A government big enough to give you everything is also big enough to take it away. And a government that controls all the liquor sales can take the liquor away.
Norway will ban the serving of alcohol in bars and restaurants, impose stricter rules in schools and speed up vaccinations as part of new efforts to limit an expected surge of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Presenting the country’s fourth round of measures in two weeks, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said there was “no doubt the new variant changes the rules”.
“That’s why we need to act fast and we need to act again,” he said.
“For many, this will feel like a lockdown, if not of society then of their lives and of their livelihoods.”
It helps that the government literally controls the liquor business.
By 1939 the state became the sole owner of Vinmonopolet after buying out all other shareholders. This was done mainly to combat corruption.
Polet, as the wine monopoly is colloquially referred to, endured as Norway’s various left-leaning governments at the time saw combating alcoholism as a way of improving social mobility…
There is a slew of laws aimed at ensuring responsible drinking. These include strict serving times. For example, shops can’t sell alcohol past 8pm on weekdays, 6pm on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays and some holidays.
The opening hours for Vinmonopolet are stricter still, with most places closing at 6pm on weekdays and 3pm on Saturdays.
There are also high taxes on strong alcoholic drinks, laws making it illegal to promote or advertise alcohol, and ‘happy hour’-type offers are prohibited…
Vinmonopolet and high taxes will remain in place for the foreseeable future because they provide a valuable source of income for the government, which gathers the operating profit from the state-owned firm while also collecting tax revenues on the alcohol sales. In 2020, the turnover of Polet was 16.4 billion kroner.
I’d like to say that this is a crazy European system, but it actually exists in a number of American states. And this is a good example of why it shouldn’t.