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Every state should have more bars than grocery stores

Illinois and Wisconsin, as my colleague Joseph Stromberg noted earlier, stand out among American states for having more bars than grocery stores:

Us_bars_groceries_100122 This seems to scandalize some people on the theory that food is more fundamental to life than beer, but it seems like a very sensible arrangement. After all, a normal person should be perfectly satisfied going weeks, months, or even years while just shopping at one or two grocery stores.

By contrast, when it comes to bars a person probably wants some variety.

A great place to watch the game might not be the best place to catch up with an old friend. Sometimes you want a fancy cocktail, sometimes you want a cheap beer. A great grocery store will actually endeavor to cover all your bases — you can get fruits and vegetables and meat and fish and grains and eggs and yogurt and canned stuff and everything you could want all under one roof. But a bar that tries to be all things to all people is going to be a mediocre, annoying bar. I suspect the plague of locations with more grocery stores than bars reflects bad licensing policy more than anything else. Many American jurisdictions feature an unfortunate "baptists and bootleggers" dynamic in which moralistic scolds and incumbent bar owners team up to make it unreasonably difficult to open a new bar.

Areas of the country impacted by high levels of German or Irish immigration seem to have a less anti-tavern political culture that helps shift the bar:grocery store ratio in a healthy direction. A more sensible policy framework would be to make it easier to open bars but tax beer more heavily, generating useful tax revenue and useful jobs.