Wine and the Clarion Call of "KIDS"!
Many of us have watched opponents of direct shipping cynically use the
clarion call of "KIDS, BUT THE KIDS!" for years in their attempt to
prevent the shipment of wines across state lines and directly to the
homes of consumers.
Distributors can't be said to have no
concern for the well being of children. They have children too, after
all. But their faux concern for kids buying wine over the Internet then
being on hand when the package arrives, being able to get the package
with a fake ID without their parents finding out...well, we all know
that its a faux concern. The worst part is that they know it's a faux
concern too. That's what makes it unethical.
of use who have been involved in one way or another with the political
battles surrounding direct shipping have been particularly upset and
worried about this unethical tactic for one important and simple
reason: It's not that we care about the souls of distributors,
rather it's because we know that holding up kids as the raison d'etre
for a public policy position often works.
A perfect example of how a people and politicians will quickly rally around a call to protect the children can be seen in the news that in just four years the amount of sugary drinks in schools has been reduced 95%. NINETY FIVE PERCENT in just four years.
has resulted from parents and public policy advocates and health
advocates working the system by holding up Children as the raison
d'etre. And it worked.
In comparing the campaign to eliminate
obesity by working to remove sugary drinks from schools with the
campaign to save distributor profits from being reduced by exposing
them to legitimate and necessary competition, I don't mean to suggest
that the anti-obesity campaign is anything like as unethical as the
distributors campaign to hold up kids in front of the bullets. It's
not. It's just to demonstrate that using kids as a reason for change is
an effective tactic.
Last week in Maryland distributors once
again put up their cynical faux "save the children" argument at a
hearing in Annapolis on a direct shipping bill. Over and over they were
challenged with testimony that explained no member of law enforcement
or alcohol enforcement anywhere had ever said they saw a problem
resulting from direct shipment of wine. They were confronted with
surveys of minors demonstrating that the direct shipping channel is not
used by minors to obtain wine.
Yet, when the anti-consumer
distributors, who know less about retail sales than any other segment
of the alcohol industry, expressed their "concern" that kids would use
direct shipping to buy wine then kill people in cars, you could just
see the politicians at the hearing retreat from any sympathy they had
for consumer rights and notions of free trade. The very thought of
being tagged with wanting to be the person that put alcohol in kids
hands backed them up from doing the right thing.
Clarion Call of Kids is a powerful thing. Shamefully, the alcohol
distributors use it to cry wolf for the sake of their own profits, not
for the sake of the kids.