Posts Tagged ‘Politics’
Friday, October 23rd, 2009
By Christopher McCollum
Culture of Spirits is not a political blog, but we do occasionally cover aspects of the political spectrum that spill over into our main focus, especially when it comes to things such as prohibition. A very hot topic over the past few years has been Net Neutrality, which depending on the way you look at it, is either a very good thing, or a very bad thing. I will try to not get overtly political in this article, and stay on subject, which is the direct or indirect way that our spirited sub-culture may be affected by this topic.
Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
A recent study performed by researchers at several universities including UCLA and Johns Hopkins has found a frightening new correlation between alcohol advertising and target demographics which could only be assumed to be young viewers… and thus potential underage drinkers.
By using advertising industry data from Nielsen Media Research, researchers examined more than 608,000 national cable alcohol ads aired between the years 2001 and 2006. These ads, fortunately, were aired primarily before audiences with fewer than 30 percent between the ages of 12 and 20. However, there were few of the funny coincidences, as noted by a story featured at the Fox News website:
- For every one-percentage-point increase in adolescent viewership, there was a corresponding 7% increase in beer ads, a 15% increase in spirits ads, and a 22% increase in “alcopop” ads
- In the instance of alcopops, ad incidence “was strongly associated with adolescent girl viewership”. Also, each one-point increase in the percentage of female adolescent audience was associated with increases in alcopop ads by as much as 5%.
Sunday, August 2nd, 2009
President Obama has garnered a lot of attention lately with the so-called ‘Beer Summit’ at the White House, between himself, Harvard professor Henry Gates Jr., and sergeant James Crowley of the Cambridge, Mass. Police Department. The story between these three is well documented by every major news outlet in the country, so rehashing it here seems redundant to me. My interest in this stems from the President using beer as the medium to sort out their differences, and that has caused me to do some research into other spirits of the Oval Office. What have been the preferred beverages of some of our notable Commanders in Chief?
George Washington (1789-1797) was regarded as the most successful whiskey producer in the country after his tenure of President was over. His Mount Vernon distillery produced 11,000 gallons of Rye Whiskey per year, but within a decade of his death, it fell into disrepair. Washington was also known to have dined and drank whiskey at Charleston, South Carolina’s famous McCrady’s Tavern in 1791, during his Southern Tour.
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) is regarded today as one of the healthiest early American presidents, and also the foremost wine connoisseur to have ever held office. According to a letter to an inquiring doctor in 1819, he would drink 3 to 4 glasses of wine at dinner, but never a drop otherwise. He wrote that he did not drink ardent wines or spirits, and he would also water down his wine so as to weaken its effect on him.
Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) was born into a bourbon family; His father was a distillery hand at the site that Knob Creek bourbon is named after today (in a distillery that was owned by one of Daniel Boone‘s relatives, no less!). Reaching adult hood, he applied for and received a license to sell alcohol in Illinois, and went on to operate numerous taverns. Despite the taverns and a grocery store that sold primarily whiskey, his personal stance on alcohol was one of educated, responsible drinking in moderation. As for his personal tastes, it’s hard to figure out because he spent a good portion of his political career appeasing the Temperance group, which eventually evolved into the Prohibition group.
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Recent legislation has introduced tough new anti-smoking laws in the U.S., which now give the federal government sweeping power over how cigarettes are made, packaged, and sold. Recently, President Barack Obama commented that, “Along with legislation to protect credit card owners from unfair rate hikes, homeowners from mortgage fraud and abuse, and taxpayers from wasteful defense spending, this kids tobacco bill would be the fourth piece of bipartisan legislation that I’ve signed into law over the last month that protects the American consumer and changes the way Washington works and who Washington works for.”
Cigarettes displayed for sale
“It will force these companies to more clearly and publicly acknowledge the harmful and deadly effects of the products they sell,” said the president, “and it will allow the scientists at the Food and Drug Administration to take other common sense steps to reduce the harmful effects of smoking.” The intention here, I believe, is honest and good. Also, I think that we members of the cultured alcohol elite would all agree that keeping potentially harmful products like cigarettes away from minors, much like preventing underage drinking, is of great merit without question. Still, the notion that the tobacco industry is being handed over to the FDA to be regulated doesn’t sit well, since it evokes the beginnings of something we already know is inherently flawed: Prohibition.
