Monday, March 2, 2015

What's So Modern About "Modernization"?

The main alternatives to liquor normalization*, as proposed by HB466, are doing nothing...and "modernization." The Senate GOP got their chance at "doing nothing" two years ago when they torpedoed the House's last normalization bill. Now the other one's getting an outing; but just how modern is "modernization"? Let's find out:

The Democrats are in a full court press against liquor normalization, from Governor Wolf -- "I will veto the bill if it reaches my desk in its current form." -- to Representative Costa -- who puts his faith in the Governor's veto and one nebulous "modernization" plan -- down to little Democrat wanna-be Gene DiGirolamo, the Republican representative from lower Bucks County, who's been pathetically peddling his own "modernization" bill for two years, with no serious takers.

It's too little too late for the House: HB466 swiftly passed with a 114-87 vote on party lines (with four spineless Republicans deserting their party). The Democrats and their union foot-soldiers see the writing on the wall, the writing that says "30-20 Republican Senate majority," and they're nervous. They're talking tough, but they're relying completely on two things at this point: the past (and unexplained) reluctance of Senator Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks) to let a normalization bill out of his Law and Justice Committee, and the Governor's stated readiness to veto a bill..."in its current form" (emphasis added to a word that gives him some wiggle room).

If the governor full-out vetoes a passed bill, the Republicans on their own don't have the votes for an override, and they won't get any Democrats to go with them. That just won't happen. So it's possible the Governor offers a deal to get what he wants, and part of that deal may involve either open debate of the "modernization plan, wherever that may go, or incorporation of some of the modernization ideas into a watered-down normalization bill.

That begs the question: what do the Democrats (and little Gene) mean by "modernization"?

As you might expect from the crew backing the State Store System, it's a retro kind of "modernization." Here's what the plans offer.

Sunday sales -- Expand Sunday sales to all State Stores, and extend the Sunday closing time from 5:00 to 10:00 although the majority of stores close at 9:00 other days. Hmmm, let's what? First, there are already over 150 stores open on Sunday, and they're in the most heavily populated areas, so not a huge impact. Second, and just to be petty: does this include the stores in places like Snow Shoe, and Clymer, and Knox that are only open three days a week now? The sad thing about this? It's the most directly consumer-friendly part of the whole "modernization" proposal.

Direct shipment of wine -- Kinda depends on what you mean. Do you mean that wineries and importers would be able to ship directly to you? Or directly to the State Store of your choice? (Wow, so convenient!) Because it depends on which Democrat you talk to. And keep in mind that they want the wineries to pay a hefty fee and do a ton of paperwork to support it and to tell them who bought what and how much; there's a limit of 9 liters/12 bottles a year (one case and you're done). Then you'll have to pay shipping, and...this really only affects a small number of high-end wine buyers. This one sounds good, but it's going to be bait-and-switch.

Wine and beer sales in grocery stores; cafe licenses and "store-in-store" -- A proposal to expand wine sales to grocery stores that have bought an R license to sell beer (with the stipulations that they must open a 30 seat cafe and ring up the booze separately from any food purchases...and limits on how many bottles they can sell at one time). This is not modernization, it's something the stores thought up, and are paying through the nose for because the state won't adjust the Almighty Liquor Code to allow it to happen without buying up an expensive bar license. (No one's said whether regular taverns will be able to sell wine, either.) If they DO expand the Code to allow wine sales by the bottle, they will make sure that the price isn't competitive with the State Stores. Count on that.
Then there's the bright idea to expand the "store-in-store" program, which puts a State Store under the same roof as the grocery store. Well, hooray. Fact is, "store-in-store" has been available since 1981, and since the big co-location push began in 2003 most supermarkets just aren't interested (read the sad story here). Bringing it up only sounds new because very few Pennsylvanians have ever seen one of these sorry things, or realized that it was particularly convenient when they did; after all, it's just a State Store that has a door that opens into a supermarket. Then there's DiGirolamo's idea, which is to put a free-standing 400 square foot "mini-State Store" with a limited selection of wine in grocery stores. It sounds like a wine kiosk, only there's always a clerk there, not just when it breaks down...well, okay, you're right, that was pretty much always. This isn't modernization, this isn't even a new idea. It's an old idea that already hasn't worked.

