Rum Is Still Being Demonized

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Pennsylvania
is one of about a dozen states where liquor sales are under the
absolute control of the state at both the wholesale and retail level.
This state monopoly (which features limited selection and convenience),
is universally despised by consumers, yet none seem angered enough
to take their revulsion of this Prohibition-era system one step
further, and growl at the state government itself.

One only has
to view the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s (PLCB) mission statement
to inhale the vile stench of government lies and Orwellian platitudes.
See
for yourself
. Here direct quotes from the government’s mouth,
followed by my interpretations:

“The mission
of the Liquor Control Board is to regulate the alcohol beverage
industry in a fair and consistent manner; provide the best service
to its customers through modern, convenient outlets, superior product
selection and competitive prices in a controlled environment; and
to provide factual information on alcohol and its effects through
a comprehensive alcohol education program.” Translation: We’ll
do what we want, sell you what we want, where we want, and teach
you all about alcohol because you’re too dumb to figure it out for
yourselves.”

“The Liquor
Control Board controls the manufacture, possession, sale, consumption,
importation, use, storage, transportation and delivery of liquor,
alcohol and malt or brewed beverages in the Commonwealth.” Translation:
We are central planners in the grand tradition of Josef Stalin.
Hope you like it.

“All bottle
sales of wines and spirits in Pennsylvania, with the exception of
sales by licensed limited wineries, are made through approximately
637 State Liquor Stores operated by the Liquor Control Board.” Translation:
In a state with 46,000 square miles and 12,000,000 people, you can
only buy bottles of liquor or wine at one of our “highly convenient”
outlets, each one serving, on average, an area of 72 square miles
and 18,838 people.

“Revenues from
the sale of wines and spirits cover the cost of merchandise sold
in the stores, all costs of operating the Liquor Control Board and
the cost of operating the Office of the Comptroller for the Board.
Additionally, these revenues fund the costs of the Pennsylvania
State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and provide funding
to the Pennsylvania Department of Health to support drug and alcohol
programs.” Translation: Liquor would cost you a lot less if you
didn’t have to pay these not-so-hidden taxes.

“Expanded customer
service has also resulted from passage of Act 212 of 2002, which
amended the Liquor Code to allow for… a two-year pilot on Sunday
sales in 10% of State stores.” Translation: If you’re very lucky,
you can buy a bottle of wine on Sunday now.

“Act 212 of
2002, along with Act 1 of 2003, allow for the sale of wine accessories
and trade publications, while Act 15 of 2003 provided for the sale
of liquor accessories.” Translation: We now graciously allow
you to buy a corkscrew with your wine, if you need one.

“The Board
licenses private establishments that make retail sales of alcoholic
beverages by the drink and regulates the sale of malt and brewed
beverages by licensing the distributors, restaurants, hotels and
clubs that sell these items.” Translation: Kiss our asses or
we’ll put you out of business.

“The Liquor
Control Board has established an important Nuisance Bar Program
to ensure the safety and security of our citizens…. If it is determined
that a licensed business has abused its license privilege and, through
its conduct or record of violations, demonstrates a pattern of activities
that threatens the health and safety of the local community, the
Liquor Control Board will refuse to renew its license.” Translation:
If your clientele makes any kind of ruckus, we’ll also put you out
of business.

Every so often
in Pennsylvania there’s a “let’s get the state out of the liquor
business” revival. The population is all for it, of course, but
nothing is ever done. It has been suggested (but not by the insipid
news media) that the PLCB is a “retirement home” for corrupt politicians,
which would neatly account for its invulnerability to abolishment.
Meanwhile, the consumer needs merely to drive to any neighboring
“free liquor” state to see the amazing difference in price and,
especially, selection, to understand why any state monopoly is inferior
to free-market capitalism.

December
3, 2005

Andrew
S. Fischer has worked in various fields.

Andrew
S. Fischer

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