Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More letters

I asked you to send in other anti-PLCB/State Store System letters to newspaper editors you might see, and long-time reader Harry Spade came through with a good one. This ran in the Lancaster New Era, my old hometown paper, last week, February 10:

Editor, New Era:

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a few problems, so they say, that could easily be resolved if they would look at ideas from the citizens. Here are some suggestions:

Sell off the current liquor stores at public auction. This would raise some quick cash and get rid of long-term expenses (rents, electric bills, administrative costs, etc). Of course, have annual fees for the new owners and keep collecting taxes from the liquor sales. Make the sale of the stores attractive to the new prospective buyers by putting a hold on any more store openings for five years.

Take all of the current liquor-store employees and offer them other jobs in the state. This would save their jobs and fill vacant positions that are being unfilled by the hiring freeze. This would help them keep their jobs with the commonwealth and protect their retirements.

From what I have seen in the attitudes of the current liquor-store employees, they are not really happy working in them anyway.

Steve Soldner


As Harry said, I'm not sure I go along with the five-year hold, but at least Steve's thinking. I think the opportunity would be juicy enough without the five-year hold, myself.

Folks, it is E-Z to send a letter to the editor these days. Look at your paper's website, there will be an e-mail link. Don't write anything too long, and be polite. Tell them:
  • the state needs money
  • selling the State Stores will make a lot of money, once
  • opening up booze sales will mean more tax revenue and more jobs
  • current employees can be folded into the state payroll to cover headcount during this hiring freeze (good idea, Steve)
  • the State shouldn't be selling booze in the first place
And that should do it. Write it, send it, get published, and send me a link!


Rich said...

Good article from one of my local rags...thanks for picking that up. I don't subscribe so I wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Steve's plan is perfect for a state employee Harrisburg mind set. Sell off a money making giant in the worst money time in our lives. Look back at history 75 years..the 30's great depression. Hay we may be at the door of the great one of 2010. That's when this thing was started. A one time 5 billon $$ shot will be spent as fast as the state rep's can. in 5 years then where do you find $400 millon??? Taxes will never fill that gap. Oh maybe the state will save it..let me say that one more time..State save money? LOL.spent it.

Lew Bryson said...

"A money making giant." Hoo, boy.

The State Store System had nothing to do with the Great Depression, and everything to do with unrepentant Drys. There's no connection between that depression and today's economy through the SSS.

In five years? You'll still have all the taxes coming in, which is the lion's share of that $400 million; to represent it any other way is a lie. Selling the SSS will create jobs, increase the tax take on booze in the state, and start an immediate decline in state expenses related to the SSS.

Will the state spend the windfall? Of course they will; they've already got the spending budgeted and they're looking for money to fill the hole. I'd much rather fill that hole by selling off the SSS than by paying more taxes. Why wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

I dont understand ur thinking on this if the state now gets all the money taxes and the profit why in this economy would you give the profit to people like the walmarts or rite aids. do you really think with the banks not lending and people in debt who will buy them other then walmarts ect not a little mom and pop guy. the cant afford it.it would be one monopoly for another . at least this one benefits the people of pa and not some ceo of a big company only.

Lew Bryson said...

There are all kinds of ways to decide who gets the licenses: you can limit them to so many licenses per company, so many per area, you can say that no grocery stores can get them. These are all things that are already law in other states. Wouldn't it be great if beer distributors could buy the licenses and we could actually buy all our booze in one spot?

As for no loans and everyone in debt...people with money are sitting on it right now because there aren't any good investments. There aren't many better investments for the small business than a new liquor store license in a state that's going private. If I knew a thing about retail, I'd try to scrape the money together myself.
I've said it before, but you people don't seem to get it, so I'll say it again: take the artificial constraints off the booze biz in PA, and you'll get MORE revenue for the state, because you won't be losing all the sales to cross-border stores. We'll have the windfall AND increased revenues. No-brainer.

Anonymous said...

Im more of a beer guy lew, beer in a grocery store,now you get my attention. I dont care if some wine geek gotta drive to new york or delaware to get his wine. There will always be a better price somewhere, remember you will NEVER be able to keep those wine geeks happy! current system or private! I just think you will never stop those wine geeks from going out of state in search of the rare wine for their collection,no matter how many wines you give them there will always be one more! Wine collecting is just a hobby! There will always be wines that people just can't get or cheaper elsewhere no matter what system we have current system or private.

Lew Bryson said...

Well, sure. And why shouldn't they? But if PA goes private, they'll spend a LOT more money here, just because it's easier. I know I will, if I can get the whiskey I want here instead of buying it in Kentucky or Delaware or wherever.

But...what ARE you saying? If we can't get wine drinkers everything they want, we should just leave it the way it is? Maybe that's how they feel about the case law, hey? We're in this together, really.

Anonymous said...

you do have a point about sticking together on this, but it just seems to me that most of the complaints i have been reading on these blogs are from wine geeks that that want their special wine for there collections.they want direct shipping ect. even if the state where wide open i dont think you would satisfy them they would still want that, and there are alot of sales we would miss out on.i guess if it happens we will see but i wouldnt count on their help most are obbsessed with their hobby

Lew Bryson said...

But...even then we wouldn't be "missing out" on any sales. We don't have those sales now. So what are we missing? It's a wash. And I don't see that on this blog; mostly what I've got here are guys who want more whiskey, and guys who want the case law to go away. Wine collectors are a tiny, tiny slice of the drinking population.