Extended hours -- First they tell us when private stores come in, people can buy booze at all hours of the night, and that leads to crime. Now they tell us they want to stay open later. You figure it out.

Sen. Costa illustrates how much prices could be increased
(or maybe he's ordering a Subway foot-long)
Price flexibility -- This is beautiful. Currently, the State Stores work on a regulated markup: every price is set to go up by 30% of the wholesale price (plus taxes and fees). They want to change this to allow the State Stores to set the margins as they see fit, "up or down," on different products. Given that the System's operating costs just keep increasing as a percentage of total revenue, how long will it be before all the margins are going up? (Keep in mind, increasing the overall margin was suggested to the Board as a way to "counter higher expenses" just last year by the PLCB's finance director.) Consumer-friendly? This is PLCB-friendly, it does nothing for you.

"Upgraded procurement guidelines" -- What does this even mean? Do you think it will be good for you? Do you think it's modern?

Personnel hiring outside the Civil Service system -- Yeah, that's modernization: the Civil Service rules are the only thing keeping the PLCB from being a complete patronage pit. They say they need it to hire people who know wines and spirits and promote people for product knowledge (then on another day, they'll insist that all of their employees are already wine experts and highly trained).

Increased licensing fees -- Charge bars and restaurants and beer distributors more to sell booze on the license they already have; charge them more to sell six-packs, charge them more to be open on Sunday, charge them more to sell both wine and beer. This isn't any kind of 'modernization,' this is charging everyone more for drinks in order to cover the PLCB's steadily increasing operating expenses.

Customer loyalty programs -- Because everyone has been asking for coupons and a PLCB "shoppers card." Haven't you asked for that? Isn't that modern?

Expedited review of leases -- Right. So they can move the stores around more without any input from the local community. More top-down Soviet-style planned economy crap. That's not "modern," that's 1950s-era thinking.

Enter into a buying consortium with other control states -- To lower prices. Really? If they get this and the price flexibility, they'll pay less to producers, they'll charge us the same amount as before or more, and -- you got it -- their operating costs will keep going up. And will selection improve? Never.

Self-service lottery ticket sales in State Stores -- This isn't "modernization." This is simply taking lottery sales and fees away from actual businesses, supermarkets and convenience stores. Next they'll want to sell snacks and cigarettes. The State Store bureaucracy apparently just doesn't like independent businesses. (They don't really like you, either; State Store employees refer to you as a "chronic alcohol user." Did you know that?)

That's it? That's "modernization"? Yup. Does it address the real concerns? No. There is:
  • Nothing about more stores than the current bizarrely low number of about 610, when the average for a state our size and population would be, at the least, over 2,400 (but those increased operating costs mean more stores would utterly bankrupt the system)
  • nothing about better selection in the stores (because they don't even know how to sell what they already have)
  • nothing about taking down the insulting police-enforced monopoly that makes buying a bottle of wine in New Jersey a crime (there's been talk recently, sure, but the Legislature's been talking about getting rid of the case law for over 20 years)
  • nothing about delivery to licensees (did you know that? Bars and restaurants have to go to the PLCB to pick up their booze, because the state agency can't be bothered to deliver it. Good thing, probably, because the increased operating costs would be huge! Forget the fact that private beer wholesalers somehow manage to do it...)
  • nothing about breaking the case law (because they don't want to upset the beer business, which has been such a friend to them by killing normalization in 2012 UPDATE: Senator Brewster's latest modernization plan DOES contain language about lowering the case limit. You'll have to buy his whole bill to get it...)
  • nothing about allowing any supermarket to sell wine and beer (without buying a scarce tavern license and adding a "cafe", something small family-owned stores simply can't afford to do)
  • nothing about beer sales at convenience stores, drug stores, gas stations (that's so scary)
  • nothing about how to even get this crappy system up to the level of New Hampshire's control stores
  • nothing about fixing our crappy booze tax system (which currently makes cheap booze cheaper and expensive booze more so; just the thing to "control" consumption)
  • nothing about improving service, which continues to elude them; at least, it does in all the stores we've gone into recently.
Nothing, in short, of any real value to the consumer. Modernization is a lie, a shiny glittering lie, just like a fishing lure, and the hook hidden inside is that it's an excuse to keep this creaking relic alive for ten more years without threat of normalization while we 'give modernization a chance to work.' But it won't. They don't even know what's really wrong with this horrible mistake of a retail system, which is why they can't fix it. They want to "modernize" it? They've had 80 years! How many more chances do they deserve? Governor Wolf says he's a businessman? MAKE IT A BUSINESS, many private businesses. It's not even radical; it's normal, just look at any and everything else you buy.

