First a quick note about the Chesbay dustup and the Illinois
Liquor Commission’s decision on allowing ABI to continue their ownership in
City Beverage. That decision which some
have called surprising and confusing is EXACTLY the reason I counsel against legal
actions like the Chesbay dustup.
As a regulated industry, as much as is possible we need to
stay out of courtrooms. For once in the
courtroom, one person’s judgment (whether right or wrong) can forever change
the industry. And surprising and
confusing decisions happen all the time.
Putting 79 years of post-prohibition regulation in a single person’s
hands is simply a risk not worth taking.
So Chesbay gets to exit this year with their money (less
legal expenses)… Reyes Beverage Group gets to complete a transaction which
makes perfect strategic sense… and MillerCoors gets to extract some type of
performance commitment from the Reyes’s and get out of a legal battle where
most sides were against them. And the industry wins because this thing
As for the City Beverage decision… who knows. AB has had that stake for many years and the
world hasn’t ended… and it is Chicago and Illinois… unfortunately a world of political
pay-to-play if there ever were one. I’m
not saying this decision was that… just that it is rather sad that the fine
people of the state of Illinois allow this level of political corruption to
continue. It sullies every decision, whether corrupt
or not since one can never be certain.
One would hope that sooner or later the folks in Illinois will tire of
seeing their governors and other elected officials cooling their heels in jail…
and as has been noted before by some cynical types… only the stupid and greedy politicians
get caught in the first place (we have one of those, ex-governor Blago sitting
in a prison here in Colorado at this very moment). The “good” ones simply never get caught. Perhaps free people should demand more from
our elected officials.
And on that note a couple points. First, many folks out there think I’m crazy
for putting my beliefs out there in front of all (my associate Steve Cook being one). They think it is bad for business and one
should never do it. I take a longer view…
how do we expect the incredible bounty and freedom each of us enjoys to
continue if we are afraid to speak up? I
realize it can be dangerous to enter the culture wars (where both sides are
generally wrong) but speaking in favor of freedom is never wrong.
Which brings me to my second point… it seems that good ol’
Guinness is not only a great beer, the lineage of the Guinness line has
produced a pretty good thinker too…
Following is a brief interview from National Review Online (http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/332478/have-drink-guinness-interview)
with the great grandson of the founding Guinness.
It is worth the read (I haven’t read the book yet) to hear
what a foreigner has to say about the freedoms of this great country and the
risks to them.
Have a Drink of Guinness
November 5, 2012 3:00 A.M.
"Like a precious family heirloom,
freedom is not just ours to enjoy, but to treasure, protect, and pass on to
future generations,” says Os Guinness in an interview with NRO’s Kathryn Jean
Lopez. Guinness, great grandson of that famous Dublin brewer, has recently
written a book, A Free People’s Suicide:
Sustainable Freedom and the American Future. Here, the social critic helps
remind us of what’s special about the United States.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What concerns
you about freedom in the United States as you watch us right before a
OS GUINNESS: I am a longtime
admirer of the U.S. and its enormous significance for the world. But as your
presidential elections have become more and more of grand popularity contest,
dominated by money to an obscene degree, they have less and less to say about
the real “state of the Union.” One of the recent conventions, for example, was
well described as “more Pat Boone than Winston Churchill.” The present
condition of American freedom is only one of many themes that are conspicuous
by their absence in this election.
LOPEZ: “Suicide,” in the title of
your new book, is a bit strong, isn’t it?
GUINNESS: The title comes from
Abraham Lincoln: “As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die
by suicide.” On the one hand, he was referring to the open-ended challenge of
what George Washington earlier called “the great experiment” — and experiments
are always open-ended. On the other hand, he was echoing a point made by many
historians: Strong free peoples bring themselves down. It won’t be the Nazis,
the Soviets, or Islamic extremists who bring America down, but Americans and
LOPEZ: From an outsider’s
perspective, are you saying, “Who do you Americans think you are”? Do you think
we overestimate our importance in the world?
GUINNESS: I would caution against
the tone of hubris that is so common in American rhetoric, especially after the
collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 — hubris being not only overweening pride
but also the illusion of invulnerability. References to “American
exceptionalism,” the “second American century,” and the like roll off the
tongue easily and send patriotic shivers down the spines of American audiences.
But when they are used as a litmus test of patriotism, they inoculate Americans
against thinking seriously about the real health of the Republic and America’s
true standing in the world in the global era.
