Cheap Booze, Cheaper Congressmen


conyers and towns will be responsible for housewife beatings across the nation if HR 5034 passes

A bill that could wind up severly restricting interstate booze trade—thus raising prices, limiting selection, and generally making the world a dryer place, all while giving the Commerce Clause the heave-ho when it comes to trade in beer, wine, and liquor—managed to win a hearing today from the ready-to-get-outta-Dodge House Judiciary Committee. The legislation in question is the cheesily-acronymed Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act, which would make it easier for state alcohol wholesalers to protect their monopolies. From the Wine Spectator's Twitter feed, this lively little exchange:

HR 5034 CARE Act hearing: Rep. Towns: "I oppose cheaper alcohol." Rep. Conyers: "You just slid into an invisible minority!"

That's Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.)—"Ed" to his friends and constituents—chatting with Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). And hey look! One of the major driving forces behind the bill, the National Beer Wholesalers, happens to be one of Towns's top donors in the 2010 cycle. But hey look again! The beer wholesalers actually gave much more money to Conyers, who also got a load of cash from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers.

Towns is a co-sponsor of the bill, and committee chairman Conyers was obviously instrumental in getting the bill a hearing. Which means they're both on the side of control and limitation of trade. What's remarkable is how cheaply congressmen can be bought on issues like this one. While some of their willingness to back the bill no doubt comes from the desire to seem tough on excessive drinking or other ideological considerations, what the campaign contribution bought in this case was the willingness to take action on an otherwise peripheral issue in a busy legisative season. Towns is willing to say crazy stuff like "I oppose cheaper alcohol" for only $17,800. And Conyers' price, $66,000 from the beer wholesalers, is a bargain given what he has done for the cause, even if he does sneak in the occasional joke.

(Note: This is not to suggest that we should try to eliminate corporate donations to politicians. It won't work and it would be unconstitutional. Just keep in mind where these guys are coming from.)

NEXT: Arthur Penn, RIP

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  1. This is what government looks like.

    1. This is your brain on government?

  2. The Demopratic party continues to fight for the little guy.

    Joe Sixpack needs to vote Libertarian.

    1. The Demopratic party continues to fight for the little guy.


      1. meanwhile control freaks are acruuing to the tea party.

  3. Note: This is not to suggest that we should try to eliminate corporate donations to politicians.


  4. Didn’t Jesse Jackson also get into the beer racket?

  5. Maybe if they had to wear NASCAR style jackets with their top 25 sponsors, we could have free speech and an informed voting population. Its win-win-win.

    1. +100

    2. That is a great idea – I’m stealing it. Thanks.

  6. Corporate donations are not the problem. A moronic, ill-informed and apathetic voting populace is the problem. You don’t want your Congresscritters taking big donatiosns from large lobbies and corporations? THEN DON’T FUCKING VOTE FOR THEM IF THEY DO, ASSHOLES!

    1. But we need a scapegoat!

    2. Agree with Kristen. Talk with our vote. If enough of us do, rather than just talk, it will make a difference. And HR 5034 will also stop wine shipments.

  7. This kind of bluenose moralistic big-business legislation would never get a hearing in a Democratic Congress!

    1. The House of Representatives is no longer part of Congress?

  8. Is there a party for cheap booze? Have we at last found a winning strategy for the LP?

  9. What happens when you are allowed to have cheap booze: Pabst Blue Ribbon.

    For the sake of humanity that stuff should be taxed so no one ever has to suffer from that swill.

    1. No, no, no. If the booze were allowed to flow freely, unimpeded by nannyism and protectionist regulation, PBR would be practically free, while decent beer would be very cheap. Since getting a decent beer won’t hurt financially, sane people will stop drinking the crud. Putting the crud out of business.

      There’s a whole science behind beer-displacement theory.

      1. There’s a whole science behind beer-displacement theory.

        The calculations involved in a jaegerbomb would blow your mind.

    2. You know what’s worse than PBR? Rainier.

      1. What is the worst beer on Earth? The Beast? Who has plumbed those depths?

        1. Budweiser Select. Got some to drink all day at the lake, and that shit is so weak that it actually drinks you sober. I had to have some IPAs to counter it.

          1. I’ve had beer that was essentially water–Coors Light comes to mind–but I’ve also had beer that tasted crappy and gave me a headache. I tend to view the latter situation as worse than mere waterified beer.

