First, the Commonwealth Foundation study about how Pennsylvania's liquor "control" system does nothing to make the state safer from alcohol abuse, drunk driving, or underage drinking (like I didn't know that already?!) has been all over the state newspapers. I got my comments here, on the PLCB blog, go read. Meanwhile, Virginia's governor-elect, Bob McDonnell, made privatizing Virginia's ABC stores (the state sells liquor; wine and beer are in private stores) part of his campaign platform, stressing the windfall. Maybe he should have talked more about how stupid and backwards it makes the state look, and what a pain in the butt it is? And North Carolina's legislature is considering an internal report that found the state's ABC store system is outdated and needs to change. I tell you: it's time to push, and push hard.
Second, the real problem with the PLCB is The Almighty Liquor Code, which needs a total re-write. That's exactly what Frank Cagle is calling for in Tennessee in his latest "Frank Talk" column in the Knoxville weekly Metro Pulse. Tennessee's liquor code, says Cagle, is too broke to fix. "Sometimes a thing has been patched so many times it’s better to throw it out and start over." One look at The Almighty Liquor Code will convince you that it's time to throw it out. The twisted, tangled lawyerese that it is written in damns it to constant tinkering. The PA Liquor Code should be scrapped, and rewritten, in simple language, with consumer oversight, as a model of simple common sense in alcohol policy. First thing to go? All such Repeal-era language as this, the opening justification for the Code:
for the protection of the public welfare, health, peace and morals of the people of the Commonwealth and to prohibit forever the open saloon, and all of the provisions of this act shall be liberally construed for the accomplishment of this purpose.Are you kidding me? In the trash with it, and we need never soil our minds with it again. An alcohol code should establish taxes -- of a reasonable level, based on pure alcohol content, not whether its wine, beer, or spirits -- a licensing facility for producers, importers, wholesalers, and retailers that benefits the state, not lawyers or speculators; provide rules for operation that are not based on moral or religious grounds, punishments for breaking those rules, and an enforcement procedure for dealing with this in a prompt manner; and puts the Commonwealth out of the booze business completely. Sheesh. How hard can it be?
In the New Dry section, there's this revamped informational site. It shows just the kind of inertial, pie-in-the-sky policy-driven stuff drinkers are up against; specifically, the continuing march of keg registration laws, after even the New Drys have admitted that they don't actually work. I'll say it again, for Google: Keg registration laws don't work, and PIRE confirms it. Why do 31 states have them? The same reason we got national Prohibition: someone thought it was a good idea, and would work, if only we had the whole county/state/country under control. Sorry. Turns out this one's wrong, too.
Finally, when 0.08 BAC laws were slammed through during the Clinton Administration, we were told that MADD -- the major supporter of the laws -- didn't want to go further than that, that they were not a prohibitionist group. True colors, folks: MADD Canada is recommending 0.05 BAC in Quebec. When do they stop?
So. Good, bad, interesting. That's the booze policy news this week.