From The Scrapbook
May 21, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 34 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Kristof’s argument for this boycott is nearly identical to the original argument for prohibition: Once you acknowledge alcohol contributes to a host of social ills, from domestic violence to suicide, you’re an immoral monster for not having blind faith in proscriptions against vice.
However, given what happened during the 13 years when America road tested a prohibition on alcohol sales, there are few public policy ideas that Americans can dismiss with such certainty.
Which is not to say we don’t support the Pine Ridge reservation’s decision to ban alcohol as a matter of self-governance. Alcoholism on Indian reservations is a problem that sorely needs to be addressed. But how is this ultimately Budweiser’s problem?
Kristof has taken on some right-eous causes in the past, but it’s impossible not to view him as simultaneously arrogant and naïve when he writes: “Brewers market beers with bucolic country scenes, but the image I now associate with Budweiser is of a child with fetal alcohol syndrome.” As long as he persists in this kind of hyperbole, the image to associate with Kristof is one of reckless paternalism.
His Cup Runneth Over
Robert Stiller, the man behind those popular single-brew Keurig machines and the founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, is the kind of billionaire liberals idolize. Although Forbes estimated Stiller’s worth last year at $1.3 billion, he still lived in Vermont, dressed casually, and donated generously to environmental causes. He also made sure his employees benefited from yoga and had access to meditation rooms. But there was another side to him.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Stiller also bought costly real estate and piled up hundreds of millions of dollars in debt borrowed against his company stock and other investments.” His properties, the Journal reveals, “included a $17.5 million apartment in New York’s Time Warner Center that was previously owned by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, according to city records. He also bought a three-bedroom house in Palm Beach, on the Intercoastal Waterway.”
In order to borrow more, Stiller said his bank (Deutsche Bank) forced him to take drastic measures, selling $125 million in stock—five million shares—to meet a margin call, which took place last week. But last week the company was in a blackout period, during which no Green Mountain official was supposed to be selling any stock whatsoever. As a result, Stiller was stripped of his chairmanship (he stepped down as CEO in 2007).
Stiller told CNBC he was “really shocked and hurt” by the board’s decision, which he described as “an overreaction.” Regarding the criticism that his real estate purchases were lavish, the Journal quotes Stiller as saying, “Lavish is all relative.”
Talk about a story dripping with irony! Stiller was really pouring it on, wasn’t he? The board roasted him, and it seems to have left a bitter taste in his mouth! We’ll stop here.
Do you enjoy Jay Cost’s electoral analysis at weeklystandard.com and in The Weekly Standard (for example, his essay on the Obama campaign’s “Life of Julia” propaganda elsewhere in this issue)? If you’re an intelligent and perceptive reader—and if you’re this far into The Scrapbook, that’s surely what you are!—of course you do. Well, now you can read Jay at book length—and at a reasonable cost (sorry).
Jay’s new book, Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, released this week by Harper Collins’s Broadside Books, features an unusual and rich mix of history, political science, and polemic. It will be an influential book, we think, and—just as important to The Scrapbook—it’s a gripping read. Jay leads us on a political, electoral, and intellectual history of the Democratic party, from Andrew Jackson to the current occupant of the White House. There’s an awful lot to be learned from Jay’s account, about America and modern liberalism and the politics of the welfare state. So go ahead and spoil yourself; get it now.