The big “excuse” to get the Pennsylvania government out of the liquor business is the infusion of cash the state desperately needs that would come when licenses to sell wine & liquor would be sold or auctioned off when it comes time to privatize the retail stores. It’s an easy way to sell the idea to people who don’t really care about the issue one way or another. So imagine how refreshing it was to read that our Governor took a direct free market argument to the General Assembly today.
Government can’t create jobs. And when it tries it usually makes a mess of it. Industries are built on a singular vision, not by committee. My administration is committed to a study that looks at how best to get us out of a business we should never have entered. I’m talking about the liquor business. This isn’t about the money. It’s about the principle. Government should no more run the liquor stores than it should run the pharmacies and gas stations.
To say that government messes it up is an understatement. I’ve watched state employees sell liquor to visibly intoxicated & borderline violent people. (That was fun to watch the male store employee refuse to back up the female clerk who was trying not to sell to the guy & wanted to call the cops for assistance.) The store I visited today had an anti-alcohol poster up in the window. (I bought 3 items in spite of the poster – sherry for a dish, bourbon for man, and wine suggested by Food & Wine for our pizza later this week.) When we visited a store this weekend, the clerk was yelling at a customer when we walked in. The volume of the argument did not go down once others entered the store. (I will concede the clerk was right, but there’s no reason to scream at the customer.)
The system doesn’t save us money, and we have fewer and crappier choices because of it. At least if it was a free market system, I would know the stores suck because my neighbors have crappy taste. Right now, it’s due to bureaucratic incompetence. So yay to Tom Corbett for making the free market case for privatizing the liquor & wine stores. The fact that it will help the state put its financial house back in order is just a side benefit. This needs to be done for the right reason – the government doesn’t belong in the liquor business.