How the wine wholesaler brain works
Wine wholesalers have been given a state-mandated monopoly over wine sales for so long that now the wholesalers are starting to believe that their monopoly on sales is written into the U.S. Constitution.
According to a group of wholesalers who signed onto an article written in a Virginia newspaper:
"The U.S. Supreme Court decreed that the three-tier system of beverage
alcohol distribution as written in the 21st Amendment of the
Constitution does not interfere with the Commerce Clause, Article One
of the Constitution. We exist to perform a function of control and tax
collection for the commonwealth."
If you look closely at the Constitution and particularly the 21st Amendment, I don’t think you’ll find any reference to the "Three Tier System of Distribution". For those of you who are unaware of this system, it is the structure that underlies most alcohol distribution across the country: Producers sell to distributors who sell to retailers who sell to you. Most states have mandated this system of alcohol distribution. However, in some states local wineries have been granted an exception that allows them to bypass the distributor/wholesale tier and sell directly to retailers and restaurants. This exception usually means the winery can make more profit selling their wine and retailers can purchase it at a lower price than they would if they procured the wine through a wholesaler.
What’s striking is how this group of wholesalers in Virginia, where they are trying to revoke the wineries’ "self distribution privilege, could come to believe that the U.S. Constitution speaks to the three tier system. This is a perfect example of how monopoly leads to corruption and corruption leads to ass-backward thinking.
If anyone needed a reason to not trust wholesalers when it comes to advocating policy, all they have to do is read further down in this article:
"Lawmakers know that if the wholesale tier is eliminated, so is
the three-tier system mandated by the 21st Amendment. Also gone would
be the state’s ability to collect approximately $25 million in excise
In this short sentence the wholesalers’ representatives lie three times. That’s impressive.
1) No one in Virginia was advocating the elimination the three tier system, only that it not be mandated by the state. 2) The Three Tier System is not "mandated by the 21st Amendment. 3) And the state could, and has, easily and efficiently collected taxes on sales made directly from the winery to the retailer.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to label the above lies. The fact is I think these and other members of the wine wholesale trade actually BELIEVE the U.S. Constitution mandates the use of the three tier system. When you operate inside a system that prohibits competition, as the three tier system does for the wholesalers, you begin to think differently from the rest of us who live and work within a competitive environment. Clearly the wholesaler brain works differently from a normal person’s brain.