Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The PLCB never leads only follows....sometimes even me.

We have been saying for years that the PLCB not only doesn't lead in ANYTHING. Because of the way they do things, they can only follow like sheep...or maybe lemmings.

By way of example... Way back in July of 2015, before the PLCB started a lottery to apportion their allocation of rare Van Winkle bottlings, I laid out how it would be done if I were running things. Here we are, 3 years later: let's see how the two compare.

They didn't follow my first idea: let the lottery commission handle the details. The PLCB decided they would rather reinvent the wheel. I like to think that maybe the lottery commission told them to take a hike. Why take chances? People like the lottery, they hate the PLCB.

I thought they should allow people a week to sign up. This year the PLCB gave people five days; a work week. It makes sense; management in Harrisburg doesn't work weekends. Heaven forbid they actually do something for the consumer like be open when the majority of people have time off to sign up and fill out lottery forms. What was I thinking?

It also made sense to me that everyone who signs up has to provide all their information up front:
ID -- Shipping and billing address -- credit card number (PA billing only accepted!). Get all that entered before making your picks and engaging in the lottery itself, since you're talking about a site that's been known to crash. Why risk having to enter your information again and again? They must have thought it was a good idea; they do exactly that.

My perfect lottery: a separate lottery for each item but with ALL the items on one page. That way people would just have to check the box to enter. Exactly what they did. I suggested limiting entries to one per person and that only one item could be won - they are doing that too.

Lastly I suggested that a verification code be sent with each approved lottery entry. This code would then be posted on the website so that people could check themselves to see if they had won something. We all know how many mistakes the PLCB makes just doing regular stuff and this would be another check on the system. They don't post any numbers on the website. I don't know if each entry has an internal verification code or not. I still think my way is better than what they are doing.
I wonder...
So there you have it. Did the PLCB take my freely given advice?  Did they hire an outside consultant to come up with mostly the same thing?  (The PLCB is big on consultants when they don't have a clue.) Did the lottery folks help them out?  We'll never know for sure, but you know what we think here at the blog. :)

Monday, November 5, 2018

What the PLCB does to Pennsylvania

Are we better off with the PLCB? Or is the PLCB causing active harm to Pennsylvania? It's not a set-up question, it deserves real consideration. When the PLCB claims credit, saying "We do all this good stuff," we should look at the claims and see if the "stuff" really is "good." Here are some of their top claims for good; see what you think.

1. PLCB prices are competitive.
In reality, this depends on what private store you compare them too but overall, according to the National Institute of Health, the average bottle of liquor cost just over $2.00 more in a control state than in a free state. And since this study was done before the PLCB started flexibly screwing us, it is probably more now. You don't wind up with real liquor superstores clustered on the border because they charge more.

2. The PLCB limits underage drinking.
When looking at the PLCB's own report (2017) Pennsylvania's underage drinking is at least 7% higher than the national average for grades 8, 10 and 12. What's worse, you can reasonably assume that the number is even higher since the two largest school districts did not participate - Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

3. The PLCB limits DUI's & DUI fatalities
Using information provided by Responsibility.Org we find that for:
Percent of Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities of Total Fatalities - NJ, MD and WV are lower than PA. NY is tied and Ohio (a control state) and DE are worse.
12-20 Year Old Binge Drinking in Past 30-days : PA only beats WV of the border states.
12-20 Year Old Past Month Alcohol Consumption: PA is only better than WV (barely) and NY
Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities per 100K population: PA is in the middle with 3 better and 3 worse.
Under 21 Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities per 100K population: Again, PA is in the middle.
There is no clear benefit from the PLCB's "control." It appears to have no effect.

4. The PLCB limits sales to minors.
According to Stacey Witalec, then Director of External Affairs at the PLCB: "... because our stores are not licensed establishments, BLCE does not perform compliance checks in them." Since they are never checked by an independent group, then claiming they are made of green cheese has as much validity.

5. The PLCB turns in (cue Donald Trump voice) Huuuuuge amounts of money every year. 
Despite the appearance given by the taxes which pass through the stores, and the "contributions" that are required by the General Assembly, the PLCB had $1.8 BILLION in liabilities in January 2018. They owe well over $230 million in pension debt. In 84 years only 3 times did they contribute over 0.3% of the budget.

6. The PLCB provides 5,000 family sustaining jobs.  

About 40% of the store workforce are part-time. If those jobs are "family sustaining," then something isn't right.

7. The people that select wine and spirits are highly knowledgeable.
Except none have the highest regarded certificates of excellence in their profession. You never hear or see Pennsylvania leading the way in new trends, cocktails, or liquors. They always follow.

8. The "Chairman's" programs are great deals.
Until you realize that most of these didn't sell well in the free market, where there is strong competition, which is why they are cheap for the PLCB to buy.

The PLCB is just a way to take money from you the citizens to keep their bloated, inefficient jobs program alive. They do nothing for the state and everything for themselves.