News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 26, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: May 26, 2013


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Be suspicious of climate alarmists

A May 21 letter attempts to link climate change and global warming to being an omnivore. Personally there are few meals that can be better than one with a main course of a good juicy beef steak. If someone chooses a vegan lifestyle though, I can respect their choice. The trouble comes with the citation of the review of 12,000 papers on climate change.

If someone were to dig past the headline the truth is somewhat different than the 97 percent consensus cited. Of those 12,000 papers, only 65 claimed humans were the main cause of previous warming. A slightly larger number, 78 papers, specifically say humans are not the main cause. Almost 33 percent of the reviewed papers say that humans have had some influence on warming. Most telling, 66 percent of the papers on climate change take no position at all on humans being the cause.

Further, a number of authors who were included in the totals for strongly supporting human-caused warming have come out to say that the study is misrepresenting their results.

Carbon dioxide is not the bogeyman of the climate. The earth’s climate is a very complex system we do not yet understand. Thirty years ago, scientists were warming of a coming ice age. Today, many chuckle at the thought. Thirty years from now we will be chuckling at the dire falsehoods of the climate alarmists.

— Dwayne Owens

Terre Haute

IRS abuses have a long history

I don’t understand why everyone is so upset with the IRS all of a sudden.

Thirty years ago (roughly) I read, in a gentlemen’s magazine, a very good article about IRS abuses of power.

IRS abuse of power is nothing new; the article caused me to have great alarm.

And that was before they knew everything about us.

I really look forward to the time when they will be running Obamacare, don’t you?

— Mark Burns

Terre Haute

Lawsuit seeks fairness in Indiana’s alcohol laws

Fifty years ago, a panel of unelected bureaucrats unfairly granted liquor stores the sole right to sell cold beer. Last week, the members of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association initiated a lawsuit asking for just one thing — to be treated fairly when it comes to the sale of beer.

Responsible retailers and consumers have lived long enough under an antiquated, unconstitutional law that governs the temperature at which beer can be sold among different classes of retailers. Indiana has the dubious distinction of being the only state that regulates beer sales based upon temperature.  

We believe this lawsuit is necessary to ensure fair competition among all retailers and greater convenience for Hoosier shoppers, while maintaining a responsible regulatory environment. Otherwise, the existing law only serves to protect the special interests of one class of retailer over another, without any rational justification.

The law we challenge is not about controlling alcohol. We believe alcohol should be sold in a responsible and regulated manner. Yet these current restrictions make no sense. They allow us to sell chilled wine products, most of which contain higher alcohol content than beer. What is it about cold beer that merits this special discriminatory treatment, other than its market popularity?     

The law we challenge is not about keeping cold beer out of the hands of minors. In the last five years, liquor stores were 138 percent more likely to violate Indiana liquor laws than those stores prohibited from selling cold beer. Similarly, restaurants and bars, which may also sell refrigerated beer, were nearly 1,400 percent more likely to violate Indiana liquor law during the same time frame.

The law we challenge is not about the problem of drinking and driving. According to the most recent national reports, with the exception of Alaska, states that had better drunk driving statistics than Indiana also have more liberal laws when it comes to selling alcohol at convenience stores.  

On the contrary, the law we challenge is about protecting market share for liquor stores — plain and simple.

During the past five years we tried to resolve the issue by working with members of the Indiana General Assembly. Our efforts included a campaign to modernize Indiana liquor laws, enlisting the support of more than 50,000 Hoosiers. These citizens sent more than 12,000 messages to their elected representatives, yet reforms went nowhere, thanks in large part to the powerful liquor store lobby.

We hear the frustration from our customers every day. They are tired of having limited choices on where they can buy their beer cold. This is true in some of our larger cities such as Bloomington or Columbus, where a single business owner dominates the entire cold beer market. It is true in our rural communities where consumers must drive great distances to find a liquor store selling cold beer. Finally, consumers are tired of the surcharges liquor stores routinely apply to cold sales for no reason other than they can.

The negative impact of this law on our businesses and the consumers they serve is obvious. But, it is more than that; this unreasonable law has also cost Indiana millions of investment dollars and thousands of jobs.

Few convenience store owners are willing to build new stores in Indiana when those same investment dollars could be spent in neighboring states where their stores can fully serve the needs of their customers.

Our industry has waited long enough. Consumers have waited long enough. Indiana has waited long enough. It is time to rid our state of this unconstitutional relic of the past.

— Scot Imus

Executive Director

Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association

Greed not good reason to change state alcohol laws

In my experience, those calling for the deregulation of alcohol or the “modernizing” of Indiana’s alcoholic beverage laws are usually either trying to sell more alcohol themselves at the expense of their competition, or are ignorant about the history of alcohol in general or of Indiana’s alcohol history in particular.

Prior to Prohibition alcohol was basically unregulated, which lead to great abuses by suppliers, retailers and consumers. Breweries owned many of the taverns and tried to see how much beer they could sell to a poor, hard-working society (mainly men) desperate for companionship and escape from their harsh realities. Families were ruined as fathers drank and gambled their meager paychecks away at these unregulated establishments.

