Thursday, October 4, 2018

Oregon: the 2nd highest liquor taxes in America! Or are they?

Today we are going to look at Oregon, home of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), and generally considered to have the second-highest liquor taxes in the country behind Washington State. They are a control state for liquor sales, but wine sales are private business. This chart by The Tax Foundation shows the tax levels for 2016; Oregon appears to have a tax rate of 3.1 times that of Pennsylvania.

Wow. If we have high prices, the prices in Oregon must be astronomical, right? Let's compare some of the top selling liquors in the two states today, now that we have the additional wonder of variable pricing. Keep in mind, the PLCB's very own report on variable pricing says nothing about using price negotiation to benefit the citizens, only about how much more money they can take from us in "Revenue."

We're going to compare the prices for the top selling spirits in the PA State Stores from 2017 (Fiscal 2018 ended 3 months ago, but the new report still isn't out) to those same bottles from Oregon, using both state's website prices. We'll give you the OLCC price, and the PLCB's shelf price (and out the door price). We'll explain that shortly.

First on the list is Tito's Handmade Vodka. Oregon # 8488B is selling at $23.95. The PLCB has it as # 9359 and it is on sale this month for $17.99. ($19.07) Yay us!

2. Captain Morgan Spiced Rum: Item # 0475BB in Oregon, selling for $16.95. Here it is Item #8865 at $17.99 ($19.07).

3. Jack Daniel's No. 7: OLCC Item #0146B, which sells for $21.95 (on sale this month); or you can pay $25.99 ($27.55) for Item #4291 in the State Stores. Such a deal!

4. Fireball Cinnamon: Oregon item #0939B for $15.95 in plastic, or $17.95 in glass. The PLCB equivalent, #4302, is on sale for $17.99 ($19.07). Even on sale they can't match the Oregon price. How much do you reckon they had to variably mark it up for that to happen?

5. Jameson Irish Whiskey: Item # 0391B for $29.95 in Oregon; or pay $29.99 ($31.79) for item #7303 in Pennsylvania.

6. Bacardi Superior Rum: Oregon #6179B is currently selling for $12.95. But it's on sale at the PLCB! Yeah! Item #7970 is on sale for $13.99 ($14.83). Wait...what?

7. Grey Goose Vodka: Oregon's #0636B at $35.95 compares to the PLCB's # 8963, selling for $32.99 ($34.97). Hey, we won one!

8. Crown Royal: Oregon's #0311B is going for $27.95 there; but #5186 is selling for $28.99 ($30.73) here. Screwed again.

That's the tale of the tape. Now we'll explain it.

Why did I include the out the door price for Pennsylvania, but not Oregon?  Because there are no extra or hidden taxes in honest Oregon. The price you see on the shelf is the price you pay: no hidden variable markup, storage fees, extra 1% 'just because' fees, and no sales tax dumped on top of the already taxed liquor. Kinda makes you wonder about the "negotiation" on those JD prices in Pennsylvania, doesn't it?

Remember that these are the largest selling 750s in Pennsylvania*. If there was any buying power leverage that could be used, it would be on these items. So what did that buying power get us? Jack went up a dollar, as did Fireball, Bacardi Superior and Crown Royal.

Looks like Oregon has pretty competitive prices even though their tax rate is THREE times as much. How is that possible? Hidden taxes, with the main one being product markup, the bloated PLCB "profit" that's being used mainly to pay for bloated PLCB operating costs. It used to be fixed at 30%, but now it is whatever they need it to be -- that's "variable" pricing! -- to pay off their burgeoning overhead, incompetent decision making, and of course to maybe pay some of the pension debt they owe. Need more money? Just vary the pricing! UPWARD!

You see, in Oregon they just have taxes, and it's transparently easy to find exactly what they are. From that they pay for the OLCC's costs. Here in Pennsylvania, we have the super-secret Variable Markup that no citizen is allowed to know, used to pay for the PLCB and whatever idiocy they come up with: wine kiosks, house brands, courtesy training, bad contracts, renaming stores for the 4th or 5th time...you get the idea.

