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Web letter by Charles J. Maiers: Offer unlimited liquor permits to further free-market ideal

In regard to the debate over whether to issue an unlimited number of liquor licenses in downtown Fort Wayne, it is important to highlight a few points.

First, a larger number of establishments at which people can buy alcohol does not translate into a higher number of binge drinkers, more alcohol-related problems or any other such phenomena. Never have I met someone who wanted to drink but abstained because there were only four bars in the neighborhood as opposed to 14.

Second, more liquor licenses result in increased competition among the holders of such licenses. If there are more competitors for a static number of customers, it stands to reason that the quality of the establishments will increase in an effort to attract customers.

Third, that existing restaurateurs opposed the plan due to the amount they had to pay is not an argument for continuing the injustice imposed on them. If anything, that existing liquor licenses were so unreasonably expensive is an argument for eliminating that barrier to starting a small business. These complaints ring of an effort to use the power of government to protect the incumbents’ advantages.

Fourth, obtaining a liquor license is one of, if not the, highest expenses associated with starting a restaurant. Eliminating this expense will result in more consumer choices downtown.

Enabling more small businesses to grow in downtown Fort Wayne will increase the quality of restaurant choices downtown. It will not result in additional alcohol-related problems, and it will serve as notice that Fort Wayne is a city that supports free market capitalism.

If the people of Fort Wayne don’t want that many establishments serving alcohol downtown, they won’t patronize them. Restaurants that fail to attract patrons go out of business. The only reason to oppose an open distribution of liquor licenses downtown is a misplaced “government knows best” reflex.