The Commonwealth Foundation called for an immediate halt today by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board of taxpayer-funded advertising that promotes the sale of wine and spirits by the government-run monopoly.
The free-market think tank cited a costly conflict of interest for the Prohibition-era agency as a reason for the stoppage. Analysts say the agency has dueling missions that cost taxpayers millions of dollars to both advertise and promote wine and liquor sales while spending millions more on alcohol education programs.
"Like a pyromaniac preaching fire prevention, the PLCB starts fires by enticing consumers to buy from their stores, then tries to put them out by spending more taxpayer money on preventing abuse," said Jay Ostrich, director of public affairs. "While we support the mission of the PLCB to discourage alcohol abuse, they have proven unable to do so effectively while diverting dollars and its attention to the promotion and sale of wine and spirits."
The Commonwealth Foundation says controversial advertising campaigns like the recent date rape ads – in which the PLCB paid nearly $1 million in taxpayer money to a consulting group for development and distribution, but quickly pulled due to public outrage – are illustrative of the troubling decisions the board has made recently.
"This conflict of interest is a candle burning on both ends and consumers and taxpayers are left holding the middle," said Ostrich. "By removing government from the liquor promotion and sales business, we can restore sanity and integrity to an agency now sorely lacking both."
The board has also come under public fire for wasteful spending that included purchasing a faulty $66 million computer inventory system that led to widespread shortages and surpluses throughout the commonwealth. The agency is also responsible for the costly wine kiosk program that was roundly rejected by the public and has brought ongoing litigation.
Pennsylvania remains one of only two states (the other Utah) where the government controls the retail and wholesale sale of both wine and spirits. The Commonwealth Foundation has supported an end to the government-run monopoly by allowing consumers to purchase their preferences through private businesses.
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For more information, please contact Jay Ostrich at 717-649-6547. The Commonwealth Foundation (www.commonwealthfoundation.org) crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.