Oregon's listed tax rate may be OVER 3 times that of Pennsylvania, but our secret taxes make them almost equal on many, many items. This is what we get with an "independent" agency with almost no oversight, no experienced business people in charge, and 80 years of cronyism and incompetence at every level. Is this the system that is best for the citizens? Are you sure we can't do better by having real business people run real businesses in competition with each other for the consumers' dollar? You know...just like you buy everything else?

Privatize - now more than ever.


* (Oregon does not carry the same bottom shelf vodka that the PLCB does, so that was left off the comparison.)


Orwell's 1984 and PLCB-world — the similarities are striking

Although George Orwell was likely unaware of the PLCB's Stalinist ways when he wrote 1984, his classic tale of a dystopian future (writtenalmost 16 years after the PLCB was forced onto an unwilling Pennsylvania), parts of it are strikingly close to what the PLCB has become.

Let's take the three sacred principles of Orwell's totalitarian government, the ways they control the population of Airstrip One, and see what parallel ideas the PLCB — a monopolistic government agency — runs on.

First: Newspeak. The official language of all party members, the prime method to eliminate all thoughtcrime. Any thoughts that are unorthodox or outside the official government platform are only describable as "thoughtcrime" in Newspeak; they are crimes by their definition.

All organizations have their own language, their jargon, of acronyms, contractions, and task-specific verbiage that outsiders have a difficult time understanding. PLCB employees talk about facings (how many rows across a product has on the shelf) sku's (s
tock control units; products with individual barcodes), self-audit (the act of looking over your own shoulder to see if you're doing what you say you're doing), border bleed (smart shopping, American-style), chronic alcohol abusers (that's us, the customers), and our favorite, variable pricing (which means higher pricing). These terms force the conversation into the PLCB's favor, and make all customers criminals.

Second: Doublethink. The act of simultaneously holding two opposite, mutually exclusive ideas or opinions, and believing in both absolutely. Doublethink requires using logic against logic or suspending disbelief in the contradiction.

PLCB Doublethink abounds. We're told the PLCB "controls" alcohol sales, because the private sector can't. But the PLCB also issues license to thousands of privately-owned beer distributors, restaurants, and now grocery stores and convenience stores that also sell alcohol. They must be out of control... The doublethink at the heart of the PLCB though, is the one that increased consumption of alcohol is bad...when the private sector is selling it. It is beneficial when the State Stores are selling it, because the State benefits. You can't get more doublethink than that!

Third: The Mutability of the Past. The deliberate changing (manipulation) of the past through the use of ‘Newspeak,’ by destruction and alteration of past history elements. The aim of this manipulation by Big Brother is to change the social consciousness of the system.

The PLCB and the unions that support it like to use this to prove they are a benefit to the citizen. "We contributed X million dollars in local taxes" is a favorite ploy in changing what happened. They didn't contribute anything. The State Stores merely collected taxes and by law had to return them to the municipality. With private stores, the municipality would collect those taxes on their own terms at a time convenient for them if the state wasn't in the middle.


But there are more parallels beyond the three principles. Drop into PLCBspeak and see how they work.

Crimestop:
to rid oneself of unwanted thoughts that interfere with the ideology of the PLCB, a necessary mental discipline for indoctrinated members of the PLCB. Good employees are in a state of constant enthusiasm about the goals set by the State. 
This is achieved by not grasping analogies, failing to perceive logical errors, misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to the PLCB: call it protective stupidity. The main example of this in the PLCB is variable pricing: how to suck more money from the citizens while giving them nothing in return. Sound business practices show that lowering prices to increase sales has more total benefit, but not in PLCBvania! Everything for the State (Stores) — nothing for the citizens! Productive stupidity!

Big Brother: The bureaucrats in Harrisburg make all the buying decisions for every single store, no exceptions. We tell you what you can buy. We tell you where you can buy it. We tell you when you can buy. There is no other choice. Dystopian regime or the PLCB or both!

Thoughtcrime: Any ideas, wishes or thoughts that contradict the idea that the PLCB knows what is best for you. They are the pinnacle of access to alcohol, even when the facts show otherwise. To think otherwise is a crime. You laugh at this, but as an American citizen, in direct defiance of the spirit of the U.S. Constitution (because of the terribly written 21st Amendment), Pennsylvania tells you that you can't go buy booze across the Delaware River in New Jersey. Laugh that off. 

