Thursday, February 19, 2009


Crying over spilt milk, isn’t that what we seem to do more than we realize? There is a turbulent, crazy-ass world out there, and the wine industry is no different than any other business (except when you speak of us in the company of politicians and puritanical). Yes, Kentucky just jumped to the forefront of ridiculously high alcohol taxes by giving you the ol’ 1-2 punch of 11% wholesale and 6% sales tax. This increase is their desperate attempt to balance a state budget they have been screwing hard and bankrupting for decades. It would have been much simpler and certainly more fair and just to the retailers in Northern Kentucky to have made the ENTIRE state “wet,” instead of using tax revenue generated by the 30 out of 120 counties that our wet to bear the burden so that the 90 dry counties can continue to use religious beliefs to shield the many bootleggers running roughshod over the law to further their own nefarious business ventures, and thus forsaking tax revenue they could be contributing to state coffers instead of padding their slimy little pockets (oh, this is hearsay of course).

The issue of all state governments is that they are run by lawyers and not businessmen. Businessmen with any concept of simple economics would not allow people who do not work, or do not perform to the expectations given them by said business owners, to continue to stay in their jobs. They would be fired.

The dynamic of the wine business is already volatile. Every day, another winery is sold to another big conglomerate, another wholesaler merges with their competition, and another brand jumps ship from one distributor to another. There should seriously be a scorecard of sorts to keep track of all of this, yet we retailers have to shoulder the burden of mediating the gripes of the consumers (tax increases, price increases, limited availability, exclusivities, etc., etc.). The consumers are right to be upset at times like these, when the economy is in the cesspool, and their elected officials do nothing but bicker like little schoolchildren. The logjam is getting mighty fierce out there, and the end is a long way down the road, due in large part to the astronomical incompetence allowed to run the show.

These politicians honestly have no right to even be in this world with the rest of us, who slog around from day to day, doing our jobs, paying our bills, looking out for our families, yet every obstacle they (the government) can put in our way, they find the most overtly cumbersome and infuriating way to do it.

The latest anger point for us here in Kentucky is that some of this newly generated tax revenue (which really hasn’t happened yet) is that some of the money will go to improving the Kentucky Speedway so that a NASCAR event will be held there – so NASCAR fans can come and get taxed to death for beer, bourbon and smokes.

Now, they already have their eyes on money that is not even collected, much less generated – the very crux of the dilemma that faces us as a nation. And God forbid, there is a backlash to this increase, and hundreds or even thousands are put out of work due to this increase – Ohio and Indiana consumers staying where they are and spending their money on beer, wine and tobacco in their own states, thus showing negative revenue where there should have been growth. That $180 million they thought was going happen suddenly becomes -$50 million – oh shit! Now what!

Well, they’ll go back and raise taxes some more, WTF?

I know that currently, the Governator in California, and Gov. Patterson in NY are socking it to wine lovers and other states are following suit. Hey, I know that when times are tight, and people are struggling, they turn to alcohol to drown their sorrows and forget they can’t pay their rent/mortgage/car payment/electric bill so let’s tax their only method of escape? Why not? But haven’t they ever heard the expression “you can’t get blood from a stone?” I think the government has been giving us the Medusa stare for far too long.

What can we do?

Vote, that’s what. You saw what it did this past election season. Do that every single time. If the guy in office in your town/county/state isn’t doing his/her job, give them their pink slip and get someone in that will. Keep doing it until the blowhards who run the political parties get the idea – no mediocre milquetoast candidates, give us someone, anyone who will get the job done, regardless of political ideologies or bank statements.

Is that too idealistic? Sure. Is it realistic? Probably not. The reality is that not only the wine industry, but the common folk in general will continue being gang-raped by our political leaders until the next Revolution. Or until someone comes along and lays the smack down on these troglodytes and exiles the whole lot of them to some floating turd in the Pacific.

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