Even opposites attract on booze sale issue
Some state lawmakers, ensconced within the grandeur of the Capitol, continue to insist that the commonwealth remain in the retail alcohol beverage business in defiance of an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians.
Polls long have demonstrated the public's preference for abandonment of the state's archaic booze monopoly for modern retail sales. But a new survey released last week by parties on opposite ends of the political spectrum is especially telling.
The Commonwealth Foundation, a right-wing think tank, and Keystone Politics, a counterpart of the left, jointly announced the survey's finding that 66 percent of likely Pennsylvanian voters want the state government to get out of the booze business in favor of private enterprise.
Legislators and other state officials never should govern on the basis of polls alone, which often reflect the view of the moment rather than the long, hard thought that should shape public policy.
Yet polling consistently has shown that the public gets it - fundamentally, the state has no legitimate business in the booze business. Moreover, respondents from across the political spectrum say they want the convenience and competition that would come from privatized liquor and wine sales, and the liberalization of beer sales from the antiquated distributor system.
Yet, in the Capitol, defenders of the state system continue to trot out myths about the superiority of a state-run system. Clearly, it is only an issue for politicians who benefit from their political connections to the system, and the people directly engaged in it. For the vast majority of Pennsylvanians, the superiority of private-sector retail rooted in price competition and convenience - consumerism - is largely a settled matter.
It's time for lawmakers to catapult the system into the 20th century before the 21st century gets too much older.