Utah: Sweden's No.1 Comrade

Who would have thought that Sweden, a socialistic society that thinks nudity is A-OK, would have anything in common with arch-conservative, prudish Utah, outside of a disproportionate number of blond, boring people who listen to Abba?

Well, here’s a fun fact to know and tell: Sweden, like Utah, has a government monopoly on alcohol.

Sweden, like Utah, has inordinately high liquor prices.

Utah and Sweden’s liquor stores have limited, inconvenient hours.

Finally, Utah, supposedly the land of free-agency and laissez faire, uses its booze monopoly—like Sweden—for social engineering, in this case, to get people to drink (and, perhaps, smile) less! And we thought social engineering is the anathema to conservative Utah values.

According to Financial Times (go here for the full article).

Long seen as a country with a passion for intrusive social legislation, Sweden’s alcohol policies may seem like an anachronism. Yet the monopoly, and a tangible official puritanism that accompanies it, appear to be thriving.

Sound familiar?

And Sweden’s over-priced state liquor monopoly Systembolaget, like Utah’s, DABC, has driven the populace to lawlessness: Utahns drive to Wyoming to bootleg Everclear, beer kegs and a decent bottle of red; Swedes drive or ferry to Denmark, the Baltic states or Germany to smuggle in liquor, including aquavit, a worse-tasting Everclear equivalent.

But not even the social engineers of Sweden couldn’t come up with a Zion Curtain, the 7-foot-high drink-mixing screen that the Utah hospitality industry hopes to get rescinded this year at the Legislature. Unfortunately, only 10 days remain in the session and a bill has yet to be introduced.

And from what we’ve been hearing, the trade-offs (liquor law changes always operate like hostage negotiations) will be painful, including a DMZ around the bar where adults will be carded and children expelled and a hike in liquor taxes (86 percent to 88 percent) to retrain bartenders to properly patrol the DMZ.

With the Zion Curtain imperiled, the Lege had to get creative to stay ahead of Sweden in social-engineering. Utah may lower the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers to 0.05 percent — lowest in the nation.

Glen Warchol
Glen Warcholhttp://www.saltlakemagazine.com
The late, great Glen Warchol passed away in 2018. His last billet was on the editorial staff here at Salt Lake magazine but his storied career included stops at The Salt Lake Tribune, The Desert News, The New Times and others. His stories haunt this website like ghosts in a machine and we're always happy to see them. RIP Papa Warchol.

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