Maybe we finally have a chance to privatize Pennsylvania’s state stores and bring us out of the dark ages of alcohol sales. I’m all for it.
But I see a big problem with plans for the state to collect a $2 billion windfall by selling licenses to private owners.
I don’t object to the state getting revenue from booze sales. But unless I’m missing something, the only way the state gets $2 billion is for us to maintain the same idiotic, restrictive sales structure we have now.
Follow me on this:
The idea is to auction off 621 retail liquor licenses and 100 wholesale licenses. To get $2 billion from that, licenses will have to go for an average of more than $2.7 million each.
Nobody pays $2.7 million for a license unless it gives them a rare and exclusive privilege to sell wine and liquor. So instead of buying wine and beer in grocery stores or a bounty of shops that compete with each other, you’d still have to hunt down one of the former State Stores licensees, who are now granted a state-chartered monopoly.
I say phooey.
Close the state stores, and grant liquor licenses to any retailer who meets reasonable standards, for reasonable fees.
We don’t get $2 billion to solve a short-term budget problem, but we get to shop like consumers in a state where sanity reigns.