Room 101: In the novel, Room 101 was where you were tortured with your worst fears.  Here in Pennsylvania, Room 101 is the entire state under variable pricing. All our worst fears about the PLCB come true (we warned you about this over and over, damn it!).

2 + 2 = 5: The mathematically false statement that control over physical reality is unimportant; so long as one controls one's own perceptions to what the PLCB says ("We make millions in revenue for the State!"), then any act is possible, in accordance with the principles of doublethink. A prime example: the commonly held belief in the Legislature (and among the citizens) that the PLCB is profitable, while it is over  $1 BILLION in debt, with total liabilities approaching $2 BILLION.

Memory hole:
A small chute in the wall used to carry documents to a large incinerator, in order to censor information and or remnants of the past. What's the connection to the PLCB? They tried to dump who was responsible for the wine kiosks and House Brands. They buried the truth about the Point Breeze warehouse firings in 2010 (and rehired all the union employees). And we go on like nothing happened. No one gets arrested, no one gets fired. Okay, ONE guy gets arrested, despite obvious corruption. Do you remember who? 

1984 never came to pass...except in that weird Apple Macintosh commercial. We certainly don't need it here in Pennsylvania. 

A free citizen does not need the PLCB.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

6 Reasons to Keep The State Stores - Does it still hold up?

Marc Stier, a Philadelphia-based full-time progressive political activistpublished six reasons why we should keep the State Stores five years ago. I thought I'd take a look at those reasons and how well they hold up today.

1. Poor regulation
"First, in an ideal world we could count on government regulation of private liquor stores to control the sale of alcohol. That’s important, because alcohol abuse remains a major public health hazard. But in the real world, regulation fails when it is carried out by those who hate government. And academic studies show that states that control the sale and distribution of alcohol have lower levels of problem drinking, drunk driving, and the violence and death that go along with them."
In an ideal world we could count on the government to control the sale of alcohol, Stier says, then makes the self-evident observation that the world isn't ideal. It never has been, it never will be. And what does "regulation fails when it is carried out by those who hate government" even mean? The state's liquor regulations are carried out by PLCB employees and BLCE cops: are they known for hating government? Doubtful.

So we're left with our non-ideal world, where the PLCB simply isn't very good at all at control or regulation. Pennsylvania has higher levels of DUI, underage DUI, DUI fatalities, underage DUI fatalities, binge drinking, and underage binge drinking overall than the states on our borders; the non-control states. So while academic studies (set in the ideal world, apparently) may show that states that control the sale and distribution of alcohol have lower levels of problem drinking, the reality is Pennsylvania, where the alcohol problems are in the stubborn middle, despite control.
2. Union organization
"Second, in an ideal world, the workforce in privately owned liquor stores would be able to form a union simply by securing the support of a majority of workers.
But in the real world, laws created and implemented by Republicans have made union organization in the private sector almost impossible. So I stand with currently unionized employees of the state stores."
Hung by that real world again. Stier didn't know that laws (and regulatory interpretation) would change to allow supermarkets to buy restaurant licenses and start selling beer and wine. And what happened? The majority of licenses purchased were by grocery stores which are already heavily unionized, most by the same union that the State Store workers already belong to. Guess union organization in the private sector isn't impossible after all.

3. Tax revenues
"Third, in an ideal world, businesses, including those that sell alcohol, would be taxed at reasonable rates, wouldn’t get to keep 1 percent of the sales tax to cover costs of collection they no longer have, and would pay all the taxes they owe.
In the real world, because we don’t have to worry about those problems, the wine and spirits stores generate more revenues for education, health care and other public needs than private stores would."
As we've always said, in the real world, the world we actually live in, tax collection problems are not a liquor store problem, they are a department of revenue problem. And having an average number of liquor stores for a state our size (about 2,400, compared to the 600 the PLCB manages to keep open...most days) will generate more tax revenue just due to the extra convenience. And don't forget the hundreds of millions of dollars that won't be going out of state to buy things that the bureaucrats in Harrisburg have decided we don't need or want. (BTW, if Stier thinks that in an ideal world alcohol would be taxed at reasonable rates...does he think the real world rates aren't reasonable? Because that's something we'd agree on.)

