Skip to main content

Do you think we should privatize our Liquor Stores here in PA? Did you know that the stores generate a guaranteed half Billion dollars a year to the Commonwealth?

Under privatization, Pennsylvania will surely have to create another bureaucracy just to collect tax revenue from all the many private retailers that will exist. Under the streamlined system we currently have, we don't have to chase our money, it's automatically there because PA handles the distribution and sale of our hard liquor and wine.

The pricing is kept low because the Commonwealth has sheer buying power on its side and is not looking to up profits every quarter. Here in this video you will see the toll just a few months of liquor privatization has taken on Washington State. This is not theory, this is what can very well happen in Pennsylvania.

We must also consider the 5,000 trained union employees that make a good living with benefits. They will be replaced with cheap labor that will contribute less to our tax base.

Who do you think will have to make up the difference in the budget gap created by losing that automatic half Billion dollars and the tax revenue generated from Wine & Spirit employees? It will come out of the rest of our pockets one way or another.

People must also consider the possible harm this could bring to the families of PA.

With less trained individuals watching over the sales, it will become easier for minors to get a hold of hard liquor and DUI rates and drunk driving deaths would surely rise.

This system has been in place for decades and has always worked for the greater good of the people. It is fiscally and morally responsible to keep these sales with the Commonwealth.

Originally posted to Todd Farally on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 07:11 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Um (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rb608, varro, Neuroptimalian

    Mormon Republicans write pretty much the same thing about Utah's wacky liquor laws.

    Privatized liquor just means that corporate crooks have to steal from other corporate crooks and not from taxpayers.

    •  I've lived in Utah... (5+ / 0-)

      and now live in PA: there's no comparison between the state liquor store systems.

      In PA, the system is not Byzantine (as it is in Utah) since it's not designed to keep people from getting alcohol. It is, in fact, able to provide relatively good selection at relatively low prices, for the simple reason that it is the single largest liquor buyer in the country. Those who run the state store system clued in to this a few years ago and now they use that leverage to negotiate good prices from those corporations who produce the products they carry. It's not about stealing from the taxpayers at all; it's actually an excellent deal for PA taxpayers.

      Plus, there's that giant chunk of revenue the state makes that goes back into the public coffers rather than off into private hands.

      I know that Utah's system is terrible, but please don't think that's the way it is everywhere.

      Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

      by Stwriley on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 08:08:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  PA liquor store (or state stores as we used to (5+ / 0-)

        call them) have to keep their prices low especially in the eastern part of the state because of NJ.

        For many years people would go to NJ to buy alcohol because it was cheaper in their private stores. Also the selection in PA was abysmal. There were no shelves of products to choose from. You went to a counter and told an employee want you wanted from a limited list of choices.

        Several years ago the state wised up and redesigned the stores to look like regular retail establishments and the selections improved especially for wines.

        Really don't know how the pricing stacks up to NJ now. Another fact is that the state run stores and the taxes and revenues were originally set up to pay for the damage caused by the Johnstown flood in 1889. Think they've made repairs by now?

        Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

        by auapplemac on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:03:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I lived in NYC for twenty years (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Neuroptimalian, Roadbed Guy

          before returning to PA.  I could find the exact same wine/liquor in midtown Manhattan cheaper than at the PA-owned liquor stores.

          (BTW, people go to Maryland for cheap booze/wine, too.)

          The state never should have been in the liquor business...I think this is a relic of the repeal of Prohibition.

          To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

          by Youffraita on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:18:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  State Stores in PA go back even further. Were (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Stwriley

            set up to pay for damage caused by the Johnstown Flood in 1886.

            Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

            by auapplemac on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:54:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Suppose you want to get some liquor... (0+ / 0-)

          ...for the Stillers game n'at.  Those jagoffs are mostly closed on Sunday!

          9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

          by varro on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:32:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  prices are lower in NJ and in DE (0+ / 0-)

          PA residents who are making significant purchases of booze (for example, for large parties or end of the year holiday events) tend to drive to neighboring states like NJ and DE to buy their liquor to save money (even after the toll to NJ and the gas).  Some restaurants in Phila do the same - even though it is not legal.  Saves the restaurant so much money to buy in NJ that they are willing to take the risk.  Being in the liquor retail business is not a role for government.  Almost every other state in the nation has learned that.

