Corbett’s Liquor Privatization Problem: History Isn’t on his Side

Tom Corbett is not the first Pennsylvania governor to try and privatize the state liquor stores. (Though, with much of his agenda stifled, unrealized, or unpopular, he may be the most desperate to do it.) The Patriot-News, chronicling some previous near-misses, suggests we shouldn’t necessarily read too much into the recent House passage of the governor’s bill. Past failures include:

Milton Shapp, 1977
He instituted a task force to examine privatization. The task force, being a task force, did nothing, and the lame-duck Sharp failed in his quest.

Dick Thornburgh, 1983
Thornburgh gave it his all, even “very publicly” bulldozing the bill through committee, only to see it felled by a single vote cast by a puritanical Republican who thought “society was getting ahead of itself and entering dangerous waters.”

Tom Ridge, 1997
The Pirates were threatening to leave Steeltown so the Governor ended up expending all its political capital making sure that didn’t happen, and lost steam on the privatization effort.

And so there you have it. Then again, those guys didn’t have reputable journalism outfits like the Washington Free Beacon trumpeting their causes. Cough. For the record, the Economist has also weighed in on LCB privatization: It’s a reported piece, but the center-right mag is clearly in the pro camp. [Patriot-News]