Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Feel safe, Pennsylvania: the Keystone Kops are on the job!

The BLCE recently covered itself in glory again by arresting someone who was looking to resell a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, and by shutting down an alleged speakeasy operating in an American Legion post in Roaring Spring, near Altoona.

Eh? Buying better booze in Delaware, you say? We're on it!
I understand that — by the letter of the law — neither of these things are legal in Pennsylvania, but you can tell when a bad law is in place by the lack of enforcement. Tracking down one "whiskey flipper" on Craigslist (when hundreds of them are driving the high cost of Pappy), or closing down a rural veteran's hall because they were selling sixpacks and highballs (in a town with NO current bar licenses; though you could go up the road to the U.S. Hotel in Hollidaysburg, which I highly recommend) is not really doing anything to make the citizenry safer. Do you think some 18 year old kid was going to shell out $800 just to get a bottle of booze for the weekend, or that the American Legion was selling 6 packs out the back door to high schoolers?  I seem to remember PLCB employees selling things out of the back door in Philly, but that place wasn't closed down, was it?

The BLCE at least used to put up a front like they were doing their job, with over 200 arrests per year for illegal importation; now it is just a few poor slobs who get made an example of. Do you think it is because they have stemmed the tide of people coming in from Delaware with bottles in their trunk? Maybe it is just easier for them to rely on tips so they know where to look (sure makes it easier for someone to rat out an enemy and get them in trouble).

Arresting people for selling booze that the incompetents at the PLCB don't, won't and can't supply to the people of the state? They should give them medals, they're doing a public service! Just because the State Store System doesn't have it, doesn't mean that we don't want it. If the PLCB is doing such a great job, and their prices are so competitive, then it shouldn't matter what people bring in, because as many or more would be shopping here and not across the border.

The mere fact that PA's border bleed is one of the largest in the country indicates that we don't have the best selection, we don't have the best service, we don't have the best prices, we don't have the best stores and we certainly don't have the best run system that can respond to what the public wants. It's not even the best control state system; New Hampshire kicks our ass in customer service and cool stuff for its citizens (and much of the rest of New England; their prices are better, too.) In short, the PLCB and its State Police-run enforcement arm, the BLCE, are only protecting their own incompetence and lack of ability.

With tens of thousands of people crossing the border with out of state liquor and thousands going to BYOB restaurants with bottles not bought at state stores, maybe the BLCE needs a bigger tip to get them to spring into action. So here it is, our public service to help out the Police-Enforced Monopoly.  People buy liquor and/or wine at Total Wine, Moore Brothers, Joe Canal's, Benash, Wine Legend and even Wegmans and Shop Rite, and bring it back to Pennsylvania because — overall — the price, selection, service and convenience is better in New Jersey.

Now that you have a tip, go and infiltrate the state of New Jersey. Make it fair, arrest every citizen of the Commonwealth you see — including us if you see us, that's fair (and would make great blogfodder!) — and see what happens when that starts to hit the newspapers, social media, airwaves...and legislators' inboxes. Bring it on, BLCE, let's enforce the hell out of those laws and really let Pennsylvanians enjoy control as it should be enjoyed. To paraphrase the great Bard of Baltimore (and free liquor patriot) H.L. Mencken: Liquor control is the theory that bureaucrats know what's best for the common people, and should give it to them good and hard.

Oh, by the way...Pennsylvanians are bringing booze home from Delaware and Maryland, too. So get on it.

We think you know what that will lead to. Abolish the PLCB, make it about regulations and not retail, and rewrite the code to best serve what the people in 2015 want...not what one man in 1933 wanted.


Geno Washington said...

As of 1980 (per an old newspaper article I read around 2005 that was written in 1980), the PLCB made a conscious effort to locate their stores in inconvenient locations, to make people think twice before buying alcohol. I guess with online shopping these days, the PLCB no longer cares about this former policy. Lots of the stores still are off the beaten path today, however.

Albert Brooks said...

I'd love to see that. It must be buried pretty deep if I haven't come across it yet.

Sam Komlenic said...

Pitman's Liquors of Hancock, Md., in that three-mile wide strip of the state between Pa. and W.Va., is a great little liquor store, busy at all hours of the day and night, with out-of-state plates in the lot at any time.

Arrest me there. My car will be loaded with Pikesville Rye!

Anonymous said...

I liked the Keystone Kops but when it comes to old silent comedy shorts Ben Turpin was the man.