Sunday, July 12, 2015

Play "Who's the Dummy - PLCB supporters edition"

So much happening lately.  First you have the Governor trying to rewrite two centuries of economic theory by proclaiming that competition would raise prices. Then he told us that privatization would raise prices if taxes were raised...because we all know private stores set their own taxes.
Plenty of stupid, but wait, there's more! Not to be outdone, the brain trust at the ISSU (Independent State Store Union) came up with this gem: "Limited competition negatively impacts convenience." (They called it a "disaster," too.) I gotta ask: if limited competition has a negative impact on convenience, what does NO competition -- like with the PLCB -- do?  Don't forget, this is the union of the managers. We're not nuts about the service level at the State Stores, but you almost have to cut the workers some slack if this is what they have to deal with every day.

Proving that the ISSU doesn't have a lock on stupid, the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) comes up with this gem: privatization will cause a loss of selection and higher prices...and somehow, at the same time, increase drinking. Sounds like they've fully embraced Wolfonomics. As everyone knows, the Governor thinks -- all things being equal -- increased prices result in more sales. It's a cornerstone of Wolfonomics, the corollary to Wolf's dramatic new theory that competition leads to higher prices. Forbes presented a brilliant exposition of Wolfonomics recently: "Opponents Of Private Liquor Sales Claim State Monopolies Serve Customers Better." Take a moment to read it, it's quite good. (I'm talking to you, Governor Wolf.)

While there can be no excuse for such idiocy in a government office or organizational headquarters, it does bleed down to some of the common folk.  Internet newspaper comment columns are full of people who know the PLCB made $550 million in "profit" (some think they made $1 billion in profits!), apparently believing that taxes will disappear if sales are privatized, and that other taxes will automatically go up to make up for these mysteriously disappearing booze taxes. (Tip to you: the booze taxes aren't going anywhere. Not a chance.) There are self-styled economists who don't know that revenue isn't the same as profit, and that neither of them include taxes. There are folks who think that every privately employed liquor store salesperson is or will be on welfare, and that nobody will be hired even if the amount of stores double, triple, or even quadruple.

I especially love the ones who say they don't drink, and then proceed to tell us that the PLCB can get you anything you need...and you shouldn't complain, the implication (sometimes openly stated) being that if you do complain, you're an alcoholic. Or they tell us that the State Stores have the best prices in the country, or that we are safer because of the State Stores, when in fact we are barely mediocre in that respect.

Other favorites are this one woman who didn't want privatization because there wouldn't be any Mom & Pop stores so it was better to keep the PLCB...which has no Mom & Pop stores.  Kinda makes your brain hurt, don't it? One gentleman told me that Walmart will get all the licenses, all 14,000, because it is payback for supporting Republicans. (The facts are that the only free-spending "special interests" in this fight are the unions, and they just got their 'payback' from Wolf's veto. The retailers and the producers/importers are staying out of it, because they know the PLCB will retaliate if privatization doesn't pass.) Can't forget the guy who knew there are 18 states exactly like PA for alcohol sales. I don't think he gets out much. Nothing wrong with having an educated opinion, but you gotta laugh at some of these.

Of course, the real oddballs are in the legislature, but you can read about them everywhere.

Until the next time -- keep buying out of state!


Anonymous said...

There is one little problem with your theory of "wolfenomcs". Is a cure phrase for sure, but you give him too much credit. You see, before the veto ever happened cheerleader for the bill Sen. Joe Scarnati and the man that amended the bill Sen. Chuck McIllhenny said the same thing as Wolf. Others Like Don White had problems with the bill but voted yes only because of the promised veto. Sen. Aument voted yes then jumped on the Modernization bandwagon so quickly after the veto it made many say Hmm! Two new Senate Rs both voted against the bill.

Wolf only agreed with the people that sent him the bill. What was he supposed to say. Again your leading the uniformed doen a rabbit hole. What the hell, it's only a blog you say? I agree. But the selective info offered to the followers is cultish in a way. Ever thought about starting a commune in South America where every member gets a Liquor License?

Lew Bryson said...

Wow. Ever thought about having someone else write your comments? Might be easier to understand. "Again your [sic] leading the uniformed [sic] doen [sic] a rabbit hole." That's classic.

Look, it's an open secret that southeast Pennsylvania GOP senators were opposed to privatization two years ago, and only went along with it this time because they couldn't stop it. McIlhinney? He's been bucking the county GOP for a while now, and that's going to come to a showdown one of these days. It's also pretty much an open secret that it's because they're either getting money from unions or beer distributors who don't want privatization because it would mean tougher competition from savvy liquor store owners (rather than the dopes who run the PLCB). We've talked about that here on the blog, so don't make it out like we're lying or misleading anyone.

