Surgery Center of Oklahoma Blog

August 22, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — surgerycenterok @ 6:52 pm

The Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce is reconsidering their long policy of supporting the local cartel of liquor wholesalers here in the state.  This group has been incredibly successful in keeping the sale of wine and “high point” beer and spirits from being sold in grocery stores.  A friend of mine who is involved with a large chain of grocery stores in Ohio (he doesn’t do business in Oklahoma because of the prohibition on grocery store liquor sales) has told me that the sale of the wine/liquor in grocery stores is what provides them with the necessary margin to provide more goods and choices in other parts of the store.

As the facts become clear, there is simply no reason to limit these sales to liquor retailers.  Everyone of the scare tactics raised by those who have benefited from this cartelization of liquor sales have been debunked, one by one.  Now our State Chamber has decided that an end to the cartel makes sense.  Why?  To bring Costco and more Whole Food like grocers to the state…to create jobs.  Ending this arrangement will be devastating for the liquor retailers.  Repealing the laws in Oklahoma which are a throwback to prohibition days will drastically reduce the profits of the modern-day bootleggers, the liquor wholesalers.  Ending this cartel will benefit the consumer, not the producer/distributor.

This type of thinking is a dangerous and slippery slope for the folks in the Chamber.  Business and tax policy with the consumer in mind?  Repealing laws that basically provide protection for certain businesses?  This change in thinking could have serious consequences.

Ending the cartels in health care would result in gigantic savings for local companies if they are offering health care as a benefit of employment.  What would Texas do if Oklahoma led the way with innovative health care cartel -busting policy.  What if many of the legal obstacles put up by the insurance commission and insurance-led legislation were to be repealed, opening the way for the consumers of health care, not the providers of the care  (and certainly not the middle men selling the PPO snake oil) to drive the market in the direction it needs to go?

As a physician, I am called and paid to serve patients.  As the medical director of our large surgery center I am called and paid to serve the patients that come to our facility and to provide unparalleled service to the surgeons that work here.  Any laws that “protect” me or my facility from competitors only serve to increase the likelihood that the patients receive care of lessor quality than if I am exposed to competition from other facilities.  Cartels and monopolies exist only because the government at all levels embraces protectionism and writes these laws for a price.

I applaud the Chamber for their efforts to remove the liquor cartel from Oklahoma.  I hope that this economic 180 will extend to other businesses in the community that profit from their “protection” at the expense of those they are supposed to serve.

G. Keith Smith, M.D.

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