Jack Daniel stifles prosperity

WhiskeyThe beer, wine, and liquor trade is one of the most politically-corrupted industries in America. That’s due in part to our history of blue-nosed Puritans trying to use the power of the state to make us all just as virtuous and unhappy as they.  I’m sure I needn’t point out the ridiculous attempt to outlaw the sale of alcohol under Prohibition, which predictably resulted in huge rises in alcoholism, crime, and poisonings, as desperate alkys drank “denatured” alcohol that had been poisoned to protect them.

Although Prohibition was ended when its horrific damage to society became too obvious to ignore, it was one of the very few times the state has pulled back from trying to run our lives. And it didn’t pull back very much. Alcohol is still heavily regulated and taxed, for our own good of course. In my home state of Virginia, for example, liquor can only be sold in state-owned stores. And established alcohol sellers and makers have long since learned to cozy up to the power of the state.

Take a look at major contributors to the campaigns for legislator and governor in any state, and you’re almost certain to find that beer, wine, and liquor distributors are right at the top of the list. That’s because, like most state regulation, alcohol regulation serves the established businesses it is supposed to oversee, by raising barriers to entry. A liquor distributing license, for example, is very difficult (and expensive) to get, and thus it’s really a license to make money.

Another example of this symbiotic relationship is what’s going on now in Tennessee. It seems that the Jack Daniel distillery has managed to persuade the honorable legislators of Tennessee to pass a law saying that whiskey makers in the state have to make their whiskey the way Jack Daniel does. Even if they want to make it differently. That adds a great deal of expense to the process, with debatable effects on quality, and, as intended, raises a barrier to entry:

Distillers: Stuffy whiskey law stifles town’s revival

The only thing standing in the way, say distillers Michael Ballard and Jesse James Dupree, is the state’s stuffy law restricting how spirits must be made so they can be marketed as “Tennessee Whiskey.” …

“It’s been over a year now that we’ve sat dormant because of this whiskey law,” Dupree said. “That’s another 30 people in this town who would be working.” The elements of the state law most under dispute are that spirits must be filtered through charcoal and stored in unused oak barrels in order to be called Tennessee whiskey. Jack Daniel’s argues that the law establishes basic quality requirements. Ballard and Dupree disagree.

This is also an example of how Minitrue twists the truth. It’s not that Tennesee is “stuffy” at all. It’s much more sinister: collusion between the state and rent-seeking businesses to prevent competition.

I’ll never drink Jack Daniel’s again. I used to like it, but then it seemed to get less flavorful. At first I thought my sense of taste was deteriorating. Then I found that they had watered it down, first from from 90 to 86 proof, and finally to 80 proof. So much for their cant about “quality.” And now this.

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