Pennsylvania has some silly laws pertaining to the sale of alcohol. As the law currently stands in the state, the sale of wine and spirits is restricted to state-owned stores, beer distributors can only sell cases of beer and kegs (but not smaller quantities), and specially-licensed establishments can sell small quantities of beer. Furthermore, it is illegal to buy alcohol out of state and then transport it back into Pennsylvania without declaring it and paying taxes on it.
Not surprisingly, these laws tend to drive the price of alcohol up in Pennsylvania, which is why I make the quick drive down to Delaware whenever I purchase alcohol (and no, I don’t pay the taxes on it).
In a rare case where the government surrenders power, Pennsylvania is actually looking at privatizing the market to a degree and removing some of the restrictions. Most people I talk to are in favor of this, as the current laws are bad for consumers and many businesses. They limit the selection of products that a store can sell, giving potential customers less reason to make a visit.
Like any law created by the government, however, there are people who benefit, so there is some pushback on the move toward privatization. A commercial recently airing in Pennsylvania demonstrates the displeasure felt by some:
Who would run such a fear-inducing, illogical, and painfully overly dramatic ad?
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 (UFCW) is responsible for the commercial. And why are they concerned? The UFCW, who represents the workers of the state-run liquor stores, is likely to lose a nice chunk of money if the privatization measures are adopted. If there are no state stores, there are no employees to take as union members, and thus there are no dues to collect. In the commercial they mention greed as the prime motivator—yeah, I think they’re right.
As with just about anything, if you follow the money trail, you can expect to be led to the answer to the “Why?” question. In this case, someone is trying to use the forceful hand of government to keep their pockets full.