4. Wage disparity
"Fourth, in an ideal world, our governor and general assembly would be working to increase wages for working people and the middle class. But in the real world, the Republicans are attacking public sector workers and privatizing public services mainly to drive wages in the private sector down. So I stand against a proposal that is likely to make income even more unequal in our state."
In the real world, there would be LESS wage disparity. There wouldn't be the artificially large difference between a stock clerk in a grocery store and a stock clerk in a state-run monopoly liquor store (who are both represented by the same union...how's that work?). Also, I don't in any way consider the PLCB a service. It limits selection, never leads in new products, severely limits locations, and generally prevents entrepreneurs from providing the services consumers want. The PLCB stops job creation and is a drag on the economy, being well over a billion dollars in debt.

5. Discrimination protections
"Fifth, in an ideal world, the state would protect worker from discrimination by private businesses, including new private liquor stores. But in the real world, LGBTQ workers are only protected from discrimination by organized labor."
Simply not true..."in the real world." Again, Stier's pessimism (and drama) has undercut his positions, as the real world moved on and changed for the betterWorkplace protections are provided by state law or regulation. Union agreements do not over-rule written law.

6. Corporate influence
"Sixth, in an ideal world, elections and public policy would be determined by the number of people on each side,  not by campaign contributions given by each side."
We strongly agree! Because by this measure, the PLCB should have been gone ages ago, since for decades the majority of people polled wanted private liquor stores. And we all know who gave more money to politicians -- those against privatization, even though it was against what the people wanted.


So what does this all mean?  In 2018 -- in the real world -- there are no reasons to keep the antiquated, anti-consumer jobs program called the PLCB.

Privatize.

Monday, September 17, 2018

At the PLCB, ALL money is TAX money

Well, the good 'ol PLCB got their annual report out, and proudly lists the following as "Contributions to state and local governments" totaling $749.6 million for last fiscal year:

• $371.5 million in liquor tax
• $146 million in state sales tax
• $185.1 million in cash transfers

Of course, the first number is the Johnstown Flood Tax, which was raised twice since the flood in question, the second time about 30 years after the flood. Still, at least they call it a tax. Same with sales tax. That's what passes for honesty in Harrisburg.

It is the last one that the whole PLCB rides on, the reason they still exist: $185 million in "cash transfers," or what they like to call "profit." They don't want to call it tax revenue, but that is exactly what it is, a tax. Webster's defines a tax as: A charge usually of money imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes. Don't like that one?  This is even more specific: A compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government.

When a government entity -- the PLCB -- is levying a compulsory charge -- which is anything above break-even on their monopoly retail operations -- to increase revenue - it is a tax.

They do that so the codified taxes -- the Johnstown and the sales taxes -- pretty much remain the same. And as we've pointed out many times, they have a police-enforced monopoly and their own pet judiciary system that allows them to do pretty much whatever they want anyway.

No matter what they say, this is not a service to the citizens, nor is it a business. Successful businesses do not have record sales and still go further in debt. The PLCB is well over $1 BILLION in the red...and it isn't going down, it is going up. Businesses do not lie to their shareholders (and they keep saying...that's us!) about plans that have no hope in reaching the levels they promise.

Remember all the money bailment was supposed to save: $100 million. And opening more Sunday stores: $22 million! Opening.remodeled/new stores faster: $25 million. Variable pricing: $75 million. That all totals up to an "extra" $222 million, ON TOP of what they were turning in previously. Wow, dolla dolla bills, y'all!

Have any of these things happened?  Maybe bailment? Probably not since after the first time the PLCB didn't have to take out a $110 million loan that money was never seen again.  No increase in capital spending, no increase in pension contributions, no increase in "profit," and no explanation where it might have gone. Uhhhh...gee, guys, what happened to all that extra money?

The only thing that has consistently gone up is how much red ink the PLCB uses. For real businesses, record sales does not equal record debt for too many years in a row, but the PLCB keeps on with lies to the public about how much of a benefit they are. That's right, lies because if you read the underage drinking report, look at alcohol related DUI and fatalities both underage and legal age. Look at consumption which according to the National Institute of Health spirts consumption - the thing the PLCB is directly responsible for - went up 56% in the past 20 years. We're barely in the middle nationwide. Look at binge drinking and we are 43rd best out of 51; dropping eight places in the past four years. Worse than all the surrounding states, worse than all the free states on our borders, worse than most of the entire United States. "Control" isn't really effective. All it is.... is annoying and expensive.

