Great story in today's Harrisburg Patriot-News about the PLCB's latest bizarre "Stalinism with a happy face" idea. The PLCB is spending $3.6 million (I hope I don't have to remind you where they got it...) to get guidance on public image, advertising, and store layout. They've contracted with Landor Associates, a San Francisco-based "branding" firm that advises Microsoft, Pepsi, and Levi's, according to the story.
The PLCB is coming off a record year: $1.7 billion in sales, up 7.2% from the previous year. More to the point, the PLCB is a monopoly. They don't need a public image, they're the only damned game in town. If they want you to buy more booze, they're directly contradicting their other main mission: controlling how much booze you buy. And finally, I don't care if Ed Rendell told PLCB chairman Stapleton "Run this place like a business, not a government bureaucracy," it's not a business, it is a government bureaucracy.
That's the whole problem. We don't need the State to be selling liquor and wine, telling us what we can buy and can't buy, where we can buy it, when we can buy it. The State doesn't tell us where to buy gasoline, or jewelry, or guns, or cans of tuna. Prohibition is over, and it's not coming back. The State Store system doesn't make sense for any of the original reasons given for its creation.
So stop spending our money to make this ridiculous proposition more palatable. Spend the money on a plan for a smooth transition to privatization.