Florida Passing Bill to Pay Booze Wholesalers to Do Nothing

payoffSo, here’s how it’s going to work in Florida if you are a craft beer brewer:

1. You make great beer.

2. You bottle it for sale in your brew pub

3. You must sell it to a distributor/wholesaler

4. The distributor/wholesalers isn’t required to pick up the bottled beer

5. The distributor/wholesaler marks up your beer 30% and you buy it back at the higher price

6. The beer never left your premises.

This is not a joke. This is the specific way by which Florida craft brewers need to be prepared to get screwed by their friends in the beer, wine and spirits wholesale tier and their lawmakers. Let me just reiterate. In order for a brewer to sell bottled beer from his own brewpub, he must sell it first to a distributor who will come pick it  and never touch it, but will market it up and sell it back to the brewer and it will never leave the brewer’s premises. The way this will work in practice is like this: the brewer will make and bottle his beer, then cut a check to the wholesaler for the privilege of selling his own beer in his own brewpub. The wholesaler will do nothing but receive checks.

There’s a word for this sort of thing. Actually there are many words and phrases to describe this. The best word is “theft”. Another good phrase is “protection money”. Another word is “corruption”.

Why was this new bill introduced and why did it today pass the Florida Senate Community Affairs Committee? The reason is political corruption. Wholesalers pay off politicians who then do their bidding by forcing other business to pay the wholesalers money for absolutely no services at all. And if the brewer doesn’t abide by this corrupt deal, they get fined by the government.

This is the “Three Tier System” at work. Not a single wholesaler in Florida or anywhere else in the country has had the gumption to stand up and say, “wait a minute, this wrong”. This is because wholesalers are completely corrupted by the three-tier system. They are worse than the thief who breaks into your home and steals our stuff. At least the thief had to work for it.

Politicians pretend to want to stand up for the three-tier system, but what they really are standing up for is to shake the hand of the wholesalers who are stuffing their fists full of cash in exchange for protecting the wholesalers protection racket.

This sort of thing is becoming so common now that it’s only a matter of time before a reputable publication does a real, probing story on the damage that wholesalers and the three-tier system have done over the past 80 years, how it is stopping entrepreneurship in its tracks, how the three-tier system is costing business and consumers billions of dollars and how politicians are in the hands of the wholesalers. It really is only matter of time.


7 Responses

  1. David Pergl - April 8, 2014

    This should be the “Straw that Breaks the Back”

    How high can the arrogance go ? Where is 60 minutes when it really counts ! 🙁
    ; )

  2. Tom Wark - April 8, 2014

    it is remarkable, isn’t David?

  3. tom merle - April 9, 2014

    Actually this is the kind of abuse that 60 minutes loves to do a story on. Someone should reach to them.

  4. David T - April 9, 2014

    This is already the case for spirits distilled in Ohio. The state owns and distributes all alcohol above 42 proof for sale in Ohio and licenses retailers to sell it on their behalf. Local distilleries who produce small-batch spirits and sell it directly to consumers act as agents of the state, and have to cut the state a check for a share of the profits from the sale (in addition to all the taxes) as though they had put it into the state’s distribution system for sale at a retail outlet. Again all without the spirit leaving the producer’s premises. Granted the end price to the consumer is set by the state (based on the price the producer ‘sells’ it to the state for) and uniform whether or it’s purchased from the producer or a retailer, and the money goes to an economic development fund not a huge distributor’s CEO/stockholders, but still almost exactly what you describe above.

  5. Bill Haydon - April 10, 2014

    And once again, Mr. Wark would have you believe that these damned, dirty wholesaler apes are the only ones paying to pay in our toxic political environment. The saintly wineries go quietly about their work and don’t muddy their hands with such tactics. Like much of what Mr. Wark rants about, reality is far different and far more complex.

    [[If you’ve followed the Anderson Valley Advertiser for any length of time, you’re no doubt aware that the wine industry wields inordinate political power, not only here on the North Coast, but at the state-wide level also. Whether they’re fighting to prevent regulation of their enormous appetite for water, or greasing the political gears for a big forest-to-vineyard conversion, the wine industry’s major players are deeply involved in politics. As case after case has shown, the wine industry tends to get its way with respect to water, zoning, labor laws, subsidies, and more. But what is it, specifically, that makes the grape-based booze industry so powerful?]]


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