The PLCB does not control anything, they still exist only to provide a jobs program for the people that work at the PLCB. They aren't even good at what they do. At the last reporting -- well over a year ago, since the PLCB not only doesn't have to report these numbers, they make it a point not to -- 81% of the items they "negotiated" lower costs on had ZERO benefit for the consumer. As a betting man, I'll take every dime you have saying that percentage has gone up and they are screwing the citizens even more.

What they supposedly contribute is meaningless when compared to what they owe, the limited selection and poor service compared to other billion dollar stores, the universally bad reputation they have had over 80 years and the outright proven malfeasance of the leadership are just some of the ways you can see what we have to put up with in Pennsylvania compared to free states.

Maybe this has really been the plan since privatization efforts started in earnest. Run things so poorly, manage so ineptly, lead so incompetently and be so financially inadequate that it will cost far more for the state to bail them out to be able to rid ourselves of this outdated jobs program than to keep them. 

Naw...they ain't that smart...are they?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Great Minds, Great Quotes...and the PLCB

Apply great wisdom to the situation of the PLCB...and you realize how badly this has all turned out.

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." - Winston Churchill 
     What organization does that sound like?

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” - Henry Ford

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” - John Wooden

“Don’t bury your failures, let them inspire you.” - Robert Kiyosaki

“It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” - Bill Gates
"It certainly wasn't a failure." 
- Joe Conti, about the failed wine kiosk program.



“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” - Winston Churchill
     Then the PLCB must be an immeasurable success; 
that's all they ever do!

"Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently." - Henry Ford
     "Intelligently" being the key word here. Of course, you have to have a Board that has some intelligence for this to work.

"Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure." - James Altucher
destroying evidence are probably not what he's talking about.

"You have to be able to accept failure to get better." - LeBron James
Joe Conti, again: "It certainly wasn't a failure." Yeah, Joe: it was.

"Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive." - Andy Grove
Isn't that right, Charlie "40 Years At The PLCB" Mooney?

"Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure." - John C. Maxwell
And when you have all of the above -- plus $1.9 billion in liabilities -- 
you have the PLCB.


Tragedy in life normally comes with betrayal and compromise, and trading on your integrity and not having dignity in life. That's really where failure comes. Tom Cochrane
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/failure

"Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don't fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day." - Jim Rohn

"If you can't admit a failure, you're not an entrepreneur. You are not a good business person. There's nothing brilliant about what you are doing." - Mark Cuban
Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles. Jawaharlal Nehru
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/failure
One more time: "It certainly wasn't a failure."
Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure. James Altucher
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/failure

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. Colin Powell
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/failure
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. Colin Powell
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/colin_powell_121363?src=t_failure
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. Colin Powell
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/failure
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. Colin Powell
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/failure
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. Colin Powell
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/failure

Monday, April 30, 2018

We Regret The Error...

We make mistakes, too. 

On April 25th, we put up a post titled "Proof the PLCB is screwing us - in their own words." It was almost all about how the PLCB said it had gotten cost reductions on "almost seven hundred items" through 'flexible pricing.' We cackled with glee, and noted that Act 39 limited flexible pricing (changing of the mark-up) on only the 150 best selling wines and 150 best-selling spirits: they were either lying, or breaking the law.

Only...we got an email from PLCB Director of Policy & Communications Elizabeth Brassell, who pointed out that Act 85 (signed into law about a month after Act 39) amended that 150 "items" to "brands and product types." So instead of the best-selling Jack Daniel's 750ml as one item, Jack Daniel's would be one brand or product type, so they could negotiate the price (and raise the price to us...) on the 750, the 1.75, the liter, the 375, the 50, and any gift packs. Multiply that by the 300 best selling wine and spirits brands...and you easily have "almost seven hundred items."

We regret the error. Albert wrote the post, Lew edited it, we share the responsibility. We've always said the Almighty Liquor Code is arbitrarily, willfully complex; we got caught by it.

