Thursday, June 12, 2008

Let's Talk Beer

Over at the Washington Monthly, Kevin talks beer. In case you missed it, a Belgian-based megacorp has offered to buy out Anheuser-Busch (the second-biggest buying the biggest--here's a very long post on it at my beer blog). Apparently, the half-wits at the WSJ (who recently wrote an article about my activities--that obviously being the full-witted half) think it would be great politics for the workers to sign onto the merger. You know, because the Wall Street Journal always has the workers' back.

Drum points out the obvious (Am I the only one who thinks workers are going to be less than reassured by the prospect of a "new-and-improved management team" that's "focused on cost-cutting?") and then offers this:
In any case, [the WSJ's] main point is that "it would be politically untenable for Obama to welcome a takeover," so John McCain should take the bait and position himself as a champion of free trade, even if it does mean letting a Belgian company run by a Brazilian dude take control of good 'ol American Budweiser. After all, who better to take a stand on this than a guy who dumped his first wife 30 years ago in order to marry a wealthy heiress who now owns one of the largest Anheuser Busch distributors in the country?
That's a paragraph rich in flavor, and I hope McCain does take the bait. But I don't agree with Kevin that Obama can stay neutral on the deal. It's a great opportunity to for him to bring some nuance to this and argue both for the workers, for St. Lousians (?), and for small businesses in opposing this deal. Obviously, this is a big deal for the locals. They don't want a faceless company owning the local company (InBev has 200+ brands and is worldwide). Whatever else you can say, it won't preserve the local flavor. One of the ways InBev makes these deals work is to streamline ops--which means laying off workers. Brewery work is good, honest, put-your-kids-through-college work. Finally, this is probably bad new for many of the 1400 small craft breweries in the country, who now have to compete against a multinational megacorp for barley and hops--in the middle of shortages on both.

There's no upside for anyone not employed by InBev that I can see. I say make McCain go for the defense, and then roll out the above talking points. Beer drinkers are the guys you want on your team.

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