Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wine from a Machine in Pennsylvania

One of Mancur Olson's principal points in "The Rise and Decline of Nations" is about the dangers of special interest groups imposing costs on the rest of society in order to win a larger share of economic profits.

This seems to describe perfectly the wine lobby in Pennsylvania (Associated Press):

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- Swipe your driver's license, look into the camera, blow into the breath sensor and - voila! - you have permission to buy a bottle of wine from a vending machine.

Pennsylvania, which has some of the most Byzantine liquor laws in the nation, recently introduced the country's first wine "kiosks." If the machines are successful in their test run inside two grocery stores, the state Liquor Control Board could place the high-tech alcohol automats in about 100 others.


The vending machines are a testament to both the wonder of technology and the obscurity of Pennsylvania's complicated liquor laws.

Individuals can buy wine and liquor for home consumption only in state-owned stores staffed by public employees. Private beer distributors sell cases and kegs only. Licensed corner stores, delis, bars and restaurants can sell beer to go, but only up to two six-packs per customer.
Hat tip to Neatorama.


Millsy said...

I ran into the strange PA laws when visiting a friend at Penn State. We didn't want to go find a store that sold 30-packs of beer, so we went to a small shop downtown.

He was having a party, which required more than 6 beers. To resolve the issue, we each went into the same store and bought a single 12-pack, rotating back and forth carrying 1 pack to the car parked right out front until we had what we felt was enough for the weekend. Apparently this is fine, even if the owner recognizes what you're doing.