Monthly Archives: March 2011

Whats The Real Beef Over Wine Sales?

The fight over whether “grocery stores” should be allowed to sell wine rages on, it appears.  This is an issue about which I am completely neutral.  The sale of wine in Kroger’s just won’t affect me in any way.  We buy wine, and we go to a liquor store to do so.

What I dislike about this contentious issue is the dishonest way both sides are making their case.  You’d have to be a complete moron (or, perhaps a Tennessee state assemblyman) to believe that allowing grocery stores to sell wine will magically produce thousands of jobs.  It won’t.  The State would be forced to hire additional agents to inspect and approve new licensees, but after the initial rush, what on earth would they do, except add to the already strained State budget?  The distributors won’t be hiring too many new delivery drivers, why would they?  They will sell the roughly the same amount of wine as before, except they would then have to service thousands of new accounts to do so.  And, to that point, would there be thousands of new accounts?  What qualifies as a grocery store?  Will Governor Haslam’s family business, Pilot Oil, suddenly make the cut? How about farmer’s markets?

The detractors have largely masked their opposition in the cloak of fear…that teenagers, hell bent on getting their buzz on, will have greater access to Mad Dog 30/30.  (Note, if you’ve ever had a cheap wine induced hangover, you know full well that you’ll never repeat the experience) It is a disingenuous and deceptive argument. Besides, is there any wine that compliments Cheese Puffs? Kids are going to drink beer to get drunk and make babies, not Merlot.

If I remember from my research on this issue, there are some questions that need to be addressed:

My understanding of current state law prohibits any entity from possessing more than one wine/liquor license.  Will this law have to be changed to allow Corporate chains to hold multiple licenses?

If that happens, why not also change the law regarding transport of wine, which states that only a licensed distributor can do it.  That way, Walmart and Sam’s club can bulk buy, store it, and transport it to their stores when they need it.  This would also take the heat off of distributors.

Will liquor stores now be able to sell beer?  If this is a convenience issue, having all spirits in one location seems a no-brainer.  What about the liquor stores now selling lottery tickets, chips, soda, and condoms?

I have to laugh at a few comments I have read in the paper about how this is all about “freedom.”  Really?  Open a restaurant, bar, or liquor store for that matter, and try to purchase your stock from anyone other than a protected distributor.  One distributor.  Not exactly the free-est of markets, eh?  Lets allow anyone willing to collect sales taxes to sell any product anywhere.  That, my freedom loving poseur friends, is a free market.

Bah, the trough keeps getting smaller, the few who get to feed at it keep getting larger.

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A Sucker Born Every Minute

If you do not live in Robertson County, chances are that you know nothing of this story.  At first glance, it appears to be just another run of the mill crooked politician story.  No shortage of those.  But I find so much of it quite fascinating.  For starters, Mr. Polen, besides being a County Commissioner, is also the Chair of the Robertson County Democratic Party.  Under his direction, our local Party has amassed an army of over 2 volunteers, raised enough money to run an ad on Craigslist, and helped lose an important seat in the State Assembly.  His careful guidance has insured that members of either Party can post to our Facebook page, and that inquiries there are answered in the same decade.

I have to wonder what the State party brain-trust has decided to do about this.  Perhaps, since not a single story I can find mentions that Mr. Polen is the head of the local Democratic Party, the plan is to lay low and hope no reporter ever digs into the story beyond the Ponzi scheme allegations.  (Actually, that’s a pretty safe bet)   I mean, this is Robertson County after all, and it’s not like people here do anything noteworthy anyway. (except raise crops that help stock our grocery stores)  So, maybe the boys in charge will just go ahead and close up shop in our little neck o’ the woods.  The local Party has withered on the vine for awhile now, and it may be too expensive to find someone to run it amongst the 14 die hard members that remain.

But sad as all that is, it isn’t what interests me the most.  According to reports, Mr. Polen duped friends and associates into investing their hard-earned cash into his business on the belief that his political connections would insure fat State contracts to, among other things, clean up the coal ash spill in East Tennessee.  Now, leaving aside for a moment the fact that Mr. Polen’s company couldn’t do a thing at a coal ash spill site except perhaps mow the remaining grass, but did these people think it was okay to make money based on inside information and political connections?  If so, I think they deserve whatever losses they suffer.  Now, I’m not a gambling man, (wait a minute, I am a gambling man) but I’d wager that Mr. Polen has mortgaged himself to the hilt, and there won’t be a morsel of flesh left, just a pile of financial bones to pick over.

The fact that Mr. Polen was an elected official here speaks volumes about the voters in this county.  Well, I guess we have the representation we deserve.

I’ll be watching this story’s progress closely.  I may be the only one.

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Sprung

It’s been a long, weird winter.  I think this has been the longest I’ve gone without posting since the Chronicles began.  I actually heard from a couple of regular readers asking if everything was alright, and I was touched that someone actually took the time to inquire.  Very cool. I have a ton of plausible explanations I could offer, but I think my sabbatical is best described as a result of yet another, what, incarnation, maybe?  They say we re-invent ourselves every ten years.  That sounds about right.  I think I just came through a period where everything I wrote seemed like it was written by someone other than myself, and really not written very well.  So many events took place that i wanted chime in about, only to find myself unable to find an interesting way to do so.  The senseless Gifford’s shooting.  The cowardly, cold blooded execution of Brisenia Flores and her father.  The devastation caused by the BP oil spill.  The tragic earthquake and tsunami that has crippled Japan for what looks like generations to come.  Coke Zero.

But I didn’t.  Fortunately for those who like to read blogs, there were people like Southern Beale and John Lamb offering serious and sober assessments of a range of topical and important issues.  I am happy to know both of these people, and I read their blogs daily.  You should too.

I spent this time away from here re-evaluating the people and things in my life.  I have had to sever ties to those I feel do not respect who I am and what I do, whether they be long-time friends or even family.  I see no value to working in vain to keep toxic relationships going, on the hope that they will eventually become mutually fulfilling.  For me, the issue at hand is time, and between raising two active teens and caring for elderly parents, there is precious little of it to squander on people or activities that steal time but offer little in return.

That’s about all the navel gazing I care to do.

Now, on to some things that matter….

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