Monday, February 23, 2009

More grist for the mill

Yet more on recession and the beer, liquor and wine industry’s power to raise money.

Time has as story about blue laws, and poses the question of whether the national economic crater we sit in, widening as we gaze at computer screens right now, means the end to those mindless restrictions against selling spirits, wine and beer on Sunday.

Battle lines are drawn, to be sure. Blue laws don't go down without a fight. But you can’t escape the logic of allowing Sunday sales, more so if you’re say, Connecticut, and watching tax revenue go to another state (in their case, New York). It's a thought that follows economists’ point with stimulus cash: better it be spent locally, at a your Home Depot, to weatherize your house, than on a flat-screen TV made in China.

Anyway, this is grist for the mill in our state because the handful of our craft brewers we've spoken to would love to be able to kick in some extra sales taxes they collected, if state regulators would only update our arcane and archaic regulations governing production and sale of malt beverages. (They’re sort of analogous to blue laws, even if not conceived for the same reasons.)

That goes for production brewers, for which we again say let them sell unlimited retail like wineries (and let them open brewpubs, too, if they want to pop for the expense of location and licensing); and for brewpubs, for which we say let them have access to the open market and put their products in packaged goods stores and other bars willing to take them on.

Doing so puts revenue in state coffers and lets brewers boost sales (and production, too, for which they pay other taxes).

It may just make the difference between protracted recession and faster recovery.

No comments: