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Union Fights Liquor Privatization With New Ads (With Video)

The United Food and Commercial Workers Wine and Spirits Council is airing two new television ads with corresponding radio segments as part of their effort to halt GOP plans to privatize the state liquor stores.

The UFCW represents the interests of state liquor store employees and their advertisements fan the flames of the debate on privatization of Pennsylvania’s liquor stores currently taking place in the Senate.

The ads both condemn attempts to pass a liquor reform bill.

UFCW ad DaughterThe first, titled Daughter (above), pictures a young girl tossing flower petals on her father’s closed casket.

“You’ll never see me graduate high school. A drunk driver took your life, and changed mine, forever,” says a little girl via voiceover.

An adult narrator cuts in: “Thanks to current laws, and the effectiveness of the wine and spirits stores employees, Pennsylvania has the lowest death rate associated with alcohol consumption in the nation.”

“Tell your state senator to say no to liquor privatization. We don’t want other children to lose their parents.”

UFCW President Wendell Young says the ads are statewide and part of an ongoing media push that so far has spent over $1 million. They were produced by Strategic Communications Consultants in Blue Bell.

The second (below), titled Fiscal Conservative, has a watermarked photo of Tom Corbett while the announcer declares the “liquor privatization scheme” doesn’t make sense.

“The stores make over $100 million a year in profits, money the state needs to balance the budget every year.”

Gov. Corbett has made privatizing the state stores one of his signature legislative efforts for this year.

The radio and television ads use the same scripts.

Nathan Benefield, Director of Policy Analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation, a free market think tank in favor of privatization disputed the numbers in “Daughter.”

“The ads are ridiculous and manipulative. Simply a scare tactic not supported by the evidence,” he said. “The ad focuses on DUI deaths, but then cites a stat that has nothing to do with drunk driving.”

He said the figure for alcohol induced deaths “doesn’t include traffic accidents from DUI’s, only certain conditions like alcoholic liver disease and alcohol poisoning.”

The state House passed its version of liquor privatization in March and is now up for consideration in the Senate where it faces significant hurdles – from Republicans. The bill would allow for changes in the amounts available for sale at bars and distributors, the divestment of state owned liquor stores, and the sale of alcohol in some grocery stores. Hearings on the bill in the Law and Justice Committee ended on Tuesday.

8 Responses

  1. Actually, I am not predicting that the lost “profit” will be completely made up by increased tax rates.  I merely put forth that possibility to explain how laughable the UFCW’s $100 million argument is.  If the money is coming from us regardless, would it really matter if it’s through LCB price mark-ups instead of an increased liquor tax rate?

    But since you brought it up, no, I do not believe we’ll have to raise consumer tax rates (liquor/sales) in proportion with the lost “profit.”  First, you have the nearly $1 billion that will be raised through license sales.  Next, you have the new revenue from income or corporate tax on private sellers.  Lastly, as has happened in Washington, I believe that liquor sales will increase, thus mitigating the need to hike consumer tax rates.

  2. I think what Reasonable Rep is saying is that after privatization, the State will raise taxes to make sure that they don’t lose revenues, thus increasing prices and cutting the legs out from under the theory of saving money for the consumer. A system developed by the Legislature will be a camel — not a horse.

  3. Wow, that first ad is as ridiculous as the Kathleen Kane supports rape ad from last year.

  4. And here’s an article completely dismantling the CDC study:

    This all sounds quite persuasive – and why would anyone not trust an independent expert task force advising the CDC on the best scientific evidence? Well, the first problem is the extensive evidence that Single Distribution Theory does not explain the relationship between the availability and consumption of alcohol – so extensive, in fact, that the theory was largely abandoned in the early 1990s for its inability to explain, and in many cases, fit the empirical data on alcohol consumption.

    The theory originated in the work of French epidemiologist Sully Ledermann who tried to model the effects of changes in alcohol availability across the population of drinkers in the 1950s and 60s. Ledermann posited that the variation in drink consumption in a population was mathematically related in a fixed way to the mean consumption level, which meant that one could estimate changes in consumption among all drinkers – and especially heavy drinkers – from changes in the mean consumption level. This theory provided a rationale to restrict alcohol sales, because if everyone drank less, problem drinkers would too. Perhaps because it offered a simple and yet powerful justification for intervening in the market with the promise of a substantial effect, it found considerable favor in the field of alcohol policy for many years.

    But that favor was largely based on ignoring the statistical data and assumptions in the original Ledermann paper. The first body blow came from researchers at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, who, in a paper published in 1978 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol (The Distribution of Consumption Model of Prevention of Alcohol Problems: A Critical Assessment”) concluded that that data was methodologically problematic and that “the model has serious limitations.”

    By the early 1990s, the theory had been roundly battered by two kinds of objections. The first was that this was not how anyone should be doing statistics in order to model behavior in real world populations. As John Duffy of the Alcohol Research Group at the University of Edinburgh, noted in “Alcohol Consumption and Control Policy,” which was published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society in 1993, it is just not appropriate, when you have an actual population at the tail end of a distribution, to estimate changes in that population’s behavior “by relying on the value of the population mean, and assuming dispersion does not change.”

  5. And just how much income/corporate tax is the state collecting from private liquor retailers at the moment?  My last count was at ZERO.  Plus, the state is free to raise the liquor tax as much as it wants after privatization.  And the sale of store licenses alone might bring in $1 billion.

    Regardless, this yearly “profit” argument is smoke and mirrors, nothing more.  The $100 million is NOT an annual gift from Santa Claus.  It came from you and me before privatization and will continue to come from you and me after privatization — just through another one of the countless ways to collect revenue.  

    The bottom line is that the UFCW misleads by suggesting that making up the lost “profit” will cost us an EXTRA $100 million, as if the present $100 million wasn’t coming from us to begin with.

  6. The CDC study that the ads use can be found here:
    PA does rank 1st on one line and falls to the middle or lower half on all the rest. The union isn’t lying but they aren’t telling the whole truth either.

    @OwlFan1 – The state stores don’t pay any taxes. The total non-tax collection “profit” of the PLCB was $124 million last year. Profit is a misnomer because ALL the money they collect is really a tax on the consumer. When the government says you have to pay it and uses police powers to enforce that, it is a tax.

    Washington made over $75 million more in the year after privatization then they did before. PA has almost 4 times the population. You do the math.

  7. Actually, the $100 million is after taxes. So technically, UFCW is right. Tax collection doesn’t make that up.

  8. “The stores make over $100 million a year in profits, money the state needs to balance the budget every year.”

    Possibly even more so than the “saving 10K jobs,” this might actually be my favorite example of the left’s illogical reasoning on this issue.  UFCW President Wendell Young would have us believe that it would be impossible to ever recover that $100 million.  

    Maybe Young thinks sellers would somehow be exempted from paying income or corporate tax. Maybe he believes consumers would no longer pay a sales or liquor tax. Maybe he believes the store licenses will be sold for $10 a piece. Or, alternatively, maybe he knows better and is just insulting the intelligence of anyone with an IQ above 70.

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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