What Beer Deregulation Can Teach Us


Whoa, that is one awesome quote

The New Republic's Jonathan Chait, whose first sentence may just explain a lot, has discovered that Jimmy Carter deregulated beer production, adding: "It's worth noting that Carter got no political credit for this move."

Maybe not from non-libertarians, pally!

Chait's source here is E.D. Kain, of the "glibertarian"-baiting Balloon Juice. Kain, who is on the side of angels here, nonetheless gets to this (IMO) peculiar arrangement of conclusions:

Obviously not all deregulation is going to work this way, nor are all matters of regulation as relatively unimportant as beer. But this is a good example of how regulation can crowd out small businesses and local economies in favor of big corporations with ties to powerful legislators. If anything, it should be a reminder that regulation in and of itself is pretty meaningless. While requiring offshore drilling rigs to be equipped with some form of safety mechanism to prevent massive oil spills makes a great deal of sense, many regulations are actually written by the special interests who stand to gain most from their implementation, either by gaining special legal perks or by crowding out competition.

Maybe instead of using regulation or deregulation as starting points, we should look at ways to create more transparency in Washington and more oversight of the regulators themselves. I'm not sure how to close the many revolving doors between industry and Washington, D.C. I'm not sure it's even possible. But when I talk about limiting government, this is partly what I mean – limiting the way that government and special interests (including powerful corporations) work together at the expense of the rest of the country.

Italics mine. I personally find it particularly meaningful that government and industry and (I presume) anti-drinking scolds colluded to criminalize a behavior that wasn't just victimless, but downright awesome; and that the removal of that appalling bit of illiberal nannyism helped usher in a phenomenon I would have bet the house against two decades ago: a thriving and variegated American industry of delicious beermaking.

And given that, what's wrong with making deregulation a "starting point"? Imagine for a crazy moment a world in which the default expectation would be for government not to flop its grotesque belly onto the forehead of various industries, not to meddle in the affairs of pre-pubescent drink vendors, not to redistribute $20 billion a year (give or take) of our money to mostly well-heeled agriculture companies just to make sure they don't face competition from poor people. I'm not talking about no regulation here, but rather the idea that if such-and-such activity isn't hurting anybody it shouldn't be subject to governmental micro-managing, license-imposing, winner-picking, and even arrest.

Toy boat or troy boat

One of the common misconceptions about libertarian enthusiasm for deregulation is that it's some kind of (presumably paid-for) philosophical cover for wanting the very richest Corporates to be even richester. Speaking as a libertarded conspiracy of one, my favorite bedtime deregulation stories are about stuff like beer, air travel, and talking about politics on radio and TV, where after you lifted restrictions that in retrospect sound like they came from another planet, people do what the normally do when left alone—create all kinds of interesting new artifacts, businesses, and even ways of life. Regulations so often piss me off because they so often fall disproportionately on the backs of the little guy, while the big guy—even/especially the one whose misconduct precipitated the regulation in the first place—walks off with a well-lobbied exemption. Generally speaking, the fewer activities are illegal, the freer us opposable-thumbs types are.

Reason on deregulation here; on Jimmy Carter's significant contributions here. And watch's "Beer: An American Revolution" below:

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  1. The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, whose first sentence may just explain a lot, has discovered that Jimmy Carter deregulated beer production, adding: “It’s worth noting that Carter got no political credit for this move.”

    Because deregulation is baaaaaaaaad!

    If we deregulated everything, the floor would cave under all of us because buildings would suddenly realize they do not have to be up to code. It’s true.

    1. yeah, i’d never dream of doing anything substandard if it’d net me a few bucks

      1. yeah, [I]’d never dream of doing anything substandard if it [would] net me a few bucks

        For how long?

        1. Just long enough for preventable tragedy to go down…s’pose then i might get sued…the system works!

      2. Hi.

        1. Hi. Oh, I never bought a policy from you, so bye.

          1. You didn’t get insurance? That means you don’t get a bond or financing. No subcontractor will work for you. No supplier will give you credit. Therefore no owner will offer you a contract.

            Good luck.