          •  Yes and no... (0+ / 0-)

            NJ isn't necessarily lower anymore (since the PA system figured out it's buying power), it all depends on what you're buying (I've lived in Philly for 25 years, so I'm pretty familiar with how it was and how it is now.)

            DE is no fair comparison, since they're operating on a whole different tax structure (i.e., no sales tax and low excise taxes on alcohol) so of course their prices are lower. The state also gets very little directly out of those sales; almost everything flows into the pockets of the stores, many of which are large, multi-state chain operations rather than local mom-and-pop stores (especially on the border where people from other states go.) In 2005 (the last year I could find figures for) DE only netted 13.8 million dollars from the excise taxes on alcohol. Compare that to the almost half billion dollars the PA system brings in to the public coffers and you can see why a lot of us here in PA are less than satisfied with this privatization effort.

            Restaurants (and the general public) also now have to option in PA of buying directly and legally from producers or even retailers in other states by direct shipment. That pretty much solved the availability problem and spurred the state stores to do even better. They will also order anything you'd care to get; all you need to do is ask. The problem is that it actually is good for the state as a whole that it is in the liquor business. Too bad some of our citizens would rather save a few pennies and screw their own state.

            Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

            by Stwriley on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:13:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Notice how they mention how... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neuroptimalian, Youffraita

      .....the archaic state store system "prevents DUIs" without any statistics comparing Pennsylvania to other states.

      You would think that California was a war zone, with drunks careering all over the place after getting liquor on SUNDAYS at BevMo....but the reality is the opposite; Pennsylvania has a DUI death rate significantly higher than California.  

      California statistics.
      Pennsylvania statistics.

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:31:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I instantly thought of Washington state when I (6+ / 0-)

    first read your title.  I don't live in Washington, but just south in Oregon so I heard about all the promises that privatizing would reduce prices because of that 'free market competition' bullshit.

    Don't let the private retailers trick you too Pennsylvanians, your spirits will be raised, but not in a good way.

    Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. Carl Sagan

    by sjburnman on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 07:28:33 PM PDT

    •  As a resident of Olympia (10+ / 0-)

      I can say

      People had sticker shock when the grocery stores started selling liqour. The first thing the private sellers did was blame the liquor tax. The same tax they touted during the initative as replacing the revenue that the state stores had generated.

      Contrary to the common talking points government can be and often is more effcient than private business

      •  see also Waste Management. (6+ / 0-)

        A few years ago, Waste Management in Oakland locked-out its workers over a contract dispute.  For those who don't know, a lock-out is the management equivalent of a strike: they shut down the company even though the workers are ready to go to work every day.  Waste Management was attempting to put the torque to the Teamsters, who represent their workers.  

        So for weeks, in the summer, Oakland's refuse went un-collected and piled up on the streets, causing a public health hazard.

        Meanwhile, Berkeley, which has a city Public Works department, with union workers (presumably also Teamsters), kept right on chugging along, emptying the bins every week.  Clean streets, no piles of garbage, no public health hazards.  

        The only way for privatization to "work", in the sense of saving money for a city (or a state or the federal gov) is for the company to squeeze wages & salaries.  Think of this: both a private company and a gov agency have the same costs for all other factors of production: materials, equipment, rents, overheads, etc.  And both have access to modern management methods that improve efficiency.  The only way to "save money" for the taxpayers, while earning profits for the shareholders, is to squeeze the workers.  No thanks.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 08:12:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          auapplemac, Neuroptimalian

          The private company has an incentive to increase productivity because it increases profits, while the gov't run services have no such incentive.

          I remember being in Philly and union rules mandated that the crew patching potholes have at least 5 workers.  In Phoenix, they outsourced and the trucks had 2 workers and got more repairs done.

          •  But how long do the patches last? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek

            Seeking out the lowest bidder is not always the best course, if quality has to suffer.

          •  so now there are three unemployed workers... (0+ / 0-)

            .... for each crew, and that becomes an externalized cost that society pays for in some way.  

            Is that really better?

            No, it's not.  

            It's sweeping the cost under the rug.

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:51:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not so (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              johnny wurster

              No, you've got three workers doing something else - and you've got more production -- hence, more goods and services are produced.

