Apr 182011

The PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) has a monopoly on the sale of wine and spirits in the state.

“A monopoly is a grant of special privilege by the State, reserving a certain area of production to one particular individual or group.” – Ludwig von Mises Institute

Consequently, the following line from an article about PLCB’s plans to “modernize” laughably stupid.

“They also want lawmakers to let them create so-called ‘loyalty clubs,’ to offer customers discounts.”

How the hell can customers be loyal when there’s no competition?! Is this a case of Orwellian political newspeak or further evidence that the PA government is dominated by economic ignoramuses?

This nonsense has to stop. Abolish the PLCB!

Jul 092009

Just when I thought PA’s anal retentive control of alcohol sales couldn’t get any lamer, the Liquor Control Board produces this brain fart:

LCB uncorks novel sales plans

This is almost stupid beyond words. (Image horked from P-G article)

This is almost stupid beyond words. (Image horked from P-G article)

“The state Liquor Control Board, which is often the target of public criticism, wants to be more ‘customer friendly.’ On the heels of its largest sales year ever, the agency said yesterday it is moving forward with two new ways to sell wine to the public, through small boutique stores and machine dispensers.”

These goofy-looking kiosks would “vend white and red wines and would be located in supermarkets that don’t currently have LCB ‘one-stop shops’ within them, where both wine and liquor are sold”. Earth to PCLB: kiosks wouldn’t need to fill in for missing one-stop shops if grocery stores were not prohibited from selling alcohol themselves! It gets worse, though.

Continue reading »

Jun 242009

Brian O’Neill offers an alternative to a PA income tax increase:

Tax hikes? How about paring the Legislature?

“Senate Republicans will prevail in blocking this tax increase (which would run about $5 a week for a person earning $50,000 a year). But before they impose the only alternative, massive cuts in education and elsewhere, legislators need to share more of the pain they’re about to dish out.

“The Republican-dominated state Senate passed a bill last month that would cut legislative appropriations by more than 10 percent from current levels (from $332.2 million to $293 million), but that isn’t nearly enough. With 253 legislators, that still works out to $1.16 millionper legislator.That’s an unfathomable expense just to keep the chambers running.”

It cracks me up that Mr. O’Neill seems to think Republicans are primarily to blame, as if Democrats never waste money. That’s a topic for another post, though. ūüėČ

I’m not sure shrinking¬†the country’s second largest and second most expensive state legislature¬†would be enough to balance the budget, but it’d be a good start. How do we make it happen, though?

“The Pennsylvania Constitution allows no voters’ initiative to get a referendum on the ballot, and reducing the Legislature’s size requires a constitutional change. But all downsizing proposals have sputtered in Harrisburg largely because the lawmakers have no reason to believe they’ll be voted out if they don’t reform now.

“This ‘temporary’ tax increase, which Gov. Rendell says would last three years, provides the opening for the tedious process of changing the constitution. Call your state senator and representative and offer this simple advice: ‘Tax me? Cut you.'”

The electorate’s revolt against the 2005 pay raise ousted a lot of incumbants. Let’s hope similar gumption can not only unseat legislators but remove their seats as well!

Jun 242009

Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell wants to raise the state’s personal income tax by .5%. He calls the increase temporary.

“Citing the national recession and a growing state budget deficit, the governor called for the increase for the next three years, after which it would drop back to 3.07 percent.”

Riiiiiight. Is there any reason why I should believe Fast Eddie? Will the income tax increase be temporary and will it only be used to counter the deficit?

The Johnstown Flood Tax was supposed to be a temporary tax to help that town recover from a flood. It’s still in effect after 73 years and benefits discretionary spending via the general fund instead of flood victims. The Allegheny County drink tax¬†is supposed to be a temporary funding fix for Port Authority Transit. Due to PAT’s notorious mismanagement, though, the collected funds have not been disbursed. Worse yet, there’s no reason to believe PAT won’t perpetually need to be bailed out, so there’s no reason to believe it won’t be subsidized by the drink tax or some other nonsense. (BTW, the architect of the brain fart that is the drink tax,¬†Dan “The Tax Man” Onorato is running for governor. Look for¬†Mayor Luke “Opie” Ravenstahl¬†to grab onto Danny Boy’s coattails and follow him to higher political office.¬†Heaven help us.)

Thus, given Pennsylvania’s bad history with “temporary” taxes, the governor will have to forgive me if I take his promises with a saltlick block.

Jun 162009

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has some rather intrusive interventionist alcohol laws. Wines and spirits can only be sold in state stores and the distribution of beer is regulated tightly. Tentative efforts taken by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board in recent years have sought to expand the range of alcohol retailers in the state. These have included trial exceptions to Sunday sale laws and laws that currently forbid grocery stores and convenience stores from selling alcohol. However, either good intentions have met with entrenched bureaucracy or the PA Supreme Court is playing bad cop to the legislature’s good cop. To wit:

Court OKs beer to-go but Sheetz must also sell on-site

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to shake up the way beer is sold in the commonwealth yesterday, ruling that a Sheetz store in Altoona cannot sell beer to-go unless it’s also served for on-site consumption.¬†The court took a long drink from the state’s liquor laws and — more than a year after hearing arguments on the case — determined by a 5-1 vote that although the specific language is vague, the writers of the state’s laws on beer distribution did not intend for convenience stores to sell suds.”

I would like to see an end to PA’s bizarre relationship with alcohol sales, but I can respect ruling in its favor for the sake of rule of law. However, I’m not convinced that respect for rule of law guided this decision. What tipped me off:

“The [Sheetz] store began selling take-out six-packs in 2004 after the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board granted it an ‘eating place malt beverage license.’¬†The Malt Beverage Distributors Association objected, claiming that such licenses are meant for bars and eating establishments that primarily serve beer to in-house patrons — which the Sheetz did not do. The group argued that the store had become a beer distributor free of the state’s regulations that distributors sell only by the case or keg.”

Gee, we wouldn’t want to allow any new competition for the members of the Malt Beverage Distributors Association, would we?

Ain’t lobbying, favoritism, and collusion grand? :-/