内容

社论转载:感谢韦恩省长大人,啤酒店专卖店将继续坑人
Worth Repeating: The Beer Store boondoggle continues, thanks to Kathleen Wynne

一个消费者只能在为数不多,政府许可的超市里购买6瓶包装,价格统一的啤酒,这种令人“欢欣鼓舞”、盼望已久的好事只有在安省才能发生。

Only in Ontario would the news that consumers will be granted the great privilege of purchasing a six-pack of beer at fixed prices in a strictly limited number of grocery stores be hailed as the makings of an “exciting day.” But that’s Ontario, and so that’s what Premier Kathleen Wynne called it when she made just such an announcement last month.
 
 
更有甚者,对此好事是如此的激动,韦恩省长大人把政府这一新政策与圣诞老人也给扯上了:今年12月,安省有60家超市可以卖6瓶小包装的啤酒了。

Ms. Wynne was so overcome with excitement, in fact, that she compared her government’s magnanimity to the giving spirit of the Christmas season, with the loose hook being that the first 60 stores will be selling their tiny allotment of beer by December.
 
 
省政府与三个由外国酿酒公司控制的啤酒专卖店新签的协议有效期长达10年。虽然三家外国酿酒公司勉强在新协议中做了一点让步,但至少在2025年以前,他们仍然可以在安省政府的保护下继续垄断啤酒市场。这三家外国酿酒商至少让安省百姓在未来10年中吃哑巴亏。所有这一切已经白纸黑字地写在纸上了,省府也签了字了。如果省府反悔,法庭会强迫省府执行此协议。

The deal, signed by Brewers Retail – a.k.a. the Beer Store – and the three foreign-owned breweries that control it, has a 10-year term. By grudgingly granting a few minor concessions, the beer companies have guaranteed that their provincially-protected monopoly will continue to at least 2025. They’ve bought 10 years of silence on a highly charged political issue. It’s all on paper, signed by the provincial government, and enforceable in the courts.
 
 
此协议也并非一无是处。鲜啤酒的酿酒商们就比过去更容易销售他们的产品。原因之一是由于较早前达成的协议,鲜啤酒生产商可以在啤酒专卖店里占据更多的展台,同时也因为他们也可以在超市里卖酒。同时,省府取消了对鲜啤酒在零售店里的限制。

The deal has modest pluses. Craft breweries will have more access to consumers than before,thanks in part to an earlier deal that guaranteed them more shelf space in Beer Stores, and because they will soon be in grocery stores. The province has also repealed a regulation that effectively limited craft breweries to a single retail storefront.
 
 
毫无疑问,啤酒会慢慢地出现在安省菜店的货架上。到圣诞节时,将有60家菜店卖啤酒,到2017年5月将增至150家店。至于以后咋样,天知道!反正省府可以随心所欲地挤牙膏。到2025年,也许可能会增至450家店。(真让人着急!)

And there is no question that over time, in creeping increments, beer will start to appear in grocery stores across the province. There will be 60 such outlets by Christmas, a maximum of 150 by May 2017, and the rest in whatever dribs and drabs the province deems fit after that. Who knows? By 2025 there may even be the promised (but unambitious) total of 450.
 
 
这份新协议还要求三大外国酿酒商花一个亿来装修啤酒专卖店。许多啤酒专卖店里有像是啤酒发霉后发出的怪味,情形就像当初苏联还没解体时的鞋店。作为省府保护的垄断行业,三大酿酒商根本就没有打算让消费者进店愉快购物,他们才不管店是否是否脏兮兮:啰嗦啥,交钱拿啤酒走人。

The deal also commits Brewers Retail to the spending of $100-million on improving their Beer Stores, many of the older of which smell like stale beer and have the ambience of a Soviet-era shoe store. As a protected monopoly, Brewers Retail has no compunction to make its consumer experience anything more than the most grubby transaction: You give us your money and we give you some beer.
 
 
按照协议,新装修的啤酒专卖店将是自己取货的开放模式。正如你所熟习的那样,这种零售模式在竞争激烈的零售市场上已经实行了30年。

Under the deal with the province, renovated and new Beer Stores will be self-serve and have open-concept formats, something that retailers in competitive markets have only been doing for, you know, the past 30 years.
 
 
可惜的是,新协议能给你带来的好处也就这么多了。新协议的主要内容是许多老规矩还在。这些老规矩都是为了保护啤酒专卖店的即得利益。

But that’s where the positives end. Most of the deal is about what can’t be done, lest it interfere with the Beer Stores’ precious protected markets.
 
根据新协议,菜店只能卖6瓶包装的啤酒,买多少包没有限制。但是,如果你要买4包啤酒,你不会得到你到专卖店里买24瓶一箱的价格。另外,菜店只能在啤酒专卖店开门时卖酒,价格不得比专卖店卖得便宜,而且菜店不得与其他独立的酿酒商合作搞啤酒促销。如果菜店卖酒卖得太多,给菜店供货的安省酒局( LCBO)得倒贴钱给三大酿酒公司。是的,你一点也没有看错:协议中规定了菜店只能卖一定数目的啤酒。如果他们卖过这个数,省府要向三大酿酒商赔钱。

Grocery stores will only be able to sell six-packs; you can buy as many as you like but there will be no discount that comes with buying a case of 24 at a Beer Store. These new outlets will have to operate on Beer Store hours and sell beer at Beer Store prices – no competition allowed! They can’t do promotional deals with individual brewers. And if they sell too much beer in a year, their supplier, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, has to pay compensation to Brewers Retail. That’s right: There is an annual cap on how much grocery stores can sell in total, and a financial penalty if they go over the limit.
 