Prohibition was seen as an attempt to end this alcohol-fueled misery, but it was a total failure for several reasons. One, Prohibition raised no alcohol excise tax revenue via the illegal alcohol traffic, so states and local communities were left to police illegal activities as they saw fit and could afford. Two, Indiana, like some other states, enforced Prohibition vigorously, but many did not. Three, this meant alcohol was easy to get nearly everywhere and a new kind of lawless civil disobedience swept the country.

Eventually all but a few true believers came to admit Prohibition was a failure, but the question was what to do next? A teetotaler, John D. Rockefeller commissioned a report called “Beyond Liquor Control.” This report talked about steps that could be taken to regulate alcohol moving forward. After Prohibition ended, this report was used by the state legislatures as a guide to drafting their own state alcohol laws as called for in the 21st Amendment.

But here’s the rub. Each state crafted alcohol regulation laws that were similar in nature, but totally unique to that state, just as the Congress intended with the 21st Amendment. Prohibition had proved that different attitudes existed all over the country about alcohol consumption, so Congress decided the best way to reflect local attitudes and help ensure compliance with the alcohol laws was through the elected state legislatures.

To prevent the pre-Prohibition abuses of breweries owning the taverns and both trying to see how much alcohol they could sell, the states created state-regulated wholesalers and adopted what is known as the three-tier system of alcohol delivery. Now the suppliers would have to sell to the wholesalers representing the state, and the wholesalers would sell to the retailers. The wholesalers were to make sure their suppliers and retail customers were licensed and legitimate, the product was safe, and all the alcohol excise taxes were paid.

The wholesalers were also expected to treat all their suppliers and customers equally so that everyone got a fair shake. This has led to tremendous selections in the marketplace and benefits consumers.

Indiana has always been a conservative state as it relates to alcohol (before Prohibition it had 70 “dry” counties) and our laws reflect that, but that is exactly how the 21st Amendment works. Indiana’s laws reflect the attitude of its citizens through their elected representatives to the legislature. Indiana’s alcohol laws do not look like California’s, New York’s, Florida’s, or any other state, nor are they supposed to. They are unique to Indiana and have been for nearly 80 years. Each change to those laws should be debated in the legislature and should be considered against the history of alcohol law only in Indiana.

To cherry pick laws from other states and compare them to Indiana after 80 years of unique evolution is to be either disingenuous or to ignore the history of alcohol in Indiana and in those states. It doesn’t matter how or what they do in other states, it only matters what we do and have done in Indiana. Due to the fact there are only so many alcohol sales in Indiana every day (and they are all being made now), every change we make to Indiana alcohol law is going to help someone and hurt another. There needs to be a better reason for a change than simple greed. Legislators, especially those on the Senate and House Public Policy Committees, need to study alcohol law changes carefully before making them so the consequences are intended, not unintended. The welfare of Indiana family businesses are at stake as well as the accurate reflection of overall public opinion.

It is OK to be frustrated by what you see as “antiquated” alcohol laws in Indiana, but please remember this system of careful regulation has worked basically as intended for nearly 80 years. Indiana families have made business decisions based on Indiana alcohol law at the time their decisions were made, and deserve the checks and balances the legislative process brings.  

Since 1933, the 21st Amendment intended for the legislatures to be the battlegrounds for alcohol debates, not the courts. We need to insist on that if our alcohol laws are going to continue to reflect the wishes of the majority of Hoosiers.

— Marc Carmichael, president

Indiana Beverage Alliance

Outraged over Deming proposal

Kudos to Margaret Jaeger for her recent letter concerning moving the Deming residents to the old Warren school. She hit the nail right on the head when she stated the Warren area has nothing to offer the residents as far as activities.

I can remember when the Deming was opened to the elderly and the big selling point was that it was right downtown and the people could walk the downtown and visit local stores and restaurants — which they do. My in-laws were one of the first to move there and they loved it.

She was also right as to transportation. How many are going to have to stand out in the cold just waiting for a ride?

Come on, Area Agency on Aging and senior population of Terre Haute. Are you not outraged?

If there was an article ever printed entertaining this thought, please print again, but this time I want to see every signature of the persons who voted for this.

These elderly have given their tax dollars to city, state and county for 50-plus years, many of which went to academia. This is how they are getting paid back?

Our elderly do not deserve getting warehoused in an out-of-the way place where there are no amenities for them.

— Carolyn Wilson

Paris, Ill.

Why Americans must fight Islam

In his book, “What Every American Needs to Know About the Quran: A History of Islam & the United States,” William J. Federer explains that Islam has a global conquest aspect to it. Federer writes:

“Americans love Arabs, Turks, Persians, Egyptians and Indonesians, but America has to resist the political/military system of Fundamental Islam. Why? Because it has a global conquest aspect to it and wherever Islam takes over, non-Muslims are not equal.”

Hence, America must fight Jihad and Sharia, which together constitute the political/military system of Fundamental Islam.

— Ramachandra B. Abhyankar

Terre Haute