              Using your logic, we should have 20 on a crew - 2-3 to do the work and 17 to do...something.

              Just because it is a gov't job or an outsourced job doesn't mean you want featherbedding.

              •  "doing something else?" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                marina

                Like what, exactly?  

                Almost every task that calls for general laborers has been mechanized and automated to the point where the workers who used to do it are on the unemployment lines.  

                If you're proposing "something else," it's on you to say what it is.

                All the municipal featherbedding in the world doesn't come close to the impact of the obscene "bonuses" paid out in the form of private-sector cronyism.  

                And at least those extra laborers won't crash the economy and put your house underwater.  

                "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 07:37:46 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Two wrongs make a right? (0+ / 0-)

                  So what you're saying is because of corporate greed at the CEO level - which has been so good for the country - we should also support featherbedding on gov't projects driving up their costs?

                  You can hate obscene executive pay, but I don't see how it justifies support for other bad ideas.

    •  Washington's Walmart Liquor law (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      renzo capetti, sjburnman

      The new law in Washington was written to ONLY allow liquor sales in LARGE (more than 10,000 sq.ft. I believe) stores.

      This was supposed to prevent 'liquor stores on every corner' according to the legislation writers..... bwahaaaaa......   the law was written by Walmart lobbyists specifically to LIMIT competition from small stores and give LARGE stores a near monopoly.

      Another example of how laws are written to favor certain corporations - instead of encouraging competition and REAL free market capitalism.

      Both consumers and liquor companies are NOT happy with the end result.

      Life isn't fair but you should try to leave it fairer than you found it.

      by xrepub on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:57:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We went throught this issue in Virginia (7+ / 0-)

    McDonnell ran for governor on the promise to privatize Virginia's ABC stores.  In theory I could get behind the right privatization scheme, the ABC stores in VA are small with poor selection and far higher prices than in neighboring DC.  Many in Northern VA make booze runs to DC to restock their supplies or to get decent stuff that is not carried by VA's ABC stores.

    However McDonnell's plan was a boondoggle from the start and wouldn't have gotten us better liquor stores -- instead it was a plan to have mass market hooch sold at Wal Marts and other big box stores, shutting out mom and pops.  Also there was no plan to replace the revenue lost from his privatization scheme.

    This farce did not even make it out of committee in Richmond despite GOP control of the house of delegates.

    I no longer work in downtown DC so it's a bigger deal to get booze from DC these days.  I stick to beer and wine -- that you can get at local stores for a good price.

    •  Well, that's the thing: (0+ / 0-)

      I support privatizing liquor stores in PA b/c I've lived where private stores mean lower prices -- there are several things you can find much cheaper in midtown Manhattan than here in PA; booze is only one of them.

      But I would not want the privatization to be made under our teabag governor.  (Don't blame me: I voted for the other guy.  But it was the 2010 election...sigh.)

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:23:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I disagree. In fact, I'd say hogwash. (13+ / 0-)

    1.  Wine and spirits are more expensive in PA than they are in NJ, De, NY and Mass.  In fact, I once had an imported wine distributor complain to me that PA keeps prices too high, which screws up their price points.

    2.  The people who work in the specialty wine stores that I have had contact with don't know shit about wine, including the wine they sell.  They don't deserve to make more than typical retail salaries.

    3.  The selection of wine is poor compared to other states with better prices.

    Think about it.  Why would people drive to NJ or DE specifically to buy wine if 1-3 above were not true.  I make a point of stopping at a great place in MA just off 91 when I go up to New England to stock up on wine.  Huge selection, great prices and knowledgeable people who have never failed me in their recommendations.  That's about as far from the PA State Stores as you can get.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 07:41:53 PM PDT

    •  "They don't deserve to make more... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stwriley, shanesnana

      .... than typical retail salaries"...?

      Uh, no.

      Progressives support union workers, earning middle-class wages & salaries.

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 08:06:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, we are getting it backwards. (5+ / 0-)

        Progressives support unions because unions raise salaries.

        We don't support high salaries just to help a particular union -- especially not with taxpayer money.

        The golden age of Unions was when unions would make their gains at the expense of the profits of private shareholders. That is the sort of thing we need to support.

        Just randomly handing out public sector raises -- especially undeserved ones -- is unsustainable and makes us look bad.

