The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly
With the presidential election on the horizon, I want to make an important disclaimer. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has exercised any influence on any business decision we at Schlafly have ever made or are likely to make. It’s important to emphasize this point because Trump has publicly claimed responsibility for InBev’s decision to rebrand Budweiser as “America” for the duration of the presidential campaign.
I am not making this up. Anheuser-Busch gave up its American citizenship in 2008 and is now controlled by a Brazilian hedge fund. After a lengthy and expensive battle over the rights to the name “Budweiser,” the Brazilians have decided not to use it and instead call their beer “America”… as if it actually were American. After hearing the news Donald Trump said that his campaign to make America great again was responsible for the Brazilians’ decision. Actually, the decision does make sense on its own without any input from The Donald. It’s easy to understand why the owners of the brand would want to distance it as much as possible from Brazil, which is renowned for dirty water (with raw sewage contaminating venues for the upcoming Olympics) and dirtier politicians (Lula and Dilma).
Brazil is also renowned for its sugar production, in which it’s the world leader. Now, however, this too has become a source of opprobrium. The food police, led by the United States Food and Drug Administration, have declared war on sugar. The FDA recently finalized its labeling requirements for packaged foods, which must now inform consumers how much added sugar they contain. San Francisco, taking it one step further, followed up by passing an ordinance requiring soft drinks to carry labels warning consumers that sugar causes a long list of horribles, including “tooth decay, obesity and diabetes.”
Meanwhile, the federal government continues to subsidize sugar production to the tune of billions of dollars per year. Say what? Yes. The same government that requires products with sugar to carry warning labels is also subsidizing the production of the sugar it says is so dangerous. While some alert readers (ARs) might regard these apparently inconsistent policies as the height of hypocrisy, I prefer to see them as an opportunity. Those of us who brew and sell beer have been demonized by bureaucrats for years. Since the founding of the republic alcoholic beverages have been subjected to so-called “sin taxes.” As long as I can remember our packaging has been required to carry warning labels, not unlike those now mandated for soft drinks in some places. But—-and this is an important point—-we don’t receive billions of dollars in subsidies from the government that’s demonizing us. Why not? If the federal government could vilify cigarettes while continuing to subsidize tobacco farmers; and if the same government can go after sugar while subsidizing its production, why shouldn’t the feds subsidize American breweries? The fact that some bureaucrats disapprove of other products hasn’t prevented the government from subsidizing producers of these products.
Philadelphia is the latest American city to jump on the anti-sugar bandwagon, with a hefty tax on all sugary drinks, including sweetened teas and sports drinks. It’s also the site of the 2016 Democratic convention. Although delegates to the convention might find themselves paying more for bottles of Snapple and Jamba Juice, they’ll have greater access to alcoholic beverages than most visitors to the City of Brotherly Love (including yours truly when I attended the Craft Beer Conference there in May). As some ARs may know, Pennsylvania is notorious for its draconian anti-alcohol laws. According to Governor Gifford Pinchot in 1933, these laws were intended to “discourage the purchase of alcoholic beverages by making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible.” While it would be unrealistic to expect the cradle of liberty in the United States to repeal stupid laws permanently, some of them will be suspended for the convention. Yes, while the Democrats are in town, closing times will be extended and bars and restaurants will be allowed to offer happy hours. When the delegates go home, the stupid laws will be restored
Speaking of conventions, some ARs might recall my writing about the Democratic convention in St. Louis in 1916. What I neglected to mention (because I didn’t know about it) was the “Golden Lane” of Suffragists. Ten thousand women lined up for 12 blocks on Locust Street silently demonstrating for the right to vote. The demonstration began east of where The Schlafly Tap Room is today and extended to the Coliseum on Jefferson, where the convention was held. Thousands of delegates (almost all of them male) responded to this impressive display by overwhelmingly endorsing the right of franchise for women.
A century later something even more momentous than the Democratic convention is coming to our neighborhood. As most ARs probably know, The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) just announced that it will be building a $1.6 billion facility slightly north of the Tap Room. This is especially good news for Schlafly Beer. The 3,100 people who work for NGA are really smart, meaning they’re far more likely to appreciate good beer. They’re also very patriotic, meaning they’ll probably want to buy American when it comes to beer.
It should be noted that not everyone was enthusiastic about NGA’s relocation to the site near The Tap Room, especially folks in and around O’Fallon, IL, which was another location under consideration. To any ARs from Illinois who might be reading this, I would simply make the point that O’Fallon, IL already regards itself as being in Missouri, so the NGA would have stayed in Missouri no matter where it moved.
Say what! I would refer anyone who doubts this conclusion to the results of Missouri Scholastic Lacrosse Association. The O’Fallon Township Panthers (ostensibly from Illinois) played in the 2016 Division II Championship game for Missouri high schools. If a school competes for the Missouri high school championship, it must be a Missouri school. Right? Then again, if a Brazilian beer can call itself America, anything is possible.