Posts Filed Under wine shipping
[Editor’s Note: this is a little ditty for those of you who, like the editor, live in one of the many U.S. states that prohibit the direct sale and/or shipping of wine. Enjoy!]
Bitchslapping your state legislator is not a simple matter. In fact, it’s fraught with potential pitfalls.
What if your legislator is bigger than you are? What if s/he tries to bitchslap you back? What would my mother think of this? etc.
A proper bitchslap needs to be delivered decisively and confidently. Therefore, it’s vitally important not to let minor concerns, like personal safety and the threat of incarceration, get into the way of a good bitchslapping. So, buck and let’s continue, shall we?
A proper bitchslap also need to be delivered firmly. Which is why it’s often less effective to deliver the bitchslap by hand, and more effective to deliver the bitchslap via proxy. Which is not to say that it is delivered by someone else, but is to say that use of a prop is always in good form, especially when the prop delivers enough noise and bodily pain upon striking the other person’s face to be embarrassing , but not enough to permanently injure the bitchslappee (apart from the bitchslappee’s pride, that is). The prop therefore should be heavy enough to inflict the above damage but flexible and light enough for the bitchslapper to wield effectively and adroitly.
You may have already guessed that a printed book or stack of paper of proper thickness and quality material would be an ideal prop for the bitchslapper to wield, and you’d be correct in that assessment.
Which is why I recommend the following simple steps for properly bitchslapping your wine-monopolizing state legislator…
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There is, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a time-honored and long-standing tradition that takes place every year.
I’m not talking about the February 2nd ritual of watching expectantly to see if Punxsutawney Phil will glimpse his own shadow, heralding six additional weeks of Winter.
I’m not talking about the amazing July 4th event that takes place in downtown Philadelphia, drawing nearly one million people together to celebrate PA’s unique place and status in the history of the United States’ liberty-based government.
No, I’m talking about the annual Harrisburg tradition that comes around every Summer, in which the PA state senate and governor fail to pass a budget in time for the next fiscal year. PA governor Ed Rendell has the dubious distinction of being seemingly incapable of herding PA’s senate into signing any budget into law before the state teeters on the verge of government program funding meltdown.
To put it kindly, the PA state budget is in a state of total crisis. The Commonwealth now faces a budget shortfall of $3.2 billion, or roughly the GDP of Mauritania. That kind of deficit is basically a guarantee of missing end of fiscal year targets, since it’s unlikely that any Senate would be happy with the level of cuts needed to reign in such a monstrous shortfall. This situation has the ability to self-perpetuate: When the state budget is not positioned well to weather a poor economy, the budget deficit grows; it becomes harder and harder to pass a budget due to the pressures of cutting programs that will piss of the state Senate’s constituents; the next year’s budget is then passed late due to the in-fighting, and thus faces more pressures and a potentially greater deficit, which means the budget is poorly positioned for the next economic storm… and the cycle starts all over again. Which is more-or-less what’s been happening in Harrisburg.
And yet, the PA state government is sitting on a goldmine that could – relatively quickly – halve that deficit. It simply lacks the courage and will to act on it.
The goldmine? Wine…
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As many of you already know, I am no friend of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
I suppose that is putting it a bit mildly, since I’ve likened their unconcstitutional state-run wine monopoly to Communism, publicly ridiculed the 40%+ premium that they add to state wine prices (while at the same time limiting selection, reducing service quality, and boating some of the worst storage conditions in the country), and accused them of engaging in fear-mongering and sycophantic lobbying to protect their monopoly position.
But who’s bitter? Me?!? I’m not bitter!!! Who you callin’ a PSYCHO!??!!!
Anyway, the good news is that I no longer have to utilize previous 1WineDude.com real estate to fight the good fight against the PLCB. I’ve found a blog dedicated to that purpose, and I’d argue that its author (Lew Bryson) does a better job of it than I’d ever do!
I give you noplcb.blogspot.com, a.k.a. “Why The PLCB Should Be Abolished“!
For PA wine lovers, this blog will be hilariously funny in the same “cuts-so-close to reality that it kinda makes you wanna cry” way that Dilbert is hilariously funny for cubicle workers…
While I will probably defer to Lew on all matters PLCB from now on, I should note that I’m not an advocate for abolishing the PLCB – or any state-run liqour monopoly, for that matter. I simply want those monopolies to adhere to the decisions of their state and federal constitutions, and to ammend existing laws to permit competition with those monopolies.
Let them have their fair shot in the real world, and not in the ‘fake’ marketplace set up under the protection of state governments. Personally, I don’t think their business plans stand a snowball’s chance in hell, but let’s leave that to the open market to decide – and not the lobbyists.
When you’re talking about a monopoly that brings billions of dollars to those states, it’s a Sisyphusian struggle to be sure, and I’m sure that some of my rants about this topic sound downright naive.
But… the way that these state wine monopolies run is appalling; the message it sends is that the government will protect businesses from having to adhere to the Constitution, so long as those businesses make enough revenue for the state.
And that’s just not the kind of world in which I want my daughter to grow up.
Forbes.com ran an interesting (and sobering) article this week about the future of small to medium wineries in the U.S. (primarily CA, WA, & OR).
What this article says is that, due to the proliferation of wineries, wine brands, and distributors (5000+, 7000+, and 450+ respectively – in the U.S. alone), consolidation is inevitable. Throw in the escalating fight for retail shelf space (usually won by the largest players with the most retail muscle) and skyrocketing land value prices in those aforementioned states, and you have an industry almost ripe for the picking. According to the Forbes.com article, a recent study by Silicon Valley Bank estimates that over 1000 of wineries in those states may change ownership in the next 10 years.
This is not just a situation impacting the U.S. Global competition is creating large wine brand conglomerates with global reach. And rising land prices are certainly not unique to U.S. wine properties – just check out Noble Rot to see what land value and inheritance taxes are doing to the Bordeaux wine area prices, which eventually are driving smaller players out of the market (and ins some cases, out of their family properties) entirely.
With all of this going on, you’d think that Internet wine sales might help to level the playing field for these smaller players.
And you’d be wrong. Way wrong…
Why? Because antiquated wine shipping and alcohol sales laws, as well as unfair state licensing fees effectively prevent many smaller wineries from selling their products online.
Those wineries that do brave the insanity of interstate sales have a heady task in front of them – according to the Forbes.com article:
“A winery shipping a single case to each state that allows direct sales (there are now 37) would have to submit 725 forms to conform with sales, excise and state income taxes.“
That’s not a joke.
This totally sucks, on two counts.
- Wineries with amazing products can’t get those products to people who want to buy them – resulting in lost sales, and, as mentioned in the Forbes.com article “family-owned microbrands have seen their pricing power and ability to demand shelf space trickle away.” This is Bad for the U.S.’s ailing economy.
- The average wine consumer also gets screwed in the process – fewer players controlling the wine brands available to you, and fewer ways for you to get those wine brands. So you can’t spend your money even if you wanted to – also Bad for the ailing economy.
I’ve contacted the campaign centers for the presumptive 2008 U.S. Presidential nominees, Senators Obama and McCain, to find out where they stand on the issue of interstate commerce and wine sales.
So far, I’ve received nothing but canned responses… but I’ll keep trying in the hopes that they answer, because for a geek like me this issue is part of the larger problem of archaic bureaucracy negatively impacting the economics of U.S. citizens. Watch this space…
(images: autocrisis.com, ecu.edu)