Failure of Government Liquor

Monopoly Unnecessary, unfair and un-American? Welcome to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the government liquor monopoly that dishonorably competes with Pennsylvania wineries.

Astonishingly, the PLCB has eight highly controversial, in-house brands of wine and spirits (and 35 total products) produced outside of the commonwealth but owned by the PLCB. These brands unfairly compete against Pennsylvania wineries and other private businesses by using your tax dollars and its monopoly powers to push its products. 

Kari Andren of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review explains how the PLCB is using your tax dollars to advance its monopoly:

The LCB spent nearly a half-million dollars last fiscal year, about 10 percent of its advertising budget, to promote five of its own private-label brands - TableLeaf, Dialed In, LA MERIKA, Hayes Valley and Las Parcelas, records show. No money was spent on two other wine brands, Zita and Vinestone, or Copper Sun vodka.

Even though Conti said he was "99 percent sure" no LCB money was spent to promote or develop the brands, ads placed by his agency for its in-house products appeared in high-profile, hard-to-miss locations in newspapers and magazines, on billboards, public transit vehicles in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, radio shows and the Internet radio service Pandora, as well as in online sponsorships, records show.

In other words, 10 percent of the PLCB's advertising budget was spent on 0.52 percent of the total brands sold in order to push the products it owns. While Pennsylvania wineries struggle to get their products on the state stores shelves, the PLCB is giving its in-house brands high-profile locations. 

Fishing in a barrel is easy; advertising on the barrel is stupid and using tax dollars and a monopoly status to unjustly compete is unfair and un-American. And that advertising money is in addition to the more than $7-10 MILLION of your tax dollars spent copyrighting, branding, marketing and selling the government wine brand, TableLeaf.

It's clear Pennsylvania's Prohibition-era liquor laws, and government brand wines, don't best serve the commonwealth citizens. The PLCB had their turn, we've played their unfair game and now it's time for the government to get out of the booze business.