Normalization is modernization. Accept no substitutes.

*We're considering a change here. Changing the state's current monopoly on wholesale/retail liquor and wine sales is something both liberals and conservatives are in favor of, but calling it "privatization" gives its opponents a wedge to split off liberals who don't like the idea of privatizing more legitimate functions of government, like roads, schools, prisons. We'd use 'modernization,' but... We're going to try the word "normalization," given the fact that selling wine and liquor in privately-owned stores IS normal in the majority of the U.S. (yes, even in most of the "control states") and the world. We offer this idea for the supporters of real change to use.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Citizens Urge PLCB to Quit Liquor Business To Improve Customer Convenience and Generate Revenue

Pennsylvania, Feb. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Commonwealth Citizens - the people forced to shop at State Stores,  issued the following statement today after the House vote passing House Bill 466:

"We look forward to working with Gov. Wolf and the Senate to pass a common-sense free market system that we have been telling our Legislators about for over four decades. The free market will allow entrepreneurs to grow and expand their businesses, hiring more people, paying taxes, and being part of their communities all over Pennsylvania."

The Citizens added, "The PLCB is a pain in the asset that continues to set records in total sales by limiting choice, preventing us from going anywhere else, and withholding a use tax while calling it "profits." Last year alone, the agency took more than $565 million in "profits," transfers and taxes from the Citizens and gave almost nothing in return to this Commonwealth. It makes perfect sense to sell it off so that people have a choice in what to buy, not limited to what somebody in Harrisburg thinks they should buy. This will put triple the number of people to work in the industry."

The Citizens urged Senate lawmakers to support House Bill 466, and reject  State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo's outdated proposal to modernize the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), saying that it will never improve customer convenience like the free market can.

HB 466 would remove antiquated caps like the paltry 600 state stores, increasing store totals to 1,800. Allow Sunday hours of operations to any who wanted to buy the license; allow 825 grocery stores to to open their own wine stores inside or adjacent to themselves, and allow family-owned beer distributors to become not only one stop shops but to also arrange direct shipment of wine to consumer's homes along with delivery services of their entire order!

These changes, among others, would generate untold consumer satisfaction, bring the state into the 21st century, provide more tax revenue through greater sales and less border bleed, and would grow annually as people got used to the freedoms denied them for so long.

- The Citizens represent most of the 12 million people in the Commonwealth who work in the southeast, northeast and central, western and all parts of  Pennsylvania in supermarkets, drug stores, food processing plants, government services, manufacturing facilities, nursing homes, professional offices, and all businesses, except Pennsylvania's Wine and Spirits Stores.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The UFCW 1776 thinks that PLCB profit is less than minimal - We knew it all along.

One of the more outrageous claims by the UFCW in the past week has been that border bleed is "minimal". From their "fact sheet" on Speaker Turzai's recent PCN interview:

"Fact:Turzai cites an unknown statistic, but in reality border bleed is minimal and there is reverse border bleed into Pennsylvania. (See No. 6 in outline)" (The outline mentioned is not provided or listed by the UFCW.)

How they know this isn't said, but let's look at the official PLCB report of 2011 done by the Neiman Group. The PLCB doesn't list this study on their website, which is why the link points elsewhere but they bought and paid for it nonetheless.

This report only used the Philadelphia area counties of  Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia, so I'll only be using sales from those counties myself.  The following is a list of how much PLCB sales were in each of the above counties for 2013, the latest available taken from the 2013-2014 Year In Review, page 13.

Bucks $135,700,317.31
Berks $52,109,662.18
Chester $120,388,495.05
Delaware $77,696,292.72
Lehigh $70,209,394.60
Montgomery $200,801,436.82
Northamton $41,606,625.89
Philadelphia $228,424,798.19

Total $926,937,022.76

That $927 million represents 42.6% of all PLCB sales. Using the Neiman report that says 5% of people only shop out of state (page 12) that would mean $46.3 million in lost sales by itself.  However, the Neiman report also says that 40% also shop in and out of state. Since people who buy out of state spend more (page 16) it would be safe to think that the total sales amount of those that shop in both would be greater out of state. I'm going to use half, just to err on the conservative side. That would meant that people spend at least 20% of total sales (half of the 40% who shop in and out of state) out of state. That number would be $185.4 million and that's almost certainly low.