As for "modernization," do you really think Turzai is going to let any kind of crap "modernization" out of the House? Dream on. Even if any tweaks do get passed, NONE of them are going to include "variable pricing," which is what the PLCB really they can charge more and try to cover their ever-expanding bloated operating costs, which are the real reason the State Stores suck so stinking much. "Selective info"? We offer a lot more info than the UFCW page!

Meanwhile, this blog is still here, still pushing for privatization, and it's going to be here till it happens. However long that takes. We only have to win once.

Albert Brooks said...

Yep Sen. Aument jumped so fast that he forgot to put it on his home page, his face book page or make any announcement about it. Plenty about modernizing teacher pension though.

Maybe you should try something different besides kool-aid.

Anonymous said...

The point remains valid. Wolf only agreed with the republicans that presented him the bill on price increases. You can't run from that. Nice try at sidestepping. I'm sure the faithful fell for it.

The Guyana reference was outstanding! Providing selective information is something Jim Jones would have been proud of. Hey, wasn't he the PLCB board that helped Ridge abolish the PLCB?

Lew Bryson said...

"Wolf only agreed with the republicans that presented him the bill on price increases."

Sure, sure, and the Democrats who "voted against" his budget were only agreeing with the Republicans in the Legislature.

You need to come up with new stuff. Nice editing, though, I have to admit it. Didja go upstairs and get Mom to write it?

Albert Brooks said...

I would say your logic is flawed but it doesn't exist at all. If Wolf does what Republicans say then the budget and pension bills should have passed. eh? Really weak John, really weak.

Anonymous said...

He didn't do what they said, he repeated what they said, after he made the correct decision. So don't give him the credit. Senate leadership thought of it first. Just keep squirming. You'll wiggle out in your followers eyes. Eh, it's only a blog. No one guarantees the truth. Keep up the

Why were you backing a bill that the maker said would raise prices anyway? Did you think your congregation wouldn't notice?

Anonymous said...

"UNIFORMED"? There was talk of getting t-shirts made, but I don't remember reading anything about uniforms.

Lew Bryson said...

The House passed a privatization bill.
The Senate passed a privatization bill.
Wolf vetoed it.

I should care what McIlhinney said to please his financiers? I don't, because McIlhinney doesn't matter. If he did, he wouldn't have let the bill out of committee, like he did last time. But he doesn't, and he couldn't keep the bill bottled up this time, and what he says doesn't matter. Tell you what else: Wolf doesn't care what McIlhinney says either.

This bill won't raise prices. There are no new taxes in it, there are only licensing fees, which aren't going to be enough to boost prices to PLCB levels. But I guess we'll never know, BECAUSE WOLF VETOED IT.

Lew Bryson said...

By the way, you misspoke. We're not giving Wolf any "credit." We're giving him all the blame. The business you're in, you've probably forgotten the difference.

Lew Bryson said... there's an idea.


Never forget, never forgive, right?

Sam Komlenic said...

I'm headed to Virginia to visit my daughter this weekend. I'll be buying some booze there that I can't get in PA, and even though VA is a control state (liquor only) they allow direct shipments from distillers or retailers in other states directly to their residents, a benefit severely lacking here. So I get them to ship to Virginia and get it delivered or picked up when we get together. Talk about convenience!

Then there's lovely little Hancock, MD, where I'll be visiting the nice folks at Pittman's Liquors for my semi-annual ration of Pikesville rye. Living in the dead center of a big-ass control state sure does require strategic planning on multiple levels to get a lot of the booze I really want.

Oh wait, there's little enough border bleed as to be practically non-existent, right? I'm doing this despite the fact that I live nearly two hours from any east-west border, three from those running north-south. Living a half-hour away, as do many, would expedite the process incredibly, and regularly. I wonder how many Marylanders and Virginians regularly stop in Pennsylvania for booze on their way through?

Albert Brooks said...

The current PLCB markup is 45.2%. Private business can work with that no problem.

Anonymous said...

John thinks reverse border bleed is when New Yorkers buy a bottle for a weekend of skiing in the Poconos.

Lew Bryson said...

And give their ZIP code as "90210".

Albert Brooks said...

At least I have another to add for the next list.
"But the selective info offered to the followers is cultish in a way." says the admin for a closed board that doesn't allow outside ideas.

Anonymous said...

Interesting conversation you two are having. I like the T shirt idea. But you would have to find someone to wear them. Never forget, never forgive...damn it this is booze we're talking about!
McIllhenny let it out of committee because of the promise of veto. 6 (maybe 8) Senators voted yes because they were promised a veto. You were never even close. It did achieve it desired effect. Turzai was so thrilled with the way both parties and the Guv ganged up on him he was a no show at some leadership meetings. Lol. Yep, you get closer every time. Closer to the tool of the year award. I'll let you get back to the land of make believe where Skipper Albert and his little buddy know more about the bills than the people that wrote them.

