Wine Kiosks Closed: The First Shot?
So, the Liquor Control Board has “temporarily” closed its grocery store wine kiosks, which exist as something of a loophole in Pennsylvania weird commonwealth Quaker laws. And they’ve done so in the shadow of Tom Corbett’s administration quickly eclipsing what hope they had left of keeping liquor stores closed on Sundays, not past a certain time, and allowing beer distributors to control the market (we want our 12-packs and we want to buy them at 24-hour Wawas!)
The official explanation for shutting down the New World Order’s most diabolically drunk-with-power attempt to keep your breath/photo on file for their murderous Endgame: Technical problems. Specifically, the wine dispensaries failed to, um, dispense wine. Ha! – a million times over. (For many reasons.)
Pennsylvania has had a monopoly on libations for the past 80 years and many-a-governor before our future hateful ruler have attempted to rip the Banker’s Club bucks away from the LCB. In spite of all the arguments in favor of privatization – the biggest has to do with the state budget, which is on a Hindenbergian course for 2011 – a Daily News article from just before the long weekend gave us a few worries.
Liquor stores make money for taxpayers . . . every year. The current system may not be perfect, but it’s a money-maker for the state. The LCB generates about $466 million in revenue annually; about $90 million is profit, the rest is sales tax. Right now, sales tax on liquor gets collected at a rate of 100 percent, which would be hard to achieve in a privatized system. The $90 million in profit would disappear entirely. Supporters of privatization argue that most of it would be replaced by license-renewal fees and increased liquor sales, but that’s far from certain. Any privatization plan would need to account for this loss of recurring revenue, not just the big upfront payment generated by the initial sale.
Privatizing would also throw 2,200 employees out of a job. The pay for this work isn’t lavish (the average salary of a clerk is $29,000, of a supervisor, $45,000), but state employment does provide health care and a small pension. Turzai has proposed offering tax credits to stores that hire former LCB employees – whose average age is 48 – but it’s unlikely private jobs would offer the kind of middle-class benefits they have now.
As is, State Auditor Jack Wagner plans a “special performance audit” of the wine kiosks because “the holiday shopping season has left customers high and dry, and we want to know why,” Wagner, poet-though-doesn’t-know-it, told the Inky. Governor Ed Rendell’s pals currently own the wine kiosks and can’t be happy that their boy is leaving office to be the “moderate” voice on liberal news entertainment cable junk, MSNBC, maybe.
This could be the first step toward a low level of government backlash against the privatization of liquor stores, which would, again, stop this relatively popular process from going forward.