Booze, public and private

This post isn't about discrete drunkenness (like Ron White's complaint when he was accused of public drunkenness:  "I didn't want to be drunk in public.  I wanted to be drunk in a bar.  They threw me into public").  Instead, it's about confusion over the best way to supply customers with the liquor they want (and are legally entitled) to buy and consume.  One way, long the norm in Pennsylvania, is to give the state a monopoly on liquor sales.  That approach avoids the evils of competition and ensures stable jobs for 5,000 public union members.  It also ensures that the number and size of stores will be entirely divorced from public demand, that prices and selection will be lousy, and that there will be a thriving smuggling operation across nearby state lines, which promotes the stability of a lot of jobs for public-union policemen.

So if the main purpose of the liquor-distribution system is to create public jobs, it's going splendidly.  But if the idea is to bring suppliers and consumers of liquor together in a mutually satisfactory way, things aren't so great.  Change is afoot, however:  Pennsylvania's state legislature is dominated by Republicans, who predictably are pushing a scheme to privatize the liquor stores.  Those nutty Republicans!  The idea is that people who want to sell alcohol will get together with people who want to buy it in stores at mutually agreeable prices, with competition among stores to attract interested buyers.  These anarchists want anyone who can get a heavily regulated liquor license to be able to sell any liquor they like to anyone who can prove he's of legal age.  Stores will be able to stock and sell any liquor they like, not just brands on the state's approved list.

The notion that any job losses by union workers would be more than offset by all the new, private liquor stores that would have to start hiring as they start their businesses from scratch and expand to fill the pent-up demand?  That's just crazy talk:
Most of the licenses under Turzai’s plan would go to Walmart, Costco, Target, and other big box and chain stores that would reallocate current shelf space and use their current employees to stock the shelves.  That’s just what happened in other states, and it would happen here.
Every time the private sector expands, it's sucking the life-blood out of the public sector, and besides, those private-sector employers are all about profit, which is the very antithesis of employment.

For those who aren't yet convinced that the Republicans' plan is a job-killer, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union is running an ad pointing out the substantive evils of the capitalist approach:   a 30-second spot that features the sad internal dialogue of a little girl who's just lost her father to a drunk driver.  This isn't as bizarre a line of argument as it sounds, considering the milieu.  According to Wikipedia,
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) . . . was established in conjunction with the 21st Amendment and the repeal of prohibition.  In 1933, just four days before the sale of alcohol became legal in Pennsylvania, the Board was officially organized.  Upon its creation, Governor Gifford Pinchot stated that the purpose of the Board was to "discourage the purchase of alcoholic beverages by making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible."
The private sector will never be able to match that performance.


Grim said...

"discourage the purchase... making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible."

Now I understand the Obamacare exchanges!

Anonymous said...

Minimum wage isn't a job it's borderline slavery. Doing away with good family substaining jobs and replacing them with part time minimum wage jobs with no benefits that's the "crazy" thing.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

NH goes at it the opposite way. The state liquor stores underprice our neighbors, who travel here to by cheap booze, and sometimes stay in a hotel or buy at an outlet while they're here. Remember that when you see studies showing that NH drinks more alcohol than MA, VT, ME - and QU, ON, CT, RI, NS, NB - we just sell it here. Very convenient at the toll plazas on the highway or right over the borders. It's one of the things we do well.

Texan99 said...

If the state wants to, it can just keep sending checks to the displaced workers. More honest that way, and it won't get in the way of liquor customers getting better service.

They can probably find other make-work for the cops, too.

Nicholas Darkwater said...

@Anonymous: one more time -- consult the Gods of the Copybook Headings.

Ymar Sakar said...

What is the point of giving liquor to slaves?

Perhaps as a way to motivate work production efficiency but other than that....