When it comes to privatizing the Pennsylvania’s government-run monopoly of wine and spirits, many politicians say they are in favor of it—including House Liquor Committee Chairman John Taylor (R-Philadelphia). But how can we square such expressions of support with their actions?
It’s like asking my son to mow the lawn. He says, sure! But does he mean to do it today or sometime next month? That’s a nuance that is pretty important if I’m going to get the outcome I want.
Likewise with liquor privatization. One of the critical nuances is who will be in charge of the wholesale side of the wine and spirits business, and when. Currently, the PLCB oversees the ordering, shipping, and delivery of all purchased wine and spirits. Restaurants, bars, and hotels that are licensed to serve or sell drinks in Pennsylvania must purchase their liquor from the PLCB. The PLCB officials determine what options these venues are able to choose from. If a wine or spirit is not on the list of registered brands, then it cannot be bought or sold in Pennsylvania.
Furthermore, if the PLCB retains any retail stores (which some politicians want in order to placate the government union bosses), how interested will the PLCB be in assisting their private competitors in getting the products and service they need? We all know the answer to that: not very.
If the government maintains monopoly control of the wholesale side, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board will have complete power to make or break any retail stores that sell liquor.
So if the Legislature and Governor are going to deliver what the overwhelming majority of citizens want—getting government out of the booze business—then we must completely and immediately privatize the wholesale function to get the outcome the public is demanding.
While most of public is most interested with the retail side of privatization, getting the government out of the wholesale side of the booze business IMMEDIATELY is a critical battle in our quest for liquor liberty!