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Friday, October 28, 2016

Big brewers like Anheuser-Busch frequently admonish us imbibers of their grain products to “drink responsibly.” Well, I say back to them: Lobby responsibly.

In particular, I point to a disgusting binge of besotted lobbying by Anheuser-Busch (now owned by the Belgian beer conglomerate InBev) and other beer barons this year in the Nebraska legislature.

At issue was the “town” of Whiteclay, smack dab on the Nebraska-South Dakota border. I put “town” in quotes because only 10 people live there — but it is home to four beer stores. Why? Because right across the state line is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Sioux tribe, which has a devastating problem of alcohol addiction among its 20,000 members, combined with intractable and dispiriting poverty.

Whiteclay exists solely so booze peddlers can profit from the Oglala tribe’s addiction miseries. They sell more than 4 million cans of beer a year to Pine Ridge residents! This includes literally making a killing by peddling high-alcohol malt liquors, such as Busch’s aptly named “Hurricane High.” So much for “Drink responsibly.”

A fourth of the children on the reservation are born with fetal alcohol birth defects. Life expectancy of tribal members is less than 50 years. And more than 90 percent of the violent crime on the reservation is attributed to drunkenness. On Pine Ridge itself, the tribe bans the sale and consumption of alcohol — the Whiteclay stores, positioned only a short walk away, are the source of the addictive drug and its consequences.

Responding to this grotesque exploitation of an epidemic illness, Republican state Sen. LeRoy Louden introduced LB 829 this year, a modest bill to designate Whiteclay as an “alcohol impact zone.” Used successfully in Tennessee, Washington state and elsewhere, these zones allow authorities to take such steps as limiting store hours and high-alcohol beers. Of course, Busch and its other beer buddies lobbied responsibly by backing the bill, right?

Ha! Like gators on a poodle, their lobbyists leapt on the legislature, calling in chits from key lawmakers (who’d taken thousands of dollars in campaign cash from the industry) to kill the bill.

  • William Deutschlander

    Did you honestly expect anything different?

  • What did anyone expect when the Big Beer Corp and the Legislature are in bed together. You want them to have a heart, do you really know who you are reading and talking about, the R’s!!!!!!!!!

  • SaneJane

    If corporations are people why don’t they have a conscience?

  • dljones

    Alcohol and Custer probably had a toast before the last stand. Guess who won…..alcohol.

  • Now why should that surprise anyone when pharmaceuticals lobbied to keep pseudoephedrine available OTC for public interest when the meth problem skyrocketed… money over people anyday of the week……capitalism

  • This is a matter that has embarrassed the hell out of most Nebraskans for many years. We are all aware of the problem, but can’t get our politicians to do anything. In addition to the money the beer companies are giving the politicians, the middle-men beer distributors contribute, as do the owners of the 4 stores, and members of the store owners families. The stores in Whiteclay sell the booze for much higher prices than it sells for in stores 50 miles from the reservation, so they have plenty of money to contribute as political donations, as well as using other means to”buy” the politician’s favors.

    There are many of us who fully expect a group of anti-alcohol Lakota to take matters into their own hands and burn Whiteclay to the ground some night. Sadly, the beer sellers would begin rebuilding the next day!! I’m sure the Sheridan County officials would give them permission to rebuild, those officials are probably receiving contributions from the beer companies list.

  • DurdyDawg

    I say quit drinking A/B until they back off and allow this bill to pass.. Hell, there’s millions of drinkers in America, they’ll never dry up so they should recognize when the majority holds back and says, “We are THINKING responsibly”.

  • karlaw55

    I understand the anger at the alcohol companies, but don’t the tribes have some culpability in this? Where is the self-control of the individuals? We all are responsible for our own actions.

  • That A/B is now an international means that the lobbying dollars they are paying are actually flowing in from another country. So much for more possible because of Citizen’s United. (Do Euros have “In God We Trust” printed on them?) Had to love senator Karpisek’s reponse to the crack house question. Um, er, ah. And the bit about not being our brother’s keepers . . . please, put that away. What a republican means when he says that is “except when the keeping crosses MY value line!”

  • I say we should all incorporate and take to the streets in protest of the Rober Barrons Since what was left of our Constitutional rights were destroied, by the recent defense authorization act, that allows the use of the military as an adjunct civilian police police force we as The People are subject to incarcaration for the mere exercise of free speech. But if we march as corporations under Citizens United we cannot be arrested for exercising our corporate rights. We can call the Beer Boyz to cater a party for a few hundred thousand Native Americans on the Washington Mall. Once the party is going full steam our Corporate Trade Association can call a few more of our friends. The police to arrest our “guests” and funnel them into “private jails”. Rehab centers. Mental hospitals. Bus companies to return our guests to their homes when released, after our friends have squeezed every dollar from the government they can, our “guests” will be kicked to the streets. All of this will be paid for by the American taxpayers. But do not worry! WE are Corporations and Corporations DO NOT pay taxes!