Anonymous said...
Let the excuse making begin! Yada Yada fee increases. Just like the ones in HB466! These guys beat Senate leadership to the punch.before they clued in the Governor. I think it's time toss the "wolfonomics" theory onto the dung heap of bad propaganda and admit it's just common sense economics.

Lew Bryson said...

Another crap report from another anti-alcohol group, saying that prices went up in Washington because of the fee increases. Noise. Fees will be charged, but not like the ones in Washington. And again...Wolf is taking cues from McIlhinney and Tomlinson? He's already screwed, then. Keep whistling. This ain't over. Wolfonomics is bad propaganda...but it's Wolf's bad propaganda. "Competition causes higher prices" is anything but common sense.

Anonymous said...

Common sense tells me that if I sold a business and the new owners were charged a fee to replace my profits into perpetuity they would have to raise prices to make a profit for themselves. Da grown ups get it. You and the Commonwealth Foundation don't. Let me know when the legislature gets to work on a real privatization bill rather than a media dog and pony show. If you think the last free cartoon was a close call you are way out of the loop. Maybe out of the Earths orbit. Have a nice day.

Lew Bryson said...

Comparing the relatively low fees for operating a liquor store under HB 466 to the steep increases that were instituted in Washington State is way off. Dishonest, really, but that's hardly surprising.

"Da grown ups." That's funny, like you're somehow gifted with special knowledge because you hang around with a bunch of yellow-shirted gang members in the halls of the Capitol. It's hard to take you seriously when you have such a lousy record on all this. "The bill will never get out of committee," you said four years ago, "It will never reach the House floor." But it did. "It will never pass the House," you said two years ago. But it did. "This is just grandstanding, the Senate won't even consider it," you said...and Senator McIlhinney did successfully bottle it up in committee so SE PA Republicans wouldn't have to vote on it, and you were triumphant over a political maneuver. But then the GOP's majority increased in the Legislature, and the House passed it again. "It won't even come to a vote in the Senate," you said. But it did. And it passed. And Wolf vetoed it.

Now you want us to believe you about some made-up chicanery, that the Republicans in the Senate and Democratic Governor "Big Bad" Wolf are somehow already in collusion? Pardon us if we choose to write this off as yet another bag full of hot air.

In two years, all the voters will remember is this: Wolf vetoed liquor privatization, and they still don't have wine in grocery stores, and they still only have 600 liquor stores for the whole state, and they still pay higher prices, and they still get crap selection and service for it. Write that down. Count on it. That's what "da grown ups" know.

Anonymous said...

Who are you talking to???

Yep, the average voter will just dwell on this for the next 3 1/2 years. It's what they talk about at breakfast every morning. Hear that faithful followers? No one cares about the property tax reduction or education funding. No. Not on our world. Victory is near! Of course the SCOTUS decision on gerrymandering may shake up the legislature...

Lew Bryson said...

Well, I don't know WHO I'm talking to... "Anonymous." Just another gutless crap-stirrer, it looks like.

I see you're trying to make this out to be another one of these "liquor privatization is not the most important issue, so we can't talk about it and the Legislature shouldn't address it." That's nonsense, and so is this. Of course other things matter. But what sank George Bush 41 against Clinton? "Read my lips: No new taxes." If liquor privatization doesn't go through, "Competition causes higher prices" is going to sink Wolf.

Just remember: as one PLCB partisan keeps saying, we only have to win once. You have to win every time. Clock's ticking.

I'm off to Dayton, Ohio. Comment moderation will be temporarily suspended while I'm on the road. Don't have a stroke.

Albert Brooks said...

What is left ou of your common business sense is if the current amount charged is greater than what a private business with greater efficiency can pay and still make a profit. That number is 45.2% above cost. That is the rate of markup the PLCB charges to get their profit.Private business can and does function on less. So while Da grown-ups might get it you certainly don't.Standing behind a counter for 30 years does not qualify you to know anything about running a business in the free market. It is antithetical to your very core.

Anonymous said...

New anon. Failed attempts at business, freelancing, and TV are best addressed by your buddy. Oh yeah. Politics too!

Albert Brooks said...

Maybe I'm just slow tonight but whom are you speaking to and whom are you speaking about?

Lew Bryson said...

He's talking about me, Albert. I suppose from a union organizer's viewpoint, 17 years of success in the precarious life of a freelance writer, including 8 books published, winning 2 awards, and editing the top publication in the field might look like a failure. I can laugh at this, no sweat.
On we go. Stay on topic, or no posting.