            1. I agree. Bud Select is just near beer, it doesn’t taste like shit (it hardly tastes like anything). I’d vote Natural Ice as the worst beer. It tasted like someone took a piss in some bad malt liquor.

              1. When I had Bud Select it affirmatively sucked. Maybe it was a bad 12-pack as I agree that most light beers suffer more from lack of flavor than from bad flavor.

                1. Another point in favor of Bud Select: If you put it in a coozy, it looks like a diet coke. This is good camoflauge to reduce incidence of baptists or other type of busybody aholes from getting you in trouble.

                2. Mountain Creek.

        2. This is the worst stuff:


          1. If we’re sticking to domestics, I’ll see your Blatz and raise you a Lone Star.

            1. Spark, energy drink malt liquor. nastiness dyed orange in a 16oz can.

              1. Stay on target.

            2. Cave Creek Chili Beer… Bud Light with a hot pepper stuck in it.

              Or Bud Light Clammato… *shudder*

              1. I had a chili beer once, thinking “Hey I like to try new things, this sounds interesting.” Never again.

        3. Baltika #9. Don’t be fooled by its alcohol/price ratio: that shit is a headache in a bottle.

          1. You know the good news about full-blown socialism when it comes? We’ll be able to answer the question: “What is the worst beer in the world?”

            1. What is the riddle of beer?

              1. Uh…

                If I can’t answer will someone laugh at me from a mountain of hops and malted barley?

              2. My god is stronger. He is the everlasting tequila! Your god lives underneath him.

        4. When I was in Taiwan in the ’70s, there was only one beer available, Taiwan Beer, brewed and bottled by the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Monopoly. It said that right on the label (ya gotta give ’em points for honesty).


          1. I wonder if TTLM had expanded its operations by the late 90’s with the liberalization push in Vietnam. Sounds like what I had.

          2. “Taiwan Beer”?

            I don’t drink beer (don’t like carbonated beverages), so my first drinking experience was on a college study-abroad term, on an overnight train from Riga, Latvia, to St. Petersburg, Russia, drinking a type of vodka called “Russkaya Vodka”, which is simply Russian for “Russian Vodka”.

            Oy it didn’t go down well. And the only chasers were some carbonated soda crap, or sausage. So I chased vodka down with Russian sausage.

        5. You know, Genessee Ice may be the worst beer I’ve ever had. Tastes like piss, gives you a headache, has something like 8% ABV, and comes in a black can with a polar bear on it.

          1. Good one. I’d forgotten how truly shitty that was.

            I seem to remember something like “Iron City” or something like that that sucked pretty hard to.

          2. And you only know that because you kept begging me for the golden showers.

          3. comes in a black can with a polar bear on it.

            Feature, not a bug.

            1. Oh, absolutely. I loved those cans.

        6. The worst beer-like product I’ve ever had, without a doubt, was Sapporo Draft One. However, it’s actually made from green beans (malt flavoring is added later) so it’s not technically beer. Wish I had known that at the time.

          As for actual beer, the least drinkable beer I’ve ever had actually has a perfect score on RateBeer, and that would be Russian River Beatification. Now for the record, I enjoy a good sour beer, but this stuff tasted like vinegar mixed with piss that was poured over a horse’s ass.

          1. Just for validation purposes, what is your opinion on Cantillon Gueuze?

            I havent had Beatification, so I cant comment on that.

        7. I got a bottle of beer for 2 yuan (about $0.25) in Gansu province, China that I suspect was a cheap knockoff of a familiar American product. Unfortunately, that product was Drano.

          1. Best cheap beer in China is Reeb (so named because it’s “Beer” spelled backwards–seriously), though I believe it’s only available near Shanghai. China has (or had, as of 2005 at least) serious distribution issues that allows crappy regional brands to dominate the landscape even though the likes of Budweiser and Heineken, as well as regional premium brands like Tsingtao and Yanjing, are desperately trying to gain market shares.

          2. A regional “premium” brand like Tsingtao suffers mightily from the manner in which it is served. Multiple 22oz bottles delivered to your table and opened at the beginning of dinner on a lovely night south of the Tropic of Cancer. By the time you’re done with the first bottle, the second is sweating like mad and is vaguely cold to the touch. By the time you’re six bottles in it’s all in excess of 30C. Makes bad beer even worse. The best beer in the world is a cold bottle of any beer brewed in Vermont after a couple of weeks in China.

