Monday, July 29, 2013

I am sick and tired of the characterization of privatization supporters as "lazy drunks"

I've been reading the letters to the editors from people who think the world will end if liquor sales are privatized, or if beer is sold at gas stations, or if beer and wine are sold in the same place. What's worse, I've been reading the comments people leave on the web versions of those letters and stories. I shouldn't, I know, because they just drive me crazy...and here's why. 

I am sick and tired of hearing people who are just asking for the same kind of convenience they see in other states being called "lazy," or "alcoholics." We're "lazy" because we'd rather make one stop to buy our groceries...which in most other states includes the beer and wine? Am I supposed to believe that the people who call us lazy never stop at a convenience store for a bag of ice or a cold drink, instead of going to the grocery store? Man, that's lazy! Are we "alcoholics" because we'd like to buy our booze on a Sunday, or at the grocery store/drugstore/gas normal people do in other states? Are they all alcoholics? I don't think so.

We aren't lazy, we aren't alcoholics, though it's easier to try to smear us like that rather than address what we're really saying. This is what we want:
  • We want rid of Pennsylvania's antiquated alcohol laws.
  • Get rid of the case law. ANY restrictions on how little or how much beer a person can buy in a single purchase should go. 
  • End the State Stores, AND the state's monopoly on wholesale wine and liquor, which limits what wine and spirits we're "allowed" to buy to those selected by a committee in Harrisburg, without any input from the customers: us!
  • We'd like to see an end to the strange limits on what beer distributors can and cannot sell: it's okay to sell soda, tobacco, snacks, and beer paraphernalia (like glassware), but they can't sell sandwiches, or more substantial food, or much else of anything, really. Why not? 
  • We'd like to see an end to the bizarre requirement that a supermarket must have a cafe in order to sell beer
  • We'd like to see the state have a normal number of retail wine outlets; that would be about 6,000, comparing our population and geographic size to those of other states. 
  • We'd like to have a choice in where we buy our booze, not just one store that's the same store all across the state.
  • We'd like to see an end to the police-enforced monopoly, and be able to buy wine and liquor in other states if we want to. For many of us in southeast PA, there are lots of great stores not far away, but buying there and bringing it home is illegal...which is insultingly unAmerican. 
We're not lazy; we're disgusted. We're not alcoholics; alcoholics don't care about inconvenience, they just do whatever's needed to get their drink. We don't want "alcohol," we want better selections of wines and spirits, we want a real choice on where to get them, and we want better service where we shop. We just want things to be normal in Pennsylvania.

And what we really for the Legislature to take this up and get it done in September. Finish it.


Anonymous said...

We can't be lazy because millions of us drive out of state to buy our beer, liquor and wine because we are disgusted with the state store system and the people who work in it.

Anonymous said...

I have one for you Pumpkin Head,if you think the state stores have a monopoly what the heck would you call the beer wholesalers in Pennsylvania.Beer stores put up with lousy service,not all the time but enough,same as some clerk in the state store.Price fixing do not even want to go into that..Money being exchanged for positions in beer store if you are lucky enough to have a big store to take advantage of best case pricing.
Beer that is old good luck trying to send it back.You have no choice to where to buy your Bud
,Miller.or Coors,and if you do not like it,where are you going to buy your beer,no leverage.
I think what a lot of beer stores are afraid of is that the playing field is not fair.
Shit rolls down hill Big Breweries buying up their own wholesalers,not to mention themselves.Bud,Miller,coors wholesalers being squeezed buy the breweries if you are not the favored ones,no brand support or new products come your way.Big guys buying smaller guys.Go ask Skip Kunda,Joe Bounds,L&M,Banko,Charlie Spaz,Wood Beverage,why do you think the Beer Store are so afraid of privatization.If you sold as much beer as those guys I just mentioned what chance do you have if you have some family ru beer store.

Lew Bryson said...

No idea what that has to do with this post, "Pumpkin Head," but the franchise laws on beer wholesaling have unbalanced things. It's a mess, and it's no more likely to get changed than the Turnpike Commission is to be merged with PENNDOT, if you catch my drift.

PH, you should take a little more time to clean up your comments. People might take you more seriously. You've clearly got some issues with me, but you've got some other things to say; why not focus on them?

More to the can't make these accusations without anything to back them up. Big brewers aren't buying up wholesalers in PA; it's not legal here. Squeezing? Maybe, but not outright buying. And it's not like PA is the only place where wholesaler consolidation is taking place; if anything, we're behind the curve on it.

Anonymous said...

Just pray turnpike commission gets what they want in September and privatization will piggy back all the way to passing.
Accusations like the one I made two months ago about Chuckie boy being in the pocket of the beer wholesalers,last three weeks all you read about in the local Bucks county papers is that is just the way things are done contributions many ways from numerous people.
Just trying to make the point the small retailers or beer distributors are afraid of what they don't know,the smarter guys or younger retailers are embracing the change and want to sell beer,wine,and spirits vs the old run down cold in the winter,hot in the summer stores. they know when the supermarkets will sell beer buy the case its a zero sum game.Just like the smaller wholesalers know the gravy train is over.Increased freight charges,no more co-op on discounts to their customers.un-scheduled visits to their business,the constant threat of finding the old beer in the market place,just like the beer stores the wholesalers know ,they just do not know when.

