Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Put Your Hands On Your Head And Step Away From The Pale Ale...

Pennsylvania state police have raided three popular Philadelphia bars in order to seize sixty gallons of unlicensed beer - the bars, though they had purchased the beers legally and had paid all the necessary taxes on them, had failed to register them under their proper names with Pennsylvania's state Liquor Control Board. The fact that the bars were in possession of contraband suds became known to the police via a "citizen compaint". As it turns out, several of the beers were registered, albeit under somewhat different names than they were being sold under, and were mistakenly confiscated due to "clerical error" (read: bureaucratic incompetence); now their owners will have to go through a lengthy (six-to-eight month) process to prove that the beers actually are legal in order to get them back, by the completion of which the beer will have no doubt spoiled. There are a few key questions in this case, as I see it:

1.)How stupid and/or beholden to bureaucratic procedure are state employees if they can't tell that "Monk's Cafe Sour Flemish Red Ale" (the name under which one of the confiscated beers was being sold) just might be the same thing as "Monk's Cafe Ale" (the name under which it was registered with the PLCB)?

2.)As bar owner Leigh Maida asks, how can a government organ be responsible for regulating a product if it is not even aware of that product's actual name?

3.)Shouldn't these state troopers have been out writing traffic citations or doing something else of at least marginal benefit to the people of Pennyslvania? How does an amateur hour production of The Keystone Kops Meet The Untouchables "serve and protect" the citizens of the commonwealth?

4.)If it takes more than a dozen armed troopers to safely raid a couple of sedate, high-end Yuppie brewhouses, how many are necessary to secure, say, a crack den? A meth lab? A mob hideout?

5.)Given that these state troopers were not defraying the expense of their salaries by issuing revenue-enhancing fines to motorists, how much money did this operation cost the taxpayers of Pennsylvania?

6.)Who was responsible for the "citizen complaint" against the bars? Because whoever that person is, he or she really, really needs to be punched in the face, hard.

Have no fear, citizens of Pennsylvania. Your government can't necessarily protect you from crime, and they most certainly can't keep the roads you drive on in good repair or ensure your children a good education, but you can go to sleep at ease in the knowledge that they will never allow you to experience the horror of unknowingly ordering an unregistered microbrew when you go out to the bar. No doubt William Penn is looking down from heaven and smiling right now, knowing that the inhabitants of his land are able to live in such security.

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