Pennsylvanians Can't Buy Beer and Wine at the Grocery Store Because 'It Only Takes a Little Bit of Greed to Kill a Child'

UCFW PA Wine & Spirits CouncilUCFW PA Wine & Spirits CouncilResidents of most states take for granted the ability to buy beer and wine at the grocery store. That has been possible in every state where I've lived, with the exception of the one where I was born: Pennsylvania, where packaged wine and distilled spirits can be purchased only from a state monopoly and beer can be purchased only from distributors (if you are willing to buy a whole case) or in bars and restaurants (a loophole that some grocery stores, with clearance from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, have used to sell their customers beer). An anti-privatization ad sponsored by the UFCW, which represents employees of the state liquor monopoly, portrays this bizarre situation as perfectly natural, faulting "Harrisburg politicians" who "want to give big companies the right to sell beer and wine in supermarkets, big box stores, even gas stations." The union puts its anti-privatization propaganda into the mouths of two mothers sitting on a park bench at a playground. The best moment may be when a little girl scampers over to her mother and climbs onto her lap, whereupon the woman observes that "it only takes a little bit of greed to kill a child," then shakes her head sorrowfully. If you watch only one inadvertently comical political commercial this week, it should be this one.

How does Mom No. 1 know that "the same kind of law in North Carolina is killing one child every week"? According to the story cited in the ad, that is the average number of minors killed by "underage drinking-related accidents" in North Carolina each week. Clearly, privatization is to blame—if you assume that no one under 21 drinks in states with liquor monopolies. Given the motivation for the ad, which is aimed at preserving phony-baloney jobs, Mom No. 2 is on firmer ground when she remarks that "it's about greed, pure and simple."

Another UFCW ad (below) is more despicable than comical, showing a little girl laying a flower on her father's coffin as she reflects on how "a drunk driver took your life and changed mine forever." The narrator urges viewers to "tell your state senator to say no to liquor privatization," because "we don't want other children to lose their parents."

[Thanks to Adam Pallotto for the tip.]

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  • WTF||

    So I assume that there are no drunk drivers or alcohol-related deaths in Pennsylvania, right?

  • ||

    PA is well-known as a place of temperance, yes.

  • avocats||

    Joking, right?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    If there are, by their own logic, UFCW is solely responsible for those.

  • Swiss Servator, Gnomes FTW!||

    Ah, good point!

    "In Pennsylvania, our dead children are caused by caring, ungreedy union workers under the benevolent reign of the State!"

  • GILMORE||

    Exactly

    They pretend that the Evil Liquors go out and kill children all on their own, and Big Daddy government is needed to keep them in their cage and just give you dribs and drabs in order to keep the population from going all Lord of the Flies on each other in some kind of drunken murderspree...

    But ne'er do they ask why THEIR monopoly has nothing to do with "greed". Its only "greed" when other people do it.

  • OneOut||

    Other than the fact that you can sit and drink at a bar until closing time and then buy a 6 pack to go when you leave.

    Totally prevents drunk driving.

  • ||

    Residents of most states take for granted the ability to buy beer and wine at the grocery store

    Not Connecticut! Only beer, and grocery stores have the worst beer selection, so bad that you would never buy beer there anyway. Luckily there is a package store every few miles.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I drove from NY to Cape Code 2 summers ago, and I was very surprised that they had fireworks for sale at gas stations in CT.

  • JW||

    Let's go to the packy!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    That's one southern New England phrase I won't be picking up. They don't sell packages!

  • Lord Peter Wimsey||

    In Texas I still can't buy a bottle of bourbon or vodka in the grocery store (like I could when I lived in CA), but I suppose I should count my blessings. PA is much worse.

    I HATE that the wine section of the grocery store is covered by a curtain on Sunday mornings until noon, so the evil booze will not offend the gods.

    All part of the Freedom Train here in Texas.

  • OneOut||

    Go back to California if you don't like it here.

    Every economic downturn I witness people coming here so they can get a job and feed their family. Then as soon as they get a job and settle in they start bitching about the way things are done here and how much better it was back home.

    I can't count the number of assholes I have met like that through the years.

  • avocats||

    Wait, you LIKE the Blue Laws?

  • Suellington||

    Love it or leave it says shitbrain.

  • LarryA||

    I was born in Texas and spent most of my life here. It's a great place to live, but it's not perfect. Blue laws still suck.

  • Irish||

    Every economic downturn I witness people coming here so they can get a job and feed their family. Then as soon as they get a job and settle in they start bitching about the way things are done here and how much better it was back home.