        8. I’ll take Rainier over Hamm’s.

        9. At least this beer is honest.

        10. What is the worst beer on Earth?

          “Beer Beer”. Seriously. They had a beer with that generic name.

        11. Camo, hands down worst beer ever.

        12. Camo, hands down worst beer ever.

      2. Worst beer I ever had was some crap called Bohemian Pale. The Class 6 was selling it for a $1.25/6 in 1989. Being poor GIs, we bought a case for $5. The shit was undrinkable.

        1. In 1988, I bought (underage by a few years) a few cases of “Texas Light” for $5.50 a case.

          If you put the cans in the freezer for 45 minutes, they would become beer slushies – they went down fairly smooth then.

    3. Relatively cheap beer that’s actually OK – Sessions. Sessions Lager and Sessions Black Lager are basically Full Sail Brewing’s take on mass produced beer. Not bad for something that’s $20 a case.

      OK, so that’s not Bud cheap (or is it?) but it’s still great beer to use to stock for parties.

    4. I love the havoc that I have sowed.

  10. Worst beer I ever had was some concoction from Vietnam. I don’t recall the name of it but the bottle was pretty. It had the taste of a smooth elk piss based pilsner, and elk piss is indeed worse than horse piss as any hunter can tell you.

    Oh, and may the House of Congress burn down with all of its critters in it. Worked there for a short while, developed no love for it in that time.

  11. But… but… it’s called CARE! Anything called CARE must be good for us!

  12. as well as regional premium brands like Tsingtao and Yanjing,

    Tsingtao at least has flavor. Yanjinag is moose urine. I picked up a case that was on special for $14 and even I, a guy who once bought a case of Piels with dimes, couldn’t choke it down.

    And state liquor control systems are among the most wretched hives of scum and villany, with a veritable daisy chain sexual dogpile of lawmakers, regulators, and stakeholders all joyfully exchanging bodily fluids at the expense of the consumer.

    1. +10000 I would like that entire post read into the Congressional Record.

  13. One of the great, if forgotten moments in cheap beer history was the time in the 80s that Stroh’s offered a five dollar coupon for cases of its beer, which ran around $8.00 at cheaper outlets.

  14. As someone still underage from MN, the worst and cheapest beers are Beer 30, Pennsylvania Light, Steel Reserve, and Special Import. Those beers cost $9.99 for 30 packs. Literal urine taste that is so close to water, you can easily drink 15 beers before midnight.

  15. The Trader Joe’s Simple Times Lager is pretty bad. It tastes like skunked Beast.

    1. I’ve wondered about that one. I’ve been tempted many times by the cheap price, but thankfully managed to resist it.

  16. That one amendment, that fixed the previous one with all the black markets, specifically addresses alcohol regulation, so it seems like that would supersede the Commerce Clause.

  17. It may not be the worst beer but Carling Black Label survived storage under my bed for (then-banned) Sunday drinking and freezing solid on deer hunts. And it was $1 per six-pack in the late ’70s.

    … Hobbit

  18. Threadjack from the loathsome Paulie Krugnuts:

    “And when we’re experiencing depression economics … this is a situation in which virtue becomes vice and prudence is folly; what we need above all is for someone to spend more, even if the spending isn’t particularly wise … public spending on the scale needed never seems to happen … and what actually ended up doing the trick [for ending the Great Depression} was spending that was beyond pointless, it was actually destructive ? a sort of cruel joke on the part of the gods of economics.

    The point is that it would have been much better if the Depression had been ended with massive spending on useful things, on roads and railroads and schools and parks. But the political consensus for spending on a sufficient scale never materialized; we needed Hitler and Hirohito instead.”

  19. Towns is willing to say crazy stuff like “I oppose cheaper alcohol” for only $17,800. And Conyers’ price, $66,000 from the beer wholesalers

    That’s just the down payment. They know there is more where that came from if they keep pushing the bill.

  20. The democrat commies are doing it all wrong. Unlike russia, you will be oppressed and sober.

  21. That’s an issue that’s really annoying to us in California, between our commercial interests (lots of small wineries that can sell via the Internet but don’t produce the kind of volume that a Midwest or Florida quasi-monopolistic wholesaler or Pennsylvania state liquor monopoly wants) and lots of craft beer breweries) and our general value system (wine is good! Let people drink it!)

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