Gov. Wolf Does Understand Economics
Last Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed legislation passed by the general assembly that would allow private retailers to sell wine and liquor. As my colleague Bob pointed out, his reasons don’t hold up to scrutiny.
Others have noted the inconsistencies and lack of rational thought in Gov. Wolf’s veto message. Jacob Sullum, writing for Reason, points out
The prediction of higher prices is not only inconsistent with basic economic principles and the experiences of the three dozen or so states that already have private liquor sales. It is also inconsistent with another major argument used by opponents of privatization, who say abolishing the state monopoly will lead to more drinking and more alcohol abuse.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board contrasts Wolf’s claim with the experience in neighboring states, where most Pennsylvanians actually shop for lower prices and better selection
But in written remarks Thursday, the governor claimed the bill made “bad business sense,” saying it would mean “selling an asset and risking higher prices and less selection for consumers.” Apparently, he’s never had the far-better experience of buying a bottle of wine to go with dinner ingredients or the vast selection of adult beverages that is available across the state’s borders in New York, Ohio, West Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland.
Jonathan Adler, writing on the Volokh Conspiracy blog of the Washington Post, makes a mockery of Wolf’s veto message.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed the legislation, claiming allowing private wine and liquor sales would lead to “higher prices and less selection” for consumers. No, really. That was the explanation.
Adler, with his title, suggests Wolf doesn’t understand economics, or at least has other reasons.
To be clear, Gov. Wolf absolutely understands economics, and knows that a market-based system will result in lower prices and greater selection.
And Gov. Wolf certainly understands that “modernization” proposals, which literally call for government increasing the price of wine and liquor, will result in higher prices.
No, Gov. Wolf is simply parroting the rhetoric of government union leaders who gave $3.4 million to his campaign and now are demanding political return.
Of course, Gov. Wolf can’t say in a veto message that he’s beholden to union leadership and trying to raise money for a new PAC, so he pretends he doesn’t understand economics and has never bought alcohol in another state.