Can We Agree That Alcohol and Lies Don’t Pair Well?
My argument is a simple one: In advancing or promoting or opposing any alcohol-related policy, you should tell the truth. The corollary to this position is equally simple: Don’t lie.
I focus on this position today in response to a common lie that has been resurrected in opposing the proposal to allow the U.S. Postal Service to ship alcohol and augment their revenue in doing so. Below is the #1 argument put forward by a former alcohol regulator from Oregon and one of the most prominent proponents of vigorous regulation of alcohol why the U.S. Postal Service should not be allowed to ship alcohol:
“1. Public health and safety: As most people know, alcohol can cause great harm and is regulated to reduce that harm. It’s a balancing act because after Prohibition, our nation decided to allow businesses to sell alcohol but to use regulation to curb harmful practices. It doesn’t work perfectly, but we have achieved a reasonable level of balance and moderation. For example, the US ranks 45th in terms of total alcohol consumed per person according to the World Health Organization, well below a lot of developed countries. Nevertheless, we continue to be concerned about issues of underage drinking, excessive drinking and drunk driving. These issues are in the news today as these problems seem to have gotten worse during the Pandemic. Expanding the shipping of alcohol to homes could exacerbate these problems.”
Is this a lie? It is a lie. It’s a lie to suggest that public health is in any way related to the issue of shipping alcohol via common carriers. Never once in the history of the world has the shipment of alcohol directly to consumers caused any health or safety issues. Not once. In fact, by every measure, the shipment of alcohol is the safest way to assure alcohol does not get into the hands of minors and does not result in health issues.
Yet here is Pamela Erikson, publisher of the Healthy Alcohol Marketplace, submitting that “Public Health and Safety” is the #1 reason the Postal Service ought not to be allowed to ship alcohol. Erikson and her newsletter find their primary support from American alcohol wholesalers. This is not beside the point.
For decades now we were told that wine shipping would result in minors obtaining alcohol. It never has. States defending themselves against lawsuits challenging protections bans on wine shipping have long claimed that these discriminatory laws are necessary to advance the state’s interest in protecting the health and safety of their state’s citizens. No evidence has ever been presented that shows anything of the sort.
If you read Erikson’s feeble argument advancing “health and safety” as a reason to reject Postal Service shipping of alcohol, note that the one and only claim she makes to support this contention is this: “Expanding the shipping of alcohol to homes could exacerbate these problems.”
I’m honestly curious why Ms. Erikson did not also make the case that allowing the U.S. Postal Service to ship alcohol may lead to an increase in the U.S. murder rate, invite dangerous aliens to invade our planet, cause dams to crack, and buckle or lead to global cooling. All these things are equally likely to occur if the U.S. Postal Service begins shipping alcohol directly to consumers.
As lies are what we should not be promoting, let’s instead tell the truth. The source of Ms. Erikson’s and other opponents of Postal Service shipment of alcohol is the opposition to direct to consumer shipping in general. The fear is that allowing the Postal Service to ship wine along with FedEx and UPS is that it will amount to the federal government endorsing DTC alcohol shipping. That’s exactly what it is.
So here is the principle you should keep in mind. When a group’s number one argument for or against something is a straight-up lie, you can conclude with confidence that they possess no good arguments for their position.
By the way, it is notable that Ms. Erikson’s lie about the Postal Service shipping alcohol matches perfectly with the argument made by the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America’s argument against Postal Service alcohol shipping. Consider the first reason WSWA President and CEO Michelle Korsmo gives in that organization’s announcement that they oppose Postal Service reform:
“Allowing the USPS to ship beverage alcohol would compromise the work of policymakers across America who work hard to control underage access to alcohol and keep moderate levels of consumption part of safe and healthy communities.”
If you read all of WSWA’s statement concerning Postal Service alcohol shipment you will find that Ms. Korsmo, like Ms. Erikson, offers not a single piece of evidence to support their contention that alcohol shipping does anything to compromise the health and safety of communities or people. Zero.
Again, it’s important the remind folks like Ms. Korsmo and Ms. Erikson that they shouldn’t lie.