Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why Pennsylvania's liquor business should be privatized

Top LCB officials said to take gifts, favors from vendors:
"The report names LCB chief executive officer Joe Conti, board member Patrick J. "P.J." Stapleton III, and marketing director James Short as having accepted gifts and favors, including wine and tickets to sporting events and golf tournaments. 
It says one LCB vendor secured a round of golf with a pro for Stapleton during a tournament at Aronimink - and sent two employees to serve as Stapleton's caddies."
It seems to me that this is the kind of back-scratching behavior that goes on all the time among private business executives—maybe slightly unseemly, if that, but never rising to the level of outright bribery. What makes this report newsworthy is that it's not private business executives taking the gifts: It's state officials. And that's something different.

Saving liquor execs from charges of graft isn't really a reason to privatize Pennsylvania's system of state liquor stores—it's not even in the Top 10 reasons, really. But having the state dabble in what really should be a private business is going to create problems like this from time to time. Especially in a state like ours, where corruption isn't exactly uncommon.

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