Wednesday, July 9, 2014

PLCB competitive? Only when the wrong numbers are used.

I've been waiting to post this just in case the author or editors of the PG decided to post a retraction, correction, or even apology for publishing such a mistake-filled and incorrect article. Alas, no response to my emails to them and nothing in the paper itself. It looks like good journalism has fallen by the wayside at the PG, or at least when it comes to this piece.
The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story about how PA prices were competitive with those of Ohio and West Virginia, both alcohol control states as is PA. The story itself was filled with all sorts of errors that you can read about in the comments, but our trusty Union Representative said that it "Doesn't change a thing about the premise of the article which is absolutely true."

Oddly the PG says "The policy of is to correct content mistakes in articles, blog posts and on social platforms as quickly as possible. Corrections to articles will be posted at the bottom of the articles. The text of those corrections will be displayed here."  Not like they have to stop the presses to print the correction on-line.  Isn't 4 days enough time to check a website?  Myself and others were able to check the prices in minutes not days. Based on their website list of corrections the PG has made any in a day shy of 2 months so maybe they aren't "as quick as possible" 

The story got me to thinking about why it might be true.  Ohio ranks as #11 in liquor taxes and PA is #15 with 36.2% lower taxes than Ohio according to the Tax Foundation so it really should be a surprise that prices are close. Add to the disparity that Ohio generally has a higher sales tax  (local and state) than PA and the difference should be even larger. What does Ohio do better than PA? More efficient, smaller bureaucracy, less graft, less bloated management, and maybe less child killing greed than the PLCB? They also have more convenience with wine and beer both sold by private businesses.

The real question shouldn't be if PA liquor prices are competitive with Ohio but why doesn't PA beat Ohio across the board?


Anonymous said...

Your good with numbers so figure this out for me. If a bottle of scotch has a shelf price of $69.99 both in Pa and Ohio what part of that price is tax in each state? The scotch is 80 proof. You need that to calculate the Ohio tax. Can't wait to see your answer. It won't be 32% lower in Pa than Ohio, that's for sure. For a guy so fond of pointing out lies you sure tell enough of you own!

Lew Bryson said...

Wait, are you pointing out that PA's Johnstown Flood Tax makes expensive booze MORE expensive, and keeps cheap booze even cheaper? Yeah, that really shows how the PLCB is all about controlling consumption; keep cheap alcohol a Pennsylvania tradition!
But why settle for a $70 bottle of Scotch? Why not use one of those $700 bottles of wine that PLCB supporters love to make fun of people for buying; the math works even better to show how much PA is gouging in taxes.
No wonder people go out of state to buy good booze.

Albert Brooks said...

Ohio has contract stores which provide some limited (very limited) competition amongst retailers. You should know that. Having a ending retail price is meaningless except in a government controlled monopoly that dictates what the people are allowed to buy and how much they have to pay for it.

If you give me the unit cost it is an easy problem, easy enough that even Mikey or John could figure it out and we know how bad at math they are and which means you already know the answer.

Now if you have a problem with math take it up with the Tax Foundation or Distilled Spirits Council of the United States who provided the tax rates for the different states or else show me how $7.22 (PA) is not 36% less than $9.84 (OH). Didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

Some SLO prices of items we would like to purchase:

Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia Tequila 80-proof
(BEVMO price - $99.99)

Noilly Pratt Red Vermouth
$22.00/ea. with a minimum of 3
(BEVMO price- $10.99 - which, incidentally, is the same price as the white vermouth which is available in PA and CA for $10.99)

Pirassununga Cachaca 51
$22.00/ea. with a minimum of 3
(Bevmo price = $15.99/ea)

Why do we put up with this?!
...maybe I need to quote Pris once again...

Albert Brooks said...

It should be no surprise our favorite misanthropic clerk is on the internet saying that it is all lies, Ohio can't have a 36% higher excise tax rate.

He doesn't agree with two nationally recognized organizations respected in their field, published and quoted across the country because he is a clerk with years of experience running a registrar,stocking shelves and bagging....can't forget bagging. He doesn't know what went into their computations but since he can't duplicate it - it must be wrong.

It is said ignorance is no excuse but ignorance implies the ability to learn but not the opportunity. Stupidity is when you have the opportunity but choose not too, refuse or if it doesn't fit your limited preconceived knowledge as is the case here.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys! Misanthropic clerk here. I think all Albert has to do to prove me wrong is to take a random 750ml bottle of 80 proof whatever that wholesales for $20 and apply the tax rates from each state. If Ohio taxes comes out to be 32% higher than Pa he wins. Agreed? Seems simple enough. Bet he won't do it.

