John Brownlee here. As you can tell from the alcohol-oriented nature of the last two posts, I’m a tad hungover this morning. You know, when I moved to Ireland, got a job and called in sick for the first time, I was surprised to note that my boss instantly assumed that I had “gotten a dirty glass” the night before (no one in Ireland ever gets drunk or hungover: the most that ever happens is that our systems react unfavorably to the dust at the bottom of our twelfth pint of Guinness) and that, furthermore, being drunk was a perfectly acceptable excuse in the Irish business world for calling out sick that day.
Unfortunately, the tyrannical bastards at Gawker HQ in New York don’t feel similarly. So in keeping with our Monday morning alcoholism motif, we’d like to present this email response from Brian Garves concerning our recent post on the Arizona winery/wholesaler debate. It examines a similar case in Michigan, uses the word “eleemosynary” which we’re too hungover to look up, and makes the excellent point that monopolist wholesalers tend not to honestly champion the cause of small Mom & Pop establishments.
Brian’s email after the jump.
This same issue has been a major issue in Michigan for the past several years. In Michigan, with a population of 10 million people, there are just 9 wholesalers. Nine. Dividing up the entire state.
In fact, last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Michigan’s law requiring all wine sales to go through wholesellers except if the wineries were located in Michigan. The basis is that the statute had an equal protection problem since it treated different wineries differently with no valid reason for doing so. With that decision, everyone rejoiced, except the wholesalers. So what happened, you ask? I’ll tell you.
The wholesalers got the legislature to pass a new law requiring all alcohol sales to go through the wholesalers, even if the wineries were in Michigan (see, now they got past the equal protection problem). The Detroit newspapers and others did a very good job revealing how the wholesalers happened to be really big contributers to all the legislators on the committee in charge of analyzing and voting on the legislation. See this link: mcfn.org/bw1/html. And their arguments for why the law was needed? That’s right (and I’m sure it’s just a coincidence) that they were concerned about minors getting alcohol over the internet, and the concern about the Mom-and-Pop liquor stores.
To me, the red flag of skepticism is raised whenever someone like the wholesalers, in an eleemosynary fashion want legislation — not because it would help them — but because they are looking out for the welfare of small businessmen and minors. Gee, thanks guys.
In the end, the Governor, in December, 2005, signed a bill that basically echoed the same law the U.S. Supreme Court struck down, still requiring out-of-state wineries to sell only through wholesalers.
Whoo, that was close. No internet sales for our youth, they will have to just do what they’ve always done: Go over the bridge to Canada where the drinking age is just 19.