LOPEZ: “Freedom must be guarded
vigilantly against internal as well as external dangers,” you say. How can we
GUINNESS: Awareness of domestic
dangers was a characteristic emphasis of the Founders, and they learned it from
their reading of classical writers, such as the Greek historian Polybius and
the great Roman orator Cicero. Curiously, the Founders actually downplayed the
danger of external enemies and emphasized the menace of internal enemies, such
as Polybius’s notion of “the corruption of customs.” The present generation of
Americans, on the other hand, has done the opposite, and so concentrated on
external menaces (Homeland Security, and so on) that it has almost completely
ignored internal dangers. In the long run, the internal dangers will prove the
LOPEZ: How is freedom the greatest
enemy of freedom?
GUINNESS: The rewards of freedom
are always sweet, but its demands are stern, for at its heart is the paradox
that the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom. There are several reasons for
this, but the deepest concerns a simple moral fact: True freedom requires
ordering, and the only ordering appropriate to freedom is self-restraint, yet
self-restraint is precisely what freedom invariably undermines when it
flourishes. So the most common way to lose freedom is to allow it to slide down
into permissiveness and then license.
LOPEZ: What do mean when you say
that freedom could prove to be “America’s idol”?
GUINNESS: By “idol,” I mean the
Jewish and Christian understanding of the term as something of great human
importance and value that is elevated into being a supreme ground of trust and
then an object of devotion, when it should not be asked to bear that weight and
it will always disappoint its devotees. Freedom is often idolized like that in
the U.S., as if it were supreme, self-evident, and self-sustaining. I refuse to
take part, for example, when Americans sing the hymn about freedom’s “holy
light.” I have lived under totalitarian Communism, so I prize freedom as much
as anyone and have long fought for freedom of conscience and speech. But
freedom must be understood and guarded with great realism, and we must never forget
its limits and its duties.
LOPEZ: What is “sustainable
freedom”? It sounds as if it might have something to do with green jobs.
GUINNESS: “Sustainability” is a
vogue term today. People talk about sustainable pretty well everything —
sustainable development, sustainable capitalism, sustainable environments — but
curiously no one talks about sustainable freedom. The American Founders, in
contrast, knew that they faced three tasks in establishing this great Republic:
winning freedom (the Revolution), ordering freedom (the Constitution), and
sustaining freedom (or “perpetuating our institutions,” as they put it).
Needless to say, the third task is ours today, but I have only ever heard one
American (John Gardner), and not a single national American leader, address the
need to renew freedom in every generation. That is amazing because the
Founders’ view of how to sustain freedom is probably the most brilliant and
audacious proposal the world has known, but at the very moment they most need
it, modern Americans ignore it.
LOPEZ: What do you mean by the
“golden triangle of freedom?”
GUINNESS: “The golden triangle of
freedom” is my term for the means by which the Founders believed they could
create a free society that could stay free forever — which, if you think about
it, was and is an extraordinarily daring idea. Alexis de Tocqueville called it
“the habits of the heart,” but the Founders themselves never gave it a name. It
runs like this: Freedom requires virtue, virtue requires faith of some sort, and
faith of any sort requires freedom — which in turn requires virtue, and so on
ad infinitum. From orthodox and conservative Christians such as George Mason
right across to deists and freethinkers such as Thomas Jefferson and Ben
Franklin, there was virtual unanimity over this emphasis. But it nearly goes
without saying that all three legs of the triangle are either contested or
openly dismissed today. But if the Founders’ system is abandoned, what will go
in its place? I have never heard anyone give a moment’s thought to that
LOPEZ: How is the problem of
freedom the “problem of the heart”?
GUINNESS: From St. Augustine to
Machiavelli to John Kenneth Galbraith, many commentators, despite their very
different worldviews, have blamed the instability of free societies on the
restlessness of the human heart. This is made worse today because of the way
our consumer societies are deliberately fuelled through stoking restlessness.
We have replaced the notion of the good life with our consumer ideal of the
life with goods, and in the process we have plunged ourselves deeper and deeper
into debt, and we cannot stop. Have you ever pondered the irony of the
prevalence of addictions and recovery groups in the land of the free?
LOPEZ: How have Americans become
their own worst enemies?
GUINNESS: There are many varieties
of freedom in America today, but they share a common characteristic: In Isaiah
Berlin’s terms, they are essentially positive and not negative. This means that
Americans have both abandoned the Founders’ view of sustainable, negative
freedom (the freedom not to be interfered with) and espoused notions of
positive freedom (the “freedom” to have various guaranteed benefits) that are
unsustainable in their essence. Thus it is only a matter of time before
American freedom will undermine itself. If things go on as they are now, the
time will come when, as the designer of the Titanic said, it will be a
mathematical certainty that the ship will sink.
