Spirited Arithmetic

Going way off topic, GG cannot help getting grumpy over some campaign literature.  In Colorado there is a move to allow full sales of alcohol in supermarkets.  There are decent arguments for and against, but flyers the pro-sales groups recently mailed out are misleading in a sort of basic mathematical way.

Basically they say that full strength beer and liquor sales in supermarkets won’t impact existing liquor stores. OK, so let’s figure this out.  If total sales of alcohol are A and presently A=L where L is liquor stores, then adding supermarkets as S we will have A=S+L. So one outcome could be S=0 (in which case this whole thing is moot and silly).  Otherwise either A increase or L decreases (and most likely some combination of the two).  L decreasing means that some liquor stores will indeed be hurt.

So apparently the pro-supermarket sales argument is that L will stay the same and so A will increase. One has to wonder how well that might go over were these flyers to finish their math. “Allowing supermarket sales will not affect liquor stores, so the total consumption of alcohol will increase!”  The negative economic impacts of alcohol are pretty substantial; one study puts the number for Colorado in 2010 at over $5 billion between things like drunk driving and alcohol-induced medical problems. Even with an economic multiplier, craft brewing in Colorado has only a $1 billion positive impact (and some of that is out of state sales).

Of course, the opposition to this isn’t interested in finishing this math either, as it is mainly funded by brewers and liquor stores. “Help keep Colorado from over drinking” is unlikely to be a catch phrase. So this appears to be one math equation that will remain unsolved through the election cycle….


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