Monday, April 4, 2016

More PLCB convenience

On  April 16th, 2011 the PLCB increased convenience, affecting the 4,200 residents of Renovo and the immediate surrounding area, by closing the State Store in town. They decided it was much more convenient — for the PLCB, apparently — to have the residents drive a minimum of 55 miles round trip to the State Store in Loch Haven: the only State Store in all 900 square miles of Clinton County, the only State Store for all 40,000+ residents of that county. 

Of course, the PLCB has said they are "actively looking" for a replacement spot in Renovo. I'm pretty sure that after five years some lard-assed PLCB real estate drone could have walked to every building in Renovo and the surrounding area. So I have to question on how "actively" they are "looking," or if they are just "actively" running their mouth trying to obfuscate the fact they aren't really doing anything. Last year I suggested the empty store at 112 St. Clair Street and Third St. in Renovo, which has parking and a loading dock, but no one "actively" did anything, and now it isn't available.

So how fair is this? Let's look at it the PLCB Way. The Almighty Liquor Code favors quotas: so many bar and restaurant licenses for so many residents, so many beer distributors and importing distributors per so many citizens...that sort of thing. Once it was one "R" license (a 'bar license,' roughly) for every 1,000 citizens, now it is 1 for every 3000. Apparently we don't need as many restaurants with beer and wine anymore; when did that change? What about State Stores? 45 years ago, there was one store for every 15,608 citizens. As of today, there is one store for every 21,225 citizens. Population went up, number of stores went down a lot, almost 25% down. That makes it more convenient for the PLCB and their ever-increasing operating costs, but what about you?

Based on that current ratio, Clinton County should have two State Stores, but they don't, and after five years they still don't (and of course, they're still screwing around with where they're going to have that one store!). I have to give the citizens credit for being so patient. Looking at the U.S. average, Clinton County should have seven liquor/wine stores, and they probably would under privatization, despite what the PLCB and its lockstep lackeys in the Legislature keep saying about a vast booze desert in upstate if privatization takes place.
It's a simple proposition. Renovo has two area grocery stores, one area beer distributor, and three area drug stores. Do you think any of those would have liquor and wine if allowed? You bet they would, because they know how to run a business already. Would the selection be better than the State Store? I guarantee it, in writing, and I'll eat my computer if I'm wrong! I'm not worried, it's an easy bet. Any selection is better than what the PLCB is providing now in Renovo: zilch, squat, zero, nada, nothing.

As long as we have the police-enforced monopoly State Store System, there will be less service in rural areas, because only the with the featherbedding incompetence of an institutionally corrupt and directionless agency like the PLCB can a state-backed complete monopoly not break even with the only liquor store in town. Privatization will at least allow somebody to provide what the PLCB won't, or can't. Privatization will bring small stores, large stores, specialty stores, and CONVENIENT stores. Will they carry everything? Of course not, but they will carry more than a closed store or a store that currently doesn't exist. A win for Clinton County! 

You have to wonder why Clinton County's representative in the House, Michael "Mike" K. Hanna, consistently votes against privatization. Is it because of the tiny handful of votes represented by the employees of the State Store in Lock Haven and their families? ( Lock Haven for now, that is.) Or is it because he doesn't think his constituents can handle more than one liquor store? Or is it because he likes inconveniencing the thousands of tourists, hunters, and fishers that visit Clinton County every year, the hundreds of people who are working in the gas fields in Clinton, and the students (of legal age) and faculty at Lock Haven University? Because he does vote consistently against privatization (of course he does, he's the Democratic whip). If you live in Clinton County, why don't you ask him why he keeps voting against your convenience?

The PLCB vs. Real Business
Retail exists for the benefit of the consumer. The PLCB exists for the benefit of the people working at the PLCB. The consumer doesn't even enter into it, as admitted by the PLCB when they said they don't try to get the best pricing, they just pay whatever the producers ask. Now they say they want to "negotiate" as part of "modernization"; they aim to keep the difference between what they now pay and the lower price to maintain their bloated structure, not to lower prices for you and me. As if!

We deserve better. The State Store System had 82 years to prove their case, and the court of the public has said they failed. Just ask the people of Clinton County how well they are doing their job.


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