Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Reason #1 -- We're Adults
Oh, where to begin?
I knew when I started this that the tough part would be picking the first reason to abolish the PLCB. Should it be the government retail monopoly, or the crap selection, or the loss of revenue to bordering states, or the 18% Emergency Tax, or the lack of service to retail accounts, or the costs of the State Store system, or the licensing system... The list just goes on and on, and they're all terrible.
But when you get down to the root of it, the base cause and source of the problems with the PLCB is that it reeks of the patronizing attitude of do-gooders. We, the itty-bitty wittle citizens of the Commonwealth, just can't handle our liquor -- or wine -- so the State has to do that for us.
Reason #1 on why the PLCB should be abolished:
We deserve to be treated like adults.
Just look at the name of the organization: the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. They are in place to control our access to booze*, to control the price of it, to control where and when we can buy it, to control who makes all the money off the sale of it, to control what kinds of booze we're allowed to have**. The state's Liquor Code even controls our choice to buy booze out of state; although the liquor stores right across the border may be closer, may have better prices, better selections, better service, better stores, we are not allowed to buy booze there and bring it home. If we do, the State will -- if they can -- arrest us, fine us, seize the booze and destroy it.
The PLCB's not Big Brother: it's Daddy.
I've often said, in reference to various liquor laws (but most often Pennsylvania's), all I want is to be treated like an adult. Don't tell me I can't have a beer because it's got a picture of Santa on the label, don't tell me I can't buy booze on a Sunday, don't tell me I can only buy two sixpacks at a time in a bar and no sixpacks in a beer store, and don't tell me that the State has to control the sale of booze because otherwise I'd go crazy with it.
Don't tell me that, because it's pure D horseshit. Maryland doesn't control it, I can buy a bottle of rye whiskey in a drugstore (and I have, by God), and the Free State† seems to have a pleasantly civilized populace. New Jersey doesn't control it, and in the months I spent researching New Jersey Breweries I didn't see any evidence of a state that was drinking itself to ruin.
This is, we're told over and over, a free country. I once heard a priest ask in a July 4th homily "Is any one of us truly free?" and I was so irked I still remember it bitterly. Yes, within the responsibilities I have undertaken and the accountability honor and law require, by my lights I am free. Just the fact that I'm writing this blog, an opinion, openly stated, against the laws of the State, proves that to some degree.
If we're free, how does the State get away with telling us where we can buy booze? What's so dangerous about booze -- compared to other dangerous things like cars, guns, propane, cigarettes, diesel fuel and ammonia fertilizer, power tools, gasoline, and horny goat weed -- that the State forbids private citizens to sell it? It's pure bluenosed patrician elitism, a ludicrous hangover from Prohibition and Repeal, an attitude that should have been washed away years ago.
The PLCB should be abolished because it assumes the citizens of Pennsylvania are incompetent to handle their own affairs: a deadly insult to our honor and intelligence in a democratic nation. We deserve laws about booze that rightly assume adult citizens will drink responsibly, as the majority of drinkers do.
More to come.
*I'm going to refer to liquor and wine where interchangeable as "booze." Usually I refer to beer separately in this blog's context because of the division imposed by the state's two retail regimes, but I'll sometimes use "booze" to refer to all three because I like it better than "alcohol beverages," and a lot better than "alcoholic beverages."
**Note to the PLCB: two of the reasons I started this blog was because you stopped carrying Connemara Irish whiskey, and you stopped carrying Elijah Craig 12 year old in 750 ml bottles. Shouldn't have done that...
†"This nickname originated in an article written by Hamilton Owens, the editor or the Baltimore Sun. In 1923, a Georgia Congressman, William D. Upshaw, attacked Maryland as a traitor to the union because it never passed a State enforcement act supporting Prohibition. Hamilton Owens' article, "The Maryland Free State" was a mocking response to Mr. Upshaw, suggesting that Maryland should secede from the Union before acting to prohibit the sale of liquor. This article was never published but Mr. Owens referred to Maryland as "The Free State" in later editorials."
I love footnotes...