Let’s Hear It For The Lobbyists On A Job Well Done
What do you call a prostitute working in Washington, DC? . . . A Lobbyist.
What happens when a lobbyist and a congressperson have sex? . . . The taxpayers get screwed.
Lobbyists are viewed very similarly to lawyers. Everyone hates them, jokes about them and condemns them just up until the moment they need one.
Well, if you are in the wine business (or the alcohol business for that matter) then today you ought to set aside your disdain for lobbyists and give them a nod for a job well done. The recently released U.S. Dietary Guidelines that make recommendations on how and when and how much people ought to consume various foods and drinks was released WITHOUT the proposed change in alcohol consumption guidelines.
The old guidelines suggested that women should have no more than one drink per day while men should consume no more than two drinks per day. In the run-up to creating new guidelines, it was proposed by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that the recommendation for men be reduced 50% to one drink per day, just as it is for women. The new guidelines rejected that proposal and the recommendations for men remain the same as they have been for the past 20 years.
YOU CAN THANK ALCOHOL INDUSTRY LOBBYISTS!
When the original recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee appeared this summer suggesting the official recommendation for alcohol consumption be reduced for men to one drink per day, America’s alcohol lobbyists went out of their way to inform anyone and everyone that the Advisory Committee guidelines were political and not supported by science. The industry as a whole argued the guidelines on alcohol consumption should remain unchanged in the coming revised guidelines.
On its face, the Federal Dietary Guidelines and their recommendations for alcohol consumption may not seem important. It’s not as though the recommendation that men only consume one alcoholic drink per day would be the law and the alcohol police will hunt down the guy who would crack open a second beer by the second quarter. It’s a recommendation only.
But what’s true is that very often federal recommendations like this are used by state and federal lawmakers to justify various changes in the law. They are used in academia to draw conclusions in scientific papers that will also be used to justify changes in policy and law that would be restrictive in almost every case. In other words, this seemingly small change to the recommendations on alcohol consumption for Americans was important.
Lobbyists for producers, wholesalers and retailers all helped publicly declare opposition to the proposed guidelines. Each explained the unscientific nature of the changes. Each reached out to federal lawmakers. They testified at hearings. And they kept lobbying to keep out the changes in recommendations on alcohol consumption from the final guidelines.
In the end, the changes to the recommendations were rejected because, “there was not a preponderance of evidence in the material the committee reviewed to support specific changes, as required by law.”
Now mind you, whether the evidence to support the changes was there or not, this was not why the recommendations were left out of the guidelines. The reason they were left out was because lobbyists for the alcohol industry drew so much attention to the fact that the science didn’t support the recommendations and that the recommendations were political and that the recommendations if adopted in the final Guidelines, would harm the industry. This distinction on what led to the recommendation on alcohol not being adopted may seem like no distinction at all. But it highlights the value and utility of the lobbyist in alcohol policy.
So, yes, I get it…What do you call 100 lobbyists at the bottom of the ocean? A good start…is funny and a relatively good depiction of how most people view lobbyists and the work they do. But today, maybe just today only, you can give a nod to lobbyists for getting a good job done.