An Unethical Partnership?
Recently, an administrative bureaucrat went well beyond his role as the enforcer of laws that others passed, and became the protector, champion and cheerleader of those folks whose actions they are charged with monitoring for the state. If not a culture of corruption that lets this happen, it is certainly an attitude of disregard that supports this kind of improper dismissal of fairness, perspective and self control.
Yesterday in a press release issued by the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission, the body charged with overseeing and carrying out the alcohol laws of that state, the Administrator Alan Steen described an effort by his Commission to work with FEDex and UPS to prevent "unlicensed [out-of-state] retailers from selling and shipping wine to consumers in Texas". (By the way, it's not illegal for a Texan to buy wine from an out-of-state wine retailer. However, it is illegal for them to have that wine shipped to their home or office n Texas).
Good for Texas and Allan Steen. They are working hard down there. But what really distrubed me was what I found in the rest of the press release. Specifically this:
"The wine industry is one of the fastest and most competitive aspects of the beverage alcohol industry today. Local access, convenience and competition in Texas are ever-growing, and I strongly believe consumer needs can be met through legal channels available in our state."
There are a lot of problems with this kind of statement from Administrator Steen.
1. While I have no personal knowledge of any illegal shipments of wine into Texas, isn't it true that if there are illegal shipments of wine to Texas wine lovers from out of state retailers, then clearly the consumer demand can't be met by legal channels in that state??
2. While this point sounds like parsing things too fine, I assure you that it isn't—I assure you that Administrator Steen used the term "consumer needs" rather that "consumer demand" or consumer desires" in order to communicate that Texas wine lovers will have to do with what the current Texas market place allows them, not what they want or desire.
What I suspect we have here is a clear case of of an administrator lapping up the propaganda of those he is supposed to be overseeing: Wholesalers. This complete and total lack of concern for consumer demand and desire and the defense of a system of wine distribution that clearly is not fair, free or functional, is the exact kind of defense that wholesalers make about systems where they are in complete and total control of inventory that gets distributed in the state. Shame on Mr. Steen for working on behalf of wine distributors rather than the public.