There is No “Conservative” and no “Liberal” in Wine Politics
One of the most notable aspects of the various wine and alcohol-related political battles is that they rarely breakdown on partisan (Right versus Left) lines. There is no Republican view of alcohol regulation. There is no Democratic view of alcohol regulations.
I was reminded of this upon reading, “Free America’s Beverage Markets” by Kevin Kosar, a Senior Fellow at the Right leaning R Street Institute. In this piece, Kosar takes to task the states’ various absurd, archaic and mostly anti-consumer regulations. He sums up this view in writing that the 21st Amendment “does not mandate the rampant anti-consumer statutes and regulations that are so common States can do better. Legislators should support consumer choice, private enterprise and free markets by clearing out anachronistic and protectionist alcohol regulations and statutes.”
This piece published by the right leaning R Street Institute during the battle over rolling back the Granholm v Heald decision is substantially similar to an older piece by the left leaning Progressive Policy Institute:
“Given the growth and innovation we have seen in the alcohol industry, and the benefits to consumers of a vibrant national market for new products, it’s hard to see how anyone can make a valid case that the Granholm decision needs to be rolled back, or that distributors can’t continue to flourish in a competitive market, even if they no longer get to put their hands on every product moving into and out-of-state markets.”
The fact is, there is no conservative and no liberal policy where alcohol regulation is concerned. There is only money. Rarely do larger principles guide lawmakers and regulators when considering how to regulate (or deregulate) alcohol sales and distribution. In fact, you can nearly always predict a lawmakers position on an alcohol-related issue by examining their campaign contributions.
Citizens/voters do not have a say in the politics of alcohol legislation, as I have just experienced in Nevada AB4. The nod goes to the 3 Tier system because “he who has the gold rules”. The distributor and the politician have all the gold. Distributors pay the politician (oh dear me, I mean they lobby and make known the benefits of their industry) and the politicians in return protect the distributor. Politicians have the 1933 laws to uphold. As Tom has pointed out, the consumers get hit with about a 30% increase in costs and the little distillary or winemaker is frozen out because they do not have enough volume to make it worth a distributors time and space and distributors take a unholy bite from small producers. The DtC alternative is still a poor choice.
If it were put to a general election vote, would consumers mandate that the 3 Tier system stay in place? Doubtful. In any event the government still gets their tax so why are distributors protected with artificial rules? Short answer-politicians who are there to help the consumer? Big brother of the state. Elections are a cost to the consumer that are a cost in perpetuity and no resulting benefit to the voter.