Lew Bryson said...'s not like you were the only one making those accusations about McIlhinney. Doesn't change the fact that big brewers are NOT buying wholesalers in PA.

But I agree about the smart/young beer retailers; they see opportunity here, not threat.

Anonymous said...

We moved to Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh) a few months ago. We live downtown in a small apartment. We have learned that if we would like to have a selection of beer at home - and it is more for guests, as we don't drink it often - we have to buy cases at a time?! This amazed me! Now, our small coat-closet has a corner filled with a few cases of beer - three to be exact - just so we can have some variety to offer. We could, I suppose, take a trek to the suburbs, find a supermarket with a cafe where we could purchase, but why should we have to? This is a decent-sized city. I don't drive. Why can't the nice, local market across the street offer this? I guarantee they would offer a great selection of beer and wine if permitted. Ridiculous....schlepping cases of beer and storing them in a coat-closet....our out-of-state friends are going to think that we have become drunks!!!

...and I have contacted our local representatives...they are against privatization, but I will keep hounding them!

Lew Bryson said...

Thank you!

Sorry about the shock on moving to PA. It's really quite nice here, unless you want to buy booze.

Anonymous said...

I can buy wine or beer at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, or any grocery store. It's a grocery store item. I am 46 (FL resident) and they card me every time. I have visited the "new" PA State Stores and they are a joke compared to Total Wine, which has better selection and much lower prices. With so much selection, stores compete with each other for customers so I get the lowest price. Pennsylvania's system is communist, high prices and limited selection.

sam k said...

Though I'm behind Lew on the privatization thing, no one is forced to buy beer by the case in Pa. You can by beer by the sixer or singles at many bars and all bottle shops.

YOU CAN BUY SIX-PACKS ALL OVER's just not necessarily convenient.

A Lazy Drunk

Lew Bryson said...

It's not necessarily convenient...OR economical. The markup on sixpacks at bars is breathtaking. But yes, you CAN buy sixpacks, and more places are offering them.

Anonymous said...

Lew first step is admitting you have a problem. The vast majority of peoples lives don't revolve around alcohol like your does. I have no problem getting a fifth of good scotch that lasts me a 3 weeks in PA. Now if I needed to stop at a liquor store everyday for a pint because I could not buy the half gallon due to being a alcoholic. I probably would be joining you in creating a Blog and even Facebook page that tries gets my drink of choice in as many places as I could and have these places open 24 hours a day. All under the guise of some customer service and selection argument. Because the current PA system costs me a lot of time and money. But for most people those who are not alcoholics, storm water management is a greater concern than being upset that you can't buy a pint of whiskey @ 11 am on a Tuesday night.

Lew Bryson said...

How cute! Yet another wit who got the bright idea of suggesting that someone who advocates the radical idea that Pennsylvania join most of the nation -- most of the world -- in liberalizing its liquor a drunk! It's a laugh riot!

You didn't read the post, did you? Well, news to ya, "Anonymous," my life doesn't revolve around alcohol, or privatization. Take a look at the stats: I don't even post here once a week. Hardly an obsession.

I'm not in a liquor store more than about once a month, and when I do, I don't buy pints for my latest fix. I'm usually buying wine in the $8-$20 a bottle range for my wife and I to have with dinner.

But you don't really care about the truth. If you did, you'd put your name up there, instead of the cowardly "Anonymous," and you'd actually say something about the facts, instead of just vilely smearing my name with fabricated insinuations that I'm an alcoholic.

Can't handle the facts? Too bad, neither can most of your allies. That's why they lie, and that's why they engage in personal attacks, and that's why they try to portray privatization as a cause of corporate greedheads or lazy alcoholics. That's because they just can't stand the fact that privatization is being driven by ordinary people -- liberals, conservatives, Democrats and Republicans -- who are fed up with the lousy, backwards, archaic, paternalistic, total suckbag that is the State Store System.

By the way, turnipbrain...whiskey isn't sold in pints anymore (it's 375 and 500 ml bottles, get up to speed), and...11 am comes on Tuesday morning, not "Tuesday night."

Thanks for playing! Next contestant, please!

Anonymous said...

It's truly a shame that you are still denial in regards your problem. One thing that I find odd is that you attack me for being anonymous but you run a Facebook group where 80% of the people use fake names. Look I understand! For you it is the addiction talking. The do anything and say anything so you can drink. Please get treatment!!

Lew Bryson said...

What a pathetic spud you are.

1. STILL won't step out from behind the weaksauce "Anonymous" curtain.

2. Piled another steaming heap of baseless accusations on top of the cold crap you already dumped, with no more proof than before.

3. Makes up a NEW load of dung; I have met and know at least 1/3 of the people on my Facebook page ("Abolish the PLCB -- Rewrite the Code" , join today!), and they are using their real names, just like me. I couldn't blame them if they did make up fake names, though: the main proponents of keeping the dung-laden State Store System in place are the unions that staff it, and stalking by union members is legal in PA. We've already encountered some pretty creepy cyber-stalking and threats from one union rep; why invite more? Besides, I'm definitely who I say I am, you can Google me. Step out, chicken.

