Goverment Middleman Bad for Consumers

The Scranton Times Tribune has an excellent editorial explaining that the state government monopoly over liquor wholesale is just a bad as its monopoly over wine and spirits retail sales.

Currently the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board determines what wines and liquors can be sold in the state. Moreover, restaurants and bars have to get their wine and spirits from the government—and they have to pick it up themselves, because the PLCB doesn’t deliver.

The Times-Tribune writes:

As demonstrated in recent hearings by the state Senate Law and Justice Committee, the alcohol politburo’s centralized control of the wholesale booze business is just as harmful to consumers’ interests.

In the capitalist world, private sector retailers such as wine shops and restaurants buy directly from many wholesalers, who compete for customers by offering selection and price. Wholesale prices go a long way towards determining competitive, rather than standardized shelf prices.

In Pennsylvania, there is but one 800-pound gorilla of a wholesaler – the politburo itself, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. It determines what the only retailer – also the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board – can sell at retail, and at what price.

Some have suggested “modernizing” by expanding retail options, but keeping the government monopoly over wholesale. But if taverns and grocery stores still have to buy their wine from the government, Pennsylvanians won’t get any greater selection or lower prices than they have now.

For more on this issue, check out recent posts on the cost of “modernizing” the PLCB’s wholesale monopoly and why this issue matters to you and listen to our latest podcast in which Katrina Anderson talks with Marcia Lampman, Executive Director of the House Liquor Control Committee, on why ending the government’s wholesale monopoly is critical to Pennsylvania consumers.