Here in Pennsylvania, there’s a heated debate going on about whether or not to ease the state’s byzantine laws on the sale of alcohol. Both sides of the issue have merit, but a new ad arguing against changing the law isn’t doing itself any favors.
For some background: In Pennsylvania, wine and liquor can only be bought at state-run Wine & Spirits stores. Private businesses can sell beer, but that’s where it gets even more complex. In most states, you can get a six-pack at just about any convenience or grocery store, but in PA you can only get a few to-go beers at restaurants, bars and some licensed stores… and only up to a total of 192 ounces at a time. If you want more than that, head over to the beer distributor, where you can’t buy anything smaller than a case. Got that?
Some politicians want to completely privatize liquor sales, giving up state control of the Wine and Spirits stores. A proposal currently being discussed wouldn’t go so far, but would allow for bottled (and boxed!) wine to be sold by private businesses, as well as expanding the types of retailers that could sell beer.
The above ad, produced by the union that represents employees at Wine & Spirits stores, tries to make the argument that increased availability of alcohol will lead to some worrisome problems, but takes it to a laughable extreme.
“That would be so dangerous for kids,” says one of the moms (or, in the decidedly non-PA accent of the one actress, “mahms”), “having alcohol available in so many places.”
“I read the same kind of law in North Carolina is killing one child every week,” says the other mother, in a questionable interpretation of this article, in which the Chair of the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission stated that one death per week can be attributed to underage drinking.
Concludes the mom, as a doom-and-gloom piano plays over scenes of innocent children playing, “It only takes a little bit of greed to kill a child.”
Thing is, every point brought up in the commercial is — stripped of hyperbole — a valid point of discussion: What impact does better availability of wine and beer have on crime, safety, and underage drinking? Will it mean a loss of jobs and tax revenue or will those be made up by increased sales? But going the maudlin, overwrought route is only distracting from answering those questions.
For the rest of the country, it’s at least good for a laugh while trying to ride out the rest of your Friday afternoon at work.