Failure to Learn From Other

Smart people learn from their mistakes and find a better way to do things next time a similar situation arises. Really smart people learn from other people’s mistakes and don’t make that mistake the first time around. The Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association (MBWWA) is definitely not really smart. They may even be downright stupid.

The Detroit News today wrote about the MBWWA‘s tearful plea to prevent any sort of competition from cutting into their monopoly. “Won’t somebody please think of the children”, they wail as they fight to prevent both wineries within Michigan and nationwide from selling wine online and shipping it to buyers in the state of Michigan. Of course they couldn’t care less about the children, their real objection is to the removal of an unconstitutional state law that restricted interstate commerce by barring wine from being shipped into Michigan from other states.

In essence, an industry group that had a stranglehold over the marketplace suddenly is faced with new online competition and instead of adapting to the changing marketplace they throw out spurious moral arguments and bully or buy off lawmakers to get new protections for their monopoly. Sounds vaguely familiar doesn’t it? Perhaps the last few sentences conjured up thoughts of the RIAA and MPAA. It’s basically the same story.

However, after seeing what the RIAA and MPAA have been through, the MBWWA could have opted to learn from their mistakes and go a better route. Instead it’s the same old story of a large industry organization failing to adapt to change and hurting consumers and other businesses in the process. It’s really a shame to see.

The MBWWA could take this opportunity to say “hey, those anti-shipping laws were unconstitutional and we don’t want them, let’s build some kick ass web sites and be the leaders in the online marketplace”. Instead of stubbornly refusing to change and pouting about the possible loss of their market share they could be looking at opportunities that the loss of protectionist laws brings to their members. The Association could pool the resources of their members to develop a world class online presence that would be free to ship directly to all 50 states and perhaps even globally. But they’re not really that smart or visionary so they’ll keep fighting change and doing their best to go the way of the moa. The moral of the story – if you’re in a similar position learn from someone else’s mistakes and adapt to change gracefully.

Kevin Hall
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