I grew up in Western Pennsylvania. As a teenager, I had little problem getting beer from taverns. Except for my Italian grandfather making wine, I had no access to “spirits.”
At age 19, I headed to California, where I had no problem buying from a private corner liquor store. If they got caught, the owner simply fired the clerk and told the new clerk to avoid selling to minors “wink, wink.”
Liquor store robberies are common in California. Drugs, alcohol and generally undesirable characters can be seen around many of these places. Living in Pittsburgh now, I fear more for my safety in a bank, which seems to be the favorite target of Pittsburgh robbers. Anyone heard of a state store robbery lately?
While I philosophically oppose government operating a private business, privatizing the liquor business is not the panacea that many seem to think. How much revenue will be lost for the state? How much more expense will there be to police the liquor stores? How much more crime will come to many communities? How many more teenage drunken-driving incidents will ensue?
I don’t have the answers, but perhaps we should really think before we leap. I see only the ideological debate of government vs. private industry. Perhaps some of the other issues I have raised should be openly discussed.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, please join me in getting those answers.