Whiskey distilleries are on the rise in the west. Since microdistilleries were made legal in Montana in 2005 for the first time since prohibition, 16 new distilleries have opened, and the government of Montana is responding. John Walsh, a Democratic senator for Montana, is forming a Craft Distillers Caucus in order to address the wants and needs of local distilleries that struggle with federal distillery laws which are aimed at large-scale distilleries and their large-scale revenues. He is hoping to increase the availability of Montana-made alcohol products along with other local goods by supporting small business interests in a nation that is continually shifting toward conglomerations of massive corporations.
Although the caucus will mostly only focus on the interests of whiskey distilleries in Montana, what the caucus represents in the grand scheme — support for small businesses — is of extreme importance in the modern economy. It’s an unfortunate reality that America is dominated by large corporations and small businesses die every day. It is the age of acquisition, in which mammoth corporations swallow startups by the mouthful and local businesses struggle to cover their costs, let alone make a profit.
Driving through some of the smaller towns in Montana, it’s sad to see the ones that consist solely of McDonald’s, Subway, Taco Bell and a few Exxon and Conoco gas stations. The towns aren’t so much little tourism towns as they are corporate bubbles of chain food. We as a country have largely forgotten about “mom and pop” restaurants, family businesses that have specialized in specific fields for consecutive generations, and the overall organic nature of shopping locally and supporting the growth of local economies. We have sacrificed slightly more expensive local goods made by our neighbors for cheaper goods made across seas by workers who make minimum wage working for corporations that have more power than most governments around the world. We have sacrificed entrepreneurship and independence for poor working conditions and dependence on businesses that focus more on cutting costs and increasing profit rather than being a beneficial player in the economy of the nation and world.
The elite corporations will always be here and will always be all-powerful unless we start investing our money and time into growing local businesses and supporting our own economies over the bank accounts of corporations that have a larger presence in Asia than in our own nation. Sen. Walsh is making great headway in supporting local businesses in Montana. The Craft Distillers Caucus will help local distilleries survive in the vicious modern economy. Hopefully Montana will continue to see local businesses flourish.
Unless we want to live in a world in which all of our money funnels into the pockets of a few families, we ought to start supporting local businesses and products made by hard-working Montanans. Montana is recognized as being one of the most independent and unique states in the nation due to its relative seclusion from the influences of modern American society. It is time we ensure that its businesses and consumer markets reflect the mentality that makes Montana, Montana.