Tuesday, January 6, 2015

We need the PLCB! Because it...does what, exactly?

When talk is raised about privatizing the state's 80 year old monopoly on sales of liquor and wine, of doing away with the PLCB-controlled State Stores, we hear a variety of reasons against it. "Reasons" like these:

"We need the PLCB because it collects taxes."

Really? The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania....
  • collected about $1 billion in cigarette tax last year without state employees selling cigarettes.
  • collected about $9 billion in sales taxes without having state employees in WalMart, Target, car lots, Burger King, KFC, Dollar General, dry cleaners, furniture stores or any of the thousands of other businesses in PA.
  • collected about $1.25 billion in motor vehicle fuel taxes last year without having state employes work in gas stations.
  • collected taxes on about 1 million firearms and ammunition sales without having state employees sell firearms or ammunition.
"We need the PLCB because it controls alcohol consumption."

Really? New York, New Jersey, and  Maryland have lower DUI fatality rates than PA. Ohio is statistically a tie and only Delaware and West Virginia are worse. (And Ohio and WV are control states...) New York and New Jersey have lower underage DUI fatality rates than PA; Delaware and Ohio are statistically tied; only Maryland and West Virginia do worse.

The UFCW -- the union that represents State Store clerks and has been a major lobbying foe of privatization of the stores -- claims that PA has the lowest death rate in the country associated with alcohol consumption: it is not true. The PA rate has gone up almost 31% since 2007 and is now higher than Maryland and New Jersey and may fall behind Delaware when the latest report is released. The most open private state in the country -- Louisiana -- has a lower rate than PA. What does all this mean? Alcohol consumption is affected by many independent factors, and "control" is not particularly effective.

There are already over 20,000 licenses for private businesses to sell alcohol; none of them have state employees on their registers. Why do the private employees have to take RAMP (Responsible Alcohol Management Program) training from certified instructors...but State Store workers don't?

"We need the PLCB because it keeps alcohol from minors."

Really? How do we know that this even works? State Stores are NEVER checked for underage sales by outside agencies, like the police, or the state's Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, but private businesses are. There is no independent proof that the State Store System makes any resident of the state -- young or old -- safer.

"We need the PLCB because it provides revenue for the state!"

Really? The State Store System provides under 4 tenths of one per cent of the state budget. It also owes over $600 million as its share of the pension deficit, a number that's missing from the PLCB's sunny annual report.

The State Store System limits employment, since every state or province that has fully privatized tripled employment in the industry.

The State Store System does not pay any business taxes -- 2,000+ private stores would.

The State Store System does not pay any license fees -- 2,000+ private stores would.

The State Store System limits access to product, thus limiting sales made and taxes collected (and sending thousands of Pennsylvanians across the border to buy booze -- and gas, and smokes, and lottery tickets -- every day).

These aren't reasons; they're illusions!

Why is selling liquor and wine considered an essential part of government? If we could go back to 1933, do it over again, pick a different way of selling liquor and wine...is this what we'd choose?


Why does the legislature refuse to correct this aberration? Is it because satisfying union bosses is more important to them than increasing employment, going along with 40 years of public opinion polls, or treating citizens like adults?


Privatization IS Modernization. Really!


Anonymous said...

You should also note that the seasonal jobs are first filled by referrals from the Senate law & justice committee before the public has a chance to apply.

Albert Brooks said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the rehash of what has been written on this blog for the last six years. Keep it up.

Lew Bryson said...

New folks find it every week; gotta keep pounding away on the basics. After all, Wendell W. Young IV still doesn't get it!

Albert Brooks said...

Some new stuff too like PA keeps getting worse in DUI and underage DUI stats compared to border states as time goes by. Can't forget the increase for alcohol related deaths either. That keeps getting worse. If the PLCB takes credit then they take blame too.

Thanks for reading these past six years, glad you are keeping informed and are not just a brainwashed drone.

Sam Komlenic said...

Actually, though I read this blog regularly, I really liked this succinct overview of the bullshit we're fed to "justify" the PLCB's existence.

Keep up the god work, Albert. Trolls are everywhere.

Sam Komlenic said...

Sorry, that would be "good work."

Albert Brooks said...

Thanks, we all do God's work in one form or another.