The Gulag Prisoners of Pennsylvania
In a recent story titled “A Push to Privatize Pennsylvania Liquor Stores,” New York Times reporter Katharine Seelye described a state-owned liquor store in Forest City, Pa., that ran out of eggnog before Christmas and concluded that customers of these stores are “like prisoners in the gulag” who “can only fantasize about buying their wine and liquor in a competitive free market.” Prisoners in a gulag? According to the Census Bureau, Forest City has 1,708 residents. How many towns with 1,708 residents have a liquor store at all, let alone one that stocks eggnog? Why choose a tiny place with a store that is open only three days a week to represent the issues concerning the privatization of liquor sales in Pennsylvania? Is this reporting or editorializing?
Moshe Adler teaches economics at Columbia University and at the Harry Van Arsdale Center for Labor Studies at Empire State College. He is the author of “Economics for the Rest of Us: Debunking the Science That Makes Life Dismal” (The New Press, 2010).