In another over-the-top criticism of liquor store privatization, Don Wert of Pennsylvanians Concerned about Alcohol Problems attacked Rep. Mike Turzai’s proposal to license private stores to sell wine and spirits.
If properly managed, the state store system is a good way to regulate alcohol sales. The state store system was originally created to “control” the sales of alcoholic beverages. In recent years the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has, unfortunately, turned this organization into a sales promotion agency rather than a control agency. This can be changed if we once again elect a governor who is concerned about the rampant expansion of alcohol use. Governor Rendell appointed men to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board who have blatantly pushed alcohol sales expansion rather than control it. Right now the PLCB is the biggest drug pusher in Pennsylvania.
Representative Turzai recently explained that House Bill 2350, which calls for privatization, would also allow for the increase in tax revenue from $375 million to $500 million. It sounds like Rep. Turzai is also a drug pusher.
There are several problem with this line of attack. For starters, Mr. Wert would be hard pressed to identify a time in which government control of alcohol sales prevented alcohol abuse. Across the nation, there is little difference in binge drinking, underage drinking, driving under the influence and the like between control and license states. And states that privatized saw little change in these outcomes.
Now he may allege that all state governments managing liquor sales are drug pushers. But won’t that always be the case? If the goal is to have the PLCB control alcohol sales, what sense does it make to have them also sell alcohol. Indeed, a system in which the PLCB licenses and monitors the sale of liquor is far more likely to promote the goals of Pennsylvanians Concerned about Alcohol Problems.
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