The Wine, The Governor, The Veto and the Anal Probe
Massachusetts Governor and potential presidential candidate in ’08 Mitt Romney(R) has vetoed a bill that would have given his state’s residents the opportunity to purchase wine direct from wineries. His reason? He called it "anti-consumer" and simple protection for the state’s wholesalers.
And he’s right.
As he put it: "This bill does not give wine lovers the opportunity to purchase the
bottlings they want. It creates artificial barriers to protect Massachusetts
wholesalers at the expense of a free market."
The most odious part of this law was the restrictions it placed on wineries making more than 30,000 cases of wine who had distributors in the state. These wineries would not have been able to ship to MA consumers. The only reason to place such a restriction in the law IS to protect wholesalers’ business. Why not a law that protects consumers from wholesalers, instead.
As a result of the veto, the MA House and Senate will have to reconsider their approach to direct shipping legislation. The correct solution is to allow consumers to purchase wine via mail, phone and Internet from where ever they want, regardless of the size of the winery or retailer.
My hunch is that the wholesalers will take to this idea as willingly as they would an anal probe. With direct shipping being liberalized across the country the wholesalers are not longer afraid of losing sales of one bottle or two here and there. They are focused on the big picture, the big shippers. They are worried that real free trade would allow wineries to sell direct not only to consumers, but to retailers and restaurateurs also. Such a situation is the very definition of anal probe to a wholesaler.
Romney did a pretty brave thing in MA. And though I don’t know, I’d guess he’s not been a recipient of wholesaler campaign contribution.