As far as the tax rate quoted by DISCUS I have no idea as to what their methodology used to convert our ad valorum tax to gallonage and it doesn't matter. Do the math above and you can plainly see something is wrong with it. Other evidence that Albert is hiding behind a questionable statistc is the fact that Pa collects over three times the alcohol excise tax as Ohio does. know Ohio loses a lot of sales to Pa border bleed but that can't be the only reason. Pa population is only 8% more than Ohio, that can't be it. Yet Albert maintains Ohio has higher taxes. We ask Albert to explain this. Bet he won't.

In the early days before the House got sick of Turzai and flushed his bill down to the Senate there was in the bill a proposal to change the 18% JFT to a gallonage tax. Using the sales statistics at the time for how much tax was collected and the amount of gallons that were sold of wine and spirits the consensus, agreed to by both sides of the debate was that spirits would have to be taxed at a minimum of $9.60 per gallon to stay revenue neutral. Go to the tax foundation site and you will see DISCUS calculates a Pa gallonage tax at $6.65. I ask Albert who is right. DISCUS or The privateers? This he might answer. He's got room to wiggle. First paragraph is pretty much put up or shut up. To answer the second Albert would get dizzy from spinning. Hope some else does the math in the first question cuz I doubt Albert is publishing his answers!

Have some more fun. Put the present tax structure to a bottle of wine. Ohio wine tax is currently 32 cents per gallon or about 7 cents per 750ml. Ours the 18% JFT. Lets say the bottle wholesales for five bucks. When you get the answer ask yourself how the Plcb manages to keep prices so competitive and benefit the taxpayers so much more than the Ohio system.

Final note. The Tax Foundation got the supposed Pa tax rate from DISCUS. So I'm only disagreeing with one national group and that is a the folks that represent the big distilleries. The distillers union so to speak. You know for a fact if you've done the math on a bottle of either spirits or wine that Pa has a higher tax rate than Ohio but still has competitive prices. And Albert knows it too, but he'll never admit it.

Your buddy, John Rz the M.C.
PS. Albert has a habit of asking questions and demanding answers when he's stuck in a corner. Won't work. Time for you to man up up give some answers yourself.

Albert Brooks said...

JohnRZ, gotta give you credit for trying but it goes back to ignorance or stupid. Since you do know how to use the internet, not well but well enough to come up with half an answer, it can't be ignorance so it must be something else.

John's statement of "I have no idea as to what their methodology used..." shows he can't logically or mathematically refute their claim because he doesn't know but then proceeds to tell us why it is wrong.

He then, almost but not quite, shows some of his reasoning without doing any actual work. That way if you made a mistake he can say it isn't his fault.

Odd how DISCUS was OK when he used the same to try an prove PA taxes aren't so high compared to other states but now they aren't to be trusted.

Since Ohio is also a control state it would seem that the comparison between PA and them should be done the same way but when you only know half the answer - you give half-assed answers as he is proving.

I don't have the full methodology either and that doesn't change the point I made. If DISCUS changes their numbers then mine, as a product of that will change too. Not because somebody who doesn't know all the parameters thinks it is wrong and then can't lay it out in a logical fashion.

So here you go, the rest of the story he so conveniently (probably the only time in his 32 years as a clerk he's been associated with convenience) forgot or ignored.


Depending on the county the county excise tax can be up to 91% of the state excise tax for liquor.

These are not collected by the state and do not show up in state Department of Commerce reports.

But that doesn't mean they don't exist because our clerk couldn't find them nor that they aren't taken into account when looking at the sum total of excise taxes compared to another PA perhaps.

I'd say valiant effort but doing something half way and half assed doesn't rate valiant.

Anonymous said...

Hi Albert. It was nice of you to alter this post to remove the misanthropic, register ringing, bottle stocking, bagging, yes don't forget the bagging, insults. I'd say thanks but since your crap doesn't bother me, and taking the high road for a change helps your image more than mine so I won't.

I guess you ran the taxes and since the DISCUS number suits your reality better you won't publish it. You do a great job of keeping these folks ignorant. They seem happy so I guess this is commendable in a way.

BTW. Counties can add on to the gallonage tax. That's correct. So the state wine excise tax is about 7 cents per .750ml bottle. The county adds another 6 cents to make it thirteen. Pa tax is 18%. So the only time a bottle in Ohio would be taxed less than the same item in Pa is if it wholesales for about 75 cents or less. Nice dodging. A valiant attempt you might say. Or you might just say typical Albert.

I'm not going to spend 10 weeks teaching you again, like when you couldn't figure out how 30% can drink once per week or more and 80% could drink once per week or less. (If anyone else can't figure this out get with Albert. When he learns something new he's anxious to show off). In the meanwhile I'll just let him slink back into the depths believing he's fooled everyone once again. We all knew he'd give no answer anyway.

