Is Liquor Liberty Dangerous?

liquor control board The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board operates with a clear conflict of interest. It is charged with both enforcement and managing sales. It spends millions to advertise alcohol products. Liquor store privatization would allow the PLCB to focus on enforcing laws that protect citizen, not marketing strategies to get more alcohol into Pennsylvanians hands.

Below is a letter I submitted to The Morning Call debunking union boss Wendell Young’s claim that the liquor status quo keeps Pennsylvanians safe.

Liquor store union president Wendell Young continues not to let pesky things like facts stand in the way of his agenda, as he demonstrated in his recent op-ed attacking Sen. Pat Browne for supporting the removal of government from the booze sales business.

While Mr. Young spreads fear that privatization is dangerous, his figures and logic just don’t add up. Pennsylvania actually ranks higher than the national average in rates of underage drinking, underage binge drinking, and binge drinking among all residents. The commonwealth also ranks higher than most of its border states in alcohol-related traffic fatalities and total alcohol-related deaths per capita. Every state except Utah provides more freedom over wine and spirits sales than Pennsylvania, yet more government control simply hasn’t translated into greater safety.

Moreover, the CDC’s “Task Force” study referenced is a red herring. The agency reviewed 21 studies with more than 30-year-old sales data, some of which found increased consumption following privatization; others found no change or decreases. The Task Force’s synopsis — which does not represent the CDC’s official position — contradicts its earlier report, and fails to note that none of the studies show liquor store privatization has an effect on underage drinking or DUI fatalities.

It makes sense that Mr. Young promotes the government monopoly over liquor sales: without it, he won’t be able to force private-sector employees to contribute union dues and bankroll his nearly $300,000 annual pay. None of this, however, changes the fact that Sen. Browne is making the best, most-educated decision for his constituents and the commonwealth.