Friday, February 27th, 2009
If you aren’t in a chair already, you may want to sit down before reading this; present American budget deficit numbers, projected at a whopping $1.8 trillion for 2009 and $1.2 trillion for 2010, both represent levels not seen since World War II.
But here’s the good news:some sources advise that this may be a good excuse to drink to your health (since we know drinking to prosperity is out of the question, for now). According to the Web site American Progress, “If a Martini is your drink, skip the Vermouth. If Whiskey’s your poison, take it straight. If you’re a teetotaler, make an exception. And if you really, really shouldn’t drink, close your eyes and take a deep breath. But, under no circumstances should you look at President Obama’s budget blueprint for the next ten years without fortification.” Whoops, if you’re seeing these numbers here for the first time, it may be too late. Sincerest apologies (at least I asked if you were sitting)!
Monday, February 16th, 2009
Today the Associated Press reports that liquor laws, especially those which prohibit sale of spirits on Sundays, may be repealed in an effort to boost individual state economies.
AP writer Brock Vergakis writes, “In Utah, and across the country, governors and lawmakers faced with budget deficits are advocating loosening laws that restrict alcohol consumption in the hopes of boosting tax revenues.” Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota and Texas all plan to end present bans on Sunday liquor sales with hopes of boosting revenue with the day’s worth of sales added to weekly figures.
State governments choosing to capitalize on alcohol sales may never have picked a better time, in spite of the recession, as liquor sales are on the rise just about everywhere. Across the US during the year of 2008, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) reports that sales rose 2.8 percent from 2007 to $18.7 billion in 2008, according to revenues reported by liquor suppliers. For instance, in Perham, Minnesota, the local municipal liquor store saw an increase in sales by nearly a half million dollars during this period; nearly a 33% gain.
Thursday, February 5th, 2009
PROHIBITION ALERT: And you’ll never guess where…
…Wrong again. It’s UTAH, the great state of fear-mongering.
Monkey See, Monkey Do (just look at this poor guy, made to dress like a peanut after watching Planters Peanuts commercials).
Apparently, Utah state legislators are pressing for laws that will restrict restaurants from making mixed drinks in view of minors seated in their establishment. According to senate president Michael Waddoups, such legislation is necessary to protect the “safety and mental future of our children.” As we all know by now, “monkey see… monkey do.” Lord help us, we can’t have our children driven to insanity by watching bartenders pour up drinks… shield their virgin eyes, and presumably wait until the drinks arrive safely at the table, where they may be consumed in full-view of youngsters far and wide.
Indeed, restaurants falling under this new proposed category of restriction will be forced to remodel if their bar is visible from main dining areas. Hey, while we’re at it, we might as well go ahead and ban people from being allowed to light cigarettes in front of minors as well, eh? Apparently the problem with mixed drinks, according to legislators, is the act of making them in front of youngsters instead of the far less harmful act of drinking them; therefore, if we continue to follow this logic, a ban on lighting cigarettes in view of minors should likely be passed as well. Granted, the act of smoking in front of kiddies ought to be fine and dandy, right?
Hell, let’s take no chances… why not go ahead and just kill two birds with one stone? Why not say all smokers have to sit at the bar from now on as well (which will already be shielded from the highly impressionable young eyes of our children, of course). After all, this is America the free, baby.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Let’s face it; nearly everyone I know is a health-freak these days (myself included). Granted, this mentality from time-to-time does seem to gravitate toward and hover around particular areas of the US (and the world, for that matter). Still, no matter where you go, what seems to clench the deal is seeing fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Taco Bell making renewed efforts to provide healthier alternatives to the time-tested standards on their menus; from the inclusion of whole-wheat buns with Premium Chicken sandwiches, to Taco Bell’s “Fresco” menu, which offers low-cal alternatives to items on the regular menu, available upon request.
It isn’t surprising, therefore, that the alcohol industry poses no exception to the trend toward lower caloric intake, organic components, and even environmentally “green” standards. Beverage World recently reported that sales of premium spirits are up 92 percent in the last year, in spite of the downward trends seen in the American economy. Similarly, USA Today points out that demand for organic spirits, especially in conjunction with drinks mixed using organic fruit juices and other natural flavoring, also appears to be on the rise. (more…)