alcohol-related woes, the CDC has recommended against privatization of state-run liquor monopolies, such as Virginia’s ABC stores (the third revision of its opinion on this subject). The first time that the CDC’s Task Force reviewed privatization studies, they focused on whether or not privatization actually did any harm – namely, did alcohol-related harms increase after private sector operators were allowed to enter into the alcohol business? The Task Force found that: “consistent evidence that privatization of retail alcohol sales is associated with an increase in total alcohol consumption. However, there is insufficient evidence to determine the effects of privatization on excessive alcohol consumption and related harms, because there are too few studies that directly evaluate these outcomes.”
So there’s not enough research in this area – and not all research unilaterally suggests that state control of liquor stores provides the best possible outcomes. So what’s a nanny state government to do? Why, selectively discount those inconvenient studies that don’t advance the correct storyline, of course!
It’s unsurprising, on some level, that this has taken so long – after all, with the federal government’s takeover of health care, it actually IS the government’s business what people consume, how much they exercise, and any other decision that may influence their health outcomes. At the end of the day, the government (with your tax dollars!) will arbitrate health decisions – so it’s in their interest to be overly cautious. However, just because a decision is logical doesn’t make it right – and the CDC’s manipulation of studies on this topic to advance an agenda is wholly inappropriate.
Unless alcohol is actually causing harm, the Center for Disease Control should have no opinion. Expressing an opinion on any aspect of consumption that is not causing harm is a political statement.