The Court's decision represents a victory for consumers - but potentially a short-lived one. States may choose to let all wineries ship directly to in-state consumers, so wine drinkers can enjoy the convenience of ordering online, secure fast delivery, and avoid the substantial mark-ups of wholesalers. Alternatively, states may decide to force all wineries, including the local ones, to go through the wholesalers' gauntlet.And now, via Todd Zywicki, I find that Illinois is poised to ban all direct shipping from wineries to consumers – unless the consumer has previously made a purchase from the winery in person. The face-to-face requirement is being justified, naturally, on grounds of preventing underage drinking. Because, you know, so many teenagers were ordering cabernets online to have them delivered in time for their boozy weekend parties. The legislation’s primary backers? The wholesalers, who of course have no financial stake in this and care only for the welfare of the children.
Wholesalers constitute a powerful lobby, which will assuredly try to exploit the last remaining loophole by banning all direct sales to consumers, whether from in-state or out-of-state wineries. They will do all they can to convince legislators and the general public that wholesalers are needed to collect taxes, ensure quality, and protect children from the demon drink. If such fig-leaf justifications succeed, the wholesalers' privileged position will be safeguarded and their future profits assured, while wine consumers get the short end of the stick. [emphasis added]
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Posted by Glen Whitman at 5:19 PM
After the Supreme Court’s wine shipping decision last spring, I said the following: