Monday, March 21, 2011

No, You Can't Have That

File this one under deja vu.

Sometime last year it died with a quiet whimper, but before it did, HR 5034, raised some dander.  The bill was ostensibly introduced to prevent Federal intervention on state trade of alcohol.  But, really, it was a thinly-veiled step towards outlawing interstate wine shipping

There was so much pro-consumer (gasp!) vitriol in the media about it, there had to be another side to the story.  So, I asked the head of the state Wholesale Beer & Wine Association if it was anything other than a protectionist move at the expense of consumer choice.  (Note: this is not a great way to get yourself invited over for dinner.) 

I guess a lot of people looked at it that way.  And so it lost steam.  But 2011 is a new year with a new congress, and there are plenty of world events happening right now to keep us distracted.  So, last week (on St. Patty's Day, no less) 5034 was reincarnated as HR 1161 by Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from the great state of Utah (yes, he's a Mormon), and a handful of other bible thumpers.

If history is any indicator of future performance, there will be as much rhetoric surrounding this bill as there was with the last one - and most of it will be bullshit.

At the end of the day, you've got to ask, what's the problem that this legislation intends to fix?  Well, according to that guy from the Wholesale Beer & Wine Association, underage drinking.  I guess teenagers ordering magnums of Silver Oak online is threatening to become an epidemic.

Who knew?

Before you completely laugh it off, take a second to contact your representative and tell him/her "Me likie me winey".



  1. Ah-hem? "Most of it will be buyllshit?" How does pro-consumer vitriol = bullshit?

  2. Karen,

    I can see why you connected the dots the way you did. Let me clarify.

    The vitriol heard/read surrounding 5034 was on the many blogs and minor outlets the opponents of this bill have access to. These many-but-small voices are in stark contrast to the higher profile outlets available to the sponsors of 1161 - namely, congressmen. That's where the rhetoric, or bullshit, comes in.


  3. So, you're saying that the Wholesale Beer & Wine Association bought these congressmen?

  4. No, not at all. They didn't need to.

    First, the Wholesale Beer & Wine Associations are state-level. The National Beer Wholesalers Association, which pretty much wrote HR 5034, is the national lobbying body. Not sure if the NBWA was the primary player in bringing HR 1161 to life or not, but it wouldn't surprise me.

    Regardless, some pro-wholesaler/distributor body is paying the bills. But consider this: Of the main co-sponsors of the bill, you've got a Utah Mormon, a member of the Grace Bible Church flock, and the Chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee (one of whose top corporate donors is - you guessed it -the National Beer Wholesalers Association).

    So, were they bought? Nope. But they were most likely paid for.


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