Sampling attitudes toward privatization at a state store

    Ever been to a wine-tasting at a state store?

    I hadn’t either, but I’ve been following the debate over the proposal in Harrisburg to privatize liquor and wine sales in Pennsylvania, and when I saw on the state Liquor Control Board website they were having many such events, I decided to stop by and see what I could hear.

    The tasting at the store at 19th and Chestnut was a pretty sedate affair, with a rep from Barefoot Wine pouring samples of three offerings into the kind of tiny paper cups you’d get mustard in.

    What I really wanted to do was talk to customers, and ask what they thought of state stores and privatization. Most hadn’t even heard of the proposal to close the state stores. But of those who expressed an opinion, a little more than half said they like the state stores just fine, which surprised me.

    It only confirmed my sense that the effort to privatize liquor sales will face a rough go in Harrisburg this fall. Sure, plenty of people think it’s ridiculous to have state employees selling booze, and that it’s silly you can’t buy wine in your supermarket.

    But the most passionate folks involved in the debate are those opposed to privatization: unions, religious leaders, and groups opposed to the widespread consumption of alcohol, especially among young people.

    To hear a sampling of what I heard at the state store, click the audio above.

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