Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Different State, Same Love

Massachusetts has a booze-selling system I'd actually like to see PA emulate: the "package store." The packie sells all booze types, and is privately-owned; the number of stores one entity/person can own is limited (to three, I think). The state's wholesalers are also private, although there is some contention about monopolistic practices there that's worrisome. The system worked fine: local stores supplied local wants and needs, and there are stores that specialize in cheap bulk goods, and stores that specialize in the high end. Everyone's happy.

Except the state's legislators, it would appear. They recently jacked the tax on booze up by 6.25%, despite the clear likelihood that people along the state's heavily populated border with New Hampshire would simply slip over the line, losing the state tax revenues and losing the packies up there a lot of business.

Well, isn't that just exactly what happened last weekend, when someone caught Massachusetts representative Michael Rodrigues at a New Hampshire liquor store, loading booze into his car, clearly licensed with a "House 29" Mass plate. The Boston Herald reported the story with an understandable amount of restrained glee.
The witness, who requested anonymity, claimed he approached Rodrigues, noted his State House plate, and asked if he was on personal or official business. Rodrigues, who was loading booze into his car, snapped “mind your own business,” the witness said.

Beautiful. (Rodrigues, by the way, in an interview about the incident, blamed the fuss about it on “Republican demagoguery. Unfortunately, I think that’s why the Republican Party is in such bad shape in Massachusetts,” Rodrigues is quoted as saying. “The electorate here is smart enough to figure out what they’re up to.” Really?) The Herald also noted that police have cracked down on cross-border booze purchases. Too bad they didn't catch Rodrigues.

What's this have to do with the PLCB? Nothing. Nothing except to point out that different state taxes and policies on booze lead directly to smuggling -- because that's what this guy was doing, albeit on a small scale -- and we shouldn't be surprised at all by the number of PA plates that show up in the parking lots at Canal's and Total Wine. Wonder if any PA legislators ever...nah, they wouldn't do that. After all, the selection's so much better in PA. Joe "CEO" Conti says so, and he oughta know.


Brad said...

What a mo-ron. What a lame defense (as if it had anything to do with anything).

Posting stateys at the border to catch interstate booze "smugglers" worries me, too. So you cannot purchase a product legally in one state, and transport it into another state where it is also legal? All because the legislature compelled you to do so in the first place by jacking up prices?

Lew Bryson said...

Smuggling is, when you think about it, a state-subsidized criminal activity. If the state didn't collect onerous taxes, smuggling wouldn't pay...and wouldn't exist.