Our apologies to you, our readers (of which Elizabeth Brassell is obviously one). We'll try to do better in the future. In the meantime, we'll remind you that in a proper private system, the main thing affecting the margin would be competition on price for your purchases. You see how that works in other states.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Proof the PLCB is screwing us - in their own words.

Please see the "We regret the error" post of April 30 for clarification.

The last post showed how even the most basic of business math escapes the political appointees that run our anti-consumer, police-enforced, cronyistic, unqualified, graft-tainted, incompetent (I can keep going) monopoly liquor control system. But even basic math — like you learned in 2nd grade — escapes them. Check this out: they can't even count!
No fair! You said there wouldn't be any more math!
This is taken straight from the law that made recent substantial changes to The Almighty Liquor Code, including "flexible pricing" (the law is commonly referred to as ACT 39):
"The board may price its best-selling items and limited purchase items in a manner that maximizes the return on the sale of those items."  
This is the flexible screwing pricing we have been talking about. We added the emphasis, and you'll see why shortly. ACT 39 then further defines what "best selling" means.
"Best-selling items" shall mean the one hundred fifty (150) most sold product identification numbers of wine and the one hundred fifty (150) most sold product identification numbers of liquor as measured by the total number of units sold on a six month basis calculated every January 1 and July 1." (Again, emphasis added.)
So using what you learned in 2nd grade, there are a total of 300 items that can change price, 150 wine and 150 liquor. Everything else is still under the 30% markup rules as before; that hasn't changed. If the price to the PLCB goes up, your price on the shelf goes up; and if a price goes down your price goes down. Pretty simple: 150 wines + 150 spirits = 300 items affected by "flexible pricing...plus the "limited purchase items."

Now let's look at testimony given by the board at a joint legislative hearing about how Act 39 is working out...because the legislators had a lot of questions about "flexible pricing." (You can read the transcript here)
"This rigid markup structure was inefficient, resulting in missed opportunities for the commonwealth to realize additional revenue and for licensees and retail customers of the PLCB to share in cost savings."  
Share in cost savings, eh? That's important. We'll get back to that.

Reading further in the testimony of the board we find this:
"...pricing flexibility has resulted in a reduction of product acquisition costs for almost seven hundred products, retail prices decreases for more than one hundred and twenty products and retail price increases of a hundred twenty-five products." 
Okay. The law states clearly that there the PLCB could change the standard markup on 300 of the best-selling products. Of that 300, prices went up on 125 of them, leaving a maximum of 175 prices that could be reduced or unchanged. Of that 175, approximately 120 went down, leaving about 55 unchanged, or at least in an unknown status. That's all that are allowed to be changed under the law. However, the board said that costs went down for 700 items: 700 minus the 120 items that were lowered in price...means 580 items didn't get reduced.

The Chairman said "Immediately after the effective date of Act 39, we began using the flexibility we were afforded in pricing our limited purchase items, including luxury products sold in our Premium Collection stores, Chairman's Selection, and Chairman's Advantage products, Wine Club items, and products in our e-commerce portfolio. We have always been able to negotiate with our suppliers to obtain great values on these products, but with Act 39, we  have been able to price each item as appropriately based on our supply and anticipated demand and current marketplace conditions."

Math - The PLCB way

Those 580 items that didn't get reduced couldn't be any of the things the Chairman mentioned here, because he said they already had negotiating power over their costs, and ACT 39 didn't change that. What it did change was the mark-up, the price they could charge us on the shelf. Did they charge more? No, only 125 items went up in price. Did they charge less? Not according to their testimony.

Figure it out. By process of elimination, the 580 items that they are now paying less for aren't in the top 150 wine or spirits, and aren't in the group of items that the board said they could already negotiate on. That means they have to be regular items that should fall under the 30% markup rule, which means one of two things. Either the price for the consumer had to go down, which didn't happen according to the testimony, or the Chairman is lying about something. Of course, there is the third option: he has no idea what he's talking about, or he's inflating the numbers to make the system look good in general (which is probably just habitual at the PLCB). Not really all that reassuring either.

Will we ever know? Probably not, since no one on the legislative side of the table seems to want to ask the right questions. Why do we put up with this continued malfeasance that is being perpetrated on the citizens and consumers?

Privatize and end this BS.