    I don't think criticizing a legitimately idiotic law in Texas means he yearns for the glory of the People's State of California.

    Jesus Christ, why do so many people in Texas seem to be unable to take any criticism of that state? I never see this kind of whining from people in Illinois when everyone in other states rightfully says how much Illinois sucks.

  • Mauser||

    I have noticed the same thing, maybe it stems from Texans deep-rooted sense of independence,
    Basically F*** the rest of the country, we are slightly better off, but I'm not so sure they are...

  • ||

    They don't say "Don't mess with Texas" because Texas is so bad-ass, they say it because Texans have really thin skins and it's embarrassing for everyone to see a big strong Texan, hat and all, burst into tears because you messed with Texas in his presence. =P

  • wadair||

    Count yourself lucky. Before the Blue Laws were lifted in the 1980s, you could only buy "necessities" on Sunday, and only grocery stores and restaurants were open.

    The city I live in (North of Dallas) just approved the sale of liquor this year. Still have to buy it at a beverage store, but they have sprung up everywhere.

  • Thomas O.||

    And the liquor stores are still closed on Sunday, so if you need rum for your recipe on a Sunday, you're SOL.

    At least those living close to Louisiana can still get their booze any day, any time.

  • DFG||

    I lived in Lewisville, TX several years ago and the first time I went into a bar and ordered a beer I was asked if I was a member of their "club." When I answered no she offered to sign me up noting that membership was free. I gave her my name and address and was given a little card that I had to show the 17 year old hostess whenever I walked in the door. Not a real inconvenience but so stupid. If that's all it takes to get around "control" of liquor what the hell is the point? I guess they finally managed to bus more drinkers to the polls than the Baptist churches recently and voted to change things.

  • ||

    If all it takes to 'get around' a speed limit law is to drive at or below the speed limit, what's the point?

    The point is complying with a law isn't illegal.

  • Carolynp||

    When I was at UT, there were drive through alcohol places all over.

  • LarryA||

    When I was at A&M you had to drive across "Whiskey Bridge" (the county line) to get alcohol.

  • seguin||

    Luckily by the time I got there that was no longer the case.

  • rfichoke||

    Supposedly, it's to stop people from getting drunk when they should be in church. But if you're jonesing for hooch at 9:00 AM on a Sunday morning...you probably weren't going to church anyway.

  • ||

    I've always wondered how a rationale like that doesn't trip over the Establishment Clause.

    After all, not every religion has its holy day on Sunday -- I can only think of three and one is the dominant religion in the area.

    I wonder how Texans would take a predominantly Jewish town passing a law saying you can buy alcohol on Sunday but not Saturday?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    "If you watch only one unitentionally comical political commercial this week, it should be this one."

    I had to watch another ad in order to watch that ad.

  • Swiss Servator, Gnomes FTW!||

    Its ads all the way down.

  • Eric Bana||

    According to our friends at MADD, in 2012 Illinois had 321 drunk driving fatalities while Pennsylvania had 408 drunk driving fatalities even though Illinois has a slightly higher population.

    It's funny how facts matter.

  • LynchPin1477||

    It's funny how facts matter.

    Only if you're wasted on privately purchased booze.

  • ||

    Two things I enjoyed about freshmen from out of state:
    1) explaining the Santa Ana winds, having them not believe me and then watching them suffer through their first one.
    2) taking them to the grocery store and casually walking them past the liquor aisle.

  • The DerpRider||

    Those were the two things you enjoyed about freshman far away from home...

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Oh, I'm sure there are some other things you enjoyed about freshmen too...

  • ||

    Still my pre-game period.

  • JW||

    So, I hear you like 'em fresh.

  • Lord Peter Wimsey||

    I almost came the first time I saw the liquor aisle at a CA grocery store.

    I thought, "If this is socialism, bring it on!"

    Then a sobered up.

  • ||

    Washington state has those grocery store liquor aisles too, with much milder weather and less militant socialism. Marijuana is legal here and we also have open carry without requiring licenses. Our constitution protects all of the Bill of Rights rights even more strongly than the US constitution.

    West of the mountains is rainy, east has a climate a lot like northern California. We have something for everybody. =)

  • avocats||

    Had the same experiences. Of the two, the liquor was the more SHOCKING! In the GROCERY STORE!!

