Tuesday, March 15, 2016

We need more state-paid cashiers

Here's a radical suggestion: we need more state-paid cashiers...to sell gasoline.

Why? Just think about it.
  • Gasoline is dangerous, the root cause of  5,687,000 accidents. We need to have unionized state store clerks sell us this product.
  • Gasoline is flammable. The public shouldn't be trusted to handle such an item. Only state clerks with non-industry recognized training should be allowed to dispense it.
  • Admittedly, the sale of gasoline has no age limit, but only state clerks are able to determine if they should sell it to you.
  • Gasoline prices are higher in Pennsylvania than surrounding states and state clerks are well-versed in explaining that kind of difference.
  • Gasoline fits within the knowledge base of state retail clerks: there are only three types, plus diesel, to know about.

The service, knowledge, selection, and pricing
we've come to expect from state-run stores!
Once the Fine Fuels and Good Gas Stores are established, Pennsylvania consumers will experience a new type of automotive service, like no other place on earth!

  • All Fine Fuels and Good Gas  Stores will look the same and carry the same products: gasoline, and diesel fuel, along with a small number of car magazines and small accessories, like those pine tree air fresheners. If you need oil or transmission fluid, you will be able to buy them somewhere else. You may be allowed to buy a lottery ticket there...someday.
  • Specialty gasoline, like aviation gas or racing fuel, will only be sold where the state deems it necessary, which is not necessarily where it might be needed most.
  • Premium gasoline will be available in a limited number of Premium Selection Fine Fuels and Good Gas locations.
  • The Fine Fuels And Good Gas website will tell you where to go to get gas (but not how to get there or how far away it it is).
  • There will be approximately 600 Fine Fuel and Good Gas Stores, a huge savings over the current number of gas stations in Pennsylvania (approximately 630,000). Overall operating costs will remain about the same (due to the higher staffing numbers and higher pay and benefits than in any other gas station in the world), but supply and real estate costs will be much lower (and paid for by the Oil City Flood Tax). 
  • Unlike so-called "convenience stores" in other states, you will not be allowed to buy any soda, water, chips or any other snack at Fine Fuels and Good Gas Stores, as the temptation to drive away eating and sipping will be too much, and too dangerous. You'll have to drive somewhere else to get those. Remember - The state knows best what is good for you.
  • Fine Fuels and Good Gas Stores will not be open before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. in most locations, nor on any holiday (except for the first day of deer season and Groundhog Day). Only one-quarter of the Fine Fuels and Good Gas Stores will be open on Sunday (no easily-consulted list will be available).
  • Some Fine Fuels and Good Gas Stores in rural areas will only be open three days a week, and some counties will only have one store, so all Pennsylvanians are urged to plan ahead for your purchases (and keep emergency supplies in your trunk).
  • You will not be allowed to buy gasoline in another state and bring it into Pennsylvania (non-refundable fuel-dumping sites will be built at all border crossings; once their tanks have been emptied, motorists may then pump the fuel back into their cars at Pennsylvania-approved prices).
  • Self-service fuel pumps are strictly forbidden. There is a limited pilot program of fuel kiosks, a promising technology where you insert your license and credit cards into a card reader, prove you are sober by blowing into a breathalyzer, pirouetting in front of a built-in video camera and then confirm that you will not use the fuel in an illegal manner. All fuel kiosk customers will be monitored for compliance for 90 days.
  • When fuel prices are lowered by the refineries, a full 10% of the savings will be passed on to consumers as lower pump prices within 120 days (at the discretion of the Pennsylvania Fuel Control Board)
  • To keep operating costs down, the Pennsylvania Fuel Control Board promises to keep employee benefit costs at no more than 104% of salaries (the same as the State Liquor Stores), although how long that may be is not guaranteed.

The Pennsylvania Fuel Control Board will run this huge state enterprise; three men (yes, men) who have no experience with retail sales, fuel, gasoline, diesel, automobiles, tires, garages, or roads, which insures their total impartiality. The state will spend millions of dollars every few years trying to hide the fact they own and run all the Fine Fuels and Good Gas Stores. Fine Fuels and Good Gas Service workers will point out that there is reverse border bleed (out-of-state residents buying gas in Pennsylvania, mostly at a dozen or so border stations where the prices will be kept artificially low), proving that our system is better.

The Fuel Control Board has promised not to try and get the best prices for the citizens in trade for taking care of them for the next 80 years because the state knows best what is good for you.

Does this make any more sense than a state monopoly on wine and spirits sales? Do we really need this? Is the state better off because of the State Store Monopoly? Are YOU better off?

Privatize and move to NORMAL!


Eric Hosack said...

Your forgot! They could find a way to deliver taxes and include it as revenue!

Anonymous said...

There are employees who work in the store that are fairly knowledgeable but there is little incentive for most to learn anything beyond the basics unless they bring an interest to the world of wine and spirits already to the table. You have people in management who are more concerned if the employees are wearing their name tags and adhering to dress code rather than if they know the difference between a Bordeaux and a Burgundy.A clerk, who was knowledgeable and interested, could spend an hour with a customer discussing various wines and pairings and make a $1,000 sale and not receive any commission above and beyond there regular hourly wage. A manager could have a significant increase in sales at his or her store over a fiscal year and not receive any form of extra compensation or reward because of that success. Employees are rewarded for obeying all of the PLCB`s myriad amount of rules and policies that have been created. Any manner of creative thinking or "thinking outside the box" is rarely recognized or acknowledged.

Albert Brooks said...

Employee are more or less products of the system they work in. If the system sucks then pretty much the work force will too. Although, as you pointed out, there are exceptions.

Anonymous said...

There are good and knowledgeable people who work in the stores but the "system" and culture of working for a government entity does not allow them to fully develop their talents or allow them to flourish. Of course, here in Pennsylvania, there is no where else to go if you fancy a career in the world of wines and spirits as far as retailing goes. Ninety nine percent of what I learned as an employee I did on my own and continue to do so. There is perfunctory training that employees are required to take but very little beyond that. There is no regular and ongoing training for most employees unless perhaps you are one of the "wine specialists ". The stores are so understaffed that it would be practically impossible to have the clerks attend regular classes even if they were offered. Who would wash the windows,wax the floors,stock the shelves, wait on the customers,etc. if everyone was in class? I`m not making excuses but rather trying to educate the public on what it is like to actually work for the PLCB and what they have to endure for the sake of a paycheck and benefits.

Albert Brooks said...

Hummm, there are more employees now with 603 stores than there were when there were 756 stores.

Being a clerk in a state monopoly store is not exactly a "career" move so what else are you planning to do? PA doesn't exactly have liquor retailing jobs either since everything is controlled out of Harrisburg. If you want a retail career you have to go private sector just like everywhere else.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there ARE some alternatives to the PLCB for those who want to work in wine/spirits sales in PA. You have the private wineries and winery stores, religious wine stores (for example Bala Cynwyd has a Jewish wine/Judaica store), companies such as Southern Wine & Spirits (which is a supplier to the PLCB and has a warehouse in King of Prussia), and airport duty free stores.