State liquor laws favor competition, benefit consumers...


July 10, 2000

State liquor laws favor competition, benefit consumers

Marylanders enjoy the ability to purchase alcoholic beverages at prices that are among the lowest in the country.

Our liquor stores are owned by members of our community who are interested in upholding regulations and laws that were designed to protect all of us, such as the prohibition of sales to minors.

Our industry employs more people per capita and generates more revenue for the state than most other states with different regulatory systems.

It is upsetting to me when one person from outside the community seeks to change a system that has worked well for years. David J. Trone, of Beltway Fine Wines, is not really interested on opening competition by changing quantity discount laws.

Instead, he wants to restrict competition in an effort to force smaller businesses to go under and gain a virtual monopoly for himself where he would be able to control prices on the retail level.

Our ability to buy liquor at a low price is not only because of reasonable taxes but also because there are many outlets that are very competitive with one another. Quite often, popular brands are being sold at or near cost.

We already have a system that encourages retailers to buy in quantity at a lower price. Some months suppliers and wholesalers will put an item on sale for one month of the year to encourage buying. Larger retailers sometimes buy a year's supply to have a competitive advantage.

The more stores that participate in a sale the better it is for the consumer. Quantity discounts of the type Mr. Trone espouses would limit the best prices to a few stores.

There are other large retailers and I think Mr. Trone would be hard pressed to find another one that agrees with him. I hope our leaders are wary of this kind of lobbying that is motivated by greed, for it can only lead to corruption.

Michael Baer


University of Baltimore no threat to Morgan

I regret having to take issue with recent statements by President Earl Richardson of Morgan State University that the cause for Morgan's lack of enrollment growth and diversity was in any way related to the University of Baltimore's becoming one of Maryland's public institutions in 1975 ("Morgan fights for course offerings," June 27).

Morgan took a similar step in 1939. Indeed, many of Maryland's senior colleges or universities were at one time private or non-state institutions.

In the period since UB's transition to public institution status, enrollment at the campus has been remarkably stable, despite accepting no freshmen since the fall of 1975 and no freshmen or sophomores since 1976. A few sophomores were authorized in 1998. As a result of this specialization in undergraduate transfer students, UB's 1999 fall enrollment at 4,611 was 10 percent less than it was in 1977. Therefore, it is difficult to see how UB could have had any negative impact on Morgan's enrollment over the past 20-plus years.

Accepting only proven transfer students, primarily in their junior undergraduate year, has its advantages. UB now graduates 20 percent more students today than it did in 1977, and does so at one of the lowest costs per student among the state's senior public campuses.

The University of Baltimore's position is that the Doctor of Business Administration at UB and the planned Ph.D. at Morgan are two distinctly different programs, appealing to differently motivated students.

The DBA is targeted to working professionals who seek an applied, advanced degree through part-time, weekend and evening study. Morgan's Ph.D. takes aim at the full-time student (particularly the African-American student) for an advanced, research degree in preparation for an academic career.

I also take issue with Dr. Richardson's characterization of UB's previously approved DBA program as "wasteful of taxpayers dollars." The budget of the UB's program is projected to be entirely covered by tuition and privately funded with University of Baltimore Educational Foundation scholarships and grants already in hand.

Morgan is requesting approximately $3 million beyond tuition to finance its program during the first five years of operation, with the cost rising each year.

Furthermore, as diversity in higher education is a goal of public policy, UB already has a very diverse student body. In the fall of 1999, 28 percent of its undergraduates were minority students, making UB the state's most integrated senior public institution. Eighty-seven percent of UB students are Maryland residents.

UB believes that both degree paths should be available from public institutions in the Baltimore area. The only reason advanced so far for denying UB the opportunity to mount its DBA is the belief that majority students interested in such a degree will enroll at Morgan to take a full-time research doctorate, if the DBA is not available. We predict students interested in that degree will seek other alternatives.

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