The Tax Man Cometh

For several years  the brewing industry has been seeking a rollback of the beer taxes of 1991. Until now I was dubious that they would be successful during the Trump administration. The heinous tax bill that the Senate passed last week appears to have achieved the industry’s goal.  The Senate put the tenets of the Craft Beverage  Modernization and Tax Reform Act into the pending tax legislation.

Senator Roy Blount, (R., Missouri) is the sponsor of the  beer legislation and his son is a lobbyist for Miller Coors. Cindy McCain’s family owns Hensley Beverage which is a major beer distributor located in Arizona. The National Beer Wholesalers Association, a trade lobby, supports the tax cuts. The McCain family involvement in the beer industry probably explains John McCain’s decision to support the tax legislation despite the complete lack of a process during the writing of the bill. No hearings were held and most Senators voted without reading the legislation.

The craft beer industry markets itself as David fighting the golaiths of Anheuser Busch and Miller Coors. They claim to be providing authentic flavors and products to deserving customers. Their full-throat-ed support of the Senate tax bill would seem to contradict this image. The bill eliminates deductions for student loans, state property taxes, the ACA individual mandate and in general screws anybody who is not in the one percent.

The bill will generate a huge deficit which will enable Republicans, once it is passed, to seek cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  The Brewers Association posted the following disclaimer: “Please keep in mind that the BA and its members have had no input on the larger political issues in play on the tax reform bill.” This rings hollow. Craft brewers should be ashamed of themselves for supporting such terrible legislation.

 

Posted in Beer, Business, Craft beer, Health care, History, Politics, Taxes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Computer

I bought a new computer a few weeks ago and it has turned out to be extremely complicated to get it up and running. A computer is a complex machine yet people are expected to know what to do without help. No one  expects you to either build or fix your own car, refrigerator, or television.

The first thing I tried to do, after initially starting the computer, was to restore the copy of my old computer that I had backed up on an external hard drive. It didn’t work because my external hard drive, Clickfree, is not compatible with Windows 10.

The next thing I tried to do was install Office. It took about two hours to download which seemed excessive. Once it  was done it didn’t work. I had initially logged into Microsoft using one email and downloaded Office using a different email. I spent another two hours trying to fix this error and I couldn’t.The only thing I could do was to rest the computer, wiping out Office and many other programs I had used Ninite to install. The fact that I had to resort to a reset seems like a design flaw in Windows. The whole experience reminded me why I hate Microsoft. The first day took over eight hours.

The second time I tried to get the new computer to be operational I used PC Mover . The first step in that process was updating Windows on the new computer; it took two hours.  I then installed PCMover on both computers. So far, so good. I knew I wouldn’t care about the hours spent if it worked. Hopeful, I went to transfer my files from my old computer to the new one. Nothing happened. Nada. I waited fifteen minutes or so, then called PCMover. The box said they had 24/7 assistance for transferring files.

The PC Mover customer service person wanted me to get remote access to my computer to solve the problem. I was reluctant to have him remote access my computer because when I called Microsoft about Office on the first day, they did remote access but nothing happened. On that day I waited about a half hour and then disconnected the remote access and the chat. 

I was nervous about the same thing happening with PC Mover. It didn’t because they couldn’t even get remote access to work. The customer service person said I needed to optimize my old computer and that something was wrong with the operating system on it.  Given that, they said there would be a fee for them to fix it. I declined. So much for 24/7 assistance.

I wasn’t surprised there was a problem with my old computer. It stinks which is why I got a new one. Since I couldn’t use PC Mover to transfer my files, I had to figure out what to do. I decided to do a new backup of my old computer with my new Seagate external hard drive which took eight hours, ending at 2 a.m. The second day was probably twelve hours of work with no results.

 The next day – day 3 – I used the Seagate drive to restore my files to the new computer. It sort of worked. When I looked for the  files on the new computer I couldn’t find them. They were not in documents where I expected them to be. Windows 10 seem to have OneDrive as the default repository for documents and my files weren’t there. Another design flaw. My dislike of Microsoft was not abating. I eventually figured out where the files were and I found an easy way to access them. A lot of work, but the third day was going much better.

Since I had fixed the email problem by resetting the computer on Day 1, on Day 3 installing Office was much easier. I learned my lesson about installing too many thing at once using Ninite. I installed  Quicken and then I installed Itunes. All I have left is my printer, Firefox, and Thunderbird. I am going to do those today. It will probably be a total of thirty hours  before my new computer is fully operational. Quite an ordeal.

I would love to hear about how other people have set up their new computers. Please leave your stories in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in History | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving

This week got away from me and I don’t have a fully realized blog post. I got a new computer which turned out to be a nightmare to get installed. It is not done yet. I had been feeling more kindly towards Microsoft but this experience revitalized my hatred of that company. You should be able to change an email address without having to completely reset your machine which is what I ended up having to do.

