When The Liberty Taps Run Dry

Benjamin Franklin, a fairly well-known former resident of this town, once quipped that “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Well, God may want us to be happy — but the City of Philadelphia obviously does not.

According to a new report from the Philadelphia Daily News, more than a dozen law enforcement officers from the Pennsylvania State Police conducted simultaneous, Untouchables-like raids on a trio of popular drinking establishments in the City of Brotherly Love known for having fantastic beer selections.  The cops, the Daily News article reads, confiscated hundreds of bottles of expensive ales and lagers, now in State Police custody at an undisclosed location.  Why?  From the Daily News:

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.

But, wait! There’s more!

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.

Among the beers confiscated: Monk’s Cafe Sour Flemish Red Ale, served all over the city each and every day; Duvel, a Belgian ale sold at more than 200 bars and restaurants across Philadelphia; and Pliny the Younger, Beer Advocate’s top beer in the world, which sells for $25 per glass and often sells out, with kegs being kicked in less than an hour.

Like Benjamin Franklin, I’m a big fan of good beer.  Also like Franklin, I don’t much care for intrusive government.  Philadelphia is a city plagued by crime, by poverty, and by a spendthrift city government which would rather increased taxes on garbage collection than eliminate wasteful and redundant spending at City Hall. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania isn’t doing much better economically.  And yet this is how the state deploys its law enforcement?  Going after unregistered beers?

I think my feelings on the subject have been perfectly summarized, hyperbole and all, by David over at Fighting For Liberty.

“Show us your papers, comrade,” David writes.  “All Your Brew Are Belong to Us!”  He continues:

Paperwork will erode more freedom in today’s USA than force ever will. Our government knows they can’t use force because when it comes to deadly force, we’re on largely equal terms. But they can make stupid laws and create stupid fees and increase stupid little taxes until we’re all felons for not listing a toilet paper tax on our taxes because we took more than 650 craps during the course of the year and contributed a proportionally larger amount of methane to the atmosphere than our dear leaders deemed appropriate according to some UN treaty.

Okay … that’s perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it was fun to write.

Not an exaggeration at all, actually.  We can’t all set our thermostats at 72 degrees and drive around in our SUVs and expect the rest of the world to be okay with it, after all.  Barack Obama said so himself.

Any way you look at it, we are governed by a class of creature who believe with every fiber in their being that government knows better, that government can tax and regulate at will with no consequence to economic development and growth.  How else do you explain this measure, targeting a small business and doing wonders for its bottom line in an already terrible economy?

This story is just a microcosm of what our federal government would like to do with regard to energy and healthcare.  Make no mistake about it, the Democrats’ plans with regard to cap-and-trade and health care reform are little more than simultaneous raids on industries which dare make a profit while serving the public good and abiding by the law in the process.  Pay no attention to the consequences of added regulation.  Pay no attention to the underlying cost of government overreach.

Besides expressing his love for beer, Benjamin Franklin also once said that “where liberty dwells, there is my country.”  At this point, forget the rest of the country — I wonder if he would even recognize Philadelphia.



  1. Michelle Zhang says:

    That is absolutely insane. I HATE PA liquor laws.

  2. Anonymous says:

    See I told ya, it’s Whiskey Rebellion time.

  3. Alas, we KNEW him well says:

    Benjamin Franklin is to no longer be in the school textbooks. It’s home school time, people.

  4. John Feeny says:

    A Beer Bureacracy. Great. A Beer Board.
    This reminds me of the old Mel Brooks Film, “The Twelve Chairs”. If you’ve never seen it, I’d suggest you do. The overarching idea deals with the futility that is the communist state. One of the last lines of the movie is one of the most significant, when one of the two main characters looks at his ‘sidekick’ and proclaims that their arrangement is over, that he ‘could no longer afford him’.

    Well, we’re at that point. I’m just thinking of it in opposite terms.

  5. Michelle Zhang says:
  6. whats_up says:

    Disgraceful use of law enforcement. If their was a need to collect the tax due, simply send the establishment a letter stating such, offer a solution and go from there.

  7. Gail B. says:

    “At this point, forget the rest of the country — I wonder if he would even recognize Philadelphia.”

    I doubt it very seriously.

    For that matter, I’ll bet money that some of the beer is consumed by the officers themselves. I know for a fact –from personal observation — that some moonshine confiscated by the Macon GA Police Department for evidence was used to spike the punch at a Christmas party that police officers were invited to.

  8. 1776 all over again says:

    Out of control government. Nuff said.

  9. Start over says:

    DETROIT – Detroit, the very symbol of American industrial might for most of the 20th century, is drawing up a radical renewal plan that calls for turning large swaths of this now-blighted, rusted-out city back into the fields and farmland that existed before the automobile.

    This should be done to Washington as well, starting at Capitol hill.


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