Wednesday, September 9, 2015

So how's Wendell doing?

On August 25th, UFCW 1776 "President For Life" Wendell W. Young IV sent a letter to the Morning Call. Go read it, I'll wait.

Got it? I felt it called for a response. The Morning Call doesn't allow people to respond at length to letters, so I thought I'd post my entire response here. Have a look.
Wendell "Say Anything" Young
Wendell is talking; Wendell is spinning

The PFM report says Operational and Transition costs; the operational costs are the normal expenses of keeping the stores open, no different from every day, and they pay those whether they're closing down or not. This Operational part is almost $1.2 billion. The same report also shows that keeping the state stores will cost over $2.4 billion. But none of that matters, since the report was done in response to a privatization proposal from almost 3 years ago that is no longer in play. So the $408 million that Wendell mentioned doesn't apply either, because current proposals have different income structures. He knows this, but he won't tell you the truth.

The PFM report also called privatization in Iowa a success. Iowa reported more revenue after getting the state out of retail. Of course, Iowa has twice as many stores as PA now with less than half the population, and a lower binge drinking and DUI rate too. Yes, liquor prices in Washington went up; we know that, but we also know why. The legislature added 27% in new fees. Privatization didn't cause prices to go up. Politicians did.

Again the PFM report's unemployment estimates are meaningless, because they aren't for the current plan. What isn't worthless is the fact that every place that has privatized some or all of their liquor system has increased employment.  The province of Alberta fully privatized, and tripled employment in the industry so did Washington State. What Mr. Young doesn't tell you is the PLCB prevents those increases here. Maybe they would be union jobs, maybe they wouldn't; I guess that depends on how convincing an organizer Mr. Young is.

A quick look at the numbers — real numbers, not guesses — will tell you that after almost 40 years since the "store in a store" concept was proposed and 35 years since it was implemented, it has been a failure. The program never got more than 16 grocery stores to agree, out of the thousands in the state, to put a State Store within their walls. That number is now down to 15. "Modernization" is not going to suddenly change that.

By the way, ask Mr. Young where the extra "modernization" money is going to come from. The answer is your pockets. Ask him what states have agreed to "buy in" with PA as the modernization plan he touts suggests? (Not one.) While you're at it, ask him about how Sunday sales will have to increase by over $350 million alone to make the modernization goal. "Modernization" means "get Pennsylvanians to buy a LOT MORE BOOZE!!!" So much for "control."

So if Wendell's all wet, what should we do? We are the owners of this system, this "valuable asset," as Wendell keeps saying. Well, in every scientific poll taken over the past 40 years, "the owners" have said we want to be rid of the State Store System. We not only have the right to sell it, but the want and desire to sell it. It isn't his call.

Privatization will bring competition and contrary to Wolfonomics, competition causes lower prices and increased convenience like the State Stores can never provide. Privatization will bring overall increased employment: warehouse jobs, delivery jobs, retail and manager jobs. Privatization brings choice to the consumer. Private store managers stock based on their knowledge and what the consumer wants, not what some bureaucrat in Harrisburg tells them to stock.

But we've got to do it right. Worried about higher prices, or "big box" stores taking over, a new monopoly to replace the old? Learn from other states: don't raise taxes, limit total license ownership to 3 to 5 stores, so nobody can corner the market. Worried about tax collections? Collect the taxes at the wholesale level like is already done for beer. Concerned that license costs will make it too hard for small stores to open? Base license costs on size, or sales volume, so a small 1,000 sq.ft. wine boutique can open down the road from a 30,000 sq.ft. superstore. After all, we don't have either in PA now. Make more licenses available at more reasonable prices, too.

Governor Wolf wants booze in grocery stores? So do the rest of us; allow it! We can become a reciprocal state for wine shipping instead of the Eastern Bloc Control model that is being proposed. Give us a normal system, and we will buy in Pennsylvania instead of running to New Jersey, Delaware, or Maryland, because we'll have those big stores, with big selections, and they'll be convenient.

Privatization solves the problems. The PLCB can't.

Painting Pennsylvania's liquor jail cell nice bright colors, putting up new drapes, and calling it "modernization" will not change the way the system works. Privatization will.

Yes I am a proud privateer. I'm a citizen who sees how backward, graft-filled, nepotism-plagued, anti-small business and anti-consumer, inconvenient, and incompetent our system is.



Rick Maberry said...

Bravo !!!

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. When did the Call stop printing opposing view letters? I believe Mr. Youngs piece was just that. Was yours rejected?

Albert Brooks said...

Yes you are. What part of "The Morning Call doesn't allow people to respond at length to letters." is giving you problems? Let me try to make it so you can understand. The Morning Call doesn't allow a response to a letter to be over 1600 characters. Wendell had too much BS to correct that I could do it in the space limitation. If you have any more questions maybe "da grownups" can help you.

Anonymous said...

No need to be so defensive. I thought you meant a legitimate op-ed, not the Jerry Springer show rejects comment section. I believe the Call is right! If you want to respond send a letter to the editoriol board like the union president did.

Albert Brooks said...

Given that my response has more verifiable facts and truth in it I question your idea of what is legitimate.

Anonymous said...

Maybe legitimate was the wrong word. Effective might have been a better choice.

Albert Brooks said...

The Call has a limit on written replies sent in too, it is only the initial OP ED that has a much larger word count available. Wendell might be effective in person when he can spout whatever BS he wants and nobody checks or counters it but he gets hammered across the board when he writes it down and people can look up the facts.