So the total minimal border bleed is $46.3 million plus $185.4 million, or $231.7 million: about 11% of the entire state store sales. Or is it? As the Neiman report says, people spend more out of state to begin with, and then you have to look at when the report was made: 2011. Things weren't so good in 2011. Gas was higher, the economy was worse, people traveled less, all things mentioned in the report as potential reasons why people might be spending more in state in 2011. That isn't as true now and the border bleed number may be in the $300 million range -- which according to the UFCW is "minimal."

So if $300 million, or even $231 million, is "minimal," then the $124 million in non-tax contribution by the PLCB is less than "minimal," and shouldn't even be mentioned, based on that logic. There are very few things that the UFCW and I agree on, but it seems that this logical conclusion is one of them.

Maybe they are wrong and it isn't minimal. How many other things are they wrong about either on purpose (usually called lying) or from just not being able to read and research. I'm just one guy and can find and figure this out, they have thousands of members, entire staffs and apparently no fact checking. Why should we trust them?

Tell your legislator that you are in favor of HB 466 and get the state out of the liquor business.

HB 466 will allow 1800 liquor store licenses -- far more convenient than 600 state stores, no matter how many baskets and islands and palm trees they put in them. HB 466 will allow 825 grocery stores to sell wine, something the UFCW is dead set against (unless it involves more UFCW workers in a One Stop Shop; something that has failed for the 34 year existence of the program).

HB 466 will get the state out of telling you what you are allowed to buy -- no "modernization" plan does that.

HB 466 will give the freedom of choice found in other states -- modernization doesn't do that either.

HB 466 will benefit small business -- The PLCB modernization does not.

Modernization is a false choice because nothing changes.  Just because they paint your jail cell and allow longer visiting hours does not mean you are free.

Privatization is REAL moderniization

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ethics questions still percolating at the PLCB

No matter how many pieces of paper the PLCB has to sign, it hasn't changed anything as of yet.

As I reported a year ago today, Jerry Waters, the Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs still has an ongoing ethics investigation and may also be part of the Federal investigation into graft at the PLCB.  If you remember, it took almost two years for the Ethics committee to reach a slap-on-the-wrist decisions for ex-CEO Joe "Water Heater" Conti, ex-Chairman P.J. Stapleton, ex-Director of Marketing James Short, and ex-Director of  Product Selection Matthew Schwenk, all of whom are now being investigated by the FBI.

Nice to know the more things stay the same, the more you can count on the PLCB to do their part to continue be the second-most corrupt agency in PA. Rotten at the top, rotten at the core as the saying goes.

My question is, how long will it be before the next round makes an appearance? If we privatize, there won't be a next round.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Take my database — please! Inventory idiocy continues.

I'm a Scotch guy, I collect it and I drink it, which means that I look at what the PLCB has to offer and if, by some freak chance, it is something I want, I compare the price to what it would cost me to buy out of state or have it shipped in. (Lots of places will ship to PA and I urge you to search them out.) Needless to say, I've not bought a collectible bottle from the State Store System in a decade. I still keep looking, and the way to look is through the system's website, either the PLCB product search, or the "Fine Wines and Good Spirits Store" (FWAGS). Wait, either? What's the difference? Come along on a search, and learn why the vaunted "convenience" of the monopoly's database of every single bottle of wine and spirits in the state!!! not so convenient after all.

In my crosshairs this time was Highland Park. The online product catalog listed fourteen different Highland Park whiskies, one 'regular,' two 'Luxury,' and eleven SLO-only. Like the last time I looked for something, the "online exclusive" entry is listed as having no stock in the online product catalog. This probably makes sense to somebody at the PLCB but not to anyone with any real business experience. Where else would you be told, "Here is the catalog of everything we list — but don't believe the availability listings, you'd better go over there and check to be sure."

