Not too far south of the Mason-Dixon Line is an odd little Pennsylvania-like anomaly within Maryland: the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control. It's the last municipal control county in the U.S. They actually go the PLCB one better (one worse?): they have a monopoly on spirits, wine and beer sales, wholesale and retail off-premise. But like the PLCB, they are being called out for not serving the customers well and there are calls to privatize the system.
The funny thing is, the calls are from the DEMOCRATIC leadership of the state. Specifically Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), whose office is in charge of liquor regulation for the state. Unlike the Democrats here in PA who would never say something like “The county’s monopoly is bad for consumers, bad for small businesses and for our local economy” about the PLCB, the Comptroller is not only saying that, but saying it out loud and producing these anti-control broadsheets:
privatization is better.
Of course the Union (who else?) opposes any talk of privatization saying that privatization would not create real competition.
"Under Maryland state law, two wholesalers may not distribute the same product in the same market at the same time. There is always one approved, designated wholesale distributor in a given market for each brand or product. Private liquor will have its own liquor monopoly."
So there won't be competition when Smirnoff is in direct competition with the other 40 brands of vodka in their price range? Somebody needs to go back to school and take some Econ classes. Competition will hold except at the very ends of the bell curve where there is no suitable substitute for the product you want: like a 60 year old bottle of Glenfiddich Scotch or a half-liter bottle of MD 20/20. That's true for the majority of states and countries, and is considered the norm so it really isn't pertinent to the privatization argument.
Of course, this ignores the indisputable fact that there is NO COMPETITION at all, be it real or fake, in Montgomery County now.
We here at the blog wish you the best of luck, Mr.Franchot! May you show our legislature the way to satisfying the consumer and ridding us of the archaic system now in place.