4. You have a loose grasp on spelling and punctuation. Look, I understand! For you it is the ignorance talking. You type anything and say anything so you can post more slime. Please get education!!

Now. You've had your chance. If you don't come up with anything other than the Same Old Crap, no more of your posts will be approved. Get it?


Anonymous said...

Thank You, A Lazy Drunk, for the advice.
The local bar in Pittsburgh charged us $20.00 for a 6-pack of Penn Pilsner. This was our first experience buying alcohol in this state, and the beginning of an education into the strange PA system. We wanted to purchase beer and wine (my preference) after un-packing boxes all day, and the nice market across the street that in a normal state would have had these products, sent my husband to a bar. He couldn't buy any wine, just beer. This was so strange to us. All of this is so strange. Anybody who thinks otherwise either doesn't buy alcohol, or has never lived in another state. I don't know what a bottle store is, but I am sure there isn't one in the downtown-vicinity.
Downtown Pittsburgh does have a decent Wine and Spirits store, but knowledgeable help is limited. I so miss having a small, privately-owned wine shop around the corner...they even sold beer!

Lew Bryson said...

Agreed! As I said, the markup can be breathtaking.

The system needs to be fixed, and the businesses who are beating it to charge as much as the market will bear will, eventually, pay for their greed. Not a threat, just a prediction. Karma's a bitch, people.

smk12 said...

I didn't mean to insinuate that six-packs were necessarily cheap, but they are available. I'm sure you'll find a better deal...they are out there, and Lew's right, the gougers will lose in the long run.

Lew, one thing hasn't come to this discussion: the availability and price of kegs. Though I want privatization as much as the next guy, nowhere have I found access to nor low prices on kegs like we have now in PA. I know that we can't have it all after privatization.

Grocery stores don't have 'em, and the stores that do carry kegs seem to charge crazy prices (I saw $110 on a half of Bud Light at the Party Source recently).


Lew Bryson said...

Kegs have been historically much lower-priced in PA, Sam; not sure why. I've been told it's because the competition from the regional brewers kept them low, but I find it hard to believe that it's still hanging around. Our beer taxes ARE among the lowest, but again, markup's markup. I don't really know, and despite asking, have never heard a good answer. I will say that they've been catching up with other states' prices lately.

And I'll agree; it's not easy to find a good selection of kegs in other, privatized states. That may be a causation thing; plenty of Pennsylvanians have taps in their homes (and hunting camps) BECAUSE kegs are available. A smart retailer will address that market.

Lew Bryson said...

Note to the Raving Anonymous: keep sending. It's good to have a hobby and doubtless keeps your mind of your encroaching baldness. But I'm not posting anymore of your spittle-specked rants about how drunk and stupid I am. I mean...think about it. Where's my angle?

Look, Blogger is free. You want to rave about me, start your own blog, call it "Lew Bryson is a Big Fat Lazy Drunk." And then you can rave on, brother.

Hell, I'll probably put up a link to it myself if it's funny enough.

Here's how to start:

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

$128 million is hard to overlook

Lew Bryson said...

What's that? The amount that was wasted on the wine kiosks? The cost overruns on the new POS system?

Oh, the "so-called" profits for 2012! Well, hell, it's against the law to buy booze anywhere else, they ought to be making SOMETHING.

Seriously, glad you brought this up. The PLCB is doing some bizarre sack dance right now about the "record" amount of money they siphoned out of the pockets of Pennsylvanians the past year...and all it took was millions in advertising, national growth in wine and spirits sales, and a police-enforced monopoly. Wow, pretty impressive.

Except when you look at the gross sales vs. profits over the past few years. Five years ago, the PLCB's gross sales were $1.778 billion; this past year they were a record $2.171 billion, an increase of 22.9%.

Five years ago, the "profits" were $112.2 million; this past year, they were $128.4 million. That's an increase of 14.4%.

Profits not keeping up with sales? Well, their costs must have gone up, right? Actually, they closed about 30 stores in that time; I have to assume stores that were losing money (why close them otherwise?). So what the hell, PLCB? Where'd all the money go? Fatter salaries for bureaucrats? Courtesy contracts? De luxe wine tasting rooms?

Meanwhile, up in New Hampshire, where they KNOW how to run a State Store System, they made $145.6 million in profits on less than a third of the gross sales the PLCB did. Oh, and they did it while charging a bit less than the PLCB. Kind of looks like the PLCB is -- as I've been saying -- grossly mismanaged and inefficient. Are these the people we want to trust to come up with "modernization" ideas?

I have one modernization idea: PRIVATIZE.

Anonymous said...

Hey Pumpkin Head that Anonymous really does have a problem with you,i never did I really repect your beer knowledge,on any subject on topic or not.
Your time of the year Pumpkin.Brooklyn Post Road.Stouts and even the mighty Lion Brewery is putting a Steg Pumpkin that's pretty good for the money.