Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Free Market or Socialist PLCB - who makes jobs?

The Legislature continues to ignore the drag the PLCB puts on the economy. Every place that has fully privatized has tripled employment in the industry. A side benefit is that a free market allows entrepreneurs to open businesses that a controlled market, by its very nature, limits. Since over a third of the PLCB is already part-time the claim of losing 5,000 "family sustaining" jobs from privatization is blatantly false.

Just one example of that limitation in jobs is craft distilleries. In 2012, the first year that limited distillery licenses were allowed — years behind other states — Pennsylvania had four. Now, four years later, the state has about 50. In contrast, Washington State — with about half the population — has 86 (as of mid-July). Since privatization of the state liquor monopoly in 2012, Washington has added 51 distilleries, added jobs, added tax base. Slow old Pennsylvania has added 50 in the same amount of time — with twice the market, and our proximity to big markets in New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Maryland — an increase that should be well over 100, based on population ratios.

So what is holding things up? The PLCB's friends in the Legislature and the Almighty Liquor Code, of course. How many jobs, how much investment and taxes has the state lost because of the PLCB? Far more than the heavy hand has allowed in. What are we afraid of? Success? Money? Tax revenue?

While ACT 39 has added a few jobs (mostly in the PLCB hiring consultants to figure out how to implement it), there hasn't been the boon in employment full privatization would bring. No new warehouse jobs (union jobs!) that would be created by the formation of new distributors, because the state still controls wholesale. No new delivery jobs (more union jobs!) trucking wine and spirits to new stores, because there are no new stores, and besides, for the most part the PLCB doesn't deliver anyway. No new sales jobs because there still aren't any new stores. Poorer service because while private stores depend on good service for return customers, the state stores know you can't go anywhere else. Less selection because the PLCBureaucrats in Harrisburg are selecting the shelf stock for every single store for the entire state, instead of customer requests and demand, new product promotion, and American-style competition like how EVERYTHING ELSE  is sold in retail.

While the PLCB is a jobs program, it isn't a jobs program that benefits the citizens overall, just the lucky winners at the State Stores and warehouses. It benefits them by denying and disrupting the normal opportunity and jobs found in free and open markets.

If the Pennsylvania State Store System were really all that good...Well, think about it. 

  • They wouldn't be afraid of competition. 
  • Other places would be trying to emulate our system. What a ridiculous concept! 
  • The citizens wouldn't want change. They do.
  • Pricing would reflect buying power. Flexible pricing makes sure it doesn't.
  • Qualified people with industry experience would be making business decisions, not political hacks. 
  • People would come into Pennsylvania to buy; instead the state has the largest alcohol sales border bleed in the country.

We aren't safer, we aren't better served, and even with McIlhinney's four-bottle folly, we aren't satisfied. The only way to really satisfy the consumer is with a free market, not a closed system.


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