Besides his new best friend, 412libertarian has a great discussion going on his blog I dont want to miss. He's arguing its morally OK to shoot someone dead for stealing a single paper clip. Amazing how whacko blogger types attract each other. JohnRz

Anonymous said...

Here is a hint for you Al. Use Cuyahoga county. Their taxes are the highest but not high enough. Run, run, run!

Albert Brooks said...

Part One

Did you get dropped a lot as a child? It seems every time you run into something that either you don't understand or know little about it is a conspiracy and that people are changing things to make you look bad. They have pills for that.

First, I do not and can not edit comments including my own, it is not my blog and I do not have admin rights.

Second, No post was removed, I am looking at the "bagging" post right now so I have no idea what you are babbling on about.

Third, I do not control when comments are posted. Everything goes to the admin first and I am not he.

Forth, Wine has nothing to do with the subject, it is liquor excise tax. Stop trying to change the subject. When or if Ohio wine prices are the subject we may revisit until then it has nothing to do with your lack of understanding.

Your premise is that of a whiny child. This is totally asinine, not only the concept but the thought that an adult would come up with something so bizarre that is never done and thinks it is his right of proof. It doesn't work that way. I wonder if you aren't back on the bottle again with delusions like that.

How to logically explain something who either doesn't understand logic or is playing stupid pretending not to understand. An Oscar winning caliber performance if so I might add.

People, not just me, are not and never have been responsible for verifying the information of a reputable source. Every time something was quoted the exchange of information would grind to a halt as people had to prove whatever source they used produced the correct results if things are done the way you want. They aren't for numerous reasons. It would continue the same for that source and the source that source used ad infinitum until the original point was reached and even that would have to be checked. The world doesn't work that way no matter what JohnRz wants. I have to prove my work product is correct and that I didn't make any mistakes, which I have done. If John wants to disagree it is not because of the math that I did but rather the information I used that he thinks is wrong.

This would be the same as if when John agreed that the CDC said there would be a 48% increase in consumption (which he did, he quoted it more than once) and I then asked him to prove the CDC numbers. No difference. The CDC numbers have been dis-proven by reality and new research but that research wasn't done by John.

Albert Brooks said...

Part Two

One more time, read it slow. I don't have all the information to prove the DISCUS numbers nor is it my place to do so. By the same token you do not have enough information to disprove them since you didn't even have all the information that is readily available let alone all the information that they used.

Apply Occam's razor to the problem. That among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better. In this case the simplest one is that John doesn't have all the information and that was even proven.

While you haven't posted any proof in reality, just telling people to look stuff up and they won't have all the information either so that serves no purpose.

You can get all excited if you want about me not posting an answer which is true, I won't since I can't verify the completeness of it. You may continue to post all the half truths and half assed BS we have come to expect of you.

Maybe if I give an analogy even John can understand (I hope, I can't dumb it down any more)

Al: This sure is good cake.

John: Do you know how they made it?

Al: I have an idea but I don't know all the ingredients.

John: You have to know you're the one saying it's good cake.

AL: No, I don't have to know I just have to like the result.

John: But when I make a cake it doesn't turn out like this.

Al: You probably don't know everything they put in it.

John: That doesn't matter, when I do it my way it comes out different. You have to know how to make this cake because you are the one who likes it.

Al: I wasn't involved with making the cake and I don't know everything that went into it.

John: But you have to know, part of saying that it is good means you know how to exactly reproduce it. Here is all the stuff I know that goes into a cake. Make it taste the same.

Al: I can't I don't know what they put into their recipe.

John: If you can't duplicate that cake you must have been lying when you said you liked it. I have no idea as to what their methodology used to convert our cake recipe to their cake recipe and it doesn’t matter. I'm gonna make a cake and you tell me why it isn't the same.

Al: I can't tell you everything but I can tell you that you forgot this main ingredient.

John: That doesn't matter, it still isn't the same. Either you know how to make this cake or you are just lying to everyone when you tell them how good it is.

Al: If I knew how to make this cake I wouldn't be relying on them to make it, I could do it myself.

John: Well since you can't duplicate this cake nobody should believe you about anything.

Al: They should believe I know where to find good cake since yours doesn't turn out as well because of all the missing ingredients.

Albert Brooks said...

Now we have our fav clerk saying on the internet (and here) that I'm altering posts. Anyone with any knowledge of Blogger knows that even the blog owners can't alter posts.

When you can't prove your point change the subject or attack something else. Typical, John has been using that for years.

Anonymous said...

Albert, forget the taxes and who charges more. Nobody really cares because that isn't going to change. Convenience, selection, and the corruption of the LCB along with the legislature and its 'relationship' with the union are the main issues and tipping points. John Rz can't refute that stuff. Ever.