        (I am just talking about unions and progressives in general. I don't know much about the particulars in PA. But I was dissapointed on a recent trip when a PA State Store didn't have Old Overholt. The stuff was invented in PA!)

        •  chicken and egg. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ManhattanMan

          We support unions because they improve wages/salaries and working conditions.  Unions improve (etc.) and so they gain our support.

          We're not talking about raises here but their opposite: cutting pay and benefits.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:54:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  My point is that if they are getting paid as (0+ / 0-)

        employees "trained" about wine and spirits, but in fact don't know much of anything about them, then their pay should reflect that.  In other words, instead of paying them as if they have special knowledge and can advise people about their products, they should be paid like stockroom workers and cashiers, which they are.

        I have no problem with unions - indeed, I support them - or with their attempts to get the best pay and benefits for their members, including stockroom workers and cashiers.  What I object to is paying them as if they were doing more than that.  

        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

        by accumbens on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 06:59:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  accumbens - its hard to think that state stores (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita, johnny wurster, accumbens

      could compete on price, selection and convenience of private distribution of wine, beer, and spirits. California is a big state and I imagine we have thousands of retail outlets for liquor, some high end, some low end and some middle.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 08:36:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They don't even TRY to compete. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        accumbens

        The state keeps the prices artificially inflated.

        This is also true for milk prices, btw: the floor price is set by the state.

        PA is really a horrible state.  Anyone know where I can get a job in, say, Maryland or NJ?

        To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

        by Youffraita on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:26:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know if it's still true, but PA is/was the (0+ / 0-)

        single largest purchaser of wine and spirits in the world.  You'd think with that kind of purchasing power, their prices would be the lowest.  They clearly aren't.

        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

        by accumbens on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 06:50:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  As a Marylander close to the state line, (10+ / 0-)

    I can tell you that the liquor prices at the PA State Stores is ridiculous compared to MD.  If you're happy with that, it's okay with me.

    You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ. (and donate to Bill!)

    by rb608 on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 07:48:26 PM PDT

    •  *smooch* (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rb608

      Thanks for articulating it so well.  As a Pennsylvanian north of MD, all I can say is: is anyone hiring near you?  I hate this place but am rather fond of Baltimore.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:28:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am a NYer but I visit Philly often (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita, rb608, skohayes

      Not only are the prices higher but the selection of brands is terrible.  We always do a run to Delaware or to NJ for wine and spirits when we are in Philly.

      PA is losing a lot of liquor sales (aka tax revenues) to neighboring states, at least for towns and cities near the border.

      "A pride of lions" "A murder of crows" "A wunch of bankers"

      by Glinda on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:32:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ya know what they do? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rb608

        State police go to other states in unmarked cars, look for buyers with PA plates, follow them across the state line, and bust them for buying liquor/wine from outta state.

        Not kidding.  They've been doing this since I was a child.  And they're still doing it.  Big liquor store in Maryland?  Guaranteed there's a state cop, undercover, looking for PA plates to report back.

        PA is entirely corrupt, and corrupted completely everywhere the GOP has an edge.

        To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

        by Youffraita on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 01:01:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's true (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rb608, johnny wurster

          I lived far enough from the border that making a cross state run didn't make sense.  But, what I would do was when I was passing through NJ/De I'd make an obligatory stop and load up.

          To avoid undercover cops I'd always drive around the back roads for ten minutes and/or make another stop so the odds of a cop waiting for me across the 202 line was minimal.

          But, I certainly know of people who have gotten  nailed and it is a big, big fine.  Makes sense because foreign Pinot Grigio goes to the heart of law and order.

        •  There was a big stink about that a long time ago. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnny wurster

          MD store owners were complaining about the PA cops hurting their business, so MD had their cops bust the PA cars for loitering if they caught 'em staking out a MD store.  All of that drama has been quiet lately though.

          You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ. (and donate to Bill!)

          by rb608 on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 03:36:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Great use of the taxpayer's dime! (0+ / 0-)

          I say it's time to abolish the PA state store and get that alcohol tax bureaucracy  started!

