I want to work within the system. But the next time I miss third-and-long in the fourth quarter because I was forced to have a six-pack instead of sprinkling Vodka dust on my nachos, I’m going to start thinking outside the box.
A product called “Palcohol” gained widespread attention online in recent days after it was reported that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved the powdered alcohol, including vodka and rum varieties. But a representative for the federal bureau, Tom Hogue, said in an email to The Associated Press late Monday that the approvals were issued in error…
“An oversight of this nature does not ring true to me,” [lawyer Robert] Lehrman said in a phone interview. He suggested that the bureau may have heard back from lawmakers wanting more information on the powdered alcohols.
The Palcohol homepage insists that the substance has still been approved, that it’s merely the labeling that the TTB has a problem with. (“[T]here seemed to be a discrepancy on our fill level, how much powder is in the bag.”) On the other hand, it notes drily that the time frame for approving labels “can vary widely,” i.e. if Lehrman’s right that the TTB has gotten cold feet after all the media attention, they can use the labeling process to hold this up for a good long while.
Frankly, the feds may be the least of Palcohol’s problems.
“I would expect ferocious opposition from whatever incumbent industries are adversely affected, in direct proportion to the threat, and these are not small industries,” Lehrman said. “In most states, it’s mandatory to sell spirits through a licensed wholesaler; many of these are big and conservative businesses with a lot invested in the status quo. It’s hard to imagine a state agency being quick to put this in stores.”…
Phillips and Palcohol are sure to face other issues involving packaging and marketing, Lehrman said, as well as various state and federal agencies who may seek to ban it. And that doesn’t even include the challenge of obtaining liability insurance.
“I really think you should call a good insurance expert and see how loud they laugh about insuring a product like this,” Lehrman said.
In other words, Palcohol’s going to have the same problem in some states as Tesla had in New Jersey. Their direct sales model threatened car dealerships, so the car dealers got their lobbyists involved and poof — Tesla’s effectively banned in a state that nonetheless has a high demand for luxury cars. If Palcohol starts cutting too deeply into wholesalers’ and manufacturers’ bottom lines, it’ll also either be banned or have its regulatory costs driven up to the point of unviability. This is why we can’t have nice things. The next time someone mentions “crony capitalism,” I want you to picture yourself doing a line of Palcohol off the hood of your brand new Model S. In a truly free America, it could happen. Heaven is for real.
Here’s Kennedy, host of Fox Business’s new libertarian show “The Independents,” encouraging everyone to calm down already.