            1. Right. Also, as a homeowner, you have every right to demand that a contractor show you proof of his liability insurance before work begins. You also have a right to hire a contractor with no insurance, at your own risk.

      3. Nor would I dream of ignoring regulations, slipping a bribe to inspectors, lobbying for insufficient standards which would have the advantage of shielding me from subsequent lawsuits…

    2. Um, as a libertarian and a homebrewer, it’s the only thing I do give Carter credit for. (Wait, did he deregulate the trucking industry, too?)

      1. And airlines.

        1. If I’m not mistaken, the Carter administration did more deregulation than any post-WWII US administration.

          1. True, but it turns out much (maybe most) of this deregul’n was the culmination of commissions and studies that’d commenced during, and were initiated by, the…uh, sshhhh…Nixon admin. That’s right, Nixon quietly started the ball rolling so that successors could claim to be enacting non-partisan reforms that were recommended by the experts.

            One of the reforms that just was never gotten to was rescheduling of marijuana into a less restrictive category of controlled substance. That one was supposed to happen too following studies that recommended the same, but after Nixon was gone, no dice.

            1. Of all the modern presidents, wouldn’t Nixon have been the one who would have most benefited from the occasional joint?

  2. One of the common misconceptions about libertarian enthusiasm for deregulation is that it’s some kind of (presumably paid-for) philosophical cover for wanting the very richest Corporates to be even richester.

    It’s a misconception made even more ridiculous once it’s known that the regulations are written by the very large corporations they’re purported to regulate.

    Regulations are nothing more than protectionist schemes in disguise.

  3. I imagine that the reaction to neo-socialism will be another round of deregulation.

    1. We’d better freeze ourselves until that happens, or at least until the new Wii comes out. Because it’s not going to be soon.

      1. Well, I recall the brief period where it was the in thing for Democrats, because the country was getting friggin’ tired of the economy sucking wind. Yep, it’s the 70s all over again.

        1. But the economy is doing great! The Democrat Administration says so! There’s no need to deregulate anything. In fact, we need more regulation!

          1. During the massive deregulation and totally unlimited capitalism during the Bush years, I made millions by employing slave labor in silver mines. After that damned Obama took over, I lost everything when he introduced us to the socialist utopia. But I feel better about myself and about my fearless leader.

            1. I made my billions during the Bush years as well, by providing private armies to the government. That’s all changed now, because Obama went with a different private army supplier.

              1. Man, it’s hard to believe that those days are gone–no taxes, no regulation, total freedom to do anything you wanted–all gone.

                1. It’s almost like they never existed at all. I’ll just have to console myself with my memories of unregulated pillage, rape, organ harvesting, and season four of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

                  1. I especially miss the pillaging of my serfs. Good times. Good times.

  4. But what about elevator inspectors? Surely we can’t deregulate elevator inspectors!

    Also, has anyone given any thought to the children? What about the children?

    What, we’re just going to let them drink premium beers while playing tag atop our unregulated elevators?

    Also, if we don’t regulate agriculture, where are we gonna get all our food? Russia? Hah! Even Putin isn’t dumb enough to leave grain exports to the whim of the market! More proof that libertarians are just racist gay-baiting corporate shills that wanna get high at other people’s expense. And this from a magazine called “Reason”! Words fail…

  5. Now if we can just deregulate alcohol consumption for people under 21. It was absurd that in school I was legally brewing and subsequently illegally consuming it.

    1. Screw that. Access to alcohol, drugs, automobiles, and the vote should be restricted until age 30. Unless parents emancipate you’re sorry ass earlier.

      Damned meddling kinds.

      1. Kids. Or kinds. Whichever you prefer.

        1. Vernicious Kinds?

          1. Kids, kinds, knids, whatever.

            1. Silly English kuuuuuuhNIGGIT!

      2. Its funny I often think that everyone over 30 should have to pay 90% taxes to pay off the debt they are trying to shove down our throats. Damn old people and your nasty smells.

        1. Spoiled brats.

          1. My first reaction was, “fuck yeah!”

            My second reaction was, “Wait… I’m over 30!” Fuck…

    2. It was absurd that in school I was legally brewing and subsequently illegally consuming it.

      Absurd or AWESOME??!! Okay, probably both, but either way homebrewing is what got me through law school (and got me my job!).