The computer was Monday, cleaning the house was Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday were cooking and eating. So now it is Friday. I am thankful that I was able to do all of that and spend the holiday with friends and family.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and that the rest of the year is a period of health, happiness and peace.

 

Posted in Computer, Future plans | Tagged | Leave a comment

This Joint’s for You

Various people from the brewing industry are exploring ways to capitalize on the growing recreational marijuana market. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chris Burrggraeve, a former Anheuser Bush InBev NV executive, has invested in a San Francisco startup, Green Rush Group. He is also a co-founder of Toast. This company makes pre-rolled joints or “slices”.

Green Rush enables people to order marijuana from local dispensaries, It is primarily focused on medical marijuana but if someone doesn’t have a prescription they can get one online for $39. Toast’s products are available on the Green Rush website and their own website tells you where  concrete stores are located that sell the product.

Burrgggraeve is not the only person from the brewing industry who is getting involved in cannabis sales. Constellation Brands,  the number three beer company in the States and the  importers of Corona, has invested in Canopy Growth Corp., This company is Canadian and considers itself “a world leading diversified cannabis company.

These investments are in anticipation of changes in federal drug laws. Currently marijuana is illegal under federal law but both recreational and medical use is legal in eight states. Under the current administration that is not likely to happen but more states will probably pass legislation legalizing recreational marijuana since it is seen as a source of revenue

 

Posted in Beer, Business, History, Liquor Industry, Politics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Amherst Weed

I am an Amherst Town Meeting member. This past Monday we started deliberating at the Special Fall Town Meeting. There are seventeen articles on the warrant including five that deal with marijuana.

In 2016 Massachusetts voters legalized recreational marijuana. A few years earlier the state permitted medical marijuana. In the years following passage of medical marijuana, Amherst received four applications to establish medical marijuana dispensaries. The four are in various stages of development but none are open yet.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana, all four dispensaries have the option of either adding retail sales to their practice or converting to a solely retail establishment. I believe that at least some of the four applicants knew recreational retail use was coming and wanted to be first in line to access the large sales market that is likely to exist in a college town.

Three of the four will be located on a road that leads to the University of Massachusetts. The state voted for legalization with a little over fifty percent while Amherst voted for it with a seventy percent margin. Some municipalities have rejected having any retail marijuana outlets while Amherst is moving ahead with both medical and recreational facilities.

In the Town Meeting discussion about how many retail outlets to have (we decided on eight) as well as what zoning restrictions to place on retail establishments, I noticed a lot of fear. Unlike alcohol, the legal sale of marijuana is a new thing. Some people spoke about marijuana being safer than alcohol while others pointed out the problems with alcohol use that should not be repeated.

It is interesting that alcohol is the frame of reference for most people. If alcohol was being newly legislated would there be such easy access? It is possible that one hundred years from now marijuana will occupy a comparable level of acceptance.

Posted in History, Politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Drinking Responsibly

Someone recently wrote a letter to the editor of The Roanoke Times complaining about the ubiquity of beer related stories in the paper. Writing from a public health perspective, Mr. Klein found it bewildering that a women’s health event that a local clinic was sponsoring was being held at a brewery. He wrote, “Have we really gotten to the point as a society where alcohol is so pervasive that it has to be used to entice people to every social event even those designed to promote a healthy lifestyle.”

Klein finds the integration and normalization of alcohol throughout society troubling. This was a big point of contention for the public health activists on the Massachusetts Alcohol Tax Force sub-committee that I served on. They were all people who were working to prevent underage drinking. They also felt that the presence of alcohol at so many community events sends mixed messages. This is something Klein also pointed out.

Klein reminded readers that alcohol consumption can lead to addiction; something that is overlooked in the promotion of events. He apparently lives in Blacksburg, Virginia which is a college town. I also live in a college town where students periodically drink to excess.

There were seven comments in response to Klein’s letter. One pointed out that college students are probably not drinking craft beer which has a higher price point. Most of the other comments focused on the economic benefits of beer to the local economy This is the perennial tension between the public health movement and officials seeking economic development.

Posted in Addiction, Alcoholism, Beer, History, publishing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Shipping Wine

There was an interesting article in Wednesday’s New York Times about a crackdown on interstate shipping of wine. Since Prohibition the three-tier system has existed in the liquor industry. The tiers are wholesalers, retailers, and producers. Because of this system and prior to the explosion of craft brewery, wholesalers became the biggest segment of the liquor industry.

They have a considerable amount of power and are behind the efforts to curtail interstate shipping of alcoholic beverages. Prior to the advent of the internet some interstate shipping through catalogs went on under the radar of legal authorities. The internet changed all that and it is very easy for anyone, even a minor, to click on an image of a wine bottle and receive it in the mail in a few days.

The retail tier of the three-tier systems is also changing due to the entry of big box stores such as Costco and Trader Joe’s. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods further complicates the landscape. It is almost the eighty-fourth anniversary of Repeal. It is not clear if the three-tier system erected at that time will continued to exist in its present form for much longer.