So let's go over to FWAGS and type in Highland Park. Up comes a page that says there are five online, five in-store and 28(!) available by SLO. Sure beats the 14 listed in the catalog. Maybe they haven't cleaned that part of the tens of thousands of bad entries the PLCB admits to having yet. So I look at what is available online. The first one says  Chieftain's Clynelish 14 Year Old, the second one is a Glenmorangie, the third one is another Glenmorangie, the fourth one is a  Mackinlay's...and finally the fifth one actually is a Highland Park. Well, that kinda sucked. 

Let's see what is listed as being in store. The first item listed is a GlenDronach; why, I don't know. The second item listed is the one Highland Park the PLCB actually stocks in some stores and the other three items are the Mackinlay's that were listed as an "Online exclusive!" that also happens to be available elsewhere in a store, and two different sizes of the same McClelland's. Why McClellend's would even show up in a search for Highland Park is another one of those PLCB mysteries that they have somewhat regularly.

I'm beginning to not have any faith that the 28 SLO items listed for Highland Park are really Highland Park. Surprise! I'm right. The entire first page has no Highland Park on it.  Jeez, how bad was this BEFORE they updated the search engine? On to page two where there are eleven Highland Park entries and three more that don't match the search criteria.  But wait, the online catalog says there are 14 and the FWAGS website only lists 13. Which one is missing?  Here it is: "Highland Park and Bowmore Distilleries Double Barrel Blended Scotch Whisky 10 Year Old 92 Proof"  Explain to me why that doesn't show up in a search for Highland Park, will ya? After some digging I did find it; somebody just decided that the name in the catalog wasn't to their liking so they changed it, thus guaranteeing nobody would be able to find it. Or buy it. Wonderful.

The PLCB uses Oracle for their database, which is not a dumb flat file system. Now, the people who program it might not be that swift, or the people above them may not know how or what to ask of the system, but that isn't Oracle's fault. Compare the somewhat worthless search for Highland Park at the FWAGS website with a retailer who has to compete and really provide customer service - Binnys in Chicago (notice they often have better prices too). Binny's doesn't have 24 wrong entries when you search but PA does. The first, last, and all the items are what you are searching for at Binny's, but not in PA — and this is after they claimed to have greatly improved the system. "Modernization" at its finest; a preview of what to expect if  they don't privatize. More lipstick on the PLCB pig.

I guess I was lucky that it wasn't on sale. The FWAGS website spits out a list by type and item number. Who the hell knows PLCB item numbers? How about a list by the alphabet that is actually easy to use instead of this item number idiocy? Just more proof that there isn't a warm body in the entire organization who knows squat about retail. Of course, that is what we have come to expect for the past 80 years so I don't know why I'm surprised.

Oh, and that bottle I was looking for? The PLCB does list it, but I was able to buy it overseas; even after paying international shipping it came to 23% less than the state store price*, and only took 10 days to get here, delivered to my door. Shorter than the 2-4 weeks for SLO, so as long as I had to wait anyway, I might as well save some money. Thanks for nothing, PLCB.

Like all other retail goods it pays to shop around....unless you visit the state stores that are all the same. You don't have to put up with this.  Write your legislators and tell them to support HB 466 so we can finally have what most of the country has - freedom of choice based on what we want and not what the unqualified in Harrisburg allow us to have.

Privatization is REAL modernization.

(* I know it is only a 700ml bottle instead of the 750ml here so the effective price is only 17.5% less but still....)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cars & Bars

Just imagine if PennDot (the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) were run as badly as the PLCB. I know, PennDOT's pretty bad — getting license, title, and registration seems to be unreasonably difficult no matter where you go — but every now and then, the PLCB does something so totally, flat-out stupid that it exceeds anything PennDot could dream up. Like the wine kiosks, for instance; EZ-Pass isn't perfect, but it certainly works a lot better than the PLCB wine kiosk fiasco did.

And then there is this story, an absolutely hilarious decision by our fine Liquor Gestapo — hilarious if it wasn't so freakin' sad. Imagine that you just bought a used car, got insurance, made sure your license was up to date, got plates, and now you are happily tooling down the highway, singing the song of the open road. Suddenly, a state trooper shows up behind you, lights a-flashing, and they impound and tow your car away...for a violation THE PREVIOUS OWNER COMMITTED FIVE YEARS AGO!!
PLCB Towing, at your service whether you deserve it or not!
That is what the PLCB did to Rubb BBQ in Philly; they decided that the new owners of the liquor license should have to endure the license suspension that was handed down to the previous owners in 2010, because they'd gone out of business before the suspension could be imposed. What?

