Why Government Needs Downsizing – Example #1 (many more expected!)

With nonsense like this going on, it won’t be long before even liberals begin demanding the downsizing of government – that’s the only effective way to limit it’s intrusion into our lives.

Troopers raid popular bars for unlicensed beers | Philadelphia Daily News | 03/08/2010

IT WAS ELIOT NESS and the Untouchables, as played by the Keystone Kops.

The alleged offense: Although the bar owners had bought the beer legally from licensed Pennsylvania distributors and had paid all the necessary taxes, the police claimed that nobody had registered the precise names of the beers with the state Liquor Control Board – a process that requires the brewers or their importers to pay a $75 registration fee for each product they want to sell in Pennsylvania.

Based on a complaint from someone the State Police refuse to identify, three teams of officers converged last Thursday on the three bars, run by Leigh Maida and her husband, Brendan Hartranft. Checking their inventories against the state’s official list of more than 2,800 brands, the cops seized four kegs and 317 bottles, totaling 60.9 gallons of beer, according to police calculations.

In fact, according to Maida, more than half the beer removed by the State Police was properly registered – but the cops couldn’t find it on their lists because of "clerical errors" or "blatant ineptitude" between the police and the Liquor Control Board, with whom the officers were conferring by telephone.

She estimated the total value of the confiscated stock at $7,200, representing about 20 brands, some of which go by multiple names.

For instance, the cops grabbed Monk’s Cafe Sour Flemish Red Ale.

The beer has been sold throughout the state at dozens of restaurants and distributors for the last seven years. The brand appears on the state’s online list as "Monk’s Café Ale." It’s on tap seven days a week at the Center City bar after which it was named: Monk’s Cafe, at 16th and Spruce streets.

But that wasn’t enough to keep the State Police from confiscating 20 bottles and three kegs of the supposedly illegal ale at the three bars run by Maida and Hartranft – Resurrection Ale House, at 2425 Grays Ferry Ave.; Local 44, at 44th and Spruce streets, in West Philadelphia; and Memphis Taproom, 2331 E. Cumberland St., Port Richmond.

Maida said that the State Police also confiscated bottles of Duvel, a popular ale imported from Belgium that is widely advertised and available in at least 200 bars throughout the city and suburbs. The beer appears on the PLCB list as "Duvel Beer," while its label reads "Duvel Belgian Golden Ale."

…She added: "It’s McCarthy-like. They swarm in here and confiscate this product because they don’t know what the product is."

Industry sources complain that brand registration is typical of the onerous regulations that make selling beer in Pennsylvania difficult. For example, while it is the responsibility of the brewer or importer to submit the necessary paperwork and registration fee, it is the tavern or restaurant licensee who may be liable for selling unregistered brands, they said.

How many lessons here?  Excessive regulation.  Small businesses screwed once again.  Government seizes private property due to the ineptitude of public servants who nevertheless demand that the rest of us pay their above market, exorbitant pensions for life.  And so on…

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