          "A pride of lions" "A murder of crows" "A wunch of bankers"

          by Glinda on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 07:03:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  WA just privatized liquor sales (4+ / 0-)

    and lo and behold, the price of liquor - at stores and in bars - soared.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 07:55:59 PM PDT

  •  How much revenue does the state lose.... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dhonig, auapplemac, varro, Glinda, skohayes

    ...under the current system where most folks who live within 1/2 hour of a state border drive to the next state over to buy liquor? I know several Philly residents who make their booze runs in Delaware because they don't want to pay state store prices.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 08:12:12 PM PDT

    •  You do know (4+ / 0-)

      that the DE border isn't right next to Philly, right? It's at least a 20 minute drive (in the best traffic conditions) each way from the most southern point of Philadelphia.

      With fuel prices the way they are it is cheaper to just buy from the Wine and Spirit Shop if you live in Philly proper. Perhaps these people you know live in the southern part of Delaware County.

      But it is not cost effective to drive from Philadelphia all the way to DE and all the way back for some booze. And I do live in Philly and grew up in Delaware County, so I'm not just pretending like I know what I'm talking about.

      •  No, but you can get to NJ just over the bridges. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Youffraita, Glinda

        Believe me, I remember 30 years ago people driving to NJ for cheaper liquor and a better selection. Today, if you buy in quantity, the gas prices don't really matter. Many wine buyers buy by the case. BTW, people even drive to NJ for cheaper gas.

        Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive. And... It’s the Supreme Court, stupid!

        by auapplemac on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:12:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You're right the other 42 states are bonkers (10+ / 0-)

    I've lived in Pennsylvania most of my life.

    Honestly, tell me these rules make sense.

    If you want liquor or wine you have to buy it from a "State Store".  The price is the same in every store in the state (high) and if you want a special order you effectively have to become a criminal and go across state lines in order to buy it in NJ/Delaware and then bring it home.

    Of course it's much cheaper in Delaware, but that's not important because......anyway.

    If you want beer the fun really begins.

    You can go to a "beer distributor" which sells beer, but only by the case.  No six pack sales permitted.

    Or you can go to a bottle shop, usually a pizza shop or something like it and buy a six pack -- or a 40 - prices are often extremely high say $7 for a six pack of Bud.  A six of Sam Adams probably runs you $9.  So you think, you're ready to buy your beer.

    Not quite.

    You can only buy 192 ounces at a time - or the equivalent of 16 twelve oz cans.  Which means the most you can get is 2 six packs.  

    Want more?

    Technically, you have to go elsewhere.  But, in reality all the stores allow you to take your beer to your car.....and then come back and  buy more.

    So I see your point, this system makes perfect sense and it's not like we require every store in the Commonwealth to check ID on cigarette and dip sales.  And it's not like the stores that would sell the booze are already paying sales tax to the state....oh wait.

    Yup, clearly Pennsylvania is right and the 42 other states that allow grocery stores to sell liquor don't have a clue.

    •  I couldn't agree more (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, jayden, auapplemac, Youffraita, varro

      You've hit the nail on the head.  It's about convenience and selection.  Add to that they artificial limit on the number of restaurants that can serve alcohol, but somehow I doubt they are going to change that anytime soon.  No one in good faith can defend the liquor system in PA as sane.

    •  Not since Wegman's came to the area (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini

      they figured out that you can create a pub, separate the sales of beer and sell singles and sixes for reasonable prices unlike the gouging at the bottle shops.

      So it is convoluted but I think that Wegman's actions will eventually force changes - at least for beer.  And that can be done with probably a good deal of support form distributors.  They would get to capture more business by offering singles and mixed cases etc.

      Of course, in the meantime, I will still buy by the case from the most excellent Beer Yard.

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:03:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In NY, Wegmans is (0+ / 0-)

        spearheading the effort to sell wine in grocery stores and has, in the meantime, danced around the state laws that do not allow an entity to own more than one liquor store. If they get their wish, they will put a large number of wineries (since the large grocery chains and big box stores will most likely limit their stock of NY wines) and small businesses (since the liquor stores benefit so greatly from being the exclusive seller of wine in the state). As much as I like the convenience of being able to buy a bottle of wine at a grocery store, I realize that all I see are CA wines, when NY wines are, in many cases, just as good.

