Monday, April 22, 2019

As required by law......

There are numerous "newswires" available; the majority of them just reprint press releases from businesses. So and so got promoted, Corporation XYZ broke ground for a new building, that sort of stuff.

But in the insecure world of the PLCB, where every single scrap of good news is treated like a cure for cancer, we get crap like this, telling us that the PLCB gave back license fees to municipalities. That's a press release essentially saying "The PLCB is going to follow the law." It even says, right in the release, "As required by law." Imagine if the Department of Corrections put out press releases saying, "As required by law, inmates were released at the end of their sentence." Or if PennDot decided to let us all know, "As required by law, plow drivers will follow traffic signals."

Maybe the PLCB is trying to make up for all the news that's being reported by independent journalists about graft, nepotism, back door deals, lack of ethics, destroying evidence, shoddy record keeping, wine kiosks, Water Heater Joe, overcharging and variably screwing the citizens. I can think of better ways to do it, though. Here's one example for businesses to follow:
Can you imagine the PLCB actually doing this?
Now I'm all for transparency in Government. That's another reason I don't like the PLCB: they are the least transparent of any state organization. Want to find out how much the Department of Education paid for a chair? You can actually look at the bids, see who won, and what the bid was for those chairs. But if you want to find out how much the PLCB paid for that case of's suddenly become proprietary information. It wasn't before Act 39, and there is nothing in Act 39 that makes it proprietary; the PLCB just decided it was so. They say this is so Company A doesn't know what Company B is paying, and that makes negotiations fair.

That would be true in the open market...but not in a government-owned and operated monopoly. You see, it doesn't matter if either one of those companies know what the PLCB is paying them - they have nowhere else to go if they want to sell in Pennsylvania. Each product is a game of chicken between the PLCB and the supplier. The PLCB says, we'll only pay this much or we won't carry it, and the supplier says no, you'll  pay this much or you won't carry it.

So who blinks first? The PLCB, because they won't be providing what the consumer wants (even more so than now), or the supplier, who might lose overall sales? Add to that the knowledge that both sides know what a suitable substitute* would cost the PLCB, and you have price competition. The PLCB doesn't know if the price they paid for that substitute is equal to or above what the supplier they're currently negotiating with is willing to take and the supplier doesn't know if the price they are offering is above or below what the PLCB is willing to take. Of course, all that requires work and if done fairly, would benefit the consumer and so is antithetical to the PLCB way of doing things.

Remember: the Board members ultimately make the decisions about what you get to buy. They are political cronies with no experience in the liquor business; almost every one has been a lawyer with political connections. And you don't have any say in who they are. These aren't elected positions, and they aren't hires, subject to the civil service regulations. The one good thing you can say is that they aren't full time employees, so they can't screw things up 24/7.
The lack of qualified people on the Board is mostly the fault of the Governor - all of them since 1934. They could appoint people with industry experience...but they don't. Instead, they use the PLCB to pay back supporters, cronies, contributors, any non-qualified person they can find. And the legislature rubber-stamps them, which makes them culpable, too.

We need to change the system to something that works for the people. A system that allows freedom of choice, allows convenience, allows competition, and allows government to focus on regulation. We need privatization

*A suitable substitute is something that satisfies the consumers desire for a product or type of product. For example, Nikolai would be a suitable substitute for Vladimir vodka on the low end, and Ciroc for Grey Goose on the higher end.

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