Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dangerous Things

We citizens of the Commonwealth are lied to every day by the PLCB, its associated unions, and seemingly every Democrat in the Legislature about how we need The State Stores to protect us from ourselves. That alcohol is the one drug that requires not only regulation by the state but state employees to sell it to us. Never mind that the alcohol in beer is exactly the same...but for some reason that can be sold by private businesses, or that the alcohol in a drink is exactly the same, and that can be sold by private businesses too (although they do want them to have their special PLCB training (which is of dubious value)).

What about all the different legal drugs? Why is it that
pharmacies aren't run by the state and pharmacists state employees? Prescription drugs, by definition, need to regulated, but it seems that private business can handle that. There were almost a third more prescriptions filled in Pennsylvania in 2014 than all the bottles and boxes of wine and liquor of all sizes sold by the PLCB
. Remember that these are drugs that the Federal government says are too unsafe to be sold without control, yet every state sells them through private businesses. Hard to explain why they aren't under state control, given the booze idiocy we put up with in Pennsylvania.

Drugs and alcohol are an apples to apples
comparison. You can't explain why they are treated any differently on one side, because the other side is exactly the same. A logical fallacy has to exist: that fallacy is that we need State Stores and State Store employees to safely sell us wine and spirits. More proof is offered in that a strong majority of states have privately-owned retail alcohol sales, including every one of the states bordering the Commonwealth. Guess what: add them all up, and on a per capita basis, they do better in every alcohol harm statistic — DUI, underage DUI, binge drinking, underage binge drinking, and alcohol-related fatalities — than Pennsylvania. The "control" is not working.

How about guns? There is a saying that guns don't kill people; people kill people. Politics aside, it's at least partially true, since unless you beat somebody to death with your gun, you also need bullets. You can have all the guns you want, but without ammunition you probably aren't going to kill anything. However, while there are all sorts of regulations and controls on guns (though they are also sold by private businesses), there aren't many on ammunition. If you can buy cigarettes, you can buy bullets. Taking one drink won't kill anyone (despite what your D.A.R.E instructor may have said). One bullet can, yet you can go buy a whole box of bullets at Walmart. Is the state really looking out for our safety? 
The myths just keep exploding

So if we aren't safer having State Stores...why keep them? State revenue? How much is less safety and the worthless and patronizing annoyance of the State Stores worth? The entire non-tax contribution of the PLCB is 3/10ths of 1% of the budget. Chump change, a rounding error. So maybe it's the political patronage and nepotism. We have to deal with a system that is less convenient, has less selection, keeps us less safe, but still costs more, so some political hacks can have a nice state job? 

Or is it the entirety of the agency, a jobs program? If it's a jobs program, it's insignificant. The entire PLCB isn't even 1/10 of 1% of the state's full-time employment. You could fire every one of them, and the state unemployment rate wouldn't even quiver. If we're going to pay for a jobs program, how about we just add some jobs at PENNDOT?  We can pay for them by eliminating the Turnpike Commission and folding those jobs into PENNDOT. At least that will get something useful done.

I'm going to bet that it's union influence and a continuing stream of campaign money given to certain legislators (and directly to the parties) that keeps us from being normal. The State Store System clearly isn't better than privately-run stores, or other states would be moving toward it, and that certainly isn't happening. People want freedom of choice, and a monopoly can never provide that.

Private business is normal. 
Private sales are normal. 
Regulated business is normal. 
State-run retail is NOT normal.

Let's move toward normal.


Anonymous said...

The Unions really are not as strong as you convey them to be.If they were,the many employees of the UFCW who were working at the time of the Tom Ridge administration would not have had to suffer going without a pay raise for SEVEN years. It was not until the tragedy of 9-11 and Ridge being called to Washington to become head of the newly created Homeland Security,that particular indignity came to an end. If the employees were that united and strong their would have been a strike, though that would have proven to be ineffective for numerous reasons. Also, once employees,who are in the ISSU managers Union reach a certain level, they are no longer part of that Union.They are no longer members of the ISSU and must do without the benefits and protections from the Byzantine rules,regulations,policies and whims of those who work in management/administration in the NorthWest Office Building in Harrisburg. Unions having become a favorite whipping boy in recent decades and the constant attack upon them has become wearisome,although effective for those who are in power with their various agendas.

Lew Bryson said...

Really? There's not much doubt that the MAIN reason that the Pennsylvania State Stores still exist is the constant flow of union money to the Legislature, and the constant barrage of letters and calls from union members, and the constant visible presence of union members at every PLCB-related legislative hearing. There's not much doubt at all. So to claim that the unions are not as strong in this particular arena is simply ridiculous.

The call for privatization of wine and spirits sales (both retail and wholesale) in Pennsylvania is not about the unions. That's misdirection. It's about getting rid of an outdated system and idea that is a relic of the 1930s, a system that would be outdated whether it were unionized or not. The union just happens to be involved; it's not the major aim. This is a desire that crosses not just party lines (except in one place: the Pennsylvania General Assembly), but ideological lines; there are plenty of progressives who would love to see the State Stores closed.

Albert Brooks said...

Private sector unions aren't as strong for sure but Public sector ones I don't quite agree with your assessment. I would have loved the UFCW going on strike - we wouldn't be having this discussion about privatization now and they knew it. You notice there wasn't any "modernization" talk then either.

I know that not all managers have to belong to the ISSU but when they get to that point they are part of the network who is fully ingrained in the PLCB way of doing things. They won't rock the boat with how much their pension payment will be on the line.

I'm not sure if you think I'm in power by your statement but this particular union in this particular position deserves everything they get and I'll keep pointing that out for the foreseeable future, I'm not weary at all yet.