Cohen on Relaxation of Liquor Laws During Coronavirus Outbreak

Social Welfare Professor David Cohen spoke to the Hill about the temporary relaxation of laws on alcohol purchases during the coronavirus outbreak. Some states are now permitting takeout and delivery of alcoholic beverages to provide relief for restaurants and small businesses. Cohen said it was common to rethink regulations during emergencies but also cited the influence of the beer, wine and spirits lobby. “Regulations result from balancing many interests, but the weight of manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of alcoholic beverages in influencing policy through lobbying is notable,” he said. Alcohol laws exist for a reason and relaxing them could be dangerous, he added. “Alcohol used excessively can lead to serious problems in people and in communities in the short and the longer term. If changes in access to alcohol occur, consequences must be monitored so we can understand more clearly the impact — desirable, undesirable and unanticipated — of our regulations,” he said.


Tilly on Economic Imbalance Exacerbated by Amazon’s Search for HQ2

Urban Planning Professor Chris Tilly discussed Amazon’s failure to reverse the concentration of wealth and power in the United States in a Ringer article explaining disappointment in the company’s choice for a second headquarters. Amazon garnered national attention when it announced the search for a home for “HQ2,” inviting cities with at least 1 million residents, an established mass transit system and proximity to an international airport to apply. Many saw this as an opportunity to spur economic growth in cities beyond established hubs. However, Amazon ultimately chose two smaller sites in New York and Virginia — both close to CEO Jeff Bezos’ personal homes in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Many cities vying to lure HQ2 were never realistic options for Amazon, Tilly said. He added, “The whole thing was a show with the ultimate purpose of getting the best possible benefits from one or more cities on the short list they already had in mind. I don’t think there was a genuine process of scoring the map of the United States.”