PLCB Annual Report: I Read it So You Don’t Have To!

This week, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board released its annual report. In case reading a 56-page government document isn’t in your weekend plans, here are my notes:

  • Their stated vision is to “be recognized as the best-in-class wine and spirits retailer, distributor and regulator in the United States.” Practically speaking, the highest goal of the PLCB is to be better than Utah, it’s only competition.
  • Of the $512 million transferred to the Treasury, a whopping 83 percent was simply tax revenue. Private stores would generate that same amount and more in taxes as outlets arise.
  • Our tax dollars funded 20,594 radio commercials and 6,181 TV commercials. To advertise alcohol. In a monopoly.
  • The PLCB boasts of newly-created “wine specialist” positions to “answer consumer wine pairing questions, provide product knowledge and help to educate other staff members.” Wine specialists now serve most Premium Collection stores, which number only 75 out of the 604 PLCB stores. So the boast is that roughly 10 percent of state wine & liquor stores have a wine expert in the store.
  • Future plans include rebranding all 604 wine & liquor stores. What does “rebranding” mean? For one, changing the name of Wine & Spirits stores to “Fine Wine & Good Spirits.” Additionally, new floors, new shelving, new “color schemes” and lots of tax dollars.
  • The PLCB paid $4,499,117 in workers’ compensation claims last year.

There’s plenty more in the report, but it all reiterates the one common thread: The government can’t run a business better than the private sector. The PLCB cannot—and should not—be tasked with regulating and maximizing returns of the same industry.