Crowds at booze stores reveal an addled approach to policy

The long queues outside liquor stores last week attracted a lot of attention, commentary and government reaction. Many people were dismayed that among the first things their compatriots did after the relaxation of the lockdown was to make a beeline for the liquor store. In an unusual demonstration of alacrity, the Delhi government immediately imposed an additional 70% tax on retail liquor sales, ostensibly to put some brakes on demand and reduce coronavirus outbreak risks. The sense of moral outrage was compounded after a Bangalorean customer triumphantly shared a 52,000 liquor store receipt on social media. This too caused the Karnataka excise department to rapidly rise to the occasion and come down hard on the retailer concerned for exceeding the maximum quantity that can be sold to a person at a time.

Read More