"...there was [in 1997] no overarching passion within the General Assembly, or in the public at large, for privatization. Unless and until there is a general hue and cry, it is very unlikely there will be a privatization initiative that succeeds."Jones and other former PLCB members are quoted at length in today's Scranton Times-Tribune, giving their impressions on the chances of privatization succeeding this time around. I found these quotes by Jones's predecessor, James A. Goodman, who served from 1987 to May 1995, to speak directly to Jones's previous statement.
"Since the system has been in existence, there have been bills in the Legislature" to privatize state-run liquor stores, Mr. Goodman told Times-Shamrock Newspapers on Monday. "But I would consider this to be the most serious threat for it to happen. You have the governor and you have the majority leader (state House Republican Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-28, Pittsburgh) as the prime sponsor of the bill. That's a lot of juice. And you have newspapers ... editorializing in favor of it all over the state."Don't think that means Goodman is in favor of privatization. He said he opposes it, apparently (the paper didn't quote him directly) because the system funds alcohol education and enforcement efforts. Well...given the problems we've had with enforcement efforts, maybe they could use some shaking up.
Here's something I just don't get. One of the arguments against privatization is brought up by John Reiley, who was the PLCB secretary for 29 years (WTF? Really?!): "One driving force behind the effort is "big business trying to latch onto those profits" that the state now sees through its monopoly on liquor sales, Mr. Reiley said." Well...yeah! That's what retail business does. It's called capitalism, and the profit motive, and that's the reigning model in the United States, has been since 1776. Supporting the PLCB against privatization is anti-business, plain and simple...which smacks of anti-Americanism.
One of the biggest balls of bull that's being batted around (on both sides of the debate) is the number on what the State might net by auctioning off liquor store and wholesale licenses (and real estate, and stock, and fixtures, and all that jazz). It's all either pie in the sky numbers from those in favor, or lowballs from those opposed (mostly the union, but also religious groups and anti-booze groups, who are really drinking the "control" Kool-Aid). We need real numbers; and the paper also has a report on a possiblity that the House will contract for an independent study on that. Good. We need real numbers.
Because this is important. Turzai is pushing to have a bill through the legislature by Memorial Day. To move that fast, we need real information, and we need real alternatives. My major issues with Turzai's legislation? Not enough licenses (we really ought to have at least 1,200, not 750), and not enough limits on who gets them (I really like the idea of no company getting more than three, but 10% is too many; and I'd really like to keep any current or former legislators out of ownership). And maybe some other stuff. Discuss!!!