While it’s widely accepted by consumers that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and its liquor stores here in Pennsyltucky are just awful - heck, there’s even a blog devoted to abolishing it - it’s rare to have the many reasons for its suckage summarized as nicely as in Philadelphia Weekly’s cover story this week. Did you know the the city of Chicago has more wine and spirits stores than the entire STATE of Pennsylvania? There’s more.
The article addresses in detail the usual PLCB suspects - the funky back-door deals, the stupid wine kiosks, the workers’ union and, of course, the money:
“Even if the LCB’s safety and discount arguments are empty, its money pitch is about, well, the money. Spokesperson Nick Hays reports that the state system contributes “between $400 and 500 million to the Treasury every year.” Half a billion dollars is a big nut, and at first, it seems to justify the system. But most of that cash comes from state and local taxes LCB stores collect on the government’s behalf, like the state trusts every retail store in the state to do. Strip the taxes away, and you’re left with the true worth of the state system to the public coffers. A 2008 audit of the system shows the true contribution to the state’s general fund as just $80 million. In state government terms, that’s a small number—barely a rounding error on the Commonwealth’s $59 billion budget.”
And then there’s this:
“The LCB is also guilty of some questionable business decisions, which throw doubt on its claim to be securing maximum returns for taxpayers. The LCB is halfway through a $3.7 million ‘rebranding’ contract with the Landor and Associates consulting firm. A rebranding exercise is odd, since, as a monopoly, the state has no other brands to compete against. It also has an entirely captive customer base, who is threatened with jail if they take their business elsewhere.”
It’s a good read.