I disagree with the Post-Gazette's view that the liquor privatization bill endorsed by Gov. Tom Corbett and passed by House Republicans (over the opposition of all Democrats) is worse than no bill at all ("Beer World: The Distributors Get Most Breaks in Liquor Reform," March 21). It would further entrench the current dreadful system for selling beer, give beer distributors an unwarranted first crack at buying licenses to sell liquor, and eliminate nearly $100 million in annually recurring state store profits from the state budget. The one bright spot is that Pennsylvania consumers would gain the ability to buy wine in grocery stores.
In principle, there is no more justification for Pennsylvania to operate a state monopoly for the sale of wine and liquor than there is for it to monopolize the sale of bread and milk. Indeed, true privatization would allow purchases of beer, wine and liquor in grocery stores, as in Ohio, but this bill doesn't do that.
In any case, proposals for privatization must address the reality that eliminating the state stores would exacerbate the state's budget woes. At a time of tight budgets and cuts to education, advocates of privatization must explain how the state would replace the annual lost revenue.
Any proceeds from the sale of the state stores would be a non-recurring, one-time windfall, and consumers would see the amounts paid by entrepreneurs for the stores or licenses reflected in higher prices.
The Republican bill is good for beer distributors but bad for consumers and taxpayers.
RICHARD A. MATTHEWS