  6. The obvious solution is to eliminate regulations altogether and grant infinite power and discretion to the noble regulators themselves. They’ll know what to do.

    At least that seems to be the theme of every balloon juice link I’ve been unfortunate enough to read.

    1. Re: bubba,

      The obvious solution is to eliminate regulations altogether and grant infinite power and discretion to the noble regulators themselves. They’ll know what to do.

      Exactly. I mean, they’re supposed to be the best and brightest, having the best credentials government-lent money can buy, aren’t they?

  7. ;

    That’s glib.

  8. Oh wow, what a great idea dude. Makes sense.


    1. Why don’t you go watch some robot-on-firby porn.

        1. Well there you go. Thats our anon-bot.

          1. Oh great, so anon-bot is both funnier than me AND getting laid more than I am. Welcome to the future.

            1. AI is a bitch.

  9. Firemans four. That’s my beer of the century of the moment. A little passe, I know, but it tastes good.

  10. Beer regulation – it worked so well during prohibition.
    Because of the lack of drunkenness, crime declined, women got more promiscuous, and everybody’s penis (well men and Rosie O’donald) got 50% bigger.
    Regulation, is there anything it can’t do?

  11. robot-on-firby porn

    Does a firby dress up like a Christmas tree for sex?

  12. “Maybe instead of using regulation or deregulation as starting points, we should look at ways to create more transparency in Washington and more oversight of the regulators themselves.”

    Awesome! Oversite for the “Regulators”.

    And regulators for the “Overseers of Regulators”.

    Still more oversight for the “Regulators for the Overseers of Regulators”.

    And, of course, some folks to regulate the “Overseer of Regulators for the Overseers of Regulators”.

    Don’t forget the oversight of the “Regulators for Overseeing the Regulators for the Overseers of Regulators”.

    Need some transparency? How about a commitee to regulate the “Oversite of the Regulators for Overseeing the Regulators for the Overseers of Regulators”.

    That committe would need to send it’s findings to the “8th Deputy Co-Assitance to the Office of the Undersecretary of Oversite of the Regulators for Overseeing the Regulators for the Overseers of Regulators”, or EDCAOUOROROR, for short.

    This gov’t thing is easy! I don’t know why I let you libertarians brainwash me.

    1. ctrl-F “oversite” ,


    2. Wouldn’t it have been easier simply to ask “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

  13. as relatively unimportant as beer

    It was at this point that Kain revealed himself to be unworthy of my continued attention.

  14. Some regulations are dumb and need to be gotten rid of. Even more regulations were put into place to limit competition, and should be gotten rid of even faster.

    But most regulations are good things. And libertarians need to get over this.

    Just this week, I was completely screwed by my credit card company. A simple mis-click on their website resulted in $240 in fees and interest being applied on top of a mere $33 charge on my card, all within a couple of weeks and without being contacted.

    Of course, I fought back, and after filing complaints with the BBB, the FTC, threatening to sue, and (even worse) threating to buy every credit card application with a return envelope I could get my hands on via Ebay, and mail them back to the company taped to a box of rocks, they conceeded. But should I have had to go to war and waste hours of my time and theirs over something that could have been prevented by some very simple, very common-sense regulations, such as

    1: Requiring banks to notify customers if an account is overdrawn

    2: Requiring credit card companies to notify customers if their payment bounces

    3: Forbidding anyone from making multiple withdrawal attempts after a bounced payment, unless specifically authorized by the customer (Discover tried to bill me FOUR times in two weeks, resulting in fees for both them and my bank every time!)

    4: Regulating the size of the fees, such that they are based on both economic reality and the amount of money in dispute.

    Btw, I am a stubborn SOB and a really bad customer if I am pissed.

    1. So you’re an irresponsible broke whiner? Keep some money in your bank account next time, dumbass. No wonder you’re on TEAM BLUE.

      1. I’m surprised he even posted this here.

        1. Why, because it completely refutes your ideology (yet again).

          Several common-sense, virtually zero-cost regulations would have stopped this bullshit in its tracks and saved everyone lots of time.

