I sent the following to the Philadelphia Inquirer, which did not, unfortunately, see fit to select it for print. Luckily, me and Blogger, we got a printing press of our own...so I'm putting it up here.
Gambling? Gambling's nothing!
Your statement (lead editorial on Feb. 9) on Governor Rendell's video poker idea hits some great points. We would have to check all licensees and spend millions on an enforcement bureaucracy (including benefits and pensions). More people already break the law rather than obey it. Current laws were set up with little public input and continue to be enforced against the public's will: the big casinos are being jammed down Philadelphia's throat. And "funding [state programs] on the backs of gambling's marks isn't the way to go."
Right on all counts, a bad idea. Yet that's exactly what we have with the Liquor Control Board. A separate enforcement (and sales!) bureaucracy, despite which people break the booze laws regularly (By the way: video poker enforcement is currently being carried out by the State Police's Liquor Control Enforcement arm...). Insanely tight inspections just to sell sixpacks, with arbitrary enforcement. Laws set up without public input: do a majority of citizens want the beer-by-the-case law or the State Stores anymore? And a huge 18% tax – "on the backs" of people who have a glass of wine with dinner – ostensibly to pay for the 1936 Johnstown Flood?
Privatize booze sales in Pennsylvania. It's fair, it's smart, and studies indicate we'd realize a windfall of over $500 million. You can plug a lot of budget holes with that.