Saturday, May 8, 2010

Get Mom Vodka For Mother's Day? Why not?

If you've never heard of the Independent State Store Union, you're missing some fun. They're the union that represents the managers of the State Store System, and they have a real love-hate relationship with the PLCB and the state's monopoly on liquor and wine sales: they love to complain about the PLCB, and they apparently hate alcohol and working late. They put out press releases all the time, critical of the PLCB's  policies and the Board members themselves; they're usually inadvertently hilarious in their earnestness.

Recently, they sent an editorial to the Centre Daily Times suggesting that the serious abusive drinking situation at Penn State could be shorter hours in the State Stores. You can only assume that they'd expect to get the same pay for those shorter hours, but that probably has nothing to do with their idea, it's all about the children. They do display a disturbing disgust with alcohol, considering their job is selling it: "the PLCB continues to promote a carnival-like alcohol atmosphere for drinkers..." I haven't seen any tilt-a-whirls at my local State Store, but I'll keep an eye out for them.

Their latest press release is here...oh, to hell with it. I'll just reprint it. It's a press release, right, and this is the press, right? Fair use! They're upset that the PLCB has an ad campaign suggesting that folks buy their mothers a nice bottle of vodka for Mother's Day. Actually, they're freaking out about it.
"Your Mother's Day promotional radio ad program costing $142,000 is more damaging to the common good of all Pennsylvanians than the mere dollars expended.  You refuse as Board and chief staff members to make any decision that is contrary to the most outrageous marketing strategies of the alcohol beverage industry no matter what effect they have on the public good.  You are collectively the number one drug pushers in Pennsylvania.  As puppets of the alcohol beverage industry, you have abdicated any role of being a regulator against the bottom line interests of the industry," says Ed Cloonan, Information Director for ISSU.
Cloonan continues, "Your Mother's Day radio/print hawking promotions makes a joke of alcohol education for women.  In advance of Mother's Day 2011, you will be able to send coupons and frequent drinker credit rewards to pregnant women."
ISSU is asking all five gubernatorial campaigns to replace the three PLCB Board members, the CEO, the Director of Marketing and Merchandising, and the Director of Retail Operations as quickly as possible after the winning candidate assumes office in a new administration."

Where to begin?The guys who manage the stores that sell booze are accusing their bosses of being "drug pushers," they stoop to the lowest sort of neo-prohibitionist hype-drivel ("frequent drinker credit rewards to pregnant women," forsooth!), and...they're calling for their boss to be fired. Now, I'm all for calling for my boss to be fired if they deserve it; I did it while in federal service in 1989...but I did it in my exit interview. Because publicly saying your boss should be fired -- for selling drugs!-- is usually tantamount to submitting your resignation. This is a big Reason to abolish the State Store System: to do away with counter-intuitive foolishness like this.

This report on WHTM (ABC affiliate in Harrisburg) shows what a mountain is being made out of this molehill. This is all -- pardon the expression -- bullshit. No one mentions the key point: selling and buying a bottle of vodka is perfectly legal in Pennsylvania (as long as the person selling the bottle is a State Store System employee or an employee of one of the very few licensees that offer bottle service, and the person purchasing it is of legal age). Giving it to a legal age woman is legal, whether or not she has children of any age. To suggest otherwise is sexist, foolish, and offensive.

In summation, I'm actually neutral on this, as far as the PLCB goes. I still say that a state agency acting like a retail business is simply absurd. But I don't see this as a particularly bad example of that absurdity, like, say, the Courtesy Contract was. On the other hand, the ISSU is a great example of the kind of bizarre situation that a state retail monopoly on booze sales can generate. Kill the State Store System as a favor to the ISSU: they hate selling alcohol...let them find a new, cleaner job selling something else.

Full disclosure, as always. I have a horse in this race: I got Cathy gin for Mother's Day, and I thought of it before I heard the ads (and I'm pretty sure she won't see this before tomorrow morning). She likes gin, and there's no reason she should suffer just because I usually prefer beer and whisky. So she's getting a hand-assembled gin bouquet; I think it turned out rather well.


Bitter said...

As I said on my Twitter account, I love my mom too much to buy her the cheap crap vodka they were pushing.

Lew Bryson said...

I didn't even hear the ad: what were they pushing?

If I were to get my Mom a bottle of vodka, I'd get her Smirnoff. She's a mixer, and once it hits the OJ...there's not a real difference.

sam k said...

Heck, then go for Crown Russe. It's made in a real whiskey distillery and costs barely more than $11 a handle. Works for me!

The ISSU is digging its own grave.