Tuesday, April 20, 2010
It is an image that permeates our society and ignites the best that America is. The little guy with faith, hope and resolve facing down the giant that everyone fears. We Americans have identified with this idea since the conception of our nation. It is our true heritage no matter where our ancestors came from and continues to burn bright in the hearts of Americans today.
The under-dog, the outnumbered, the fight waged against impossible odds. The Lone Ranger, the courageous warrior thrust to the center of the fight armed with only wits and a sling. Set out in a vastly deserted battle field to face an army of better equipped, better organized, bigger foes. Approaching the enemy our hero is ridiculed, mocked and laughed at from in front and behind. Silent echoes sound through the mind. Should I tire in battle will I retreat or press on? Will I be strong enough to suffer the slings and arrows of the enemy? Is there a chance to strike a resounding blow for freedom? Whats worth the prize is always worth the fight and I must press on.
That is the issue of Inter-State Commerce and Direct to Consumer sales freedom. The life's blood of the FREE MARKET and the small producer that has more to lose but would gladly sacrifice all for the freedom to compete.
Big business would repeal the 21st Amendment if it would allow them and only them to control the market. They did at one time. They were the syndicated corrupt bootleggers and underbelly of the black market that waged war in this country during prohibition. If H.R. 5034 is allowed to pass the cause for a free market will be struck in its heart. The only ones left in control will be the large wholesale distributors that will affect price, product volume and competition suffocating the very issue of what a free economy stands for and crushing the little guy along the way.
Make no mistake about this issue. This is corporate fascism scheming to gain control of the free market against a more just and democratic form of business. The bill at its heart contend to control the flow of goods between states in the name of the public good, but there is something else more sinister here. If allowed to pass, the Judicial Branch will be told for the first time in our history that they are non-essential. Yes this is about alcohol, but a precedent will be set for other issues and we will have anarchy, separatism and sedition to contend with in the future if we do not say now, NO to controling the free market and YES to the check and balance that is the Supreme court. No to rewriting the Constitution of the United States and Yes to the small businessman, the entrepreneur, the artisan crafter.
Sensational? Maybe, but give an inch of freedom to one who would control a thing and lose 200 years of hard fought independence to men who would be king.
Posted by George Parkinson at 12:51 PM
Saturday, April 17, 2010
There has been upheaval and calamity in Washington DC this week over big liquor business and lobby money pushing their anti-DTC (direct to consumer) agenda. (see H.R. 5034)
The country is on the verge of allowing a few large companies to dictate to the American people what alcohol they may buy and eventually this will lead how much they pay for it, how it's marketed and so on. H.R. 5034, is designed to keep small producers from going outside the major distributors and direct to the consumer with the use of the Internet. If passed it would place two major companies key distribution rights for more than 30% of the industry and open the door for them to grow fast, fat and furious to the point of a nation wide monopoly.
Their tactics are one of scare and half-truths but the reality is that these companies have contributed heavily to some career politicians and with Warren Buffet in the game as a major player, (he took an ownership role in a liquor distributor in Georgia), the sky's the limit for control of the industry. Small producers would have to pay in product and price in order for their goods to be sold in many if not all U.S. markets and the guerrilla war would begin in earnest.
Think of it, these companies at the forefront of the bill are trying to control the flow of goods to market through their doors. The Internet channel would be shut down and some micro-brewer in Missouri that has a special Lambic style blueberry ale, which a customer in Boston wants to buy would not be allowed to sell or ship said good for fear of a loss of taxes, and the opportunity the product would end up in the hands of a curious teenager. Not based in any reality, but one could paint the scariest of pictures and provide media fodder for the passage of the bill.
Then what? Well bootlegging would be back and the underground black markets would be on the rise. If a person has to have a favorite brand of wine, beer, spirit, they're going to find a way to get it. Bills like these never keep the youth from drinking, any self respecting teen always finds an opportunity to get what they want. Getting caught may be inevitable, but these laws do not deter, they encourage. As a species we always want what we are told we can not have. That applies to every freedom on Earth. The more someone tries to control us the more we struggle to break away. So with this bill, wineries and breweries and distilleries all over the world would employ guerrilla tactics against the large gorilla companies and the gorilla law makers to get product to the buying public.
The idea that we as a people would find our youth drunk in the street by 10 a.m. because we allow Internet sales direct to the consumer is ridiculous and insults the intelligence of the American citizen. The consideration that DTC paths steal tax revenues from the state and would force the loss of jobs, industry and social programs is laughable. The suggestion that frivolus law suits are tying up our courts because of DTC concerns is an immature position by a big organization acting like a spoiled brat that wants to take their ball from the other players on the playground and go home.
This bill is asking for one thing, control for a few over the many and must be stopped. Please write your state and federal representative and voice your concern. Let them know that control in any form is not the American way. H.R. 5034 is the wrong thing to do. Ask them why they would put the control of so many small businesses in the hands of a few companies. This is communist idealism at its worst.
Posted by George Parkinson at 8:58 AM
Saturday, April 10, 2010
When you dine out, does your server help with the wine selection? Do you feel comfortable, rather secure, in soliciting answers about the wine list? Do you bother to ask about food pairing opportunities? Do you feel that you know more about wine 90% of the time than your server knows?
I am finding it more and more difficult to ask a waiter anything about their wine list. It is not their ability, most servers care to give good service to their customers as this determines their gratuity. Its not the available wines, or the food suggestions or really anything other than necessary information and an active daily use of the product. I find most waiters don't drink wine regularly enough to have an educated opinion.
Once upon a time, waiting tables was considered a fine profession. Dinning room management was as well, however the last bastion of professional status in most houses is left to the kitchen and the chefs that work in them. The floor has become a stepping stone to other life paths and the level of involvement in product and service knowledge is fleeting. Ask you server what their job aspirations are and very rarely if ever will you get a response along the lines of Professional Restaurateur. The same question might also be asked of the floor supervisor or "Maitre'd" or Manager. Today's service professional by and large are moving to other industries as soon as opportunity knocks and it shows in the level of involvement in their current line of work.
It use to be as well that servers and managers alike were tested weekly on product knowledge in all areas of the menu; food, wine, beverage; this no longer happens due to the rapid pace of employee turnover and available time to schedule training. Lets face it, if the job is a stepping stone, most servers have other priorities than to arrive 1-2 hours early for educational training. The cost that a company cares to invest in this training is out-weighed by profits and reduced labor costs, so training is done on the fly. The result is a need for the customer to know their food and wine subject matter and rely on the server for timely delivery of the order and that costs 15% - 20% of the bill in the form of a tip.
It seems to me that in this economy, and with the cost of the babysitter, the gas, the food & drink, I should get something more out of my experience. Is it too much to expect that my server be educated enough to offer opinions about the wine list? It seems to me that the restaurant industry needs to take a long hard look at how a better educated staff would encourage higher sales and customer frequency. Just sayin', Cheers.
Posted by George Parkinson at 11:43 AM