LOPEZ: How can we be better
stewards of freedom? Why should we be?
GUINNESS: In today’s climate of
atomistic individualism, we rarely think of our ancestors and even less of our
children’s children. (“What has posterity ever done for us?”) But like a
precious family heirloom, freedom is not just ours to enjoy, but to treasure,
protect, and pass on to future generations. The missing key to sustainable freedom
is civic education and transmission. It used to be understood that in a free
society, everyone is born free, but not everyone is capable of it. Citizens
have to be educated for liberty, which was once called liberal or civic
education. Yet this practice has disappeared all over the Western world, and
certainly in American public education since the 1960s. Without civic
education, freedom can never become a “habit of the heart.”
LOPEZ: You write: “Unless America
succeeds in revaluing citizenship, in restoring civic education, and in
revitalizing education that proves as powerful as the potency of mass
entertainment and consumer advertising, the American unum will no longer be
able to balance the American pluribus, and America’s freedom itself will continue
to wither.” We can’t exactly do that before November 6, can we?
GUINNESS: No, restoring civic
education and forming the habits of the heart will take at least a generation,
and it will have to start with serious leadership that America so obviously now
lacks. But unless such a restoration happens, the consequences will be severe,
for E pluribus unum is not only America’s motto but also its greatest
achievement and its greatest need. The American unum has been lost since the
Sixties. If this continues, there will soon be no unifying American identity
and vision to balance the pluribus, and the days of the Republic will be
LOPEZ: Does all this matter to
Europe in a particular way?
GUINNESS: Your Founders called
America the novus ordo seclorum, and historians termed the U.S. “the first new
nation,” but the rest of the world went on its ancient way unimpressed. Today
in the global era, however, almost all the world is experiencing the gale-force
winds of modernity that the U.S. faced and answered — mostly with striking
success — more than two centuries ago. Seen this way, never has America been
more relevant to the world than now. Thus the European Union now talks of
“unity out of diversity” instead of E pluribus unum. But at the very moment
when the American model is more relevant than ever, America has lost its sense
of identity and lost confidence in its own way. The brilliant settlement
between religion and public life, for example, which James Madison called “the
true remedy,” is being squandered through the now-50 years of fruitless culture
wars. Yet who dares say “a plague on both your houses” and then find a way
forward in the interest of all Americans? No one, to my knowledge.
LOPEZ: Could today’s time of
testing be as decisive as the Civil War?
GUINNESS: The crisis of freedom
touches the very heart of America, and as it is deepened and intensified by the
many movements coming out of the 1960s, it will prove more decisive for America
than the depression years of the 1930s, and it may even rival the Civil War era
for the decisive stamp it puts on America.
LOPEZ: “No self-respecting American
will ever be opposed to freedom any more than to love” — you have hit on the
problem there, haven’t you? Who is going to believe that the Obama
administration is truly eroding religious freedom? Who will believe that the
president doesn’t value it as we have in the past? He must obviously value it
on some level, by definition.
GUINNESS: The Obama administration
has been talking, but not walking its own talk. If you listen to the
president’s remarks on religious freedom, and even more to the powerful speech
by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, you would hear statements worthy of
Roger Williams and James Madison. But their health-care mandates tell a
different story. Kowtowing to the LGBT agenda, this administration stands in
shame as perhaps the greatest official violator of freedom of thought,
conscience, religion, and belief in American history.
LOPEZ: If Americans would
immediately appreciate only one thing about our freedom, what would you hope it
GUINNESS: I would hope that
Americans would thank God for their freedom and celebrate the achievements of
their great pioneers of freedom — with an equally frank admission of the
egregious blind spots and shortcomings. But at the same time, they need to
reexamine the subtle challenges of freedom, and in particular face up to the
tough requirements of what it takes to sustain freedom. The American Founders
got slavery and the place of women badly wrong from the start. But the world
has never seen a more brilliant and daring answer to the instability and
transience of freedom than theirs. The question today is whether, as their
heirs, you are worthy of that gift and are able to keep it going. I hope and
pray you are and will.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is
editor-at-large of National Review Online.
Something to think about from the descendent of a great
beer-man. You might know my thinking on
this… this can only be solved by fixing this country’s K-12 public education
system. Until that is done, all is for
Still accepting checks and money orders ;-) And we do NEED the money. How’s that for blatant pan-handling?