Editorial | Liquor sale myths aren’t holding up

The following editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Monday.

The biggest boogeyman created by Pennsylvania’s cabal against liquor-store privatization is that it would lead to increased crime and decreased compliance with the state’s liquor laws.

Both claims are unfounded, based on Washington state’s experience since it privatized liquor sales in June 2012.

In July, we noted the Evergreen State’s success with decreased liquor prices, increased sales and a net job gain. But there’s more.

In the first year of privatization, that state’s alcohol-related arrests and DUI accidents declined, according to the nonpartisan Washington Policy Center’s review of state police data.

Even more so was the drop in “minor in possession” cases: from 1,483 in 2008-09 to 777 in 2012-13.

As Jason Mercier writes for the independent research center, “It is clear that private sales did not reverse the overall downward trend (in crime) as opponents feared.”

Pennsylvania’s unionized state store workers also have argued that liquor store compliance — namely, checking IDs — would go out the window under the purview of the private sector.

Guess again: Washington State Liquor Control Board’s compliance rates for retailers have averaged more than 92 percent; last August, the compliance rate was almost 94 percent, the policy center reports.

The future of Pennsylvania’s liquor sales is privatization.

That shouldn’t be hampered by the perpetuation of empty assumptions.