Behind the state store sale

Governor Corbett is proposing to auction off Pennsylvania’s state liquor stores. How will the citizens of our state benefit? We, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, own 600 liquor stores, which Tom Corbett says would fetch $1 billion if he sold them. Sales at the stores put about $400 million annually into our state treasury. If you accept the $1 billion estimate, this is a 40% return on our investment! What stock can you buy that guarantees that kind of return?

There are three reasons to privatize a public asset. First, government agencies can’t make political contributions. They can’t gift politicians with Super Bowl tickets or trips on corporate jets. Private companies can do that, and more. Second, the employees of our state stores are unionized. Employees of private liquor stores would not be. Privatization is a form of union-busting. Third, the sale would satisfy those who believe that government should be shrunk, no matter what the cost to the citizenry.

As for the myth that private enterprise can always do everything more efficiently than government, just look at health care. Private health insurance companies operate with an overhead of 15-20%. Medicare’s overhead is 1.4%!

The governor offers a carrot of education finance from the sale of our state stores. This is a one-time shot in the arm that would do nothing to solve the chronic problems of funding our education system. In return, it would permanently deprive us of a secure $400 million a year. How smart is that?

Tom Corbett uses his position as governor to advance his private agenda and help his friends and contributors. Of course he has to pretend that he’s working in the interest of the people. Before he goes any further with this project, he should assure the citizens of Pennsylvania that neither he nor the leaders of our state Legislature have received campaign money – or promises -from people who would profit from the sale of our state stores.

Arno Vosk M.D.


Submitted by Virtual Newsroom