Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Well, they're at it again...

Just when you think it’s safe to go online and order your favorite Brunello or Napa Cabernet from an out-of-state resource, your friendly neighborhood wholesaler – in conjunction, of course, with their paid lackeys in Congress – are attempting to further undermine your right as a legal adult to buy a legal product. HB 5034. Protectionism? Of course. Restraint of trade? Absolutely. But this time, they’ve gone one step beyond the norm of legalized monopolies and are veering into the truly vile territory of infringing upon that most fundamental of American rights… the ability to sue whomever we damn well please.

Allow me to provide some context. With the repeal of Prohibition and the establishment of the 21st Amendment, the federal government basically ceded control of any laws regarding alcohol to the states. Whether it was your ability to buy booze in a grocery store or a six-pack on Sunday, it was up to your state government. The Feds wanted out of the conversation. Basically, in order to break up the mobs and bootleggers that ran rampant during Prohibition, the government set up 50 individual fiefdoms to patrol the flow of alcoholic beverages. However laudable the goal may have been at the time, all that changed was that a group of unregulated, illegal rackets became state-approved, legal rackets instead. The wholesale monster was born.

Gangsters had no qualms about paying off politicians to further their own interests. Now wholesalers continue that proud tradition in the form of “campaign contributions”. In order to protect their legally mandated monopoly (and make no mistake, that’s exactly what it is), the checks and handshakes flow like so much Pinot Noir. Usually this comes in the form of keeping the status quo unchanged at the state level. This has always been accepted as fact. Despite its inherent hypocrisy and idiotic nanny state implications, try telling the state of Utah that you should be able to ship a case of wine directly to your vacation home in Park City (it is one of a myriad of baffling examples one could cite). But now, in the case of one political pimp Rep. Delahunt: and his harem of syphilitic legislative prostitutes, there is a legitimate attempt to take a matter of states’ rights to the federal level in the most cynical way: You can’t even call BS on Big Brother and let the courts decide who is in the right. Essentially, you wouldn’t be able to sue your own government for corruption. Because they told you so.

The actual acronym for this bill is CARE. Seriously. Nominally sponsored by the wholesale beer lobby, the net effect is the same for wine lovers… no matter how archaic, asinine or anti-consumer your state’s alcohol laws are, you would effectively be barred from suing them. Charming, isn’t it? They’re tired of spending money against pissed-off consumers bringing suit against a 75-year old legal boondoggle, so they want to make their decisions unimpeachable… while allowing the monetary interests of the wholesalers to pave their way to re-election, of course. It’s absolutely as detestable as it sounds and 85 members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors.

Write your Congressperson through the form here to express your disdain: Remind them who you are, that you vote and that they can pry your corkscrew from your cold, dead hands. This is America, baby. We drink because we choose to and sue because we can.

Update: Wine Institute issues a formal statement regarding HB 5034

--Rhett Gadke, Wine Director