Tuesday, April 14, 2015

UFCW Wine & Spirits Council trying to hide from the truth.

The union that represents the State Store clerks, the UFCW, likes to use its puppet organization, the PA Wine and Spirits Council, to show all sorts of "proof" that the PLCB is doing a great job. Unfortunately for them, all of their information is either old, no longer true, or both. Let's look at some of the points they bring up. 

1. The UFCW says - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Task Force on Community Preventive Services announced its decision and rationale for recommending against further privatization of alcohol sales.
The real truth is - The statement is true but the science used to justify it was debunked as reported in Forbes.

The UFCW says - This document reports that in 2007 Pennsylvania had the lowest rate in the nation of death by alcohol-induced causes.

The real truth is - Since that point in time alcohol-induced deaths in PA have gone up 31% (page 78) and the state is not the lowest in the country. New Jersey and Maryland on our borders beat PA along with other states, even the famously booze-drenched state of Louisiana. Looks like there may be some problems with that 2007 study.

3. The UFCW says - "Control states have significantly lower rates of youth drinking and binge drinking, as well as lower rates of alcohol-impaired driving deaths, than license states.” Using a study from 2006 they go on to quote "In states with a retail monopoly over spirits or wine and spirits, an average of 14.5% fewer high school students reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days and 16.7% fewer reported binge drinking in the past 30 days than high school students in non-monopoly states"

The real truth is - Not in Pennsylvania.  According to the PLCB's own Act 85 report (page 9) "...lifetime alcohol use was higher in Pennsylvania for the eighth grade (7.3% higher in Pennsylvania compared to the national MTF rates), 10th grade (9.4% higher in Pennsylvania compared to the nation) and 12th grade (6.0% higher in Pennsylvania)." 30 day use is shown as higher for Pennsylvania high school student too.A look at nationwide drinking rates by SAMHSA doesn't paint a rosy picture either. Binge drinking for adults places PA in a tie for 31st in the country, and of the border states, only New York  does worse -- five do better.

4. The UFCW says - "Increased availability of alcohol is generally associated with increases in
consumption. States that license alcohol retailers generally have higher alcohol density, greater physical availability, longer and later hours of sale, all of which are factors that contribute to the increased availability of alcoholic beverages."

The real truth is - Wendell is trying out for the Captain Obvious role, telling us that more stores and longer hours contribute to the increased availability of alcohol. No kidding, that's why the State Stores suck! But the idea that more stores/outlets will drive higher consumption is an old policy projection that has been debunked; see the next point.

5. The UFCW says  - Using a report based on the experience in Sweden, "According to the projections, scenario 1 (just stores privatized) yields a consumption increase of 17% (1.4 litres/capita), which in turn would cause an additional 770 deaths" or "The corresponding figures for scenario 2 (stores privatized and wine in grocery stores) are a consumption increase of 37.4% (3.1 litres/capita) leading to an additional annual toll of 2000 deaths." This does not agree with another report listed further down the page that is also from Sweden that comes up with a different result..

The real truth is  - The facts do not match the projections. Washington State, for instance, didn't have a 37.4% increase in consumption or even a 17% increase when they privatized the state liquor stores recently. DUI fatalities have decreased since privatization and are below Pennsylvania's rate. The report is real, but just like the CDC report debunked above that said consumption would go up over 40%, it doesn't match any reality. More junk alcohol science.

6. The UFCW says - Using a report on wine consumption from 1968 to 1991 that came out in 1995, the conclusion is that sales increased dramatically in five states that 'privatized.' "After controlling for both nationwide and state-specific trends, we found significant increases in wine sales after privatization of 42% in Alabama, 150% in Idaho, 137% in Maine, 75% in Montana and 15% in New Hampshire. The increases in liters of pure ethanol per year in the form of wine were 621,000 in Alabama, 432,000 in Idaho, 364,000 in Maine, 363,000 in Montana and 171,000 in New Hampshire."

The real truth is - Privatization of the selling of wine did increase sales in those states: up to the level of the national average. Wine sales in general more than doubled overall in the US over the same period. In fact...Pennsylvania has seen that same proportional increase, without privatization. Yet.

We could go on, but... Let's address the real issue: control vs. regulation. There are many points that should be taken into account as guidelines, regarding store density, age carding, single serve take out, etc. but they all have to do with REGULATION, not whether the state should be the sole retailer, trying to sell and control as much product as possible.

While there are definitely significant problems associated with drinking too much, those problems are not confined to states with private alcohol sales. Despite decades of "control," and one of the lowest "alcohol outlet densities" on the planet, Pennsylvania does no better than the national average for most measures of alcohol-related harm, and is worse on some. This plainly shows the current system doesn't work very well. The majority of risks can be managed by regulation and enforcement, just as they are now in other states.

It's a simple prospect. If you don't want to be like Camden, then regulate and zone store density, as most states have done. If you want to lower DUI, then perhaps the state should concentrate on prevention and education instead of Mother's Day vodka sales.

Pennsylvanians already consume more alcohol per capita than New York, Maryland, Ohio, and West Virginia, so our vaunted "control" and current regulations, actually, our whole system doesn't seem to be working. Our system is broken, and the best and only real fix if to get the state out of selling a retail product and back to regulation like most normal states. We can't move forward dragging the dead carcass of Prohibition with us. Especially since they don't really want to come along for that ride.


Anonymous said...

I like your argument of control versus regulations. This is consistent with the state's approach to nursing homes, hospitals, restaurants and a host of other issues. They all seem to function adequately with the state taking ownership and control.

Anonymous said...

Might PA have more alcohol-related deaths than Louisiana, MD, and NJ because those states are all small? (Both in land area and population)

Albert Brooks said...

To Annon #1

Are you sure you don't mean "without" the state taking ownership and control? They don't have ownership or PLCB like control now.

Albert Brooks said...

To Annon #2

The listing is per capita so the population and size are not the controlling factors.

Anonymous said...

Why do the UFCW PLCB employees love their jobs so much? These jobs are no fun and are very physically exhausting, not to mention how emotionally draining they also tend to be.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. It seems the Wine and Spirit council website has not benn updated in almost a year. Similarly, the FB page it links to has less posts per month than it did per day a few years back. I afraid this ship has sailed, and grasping at straws will not turn it around.

Anonymous said...

Correct "without" taking control

Albert Brooks said...

I think you'll have to go over to the Save the PLCB page and ask if you can pose that question to the drones. They don't allow any freedom of speech over there which is why you have to ask. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting on approval though.

Albert Brooks said...

The UFCW rulebook lists that if you don't have anything positive to say either don't update your pages or continuously say the same lie over and over or both.