          1. I’ve had something happen like this a few times. Overdrafted without realizing it, and there was a 30$ penality each time. Cost me a lot. But it was all in writing when I agreed to the terms. I’m sorry about your misplaced mouse click, but the government can’t save from your own mistakes, I’m sorry Chad. And you refuted nothing.

            1. They overdrafted FOUR times based on one payment, without notifying me. The only purpose of doing this is to rack up fees. If they wanted me to actually pay, they simply would have contacted me.

              I am sure glad you morons aren’t in charge of the world, because I would have to spend 20 hours each week reading every EULA I come across, in case there is a clause about my first-born hidden somewhere inside it.

              Clearly, that and a lot of lawsuits is more effective than regulation. Clearly.

              1. I know. I mean, the complexity of all the financial regulations we do have couldn’t play a factor in how hard it is for you to comprehend a credit card contract. Besides, didn’t you say below that you were gonna close the account anayways? Maybe you should have went with your instincs sooner. Choice is a pretty powerful regulator. Seems to me you just didn’t make a good one.

          2. Chad, you wrote a NSF check. Not the Credit Card company’s fault.

            1. I didn’t “write a check”, and they bounced the payment FOUR TIMES in order to rack up fees. You can’t do that with a physical check.

              In addition, their website interface makes such a mistake very easy, and yo can be absolutely such problems are deliberate. They WANT you to make a mistake, so they can screw you.

              Welcome to libertopia.

              1. Lol, I was just thinking that I should write a really long post, and include in the middle somewhere “In responding to this, you surrender all of your assets and your firstborn child to Chad, irrevokably and forever”.

                Sooner or later I would own one of your asses, and it would be fun to watch you try to squirm out of your ideology.


      2. It was an old bank account that I was planning on closing soon.

        Discover’s payment page, unlike every other on-line payment page I have, does not list the bank name next to the amount you are paying. It just lists the last four digits of the account number, making it very easy for you to bill the wrong bank. They WANT you to make this kind of mistake, so they can ding you with fees.

        1. Of course banks are run by assholes, that’s why they buy the government. Make sure you go out of your way to avoid grasping this while you bleat for more regulation, idiot.

          And how the fuck do you not memorize the last digits of your bank accounts?

          1. Why would I have the last for digits of my checking account memorized? The only time I need to type, recite, or write this number is when I am connecting a new account to my bank, which happens maybe once or twice a year.

            Both of my other credit cards list something like this on the payment page:

            Do you authorize a withdrawal from FOURTH SECOND BANK, account number …. …. …. 1234, for a sum of $33.00? Click yes to confirm.

            The name of the bank is obvious and in capital letters. Discover, in contrast, skips the name of the bank entirely. It is a hundred times easier to fail to notice the wrong partial account number than the wrong bank, written in capital letters. The reason Discover doesn’t include this is because it HOPES you make a mistake.

            In any case, all of this could have and should have been prevented by regulation. The read-every-EULA fully, be on-guard every moment of every day, and sue-often Libertopia model is far more expensive.

            1. “Both of my other credit cards list something like this on the payment page:”

              So basically your saying that without the regulation some banks were doing it the way you want? So change to them, I’m sure they’d love your business. And then tell everyone how shitty Discover was and to not business with them. But the world doesn’t revolve around you- stop expecting government referee all of your decisions and interactions. Just because you can complain about getting the shit end of the stick sometimes doesn’t mean there is some one size fits all regulations.

              1. I have been telling everyone how shitty Discover is, and have cost them a few customers as a result. But my whole point is that I shouldn’t have to waste time doing this in the first place. I don’t want to live in a world where I have to read every contract I run across with a fine toothed comb, be on guard constantly in case I make a minor mistake that someone can turn into a tremendous cost to me based on some obscure clause, and spend hours fighting over these things on the phone or in court.

                Whatever mythical costs you think regulations have, they are far far far far far far far smaller than that.

                1. So you want The Government to be able to summarily void voluntary, legally binding contracts at will in order to save you the inconvenience of remembering your bank account number. Sure, that seems perfectly reasonable to me.

