The Full Bar - all my pages

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Abolish that PLCB, I Said!

Two new posts up over at Why The PLCB Should Be Abolished.

First one is a new Reason, #14. It's simple: we put up with all this crap in the name of controlling the horrible damage of alcohol...and it doesn't work!

The second is a great local issue: the PLCB is closing the State Store in downtown Phoenixville -- without any regard to how that's going to affect the revitalization attempt, and without the consultation they effectively promised the borough government. PLCB to Phoenixville: Drop Dead.

Rise up, Pennsylvanians: throw off the -- no, just tell your state reps that the PLCB is an ineffective dinosaur that should be taken out back of the State Capitol and beaten to death with an empty whiskey bottle, at which point they could sell off everything it owns, and auction off shiny new liquor store licenses for lots and lots of cash -- er, I mean, state revenues, and put a serious plug in their budget hole.


J T. Ramsay said...

I'm pretty sure we have very different political points of view on this, but here's the thing: if they sell everything off, it's a one time cash infusion, whereas if they simply reformed the PLCB they'd have an ongoing revenue stream.

I think that I prefer the latter as it stands a better chance of keeping my taxes down over time than bailing out the state once.

Lew Bryson said...

It's not even politics. We can argue it strictly on money, because it's not really a privatization argument: this is something that most states already do with private industry, and have for decades. It's odd that Pennsylvania doesn't.

So, just money. There IS a one time cash infusion, and it's a huge one; it's been estimated as high as $1.1 billion, depending on how they do the license issuance.

But it doesn't have to go away. We can do the licenses RIGHT this time: non-transferrable, with a higher annual fee, and if the business is sold, the new owner has to pony up a big entrance fee to the state, not to the former owner. The state has created a market in bar/restaurant licenses, it has created the value...and it doesn't benefit. The time to fix that is in the beginning, and we'd have a unique opportunity to do that. That would be a steady income stream as licenses turn over.

There's also the taxes: they come in whether the state's collecting them or private businesses do, and they are about three times the 'profits' from the State Store System.

Then add in the taxes we'll get from all the sales we WON'T lose to out-of-state sales any more. If you think we're not losing those sales, with the state's major population center being right up against the NJ and DE line, you're nuts. Add in the income taxes from all the new businesses and employees -- the State Store System has about 2,300 employees at 630-odd stores, we should have about 1500 more stores for a state this size -- and you've more than made up the 'profits.'

Besides...if the State selling booze is such a great idea, how would you feel about letting them sell all the gasoline? Let's see...there'd be about 1,000 gas stations in the whole state, there'd only be regular, you could only get diesel on the interstates, and gas would cost more than in all the surrounding states... Not so good, eh? How about the State sells beer? Or groceries? Or Internet service!

I think your taxes are going to be much better off if we do away with the PLCB, and put its functions in other state agencies. Think of the money we'll save just on stationery!

J T. Ramsay said...

The gas station thing is a horrible argument. Their windfall profits in the last year alone are testament to that, especially when you factor in how little the average taxpayer benefited from those transactions.

What does seem silly is that Pa. hasn't found a way to take the regional competition out of it, but to be honest, I'm not that bothered by not being able to buy six packs. I happily plunk down my cash for a case or two at Bella Vista beverage. If I want a la carte, I walk around the corner to Memphis Taproom!

Lew Bryson said...

The gas station thing is a horrible argument. Their windfall profits in the last year alone are testament to that, especially when you factor in how little the average taxpayer benefited from those transactions.

I have no idea what you mean here. Are you saying it would be a good thing if Pennsylvania ran all the gas stations the way they ran all the wine and liquor business? You're not even talking about the main points any more; the case law wasn't part of this.

Try to stay focused and explain what you mean. Why is selling off the PLCB a bad idea? And how does one "reform" the PLCB?

Anonymous said...

Aw, come on Lew, the gas thing would work - they'd have the Chairman's Special Buys every once in a while.

Lew Bryson said...

Mmmm... Chairman's Select Hi-octane North Sea Brent Crude Refined, on sale today for only $3.78 a gallon, reduced from $3.81 a gallon by the PFCB's immense buying power!