  • Spoonman.||

    Nothing beats those ridiculous, bus-sized wine vending machines that PLCB set up in some grocery stores. I saw one in a Wegmans, and nobody used it because it took fifteen goddamn minutes to buy some wine.

  • ||

    I've never seen one in real life, but they sure wasted a lot of money on them only to take them out a few years later. Somebody's cousin must own the company that made them or something.

  • ||

    Here in Quebec, the government through the SAQ control liquor. You can find beer and wine in grocery stores but mostly 'lower quality' ones. You can some good micro-breweries but the bottom line is we don't know what kind of selection private grocers would have if it weren't for the scamming fiends of the government.

    By the way, the average hourly wage of a person who works for the SAQ? I believe it hovers around $25 an hour. It's fucking nuts. And you should see the steps you need to go through to get permission to import wine here.

    http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read.....e-monopoly

  • LynchPin1477||

    That was one of the things that surprised me the most when I moved here. I never thought I'd see that anywhere else besides PA, and having come from VA, it was/is really annoying.

    I would have thought the Quebecois affinity for all things French (in this case, wine) would have outweighed the cronyism. So naive...

  • The DerpRider||

    I'll have a 2-4 of Elsinore. And I believe there will be no charge.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "Good evening, monsieur, welcome to Chez Quebec. May I start you off with a Thunderbird or a Night Train?"

  • Brick iBama||

    Ah, Night Train; there's a fight in every bottle.

  • Raston Bot||

    What we've found is that instead of convenient, safe, one-stop shopping, residents of Pennsylvania have to visit multiple stores and drive through more parking lots per trip. And the number of children run over in parking lots increased as a result of segregating consumer products.

    /future economist

  • OneOut||

    The wifey is from PA and we had to go though that for the wedding.

    Strange enough though we were told at the State liquor store to keep our receipt and anything left over could be returned.

  • avocats||

    Strange how some PA citizens go sneaking off to Delaware for booze.

  • An Innocent Man||

    I hate my state.

  • LynchPin1477||

    It is made all the more tragic by the number of excellent craft brewers in PA.

  • GILMORE||

    Don't worry, you can always, like everyone here, spew and froth about how NEW YORK IS THE FUCKING WORSERST!!

  • Lord Peter Wimsey||

    Often New York is the worst. In this case, Penn beats them hands down. There's room enough in the Suck File for every state to hit #1 at least once, depending on the issue.

    Cheers.

  • mickloud||

    Ah yes, New York, where I can buy 6% craft IPAs on tap in a gas station on the side of the highway, but something something about guns, sodas, e-cigs, and children.

  • Duke||

    What are these strange things you all are speaking of?

    /Louisiana.

  • Swiss Servator, Gnomes FTW!||

    +1 drive through daquari

  • Mr.Krinkle||

    Yeah, but the daiquiri isn't an open container because they leave the end of the paper wrapper on the straw :p

  • JW||

    the UFCW

    I should try again to wrench my very small pension away from these craven scum. if, for no other reason, I can be sure to have my money in another 20 years.

  • ||

    In Ontario we have a similar system, and a unionized monopoly is airing similar adds, a creepy convenience store clerk says 'hows it going boys?' as he rings up some Beer and Jack Daniels for some 14 year olds. People are laughing at them , but our puratain hangover continues with the LCBO and Brewers Retail the only places for booze. You can get crappy wine at grocery stores at least.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2.....ial-media/

  • Bradley Strider||

    Brewers Retail is in a really weird position agitating against smaller stores getting the same beer-selling powers they have.

    People seem to believe that government-run monopolies act in the public interest, but a big-business-run cartel is a tougher sell. I think they're banking on public confusion. Most people probably don't even realize that "The Beer Store" is not run by the government.

  • ||

    The owners of 'the Beer Store' Molson/Labbatt/Sleeman are now US/Belgian/Japanese. We could at least keep our monopolies locally controlled, lol...

    Ontario is weird, we even give public money to a catholic school system. At least its fun to watch the Catholics have to dance around gay issues in order to keep tax revenues.

  • Spawn of Nyarlathotep||

    Toronto resident here, and I agree. What's even weirder is that, while you can't buy beer at the supermarket, the Ontario government *will* pay for your sex-change operation.

  • derpules||

    Seriously, who the hell watches drivel like this and says "you know what, they're right!"?

  • GILMORE||

    Your mom

  • derpules||

    It's sad 'cause it's true

  • Lord Peter Wimsey||

    The same people who watch videos of cops tripping high school students, beating up homeless people, or shooting an unarmed citizen and say, "You can't judge the police until you've walked in their shoes."

