Michael Johnson, a lobbyist for beer wholesalers, writes a completely self-serving column designed to calm those concerned about HR 1161, widely touted as a bill to outlaw direct shipping of wine. Mr. Johnson (no relation) refers to 1161 by its marketing-friendly name, the CARE Act, and want’s us all to understand:
The CARE Act would not end direct shipping of alcohol anywhere. It would actually protect a state’s ability to allow direct-to-consumer shipments for alcohol producers. In fact, nearly 40 states — including my home state of Virginia where, yes, I have had wine direct shipped legally from a winery to my home — allow some form of direct-to-consumer alcohol shipments. The CARE Act would not impact a single one of those laws — or any future state laws.
This is, essentially, what I’ve been saying since the bill was introduced a couple of years ago. HR 1161 is going to make almost no difference in the regulation of alcohol. It will make a difference in the ability of other lobbying groups to sue states in federal court, but how much that matters is debatable. I say, it doesn’t matter much at all.
That the only person I can find who agrees with my position is a shill for beer distributors brings me no comfort. So, to offset my sudden discomfort at finding myself on the side of serpents, I will now crack wise about all the self-promotional bullshit Michael Johnson uses to extend his column from one to 10 paragraphs.
First, a little background is in order. America’s 3,300 beer distributors (whom I represent) and the 3,500 wine and spirits distributors are all part of the state-based system of alcohol safeguards. We help promote localized control, strong community protections and near unlimited consumer choice. Every time you see a beer truck outside a local store, or a guy rolling a hand-cart stacked with cases of beer into your favorite bar — that’s us.
No, it’s not. That’s the beer truck delivery guy. You — and the beer wholesalers who pay your no doubt fat salary — are a bunch of highly compensated middlemen who want to make sure advances in technology don’t disintermediate your business the way they have other consumer goods. To do this, you’re claiming all kinds of noble motivation that we’d have to be stupid to believe, while in the background allying with neo-prohibitionists who would put you out of business if they had their way. Empowering those people may not be the best long-term strategy.
You’re right about 1161; I’ll give you that. It doesn’t do what your opponents say it’s going to do. But let’s not pretend for a second, Mr. Johnson, that you’re concerned about anything but what you’re being paid to be concerned about, which is the preservation of market dominance by a wealthy and well-connected business lobby.