                  “Whatever mythical costs you think regulations have, they are far far far far far far far smaller than that.”

                  You bet. I mean, a couple of hours of your time clearly covers the costs of hundreds of thousands of pages of constantly changing regulations enforced by scores of government agencies, plus all the legal costs of compliance. We’ll all sleep better knowing Chad’s time has not been wasted.

            2. Immediately move all your accounts to a credit union, and stop being a dumbass.

              1. Ernie, the problem was the credit card company, not the bank. And ironically, it was a credit union that was accidently billed, and does not offer to inform me if my account is overdrawn.

  15. What the fuck, Welch… Burying a beer story late on a Friday afternoon? This isn’t a revised budget outlook or a pardon.

  16. Yay Jimmy Carter. Except that the reason he did this was for the benefit of those connected to him (just like, often, regulations are added to the benefit of those connected politically).

    I do prefer the direction of Carter’s efforts to grease the skids of his in-crowd. But let’s not pretend he was a fellow traveler.

  17. When prohibition was repealed home wine-making was legalised, but a clerical error omitted the words “and/or beer” from the document. Homebrewing of beer remained illegal until 1978 when Congress passed a bill repealing Federal restrictions on the homebrewing of beer. Jimmy Carter signed the bill into law in February 1979.

    Homebrewers have long known of Carter’s one saving grace. For very little else can we thank him.

    Charlie (Eek! A rabbit!)

  18. A lot of crony capitalism and regulations still inhibit the ability of craft brewers to get quality products to the consumer at an affordable price. The big 3 evil lager makers still have cozy relationships with government and distribution channels that make it far more expensive and difficult to distribute quality craft beer. The big 3 evil lager makers are one of the most powerful lobbying forces that conspire to limit breweries from selling directly to retail outlets.

    As a homebrewer and a craft beer fanatic (hat tip Avery Brewing, Troegs and Stone), I greatly appreciate all of the advances in consumer choice in the last 2 or 3 decades, but by no means should we be completely satisfied at this point. We should be enjoying the great breweries featured in this video in far more states, at far lower prices than what we are seeing now. If we can attack the crony capitalism that protects the big 3 lager makers, consumers will benefit greatly from the beer renaissance that is going on in America.

  19. Sucks even worse for me – I live in the land of state liquor stores – less choice, higher prices … except for the part where they take taxpayer money and run ads saying … more choice, lower prices. If they say it enough someone must believe them …

    1. Do they still have that rule that you can’t buy a 6 pack at the drive through beer stores? When I was out there with a buddy in the late 80’s, we pulled in for a 6 of Bitburger (“Bitte Ein Bit”)…”nope, gotta buy 24.”

      Well, if you insist. We thought it was hilarious, if…stupid and weird.

      1. …although we finally figured out that we could by 6 packs from bars.

        *furrowed brow…why? whhhhy?*

  20. http://beerinbaltimore.blogspo…..arter.html

    Jonathan Chait’s spiel is based on a blogpost by E.D. Kain, which is itself based (chart and all) on a blogpost in March 2010 by Rob Carlson.

    Carter’s signature to Alan Cranston’s bill did NOTHING to deregulate the commercial beer industry. It ONLY legalized HOMEBREWING At an outside, it impacted the craft beer market by increasing demand for better quality beers. Saying “Carter deregulated the beer industry” is on par with Al Gore saying “I took the initiative to create the Internet.”

    Kain and others have spent a few comments and e-mails backtracking and trying to justify their erroneous statements. And you have done yourselves a disservice by furthering this bit of overwrought hyperbole, regardless of the validity or lack thereof of your positions on governmental regulation or deregulation.

  21. I’d like to be able to do home distilling.

  22. Apply this deregulation to Marijuana, and look out world! All that sweet weed from the caribbean, mexico, south america, wherever the hell it comes from would be obsolete, and imagine the cost reduction! Let’s abolish mj prohibition, and let the home-growers, like the homebrewers develop hybrids that the imperials can tax, like tobacco! Damn…why didn’t I think of this shit sooner?

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