Wine and the Clarion Call of “KIDS”!

Wine-distributors-lie-about-minors-and-alcohol Many of us have watched opponents of direct shipping cynically use the clarion call of "KIDS, BUT THE KIDS!" for years in their attempt to prevent the shipment of wines across state lines and directly to the homes of consumers.

Distributors can't be said to have no concern for the well being of children. They have children too, after all. But their faux concern for kids buying wine over the Internet then being on hand when the package arrives, being able to get the package with a fake ID without their parents finding out…well, we all know that its a faux concern. The worst part is that they know it's a faux concern too. That's what makes it unethical.

But those of use who have been involved in one way or another with the political battles surrounding direct shipping have been particularly upset and worried about this unethical tactic for one important and simple reason: It's not that we care about the souls of distributors, rather it's because we know that holding up kids as the raison d'etre for a public policy position often works.

A perfect example of how a people and politicians will quickly rally around a call to protect the children can be seen in the news that in just four years the amount of sugary drinks in schools has been reduced 95%. NINETY FIVE PERCENT in just four years.

This has resulted from parents and public policy advocates and health advocates working the system by holding up Children as the raison d'etre. And it worked.

In comparing the campaign to eliminate obesity by working to remove sugary drinks from schools with the campaign to save distributor profits from being reduced by exposing them to legitimate and necessary competition, I don't mean to suggest that the anti-obesity campaign is anything like as unethical as the distributors campaign to hold up kids in front of the bullets. It's not. It's just to demonstrate that using kids as a reason for change is an effective tactic.

Last week in Maryland distributors once again put up their cynical faux "save the children" argument at a hearing in Annapolis on a direct shipping bill. Over and over they were challenged with testimony that explained no member of law enforcement or alcohol enforcement anywhere had ever said they saw a problem resulting from direct shipment of wine. They were confronted with surveys of minors demonstrating that the direct shipping channel is not used by minors to obtain wine.

Yet, when the anti-consumer distributors, who know less about retail sales than any other segment of the alcohol industry, expressed their "concern" that kids would use direct shipping to buy wine then kill people in cars, you could just see the politicians at the hearing retreat from any sympathy they had for consumer rights and notions of free trade. The very thought of being tagged with wanting to be the person that put alcohol in kids hands backed them up from doing the right thing.

The Clarion Call of Kids is a powerful thing. Shamefully, the alcohol distributors use it to cry wolf for the sake of their own profits, not for the sake of the kids.

4 Responses

  1. Marcia - March 10, 2010

    Every time I hear this argument raised or see mention of it in an article, the great Robert Preston song from The Music Man (“Ya Got Trouble”) begins playing in my head. In the show, Preston, playing a con-man (you know his counterpart in the 3-tier system, Tom) launches into the song about a (made-up) fear of children being corrupted by the presence of a pool table in the River City billiard hall. We chuckle now over the ridiculous idea that something as innocuous as a pool table could be considered the ‘devil’s tool’ in wreaking havoc in children’s and parents’ lives. And yet certain parties raise a similar argument about allowing DTC shipping puts another ‘devil’s tool’ in hands of minors today.
    We laugh now at how easily the residents of River City were swayed by Preston’s smooth-talking salesman. And a large percentage of us are equally amazed at how earnestly legislators and others readily nod in concurrence with our modern-day “Harold Hill” characters. Keep at it!

  2. Louis - March 10, 2010

    Where did you get that pic of me? Do you know my mom?

  3. Winstrol - October 8, 2010

    We need to take all measures to protect from alcohol

  4. cheap calls - February 8, 2011

    Very interesting article. Parents are main responsible for their children s activities. Advertisements may be attractive but inculcating in their child’s minds what’s right and not , this issue at home is over. Having a precious time for your kids can lessen the possibilities for them to engage on this activities. Kids with proper guidance and attention would automatically stay away from this.

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