‘…. So distributors are caught in an impossible bind: they either do the brewer’s bidding, including selling their businesses to favored “Anchor Wholesalers,” or they lose Anheuser-Busch InBev as a client. And if the wholesalers try to push back? Anheuser-Busch InBev will get rough.’
I don’t know if this is just tremendous ignorance or some sort of calculated scheming. The article decries the growing power of beer manufacturers vis a vis liquor distributors, and wants to call this some sort of slide into corporatism. Actually just the opposite is true — what we see is Anheuser-Busch taking on some of the largest beneficiaries of government cronysism: the liquor wholesalers.
The liquor distribution scheme, and resulting government enforced monopolies, created post-Prohibition have been the worst sort of corporate statism, and what is going on here is that the beer manufacturers are finally fed up with it. Regional liquor wholesalers are generally some of the most politically powerful forces in local and state politics. These distribution monopolies have all created multi-millionaire owners who deploy money and political clout to prevent any changes in law that might weaken their government-enforced monopoly position. Wonder why you still can’t mail order from Amazon that bottle of California Merlot — thank the liquor wholesale lobby. Without all this government protection of distributors, the soft drink business went through identical changes, relatively quietly, decades ago.
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I find it incredible that a Progressive like Drum sees fit to defend such a system and castigate Anheuser-Busch for challenging it. It is even more amazing to see him positing that anti-trust is all about protecting millionaire corporate players in one part of the supply chain from billionaire corporate players in another part. I have said for years that anti-trust has been corrupted from protecting consumers to protecting weaker competitors, even when this protection hurts consumers (remember, Microsoft was convicted of anti-trust violations for giving away free stuff to consumers). I just am amazed that the Left has come so far that it has now openly adopted this view of anti-trust.
Update: Here is another example of the Left describing market attacks on a government-protected corporation “Corporatist.” There are always beneficiaries of deregulation (consumers being the most unsung of these). It is crazy and disingenuous for the Left to call those who win in a newly deregulated market “cronies.”