    •  Ain't that the truth. (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks, Catalyst65.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:30:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the PA (bizarre) law on sales of beer resulted (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster

      in part from the fact that for many years the chairman of the state senate committee that had jurisdiction over the law was - ta da! - a wealthy beer distributor.  He kept the law to favor his beer distributor business - and his fellow GOP legislators (and most Dems) went along with it.  [You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.]  Even much of the deep South has more sensible liquor laws than PA - on beer and on spirits/liquor/wine.  And the selection really is poor.

  •  I live in Philly. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanesnana

    I like our State system. I see no reason to change it and there is good reason to keep it. You cannot get things like Polish Honey Liquer, but the price of Yellowtail is good.

    I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

    by CherryTheTart on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 08:27:22 PM PDT

  •  Privatize now (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, auapplemac, varro, Youffraita, skohayes

    PA's laws are inane. The selection of fine wine is "Chateau Fuque Eu" and "Chateau I Said 'Fuque Eu.'" It's overpriced. Knowledge in the wine and liquor store is functionally non-existent.

    Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Palate Press: The online wine magazine.

    by dhonig on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 08:41:41 PM PDT

    •  Some times you can find a place with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      auapplemac, greengemini

      a reasonably knowledgeable clerk.  Other times - no way.

      But I think a more frustrating problem is that you might find a wine at a decent price in PA.   And you take it home and when you get to drinking it you think to yourself - gee I'd like more of that wine.  You go back to the same store and the wine is gone, never to be seen again.

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:09:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you think this is because it is a state store (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shanesnana

        I have never been to a PA state store. But do you think every clerk at Safeway or Walmart is going to be knowledgable on wine. Do you think that Costco won't change their inventory?

        •  Have you ever been to NYC? (0+ / 0-)

          There are some large wine stores, and there are small specialty shops.  ALL of them have better prices and a much better selection than here in PA.

          And if you get lucky, you live near a place where the owner is very knowledgeable about wine and can ask you what your price range is and what kind of quality you want (I said I wanted a dry, fruity red for about ten bucks) and steer you to the best ten dollar dry but fruity red you've ever tasted.

          That never happened to me yet in a state store.

          To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

          by Youffraita on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:36:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No, (0+ / 0-)

          but I would not be inclined to buy wine in a grocery store or Costco (and will not shop Walmart for any reason) and would like an option to purchase from a wine store.  As for inventory change I would expect some change however my point is that PA does get some good wines at a decent price but you will see that wine (or even the vineyard) once.  It is part of their buying strategy that drives it.  So while you will see the "Yellow Tails" but if you find a nice wine for under $15 it will disappear and you will not see it again.  

          "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

          by newfie on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 04:02:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Don't forget the intelligent.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita

      ...warehousing system, where wines from NW Pennsylvania have to be trucked down to Pittsburgh, then back up to Erie to be sold locally.

      And if you want to get a bottle of wine for dinner on Sunday - most state stores are conveniently closed!

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:19:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Disagree (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auapplemac, varro, Youffraita

    I'd be all for privatization if I was still in PA. Since I'm not, I don't much care anymore. But the private sale of liquor is one of my favorite parts of living in Texas. Not to mention, not having to go to a stupid beer distributor for beer. PA's laws regarding alcohol are completely asinine. I say privatize away. But hey, I don't care. If you're happy with the state stores, good for you. I bet you're in a minority.

    Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

    by Chrislove on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 08:56:26 PM PDT

  •  As long as the state runs liquor stores, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita

    it also has to--by law--run audits on the stores, so there is actually an additional bureaucracy hidden behind the liquor business that has to be paid for from the profits of the business.  Getting government out of the liquor business would decrease bureaucracy.  Grocery stores already collect and pay sales tax, so that would require no additional bureaucratic mechanism.

      Also, with stocking selections made by individual stores, rather than the statewide warehouse, product diversity might start to look like any other state in the union other than Utah.  Plus, if wine and liquor vendors can sell stock directly to the stores, rather than on consignment until it is moved from the state warehouse to the store--which often takes a full year--more vendors would be willing to sell to Pennsylvania stores, also dramatically increasing the selection available to the shopper.

      Government should be in the business of building roads and educating our children, but not selling liquor.

    Socialist? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    by Kimbeaux on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:20:04 PM PDT

    •  The situation may have improved a bit (0+ / 0-)

      since I was in college, but I remember one evening when we went to the state store and bought a bottle of wine.  Got home; it had turned.  Took it back ("It was once a wonderful wine; alas, now it is vinegar") and exchanged it for another bottle of vinegar; then exchanged that for a less interesting bottle of mediocre wine.

