A Sept. 8 news story and editorial about the proposed new wholesale liquor contract raise an issue that could use some serious public discussion: Why should Maine control the wholesaling and the retail price of liquor at all?

The editorial suggests that state control aims to fight underage drinking. But such logic implies that Maine ought to control the wholesaling of autos, cigarettes and any number of other products that can be dangerous to young “users.”

For an administration that claims to be business friendly wouldn’t a better, and certainly more consistent, stance be to get out of this business and leave it to competitive private firms?

Another question is why we need to rely at all on rigging the wholesale liquor market to decrease “the opportunity for (liquor) to get into the hands of underage drinkers.” There are already laws that forbid the purchase of liquor by underage would-be drinkers and the abetting by adults of such drinking.

Then there is the liquor tax.

If most teens have limited spending money, then raising the price will discourage some drinking. Why not do the raising through the tax system directly? The pattern of discouragement might not be equitable, but we have already made it clear as a society in the case of cigarettes that this is of very limited concern.

And, of course, the pattern of prices ordained by the state through the wholesaler is unlikely to be significantly different.

Clifford Russell is a resident of Alna.