First, I'd like to give a shout out to one of my favorite commenters, Jimmy Sonneman, who tweeted this in response to a comment I made about $44 bottles of PBR in China.
Chinese spend $44 on PBR, we spend $4 on can openers and desk lamps. Everybody wins!
Too true Jimmy. But here's the question: What would a truly socialistic system do for alcohol prices? China is so far removed from its Communist foundation that it's almost a moot example. However, I came across a more relevant one in this article about the CEO of Mountain Creek, a Sconz favorite and a reputable discount beer brand, best-known for its slogan: Damn Good Beer!
As a young girl, Manjit Minhas could often be found behind a lemonade stand, hawking lemonade and candies. In order to maximize sales, she'd move the stand from one street to another throughout the day.
Fast forward a decade or so and you'd find an 18-year-old Minhas following in her parents' footsteps and tapping into Alberta's freshly-privatized retail liquor market with Mountain Crest Liquors Inc.
Socialized alcohol? The idea is especially ironic to me because a few months ago I stayed at the home of a rabid right winger in Tennessee who, of course, saw Canadian whiskey as an insult to the drink his state has made famous. Appealing to his cultural and political sensibilities, I suggested that Canadian whiskey was probably the product of some inefficient socialized alcohol bureaucracy.
Apparently that was true until a decade ago. At least the socialism part. Only the results can tell us if the products and prices were better under socialism or the free market.
She entered the market at just the right time. Tequila prices shot through the roof, making her $24 bottles an instant hit. According to Profit Guide, Mountain Crest Liquors is growing 50% a year and earned $8.7 million in revenue in 2003, up from just $211,000 in 2000.
And do the notorious Mountain Creek ads shed light on a trend of higher prices in Canada since privatization?
Her recent expansion into Ontario is accompanied by a TV advertising "consumer revolt" campaign featuring mock protesters shouting, "Down with higher prices!" Featured protesters range from young men of colour to a 70-year-old woman -- faces not typically seen in traditional beer marketing. "Women and people from different cultures drink beer. I'd be stupid not to acknowledge that," she says.
At the end of the day, capitalism allows people to buy very cheap beer, which may be a public service that a welfare state would never provide. However, a socialist system would probably never charge $44 for a bottle of PBR.