      That episode convinced me that the state had NO concept of how to store decent wine.  Swill -- that they know what to do with.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:46:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Privatize Now! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, varro, Youffraita

    PA has some of the dumbest liquor laws in the nation, combining the worst aspects of East Coast Nanny State and Appalachian Baptist Prohibitionism.

    I really don't care about wine and spirits, but I do know that PA's laws for beer are just silly, benefit beer distributors at the expense of consumers, with poorer selection and higher prices. Beer you can get for cheap in Ohio, MD or NJ cost more in PA and many brands aren't available at all due to the strange retail laws.

    Government has no business being directly involved in the alcohol trade. Its role should be to tax and actively regulate - breaking up monopolies, protecting workers and consumers, and encouraging new businesses to enter the market.

  •  I thought Prohibition ended in 1933, and the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    varro

    Puritan Era ended in the late 1600's.  Yet you wouldn't know judging from some liquor laws.  There is still this pervasive attitude in America that alcohol is a sin as opposed to just another product.  We still have places with clunky state-run systems and limited selection and even more limited retail outlets.  That's why people in Maryland cross state lines and buy liquor in DC.  As one poster remarked above: this is one thing Texas does right.  PA and MD should be more like TX in regard to liquor retail.  

  •  When I was in New England I was amazed at (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    varro

    how clean, fast, and not expensive hard liquor was in states that had the state in charge of hard liquor sales.

    Here in Texas the hard liquor stores are all over most poor areas with signs that say "discount liquor", lowest price, etc. BUT... The all sell at the same price within pennies. Texas makes it easy on corporations (They are people too, you know.) but doesn't care about the damage done to society, just tax income and lobby kickbacks.

    Conservatives supported slavery, opposed women’s suffrage, supported Jim Crow, opposed the 40-hour work week, the abolishment of child labor, and supported McCarthyism. from 'It's The Conservatism, Stupid' by Paul Waldman July 12, 2006

    by arealniceguy on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:43:38 PM PDT

  •  NO. Just no. (0+ / 0-)

    Your stores ripped off my dad when he owned a restaurant, and would consider Patty and Selma from The Simpsons as "too helpful to customers".

    People mention the Washington state privatization scheme, but that's an example where another special interest group rigged the ballot measure to give extra revenue to distributors.

    Get rid of the distributors; allow Costco and Target to deal directly with Brown-Forman, Diageo, et al.  Then you'll see fair prices.

    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

    by varro on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:24:48 PM PDT

  •  there appears to be a large majority here in favor (0+ / 0-)

    of privatization of PA state liquor stores.  The GOP is firmly on board with this, but the Dems continue to mostly oppose it, despite the fact that most PA voters also want the benefits of privatization - lower prices, better selection, convenient store locations and hours, etc.  The Dems probably lose a number of votes on this from small business owners - mom and pop restaurants and bars, etc.

  •  people's agenda should encompass improvements (0+ / 0-)

    To functioning systems, not abandonment to vultures and misers.
    State stores could up their game some if the legislature and gov started to help it materialize.
    Just like the
    U.S. Senate: it could work well
                          if members all wanted it too.
    But the privatization model ruined it in a lot of ways.
    And the privatization of elected officials and candidates is doing great dangerous harm across the country.
    You want to replace something that serves the people, then their well being must be paramount in the alternative design.
    It would be a sin to dismantle the State stores like the schools and the roads and the prisons and the democracy for lack of imagination and loyalty and tolerance and respect and fair dealing in favor of scorched earth greed hyprocisy.

    Republicans Make Our Lives Miserable. Drop Them.

    by renzo capetti on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 05:35:42 AM PDT

  •  This one is a bit of a head scratcher . .. . (0+ / 0-)
    Under privatization, Pennsylvania will surely have to create another bureaucracy just to collect tax revenue from all the many private retailers that will exist.
    so, if a whole bunch of businesses were shut down in PA, the state would save a bunch of money and that'd be a good thing?

    or, if PA were like most states, there'd be some type of electronic system in place to keep track of this type of thing without the need for a massive new bureacracy . . .

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site