Thursday, March 18, 2010

Where the hell are we?

Quick post, because I'm really busy, but something has to be said, because we're getting hosed again. Today is a big day for the beverage alcohol industry on Capital Hill. The House subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy is holding a hearing on "Legal Issues Concerning State Alcohol Regulation," which is Congress-talk for "the three-tier system."

Where did it come from? According to Wine & Spirits Daily, "This sub-committee hearing was said to be ushered along by the National Beer Wholesalers Association, and is to focus on the state-based regulatory structure of the US alcohol beverage industry, in contrast to the more deregulated UK industry." But producers don't want the hearings because no one really knows what's going to be said or what's going to come out of it.

Here are the people who will be testifying (courtesy of Beer Business Daily):
Panel I - First, the politicians. Here is where the rhetoric is:
· Rep. Bobby L. Rush, 1st District, State of Illinois
· Rep. Mike Thompson, 1st District, State of California
· Rep. Steve Cohen, 9th District, State of Tennessee
· Rep. George Radanovich, 19th District, State of California -- a winemaker, so likely on the side of deregulation.
Panel II - the industry and regulators:
· Mr. James C. Ho, Solicitor General of Texas, Office of the Solicitor General, Austin, TX -- as SG, he's on the side of prosecuting and enforcing regulation.
· Ms. Nida Samona, Chairperson, Michigan Liquor Control Commission, Lansing, MI -- a Michigan regulator, likely will fall on the side of regulation.
· Mr. Stephen Hindy, Chairman and President, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY, brewer.
· Ms. Pamela S. Erickson, Chief Executive Officer, Public Action Management, Scottsdale, AZ -- former regulator and consultant.
· Professor Darren Bush, Associate Professor of Law, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, TX -- He went to school in Utah, and specializes in antitrust and regulation and deregulation in electricity markets. So naturally he's qualified to speak on alcohol.
So who's missing? You are. Once again, there are no representatives of We The Drinkers, no one to stand up and say, "Yo! Here's why all this is not fair to us! While you're debating what's good for the industry, and the 'three-tier system,' you always forget the fourth tier, the people who have to deal with this!"

And the same thing's going to happen next month in Harrisburg when the Great Beer Raids Hearing takes place. I ask you: who do you have to know to get a drink around here? Why are we relegated to the gallery and told to be respectfully silent? When's our chance?

5 comments:

THOMAS 'Tom' CIZAUSKAS said...

Also MIA is a representative of the Brewers Association, for all small US breweries.

Mark Haynie said...

Gee Lew, you actually think that our reps CARE what we think. It's all about them, not us. Whoever will pay for their re-election has the say. We get lip service at every turn and that's all.

Anonymous said...

Lew,
Am I missing something? Isn't this ONLY about the consumer? Without us, there's no them. You want their attention - stop consuming.

Lew Bryson said...

Yeah, you're missing something. This isn't about retail, it's about wholesale and production. We're not really involved.

And your idea of getting attention? That's like these grand schemes to "send a message" to the oil companies by not buying gasoline. Good luck with that. It's kind of like suggesting we stop breathing to protest air pollution.

Thomas said...

Mike Thompson represents Napa and surrounding wine regions so anytime you see him expect the voice of the wine industry to be present. They are his first and only priority.