Now they can give all the reasons they want as to why this follows the rules but guess what? They make the rules (and before you say, no, the Legislature makes the rules, ask yourself: how did beer delivery suddenly become OK even though no law was changed?), and just like they scurry to spruce up stores and get courtesy training when faced with the possibility of privatization, if nobody complains about what they do, they aren't going to voluntarily try to fix it. Apparently a liquor code violation has no statute of limitations, unlike, say Assault and Battery, 2 years; Burglary, 5 years; Involuntary Manslaughter, 2 years; or anything that resembles a real crime. This is even longer than the statute of limitations for graft (2 years) that the PLCB should be so familiar with.

Do you feel safer? I know I don't, as long as there are people in the PLCB who think this way.

Privatize and help fix stupidity like this.

(PA Title 42, Part VI, Chapter 55, Subchapter C was used to find the above limitations.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Liquor & Guns

The people's right to trade freely with their neighbors and those in neighboring states shall not be infringed. 

One line like that in the Constitution would have rendered the PLCB largely impotent, but it didn't work out that way. The right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Constitution. The right to buy alcohol is not. Both have laws governing their sale and use, but only one has the state trying to make sure you can get it: Liquor. 

Proponents of the State Store System are always pushing for and bragging about having more sales. They want to make sure that all the citizens can buy booze, but they don't want to make sure you can buy a Constitutionally guaranteed item, or have freedom of choice or be allowed to participate in interstate commerce. That, of course, would puncture their precious monopoly, and show how non-competitive they really are.

But this is -- supposedly -- all about control. Let's look at that whole concept from a different angle. If you are like me or most people I know, you probably think guns are more dangerous than a bottle of Captain Morgan. But according to State Store-style thinking, you would be wrong. I drink, and I also shoot. I probably drink more often than I shoot, but it's close, since my range is only a mile away. Let me tell you: I worry more about the guy next to me at the range than I do about the guy next to me at the bar. Just think about these comparisons.
  • What takes longer to buy: a special order bottle of liquor or a special order gun (even with the federally-mandated wait time on gun sales)?
  • As a private citizen, you can sell guns, but you can't sell alcohol beverages.
  • Sell a bottle and you can get fined $4 an ounce and go to jail.  Sell a gun...and you get cash.
  • If you're 18, you can buy a gun; if you're 14, you can get a hunting license. Buy a beer when you're 18, and you can LOSE your license.
  • Most places you are allowed to open carry a gun on the street in PA ; most places you are not allowed to carry an open bottle.
  • If you are a resident with the proper permit, you can have a loaded gun on the front seat of your car. If you have an open bottle, there is no permit you can get.
  • If you are visiting from out of state and have a gun in your trunk and want to stop and take in any of Pennsylvania's scenic attractions as you pass through the state -- it is perfectly legal.  Have a bottle of wine from New Jersey in your trunk and make that same stop? You can be fined, and your wine will be seized and destroyed. 
  • You can bring a number of guns into Pennsylvania without any special licenses or forms and shoot.  You can't bring any bottles of wine, beer, or spirits into the state -- legally! -- without special licenses or forms which the PLCB does not even make available to you.*
People who use guns professionally in their job have to be licensed, but people who sell alcohol professionally (like bartenders) don't. They don't have to be certified by the state in any way, unless and until they make an illegal sale, which seems to me like closing the barn door after the horse ran away. Our State Store alcohol sellers don't even have to be certified in any way at all, nor are they ever checked for illegal sales (they rely on 'self-reporting'). Does anybody find this strange based on all of the above?

Most states have figured out how to regulate the sale of alcohol and not treat their citizens like children. If the liquor laws in the state were even close to being like the gun laws, there wouldn't be a privatization effort (or a modernization one either) because the dead hand of leftover Prohibitionism wouldn't be on the backs of the residents. Since that isn't going to happen, we have to take control away from the state through our legislature. Give retail back to private industry where it belongs, because when the state decides what you will get, it also decides what you want and does it without any input from you.

We are not safer, we are not better served, and we are not satisfied. Privatize.

* I challenge any reader to try to find the form or forms needed to pay the taxes on 6 bottles of liquor you want to bring into the state. Good luck.