14 May 2012

A Sadly Misplaced Boycott

Ever since the white man interacted with the Native Americans, one of the first things we did was give them alcohol. And smallpox contaminated blankets, but mostly alcohol.

Recently, the Oglala Sioux have sued AB-InBev, and other brewers and distributors because the small town of Whiteclay, Nebraska (Pop. 10, and sells more than four million cans of beer and malt liquor annually) is the closest place to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to buy alcohol. Out of 45,000 people, there have been 20,000 alcohol related arrests. Note: The story does not give a time frame for this statistic. It could be in a month, or in ten years. Whiteclay is not on the reservation, where alcohol is illegal, so it is out of the Indian Police jurisdiction. There Sheridan County Sherriff's office only has nine officers, and cannot adequately patrol the town.

On May 5, Nicholas D. Kristof wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times urging a Boycott of AB-InBev. His reasoning: "While some Miller, Coors and Pabst beer is sold in the stores, the great majority is Anheuser-Busch products, including Hurricane malt liquor and Budweiser beer."

Sigh.

Even if the citizens of Sheridan county razed the town to the ground, the Indians would drive the nineteen miles to the next town and buy their beer there. (Mr. Kristof even admits that there is something to that. So boycotting AB-InBev would really do nothing. Trust me. I've been boycotting AB-InBev for years and they are still in business! (I don't know if I'm really boycotting or just staying away from flavorless beer, but my point's the same.)) Obviously, then, he would boycott AB-InBev until they got out of the next nearest town, the next nearest town, the next nearest town, and the next. . .  Well, you catch my drift. Eventually that can only lead to Prohibition. And we all know how that turned out.

Another flaw in the boycott is that even if Mr. Kristof's and my boycott works, and AB-InBev pulls out of Whiteclay, then MillerCoors becomes the biggest seller of beer. So we boycott them (because now they're more evil). When they pull out of the market, we'll boycott Sam Adams, say. I have worked fifteen Oktoberfests here in Paradise, and when we run out of Sam Adams Oktoberfest, the customers switch to Saint Arnold Oktoberfest, and when we run out that, they switch to Real Ale Oktoberfest. And when we run out of that, they switch to Bud Light.

This is a pointless, and ultimately doomed, boycott.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:00

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