Focus Point - Freeing the InternetCommentary by Pete du Pont
January 12, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Some entrepreneurs have struck a one-two blow for capitalism and the Internet.
Most U.S. winemakers aren't very big, and the Internet's been a godsend when it comes to direct sales to buyers, since the companies don't have big distribution and advertising budgets. But retailers are up in arms, so alcoholic beverage control boards all over the country are cracking down on on-line wine sellers.
The sellers -- and some of their customers -- are hitting back, suing to overturn regulations banning direct sale, a holdover from the '30s.
But only 13 states let wine be shipped to out-of-state consumers. The constitution says the states are clearly in violation of the 21st amendment; states can't regulate interstate commerce. And for all the catterwauling about preventing alcohol sales to minors, what states are really trying to do is protect their local businesses and lost tax revenue. But direct sales is good for consumers and good for small business, so let's get on with it.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can save the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, Sensible Defense.