|From the LCB site.|
Here's the story though, see you don't govern by polls. You obviously don't take positions that the public is fundamentally opposed to and think you'll win elections. Tom Corbett certainly isn't. His cuts to education over the last two years, his privatizing the lottery, even his decisions on Marcellus Shale are hardly popular. He's not trying to sell liquor stores because he wants better liquor policy, or because the public wants it, or even because it's leaking money (it's not), he's trying to sell the stores because he's an ideological zealot who thinks the state should not really do anything at all. Ideologically, there's no reason at all for Democrats to support this- we don't think the state should do nothing, so we generally aren't pro-privatization. Furthermore this is not a resource drain on the state, so there's no reason to view this as a service that needs to go imminently.
Most of this opposition is based on false pretenses anyway. Most people think that the state stores are draining red ink into our budget, with high paid state workers running up our bills for crappy service. Neither is true. Now are you going to abandon your basic principles and alliances based on polling that isn't grounded in reality, or do you set policy based on belief?
On the surface, I simply reject the idea that asset sales are a net-neutral thing that need to be given the benefit of the doubt. Tom Corbett is saying he's going to use the money from this sale for a $1 billion block grant, over four years, for education. Over 20 years, the stores right now would make 150% of that, and bring that money in annually, just left alone, as is. I'd rather the steady revenue stream than the one time and done stream. Give me the $72 million a year they are turning in profit now.
Next off, there is this idea that this is better for the consumer. How so? I don't view liquor and beer as the same product, nor do most drinkers. I go to the liquor store to buy a bottle of alcohol or wine, and I go to the beer distributor to buy a case. I know the difference, and don't really want both together, since I don't really drink both together. Further, being a customer in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, I see no improvement in New Jersey for selection, other than both being together, compared to the Pennsylvania stores. If anything I see the opposite. If you'd like to see your supermarket sell both, fine, call for that to pass, but there's no need to sell the stores to get better selection. I don't see how that helps anything.
Most of the complaints about the state liquor stores seem to me to be about the way the stores are run themselves. If you want something like Jersey where stores sell liquor and wine, fine, liberalize liquor laws. If you think there are too many rural liquor stores that lose money on their own, fine, close some down and run the higher profit stores. It would drive the profit margin for the state even higher.
There's this idea that the workers are acting as some sort of "evil special interest" here too. The workers in these stores are paying their bills on their salaries. This is what feeds them. Again here, Democrats believe in unionized, better paying jobs. If keeping those stores is not draining red ink into our state budget, there is no reason to kill these jobs, or send them into a lower paying private sector. The idea is that the private sector should pay more, not the public sector less. We're not into deflation economics on the left.
Finally, the most ridiculous thing glossed over by pro-privatization forces is this idea that the $72 million a year is pointless to be worrying about. They say why not go ahead, privatize the stores and lose that money, and make that up with an increased beer tax or something (sure helped Onorato, didn't it?). So let's end the good paying jobs, in profitable stores, and make up the profits from them by taxing consumers, working class people. That's as red-meat, Mitt Romney style of a way to govern as I've seen.
I don't see any reason for Democrats to support selling off an asset, privatizing stores, privatizing jobs, and giving up the revenue source for the government here. It's not as though Governor Corbett is really convincing anyone to follow him here. He couldn't pass this last legislative session with bigger majorities.