Sunday, December 05, 2004

Ken Starr is Good for Something?

I am something of a vehement anti-prohibitionist. I have no trouble even going after the M.A.D.D. people when they stray from anti-drunk driving advocacy to outright neo-prohibitionists. I am always pleased when outdated liquor laws go the way of the dodo, as in the recent case of the South Carolina Minibottle law. (Which, to their credit, M.A.D.D. was on the correct side of.) And I am hopeful that the Supreme Court might render an important service by allowing wineries to sell and ship their product throughout the United States. See Wine Case Goes to High Court

I was interested to see that former independant counsel Ken Starr is representing the small wineries in their battle against the large liquor wholesaler lobby. These wholesalers enjoy near monopoly status in the states that have banned direct shipping from wineries, which is almost exclusively those states without a native wine industry. (Why do I keep moving into these backwards states?) In an effort to protect their profits they have recast themselves as the only thing standing in the way of underage drinking.

To drive home that point, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America commissioned an undercover video showing a teenage girl, with parental permission, ordering alcohol on the Internet. Days later, the alcohol arrived at her home in a plain container.

Any Supreme Court justice who claims to be swayed by this argument should be immediately impeached as being too gullible to sit in judgement on any topic, however insignificant. The purchase of the wine with parental permission (and presumably with their credit card) is indistinguishable from the parents buying it themselves. What would have been a little more convincing is showing the child buying the wine without parental permission.

Now, in order for the child, without parental permission, to get away with such a purchase they would need to A) either have their own credit card, with the between $60 to $400+ buying power needed to purchase a case of wine (how wineries sell their product), or B) steal access to their parent's credit cards and somehow keep them from seeing the bill, AND C) have the wine shipped to them while not being noticed by parents.

Or, they could do what we did when I was in high school and pay someone older a couple of bucks to buy us a six pack. Hmm, which one sounds more plausible?

I have personally felt these restrictions on the wine industry acutely. I have always wanted to support homegrown products, but have found as I moved across the country that I couldn't purchase wines for shipment or find them in my local wine shops. I love Missouri wines, and I even have a cousin making wine under the family name in Virginia, but more often then not I cannot support their efforts by buying a case of wine. I hope that changes.

Besides, 26 states allow wine to be shipped to consumers and I haven't heard a single story that those states are going to hell in a handbasket. How about a little economic freedom here?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I see that Each state has its alcohol regulation agency and maintains the right to limit wine shipments entirely or partially. I saw this on wine country basket is this true ?