    In other words, a sizable percentage of the sheeple who infest this country.

  • Insert clever name||

  • kmc212||

    Whenever the government controls something, it divides people.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Well these ads certainly worked. Now that I've seen them, I REALLY need a drink.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Sunny Minnesota only allows you to buy 3.2 beer in the grocery store and gas stations. Of course that is the only recourse on Sunday because all the liquor stores are closed then.

    We suck too!

  • Lord Peter Wimsey||

    I hear the the Catholic churches will serve you wine on Sundays. You have to sit through some fairly long rituals, though. Still, booze on Sundays!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Fo free.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Not for free, remember that they pay for it out of your 10% income tax.

  • Adam.||

    oh how i love gas stations with full liquor selections and walk in coolers.

  • CPRM||

    In Wisconsin there is a huge backlash even when the state tries to raise the liquor tax.

    Not only can you buy beer and liquor in grocery stores and gas stations, you can also buy beer at hardware stores, bait shops, sporting goods stores; hell, there was even a boat showroom that gave out FREE beer for a sales event.

    The only state-wide time you can't buy beer or liquor anywhere other than bars is from midnight to 7am I think (although some town ordinances stop it at 9pm instead of midnight) and that feels ridiculously restrictive to some.

    According to MADD in 2012 Pennsylvania had 408 deaths caused by drunk driving (31% of traffic deaths), while in 2012 Wisconsin had 200 (33% of traffic deaths).

  • Mudhen||

    That IS one of many reason's Wisconsin is considered Gods country. That and the cheese curds.

    Interesting alcohol fact, Wisconsin accounts for about half the Brandy consumption in the US. They frequently use it in mixed drinks instead of bourbon.

  • destor23||

    Huge problem in Philadelphia -- on a visit there we went had reservations at an upscale BYOB place and there was no place around there, at all, to buy a bottle of wine on Saturday night. Closest we found was a stupid beer store with a restaurant in it. The scarcity was basically the result of the state run monopoly. Those stores are not only spaced far apart but they don't keep decent hours. Also, the selections were fairly slim. This definitely keeps Philadelphia stuck as a second class city.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    The hours are also regulated by the state. Must close by 9PM. We just recently were bequeathed the privilege of buying liqour on Sunday, but only from 12-5PM.

  • destor23||

    Savages in your government.

  • avocats||

    Sounds like not much has changed since last century.

  • pure_mercury||

    The only positive out of this whole thing is that many of Philadelphia's great restaurants (of which there are many) are BYOB with no or very low corkage fees, so you can save some $. I was home for Christmas, and my girlfriend and I went to Serpico with a college buddy of mine, and we blew through a bottle of sparkling, bottle of red, and bottle of port for no fee at all.

  • destor23||

    Huge problem in Philadelphia -- on a visit there we went had reservations at an upscale BYOB place and there was no place around there, at all, to buy a bottle of wine on Saturday night. Closest we found was a stupid beer store with a restaurant in it. The scarcity was basically the result of the state run monopoly. Those stores are not only spaced far apart but they don't keep decent hours. Also, the selections were fairly slim. This definitely keeps Philadelphia stuck as a second class city.

  • pure_mercury||

    The only positive out of this whole thing is that many of Philadelphia's great restaurants (of which there are many) are BYOB with no or very low corkage fees, so you can save some $. I was home for Christmas, and my girlfriend and I went to Serpico with a college buddy of mine, and we blew through a bottle of sparkling, bottle of red, and bottle of port for no fee at all.

  • Mudhen||

    Remember Alcohol is the root of all Evil. Prohibition is the reason we got the income tax and there isn't anything more evil than that.

  • Chewbama||

    I bet if they outlawed alcohol altogether, even fewer people would die. Has this ever been tried?

  • thorax232||

    That ad... no wonder Netflix is such a big deal.

  • ||

    The possibilities are that the government will keep the monopoly OR that they will let a business buy the monopoly from the state. Either way Pennsylvanians will be stuck with one alcohol seller statewide. The free market option is not on the table. So personally I do not care who gets to rip off the people of PA - the unions or the corporations.
    I suppose the benefit of selling the monopoly to a business is that in a few years the state can renege on any promises it made and open things up to competition but there is no certainty that the politicians will be so treacherous.

  • avocats||

    That's freakin' incredible. I mean, union corruption may have reached its peak in PA, bu the option being just another monopoly? That's nuts.

