Interstate protectionism

Virginia Postrel's latest NY Times column is about the laws that prohibit the free online trade of wine, in the name of consumer protection. [via Instapundit]

Twenty-six states prohibit almost all direct shipping of out-of-state wines, including seven that make direct sales a felony. Consumers in these states can buy directly from winemakers only if they actually visit the winery.

Even states that allow direct shipping usually impose restrictions. Most limit the amount of wine a consumer can receive. Minnesota prohibits all Internet sales, while Montana requires consumers to get a $50 "connoisseur's permit" before they can receive out-of-state shipments.

Imagine that - you can be locked up for engaging in voluntary trade. How could something so inexplicable become law? Simple answer:

Why, then, do the bans persist? The answer is interest-group politicking. Local businesses, whether they sell wine, cars or insurance, are keeping out the competition.

Remember, this is essentially Ralph Nader's entire platform.

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