A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, entitled "The United States of Wine", discussed in some detail the growing wine tourism industry that encompasses all 50 states. While many states are pushing wine tourism in an effort to boost the local economy, our state legislature continues to repress economic growth in favor of the lobby efforts of wholesale distributors.
Instead of supporting referendums of the people, they have given control of the Oklahoma wine industry to a handful of businesses which have a stranglehold on the wine industry in this state.
Fortunately, the Oklahoma Constitution allows initiative petitions or referendums for alcohol-related issues, as was the case in the '80s when liquor by the drink was approved by going directly to the voters and circumventing the Legislature entirely. Too bad the process is so time-consuming and costly to underwrite -- any new efforts probably won't be soon enough for many in our emerging wine industry.
Our Oklahoma Grape Growers and Wine Makers Association suffered a severe set-back this session to our fledgling industry at the hands of the state legislature, which was bought off again by the wholesalers in our state who are intent on preventing local wineries (now 48 licensed here) from growing and marketing wine to customers who otherwise would have to obtain all of their wines from sources supplied by them.
These wealthy wholesalers were successful in getting their bill passed that affirmed the three-tier system in their favor, while 8 bills introduced by the grape growers and winemakers favoring the consumers' right to buy wine openly were squashed. The governor signed the bill that merely places another layer of bureaucratic red tape on every out-of-state sale made to accepting states' residents under the specific laws governing lawful shipping to those states, a right the wineries previously had anyway.
The ability to ship wine to in-state customers, or to continue direct distribution to in-state retailers and restaurants, a right granted by a 2000 vote of the people in Oklahoma, was overturned as "unconstitutional" as a result of a suit brought by these same wholesalers.
The Federal district judge allowed a stay of his order to cease direct distribution by wineries in order to allow the legislature to correct the offending language---"Oklahoma"---from the 2000 law that allowed only wineries in this state to self-distribute their wines to liquor retailers and restaurants without using a wholesaler, now a violation of the recent US Supreme Court Granholm decision. As you can see, his effort failed and many wineries and grape growers are facing calamitous futures.
I would like to see each legislator and our governor understand how they have impacted the tourism industry in our state by their failure to see past the wholesalers' protectionist arguments in upholding an outdated 3-tier system.
The Oklahoma leaders have failed once again to validate the mandate of its citizens to bring our state into the modern era, where consumers have the right to free commerce and where legislated temperance is as antiquated as its past and hampers the future economic progress of this great state.
STONE BLUFF CELLARS
Flying Under Radar--Until Now
I am writing to introduce your readers to the Fraternal Order of Eagles, I have been involved with the Fraternal Order of Eagles for more than 14 years and beginning in July of this year; I will be serving as the Membership Chairman for the state of Oklahoma. I am writing today to raise awareness of the Fraternal Order of Eagles and all the great things we are doing for our local communities, our state, and our country.
The Fraternal order of Eagles is an international non-profit organization with more than 1.1 million members worldwide. We are known throughout the United States & Canada as "People Helping People." Together, we donated more than $100 million to our local communities, charities, medical research, families in need and many more.
Oklahoma is the home to six aerie and auxiliaries, 1989-2007 we have raised over $400,000.00 for charities such as, diabetes, heart, cancer, spinal cord, child abuse, etc. 1989-2007 we have given over $460,000.00 in grants for medical research across the state including, The LaFortune Cancer Center, St. John's Health Systems, Oklahoma Health Science Center, funding research for kidney, diabetes, spinal cord, and Alzheimer's.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles, founded in 1898, has had seven United States Presidents as members, it was through the Eagles that the concept of Mothers Day was started, we sponsored America's first Workman Compensation Law, and played a major role in the fight for Social Security.
I encourage community members to reach out to your local Fraternal Order of Eagles aeries & auxiliaries. Together, we can work as one to continue being "People Helping People."
Don't Copy Tax
Many years ago, I discovered one day that my nearly new chainsaw wouldn't start. No matter what I tried, the motor remained dead. So I took it into the local repair shop. When I picked up my chainsaw, it cost me $16 to discover that I had inadvertently activated the emergency cutoff switch. Laughing, I realized that the repair bill represented a tax on my own stupidity.
The cost of my stupidity was only $16. But a law in California that limits carbon dioxide emissions, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, is likely to be considerably more expensive.
As a scientist who has conducted and published climate research in top-rank scientific journals, I'm able to distinguish between weather and climate. So I won't claim that the recent record cold temperatures in California prove anything about global warming one way or the other. Of course, others will be unable to match my temperance. In the summer of 2007, the fact that some location in the world experiences record high temperatures will be trumpeted as conclusive evidence that global warming is real. The anomalously low temperatures of the previous winter will be forgotten.
Besides the lesson that weather and climate shouldn't be confused, there is something else that can be learned from California's present cold spell. What harms people and crops is not heat, but cold. For more than 150 years, it has been documented in the medical literature that human mortality rates are highest in the winter when temperatures are the coldest. If some global warming does occur, most of it will be at night, at winter, and at high latitudes. These are all places and times that could benefit from a little warming. Some of the citrus farmers in California's Central Valley might agree with me. They had a billion dollars worth of fruit destroyed by a devastating frost this year.
I am at a loss to understand why anyone would regard carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Carbon dioxide, a natural gas produced by human respiration, is a plant nutrient that is beneficial both for people and for the natural environment. It promotes plant growth and reforestation. Faster-growing trees mean lower housing costs for consumers and more habitat for wild species. Higher agricultural yields from carbon dioxide fertilization will result in lower food prices and will facilitate conservation by limiting the need to convert wild areas to arable land. Are these not good things?
There is also a dirty little secret known to climate scientists, but not most of the public. Modeling studies have shown that even if the entire world followed California by reducing their carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels, the net change in global temperature by the year 2100 would be a cooling of less than half a degree Fahrenheit.
While California stupidly shoots itself in the foot, China and India are happily growing their economies with unrestricted carbon emissions. Their populations will prosper, while California's economy will slowly be strangled by politicians pandering to ignorance and irrational hysteria.
California residents can look forward to lost jobs, lower wages, and higher energy costs. All for no benefit whatsoever.
I have yet to see a single person harmed in any way by global warming, Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness Monster. Having demonstrated leadership on climate issues by promoting the freezing of orchards, perhaps the next step by California's government will be to regulate alien abductions, ghosts, or other invisible and irreproducible phenomena.
Let's just hope Oklahoma politicians don't enact a stupidity tax here at home.
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