  • ||

    The possibilities are that the government will keep the monopoly OR that they will let a business buy the monopoly from the state. Either way Pennsylvanians will be stuck with one alcohol seller statewide. The free market option is not on the table. So personally I do not care who gets to rip off the people of PA - the unions or the corporations.
    I suppose the benefit of selling the monopoly to a business is that in a few years the state can renege on any promises it made and open things up to competition but there is no certainty that the politicians will be so treacherous.

  • wwhorton||

    Residents of most states take for granted the ability to buy beer and wine at the grocery store.

    SHUT UP!!! STOP RUBBING IT IN!!!

    /Maryland

    The wife and I went to Orlando for an ironically non-Disney vacation last summer and did it on the cheap. We spent at least an hour taking pictures in the booze aisle of the Wal-Mart. Hell, some counties (Prince George's, for one) in the People's Republic won't even sell liquor on Sundays.

  • avocats||

    Good grief. I grew up in Pennsylvania and always thought it normal that to buy wine or liquor, one lined up at a counter at the State Store and gave the stock number to the state employee who went and got it. Had pitiful variety. Closed Sunday.

    When I first visited the real world (OK, California) and saw wine in supermarkets, I thought it was shocking. Now that I have lived 30 years in states without silly blue laws enacted by the 19th century religious nuts, I realize that there's no difference except for consumer choice and convenience greatly increased here.

  • Brendaatthebeach||

    I went from North Carolina to New Orleans,in North Carolina we could only buy liquor in state run liquor stores, in New Orleans you could buy it in the drug store or the convenience store, or you could even go thru the drive thru daiquiri bars and get a mixed drink. Total culture shock :)

  • bassjoe||

    Um...can't the state monopoly workers just get jobs at the supermarkets if this law passes...? The level of competence I imagine is about the same...

  • Michael Price||

    I don't care, I only drink moonshine.

  • Maggie||

    The ladies in the first ad sound a little bit Canadian.

  • ||

    No. We don't say "bax." We call it a "bahx."

  • crufus||

    Residents of Philadelphia have a good selection of non-government runs stores to buy liquor and wine at, but those stores are in New Jersey and Delaware.

    The rule against buying more than two six-packs at bars led to the introduction of six-packs of 24 ounce cans so you get the equivalent of a case of beer.

  • Enemy Of The Revolution||

    I recently moved to Saint Louis from Boston. In my neighborhood there is a supermarket that has a bar in it. You can buy a beer and drink it while walking around shopping. The shopping carts all have drink holders sized for pint glasses. Culture shock for a life-long Massachusetts resident.

  • Mock-star||

    I am from PA and I went to St Louis on vacation, about a decade ago. I was very very surprised at how much Anheiser/Busch has a hand in EVERYTHING. I went to a kindergarten graduation ceremony....sponsored by Budweiser, complete with tap truck.

    Protip: Dont get too drunk at an elementary school. Its hard to pee in those tiny,tiny urinals.

    Regarding PA, those kkkorporate bastards at Sheetz are fighting the good fight to get alcohol sales privatized. That makes me savor the MTOs even more.

  • Ranselaer||

    The line "it's about greed, pure and simple" doesn't make any sense. If the "Harrisburg politicians" are truly being greedy they would keep the state monopoly and all those wonderful revenues supposedly coming in from the state's booze stores. I realize this is only one of at least a half dozen logical fallacies contained in these ads, but we might as well add it to the list.

  • Will Nonya||

    They're implying corruption of a different type, and who doesn't oppose corruption...

  • Mauser||

    Screw the alcohol!
    Give us marijuana vending machines dang it!

  • Ventura Capitalist||

    These people are beneath contempt.

  • Brendaatthebeach||

    I grew up in North Carolina in a "dry" county. What that means is when we wanted to buy alcohol we would drive 20 miles to the next county to buy beer or wine or liquor. Do you think we waited until we got home to "crack the bottle". No, we did not, we would buy additional beers for the ride back, yes this was back in the early 80's when drunk driving was not as serious as it is today but there would have been a whole lot less people drinking on the road if you didn't have to drive so far to get it. I think it is the same with buying in bulk. If you have to make a special trip to the beer distributor and buy it a case at a time, you are going to be much more likely to drink a few on the way home than if you can pick up a 6 pack at the grocery store.

  • Will Nonya||

    I thought people just went to Delaware, maybe that's just in Philly.

    the ads themselves are despicable but not at all surprising.

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