 
如果你再仔细看条款,你会发现,绝大部分的菜店还是不让卖啤酒,方便店还是与啤酒无缘。更有甚者,禁止与啤酒专卖店竞争的不仅限于私人拥有的店。

When you get right down to it, the majority of grocery stores will not be allowed to sell beer, and convenience stores will still be shut out of the business. And it’s not just the private sector that is forbidden from competing with the Beer Store.
 
 
政府经营的酒局也莫名其妙地被新协议捆住了手脚。协议规定,如果酒局要在一个没有啤酒专卖店设点的地方开分店,它必须给三大酿酒公司90天的通知。如果他们决定也在那开店,酒局不得染指。

The government-owned LCBO is bound in other strange ways. If it wants to open a new outlet that sells beer in a community that doesn’t have a Beer Store, it is obliged to give Brewers Retail 90 days notice, during which Brewers Retail can decide to open a Beer Store instead and lock down the market for itself.
 
 
该协议虽然允许酒局从目前只能卖6瓶包装的啤酒增至可以卖12瓶包装的啤酒,并称此举是"先遣项目"。问题是,酒局只能卖11种品牌的啤酒,且大部分品牌为三家酿酒商出产。而且,只有那些距啤酒专卖店2公里以外的酒局才能卖那些啤酒。这就像一个个植物学家在一个生态系统引入一种新的植物,这么做要彻底改变其他生物习性微乎其微。

The deal also includes a one-year “pilot project” in which 10 LCBO outlets will be allowed to sell 12-packs of beer, rather than the current six-pack limit. Only 11 brands of beer, most of them sold by the multinationals that control Brewers Retail, can be sold in this format, and only in LCBO stores that are at least two kilometres from the nearest Beer Store. It’s like watching a cautious botanist introduce a new species into a fragile ecosystem, lest too rapid a change cause the biome to collapse.
 
 
这个令人不爽的协议有10年有效期。而且是在安省啤酒零售垄断问题困扰省府20年的情况下签订的。没有任何可以说服大众的经济理由继续让三个外国酿酒商垄断安省的啤酒市场。政府容许的垄断是北美禁酒留下的后遗症。有什么理由把一个根据100年的市场和社会条件实施的政策在今天沿用?

But the kicker is the deal’s 10-year term. The issue of the Beer Store monopoly has dogged successive Ontario governments for 20 years. There are no valid economic reasons for allowing three foreign companies to control beer sales in a protected market. The government-granted monopoly is a holdover from the Prohibition era. What possible argument can be made for continuing a system based on the market and social conditions of a century ago?
 
毫无疑问,三大酿酒商对此协议爱得不行。百威英博在啤酒专卖店中占股49%,莫尔森库尔斯占49%,札幌占2%。正是因为安省政府,他们可以享受比开放市场更少的分销和广告成本。虽然专卖店的运营不賺不亏,但分销和广告两项就可让他们每年省下4个亿。

The owners of Brewers Retail love it, though. Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors are the majority shareholders, at 49 per cent each, with Sapporo holding the remaining 2 per cent. Thanks to the provincial government, they are blessed with much lower distribution and marketing costs than they would face in a free market. While the Beer Stores operate on a break-even basis, they are worth $400-million a year to their owners in real savings.
 
 
 
省长大人韦恩称:"显然,在安省卖啤酒是件很复杂的事。"是吗?卖啤酒就这么难吗?省府把一个卖酒的事复杂化是有其自身的原因的。

“It is a complex thing in Ontario to sell beer, apparently,” Ms. Wynne said at the announcement. Well, it is but it shouldn’t be. The government has made it complex for its own reasons.
 
 
 
是什么原因让安省这种劳命丧财的事继续下去呢?一个字:钱。三大酿酒商和它们的股东们历来给安省的各个政党捐钱,且各政党对公司的捐款热衷笑纳。这种垄断早就该废除了。现在我们得谢谢韦恩大人,雷打不动的啤酒垄断还要继续笼罩安省未来10年。

This boondoggle is only perpetuated today by the money that Brewers Retail and its owners give to political parties in Ontario, where corporate donations are still gleefully accepted. It’s a monopoly that should have ended years ago, but which will now, thanks to Premier Wynne, continue unchecked for at least another decade.
 
 
圣诞快乐。
Merry Christmas.
 
 
编注:以上是加拿大全国发行的最大日报——《环球邮报》2015年10月9日发表的社论。大中报贾宁扬编译。
Note: The Editorial was published by The Globe and Mail on October 9, 2015. Translated by Jack Jia, Chinese News.
 
 
 

我们鼓励所有读者在我们的文章和博客上分享意见。We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. Visit the FAQ page for more information.