Monday, August 11, 2008

Senator Heather Steans, For The Children.

Although she downplayed it in an email to me, writing that "there are far more serious problems we need to tackle," Illinois State Senator Heather Steans (D-7th) continues to boast about her role in "banning promotion of alcoholic energy drinks to children." Since no one was promoting alcoholic energy drinks to children in the first place, I guess she can claim success.

I happen to live in Senator Steans' district.

Of the five legislative accomplishments she chose to tout in her Legislative Update sent to constituents last week, this one ranked second:

This spring, I was chief sponsor of legislation that prohibits the marketing of energy drinks containing alcohol to children and requires improved labeling to assist parents and businesses with identifying these products which are not safe for children.

It came after one headlined "Ending Pay-to-Play Politics" and before "Working to Eliminate Poverty." Senator Steans is nothing if not ambitious.

But her work on the so-called Alcopops Law (235 ILCS 5/6-35) is a non-solution to a non-problem.

This sort of thing drives me crazy because it falsely accuses the good people of the beverage alcohol industry of seeking to harm children, a serious and completely baseless charge, made for the purpose of pandering to parents, including some who want to blame their children's substance abuse problems on someone other than their children and themselves, and who better?

These charges are also an attack on the advertising industry. Since for a long time I worked in the advertising industry on alcohol accounts, I take this personally.

Who in government doesn't blame marketing and marketers? How about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which investigates such things and has consistently found that the beverage alcohol industry does not market to underage consumers. Instead of falling for neo-prohibitionist propaganda like Senator Steans does, read the FTC's most-recent report here. (Right-click to download the PDF.)

Critics will, of course, dismiss the FTC as in the pocket of Big Alcohol, and Senator Steans knows all about that since she is the scourge of "Pay-to-Play," but in its 86-page report the FTC found little to fault in the performance of alcohol marketers, and while it made some common sense recommendations for improvement, none of them involve anything like the measures of which Senator Steans is so proud.

The Legislative Update gave this additional example of Senator Steans wasting government resources to make it look like she's doing something "for the children." It announced her co-sponsorship of a bill creating the Illinois Commission on Children and Youth.

Illinois achieved statehood on December 3, 1818 and I can't imagine how her children and youth have survived 190 years without this commission.

No comments: