Liars Lied and Killed the Postal Service Wine Shipping Bill?
It’s a felony to lie under oath to Congress. However, it is not against the law to lie to Congress in a letter to its members. This is the only reason why the heads of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association, the American Beverage Licensees and the American Distillers Alliance have not been brought up on federal charges.
As part of their successful attempt to kill the amendment to the U.S. Postal Service Reform Act that would have granted the USPS the ability to ship wine to consumers, the beer and wine wholesalers trade associations and their anti-consumer pals at the American Beverage licensees (retailers) and American Distillers Alliance (big spirits producers) told lies to U.S. senators in a letter outlining their opposition to USPS alcohol shipping.
It’s important to keep in mind that no one, including U.S. Senators, believes a word the wholesalers say nor do they give their arguments against alcohol shipping any credence or weight. However, they like the campaign contributions they dole out annually to the tune of millions of dollars.
So, the Amendment to allow USPS shipping of alcohol was pulled by its sponsor, Representative Jackie Speier of California. According to Beer Marketer’s Insights, Speier explained the withdrawal of her wine shipping amendment this way:
“It’s time to unshackle us from the power of the wholesalers….I’m telling you we have an obligation” to the postal service, consumers and small businesses because they get screwed by this prohibition.”
Here is the gist of what was in the letter that the wholesalers sent to members of Congress:
“Allowing the USPS to ship beverage alcohol will compromise the public health and safety priorities established by existing law, including increasing the risk of tainted and bootleg alcohol in the marketplace; undermining over 85 years of effective state-based alcohol regulation; adversely affecting excise tax collection and much-needed revenue; undoing long-standing coordination of federal and state alcohol policy.”
Not a single word of this is true. What’s worse is that the people that wrote the above words and put their name to it know none of it is true. Yet, they did so anyway. There’s are a few words to describe these kinds of people. I’m going with liars.
Representative Speier knows these are lies. The other Representatives and Senators know these are lies. And every member of the alcohol beverage trade knows these are lies. But…money.
In the end, the USPS will suffer. Consumers and producers and retailers won’t suffer all that much. FedEx, UPS and regional carriers do a fine job of demonstrating the absurdity of the wholesalers’ arguments.
But for the record, here’s the truth: There’s nothing about direct shipping from producers or retailers that impacts the three-tier system in a negative way. The three-tier system is already understood by everyone from licensees to regulators to consumers as being an archaic system of regulating alcohol that today merely serves as a return on investment for wholesaler money.
There is no threat of tainted or counterfeit wine in the United States and direct shipment of wine in no way negatively impacts the health and safety of Americans.
Tax collection and revenue increases for states under expanded direct shipment of alcohol because direct shipment increases sales. Moreover, it increases sales of more expensive wines, which means more tax revenue.
The only people who benefit from restrictions on the direct shipment of alcohol are the wholesalers whose business model and revenue is enhanced by restricting consumer access to alcohol and the lazy retailers who also benefit by being able to offer a puny selection of wine while consumer access to better selections is hampered.
Representative Speier’s effort to allow the USPS to bring in millions of dollars in revenue and to give consumers another choice in carriers via an amendment to the Postal Reform Act is dead. However, she will introduce a standalone bill to push for USPS alcohol shipping. Will the wholesalers lie about it…again?