Pennsylvania has a, shall we say, unique sales system for alcoholic beverages. Unlike most other states, which choose not to treat their citizens as though they are all roughly 4 to 6 years old, Pennsylvania requires that all liquor sold within state lines be sold by the state, operating via an independent government agency called the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Under this regime, the state actually runs retail liquor stores.
Despite a projected $4 billion deficit, Pennsylvania is experiencing many of the same protests we’ve seen elsewhere, including Ohio and Wisconsin. Although generally the protestors only care about what the government “gives” them, in Pennsylvania’s case, selling state-owned liquor stores is also apparently a problem, despite the obvious benefits to the entire citizenry.
And the benefits are truly obvious. When the PLCB was instituted, its stated purpose according to Governor Gifford Pinchot (1933) was “to discourage the purchase of alcoholic beverages by making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible.” I think perhaps the cost and convenience benefits are plain to see. This doesn’t even count the fact that the proceeds of the sale would go a long way to plugging that massive budget hole.
The source of the opposition to privatization is the usual motley assortment of unskilled, unionized wage workers in their typical unholy alliance with very rich, very hubristic urban “progressives.” However, this melange of ignorance has not prevented the dissemination of some honest-to-god facts (facts, I say!) about what privatization will do. It will steal your horses and pillage your village. It will rape your women and enslave your children. It might even vote Republican!
All kidding aside, here is the actual testimony from someone called Ted Miller of someplace called The Pacific Institute for Research. For the record, I did not make either of those names up.
Privatizing would increase violence, burglary, vandalism, drunk driving, reckless sex, teen pregnancy, and addiction in Pennsylvania.
I estimate the quality of life lost would equate to 800 deaths per year including 570 due to injury and 230 due to alcohol-attributable illness.
The harms from rising consumption would cost Pennsylvania residents an estimated $3.6 billion annually.
Again, I must emphasize that I did not make this up. Seriously. I am well aware of the date on which I am posting this. April Fools does not apply.
The researcher here says that state restriction of alchol will “save” $3.6 billion annually, but he makes no mention of who bears the costs. In a fight over state spending, the “savings” involved here are actually costs imposed on the state’s citizens and therefore not borne by the state. What a steal! It’s like getting a coupon for an extra 10% added to your bill. Who wouldn’t jump at that?
And the hyperbolic assumption that burglaries, reckless sex, etc. will increase? Well, aside from being silly, it also ignores who bears the costs. Let’s accept for the sake of argument that a tiny increase in overall crime, as posited by this testimony, would actually occur. Would the fact that your chances of being robbed moved from 1 in a 100,000 shot to 1 in 99,999 be worth the loss of freedom? And some people actually enjoy their reckless sex, thank you very much.
Let’s hope Pennsylvania comes to its senses. Micromanaging citizens’ lives in the interest of a greater dose of poorly-defined “morality” is never worth the cost in lost liberty. And as for privatization? Well, I’ll drink to that.