Susan Pendergrass

This past summer, my family and I spent the Fourth of July at the beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. For the celebration, my daughter suggested we try a new recipe she found for the “Best Mojitos Ever.” In addition to the usual ingredients, these mojitos have coconut water, coconut seltzer water, and Velvet Falernum—a fancy Caribbean liqueur.

The idea sounded good to me—so off we went to get the ingredients. But to no avail. You see, the North Carolina state government controls the entire liquor industry in the state. Alcohol can only be purchased at the state-run Bureau of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) stores. Their inventory and prices are decided by the state and, not surprisingly, inventory is minimal and prices are high. There’s certainly no Velvet Falernum, and thus no Best Mojitos Ever in North Carolina.

Recently, it seems “privatize” and “for-profit” have become code words for evil and greedy. But the private sector does many things quite well. My daughter’s Denver neighborhood has multiple boutique liquor stores that would absolutely have Velvet Falernum. Consumer demand is met by commercial supply. In North Carolina, purchasing liquor is similar to getting a driver’s license—strictly on the government’s terms. Do we really want more government control and fewer private markets?

Would the Fourth of July have been better with the Best Mojitos Ever? If you spend it in North Carolina, you’ll never know.


About the Author

Susan Pendergrass
Director of Research and Education Policy

Susan Pendergrass was Vice President of Research and Evaluation for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools before joining the Show-Me Institute. Prior to coming to the National Alliance, Susan was a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Education during the Bush administration and a senior research scientist at the National Center for Education Statistics during the Obama administration. She earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Mason University.