 

Posted in Beer, Business, Craft beer, History, Liquor Industry, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Drinking at Home

I am re-posting a blog from March 27, 2008 which I wrote in response to an article by Eric Asimov about his children drinking at home. Preventing underage drinking was the main focus of the public health advocates who served on the subcommittee of the Massachusetts Alcohol Tax Force with me.

Home Sipping

March 27,2008

In today’s New York Times, Eric Asimov has an article discussing introducing adolescents to alcohol in a family setting. His children are sixteen and seventeen and he is contemplating giving them sips of wine with dinner. Asimov reviews some of the debate over the wisdom of allowing young people under the age of twenty-one to drink and discusses, to a limited extent, European models of family and adolescent drinking The personal decision Asimov and his wife are contemplating is a small example of a long-standing debate in the field of alcohol attitudes.

Temperance and prohibition advocates in the nineteenth and early twentieth century were adamantly opposed to young people drinking and they developed Scientific Temperance, a curriculum designed to educate students about the physiologically of drinking. The lesson often included demonstration of a shriveled liver. For prohibitionists drinking and alcohol abuse were societal problems which required a societal responses. In this world view there was no room for individual choice or decision and when and where it as appropriate to drink.

Cirrohotic Liver

Following Repeal, the liquor industry worked hard to reestablish liquor as an appropriate beverage and re-integrate drinking in family life. The medical and scientific community helped brewers and distillers in this endeavor by reformulating problem drinking and alcohol abuse as a medical and individual problem.

Brewers, both before and after Prohibition, saw beer as the beverage of moderation which could be enjoyed throughout society. German immigrants enjoyed drinking in a family setting, the beer garden. The beer garden represented brewers highest ambitions for the place of beer in American society. However the saloon, a less wholesome public place for drinking predominated in the years prior to Prohibition.

Although the alcohol studies field has been successful in defining alcoholism as an individual disease, since the 1970’s an alternative formulation, in many ways closer to the vies of prohibitionists has emerged. Because of societal problems such as drunk driving, cirrhosis, and fetal alcohol syndrome, public health advocates have argued for societal responses to these problems. The raising of the minimum drinking age in 1984, warning labels on alcoholic beverages, and ongoing battles to restrict television advertising of beer are examples.

It is this social context that is missing from Asimov’s discussion of his personal decision about introducing his children to alcohol. Although he does reference the issue of driving he seems to assume that the only influence on young people choices around drinking will be family. Beer is so integrated into our society on so many different levels that its cultural influence on young people must be accounted for.

Acknowledging the cultural influence of beer does not mean that an individual family which enjoys drinking in a moderate way, whether it be wine beer or a cocktail, can not convey those responsible habits to their children. It would be naive, however, to accept that this “normalizing” of alcohol will be able to provide universal protection against such young adult dangers as binge drinking or ritual drinking around turning twenty-one.

Save

Save

Posted in History | Leave a comment

Gratitude

On Monday I started the 11 Day Anxiety Challenge. Wednesday’s task was to find five things you are grateful for. Here are my five things:

  1. My family – My husband and sons mean everything to me.
  2. My house – I am so happy I am able to afford my home. I have worked very hard over the years to make it a lovely place to live.
  3. Exercise – I am very glad I am physically able to exercise since I have interstitial cystitis which is so debilitating for so many people.
  4. Ice skating – The reasons for being grateful for exercise hold true for ice skating with the additional thought of  being able to do it at my age.
  5.  Birds – Wednesday morning I heard them chirping and it was a beautiful sound.

The black-capped chickadee is the state bird of Massachusetts.

What are some things you are grateful for? Please tell me below in the comments.

 

Save

Save

Save

Posted in Personal, Skating | Tagged | 2 Comments

Completion

Yesterday I completed the chapter of my book on faculty wives that I have been working on for quite a while. I started the research last year and started writing it in July. Just like it is hard for a pitcher to close out innings it is hard for a writer to know when to stop writing. There is always more research to do and more books to read.

I decided it was finished because I can’t work on it any longer. I  have covered the points I wanted to make so I am going to put it aside and start something new. After writing a first draft of something, you need to let it sit for a while.

The chapter is about African-American faculty wives and their clubs. Several of the women became very prominent in the black community; some like Margaret Washington had stature in the white community as well. Most faculty wives clubs, black or white, were primarily focused on their academic community. The service they provided was most often to the school itself.

The first generation of African-American faculty wives operated on a larger stage. They used their position and connections to make a difference in the community their school was located in as well as in national organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women.

I also looked at clubs that fit the more typical pattern of inward involvement with their school. The Howard University Faculty Wives Association primarily focused on the school, setting up a scholarship and loan fund. In their programming, however, they  had a more global orientation, inviting the Haitian minister and his wife to an event as well as Mr. Francis Nwia- Kofi Nkrumah who later became the first president of Ghana.

The chapter started out one way and took a different focus after I had done more research. I learned a lot about both the writing process and African-American women and their history by doing this chapter.

Posted in History, Women | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment