Business and politics make a lousy cocktail

A year ago, liquor stores in the Northland refused to sell a local brew because the brewery’s owners were against sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters; bikers are turning their ire to Harley Davidson because it’s trying to avoid the tariff war costs and angering the president, and now Sam Adams beer is in the gunsights of opponents of the White House.

In New Jersey last week, Jim Koch, the boss at Boston Brewing Company, praised the president because, he said, the tax cut for the wealthy will help his company.

“Now we have a level playing field, and we’re going to kick their ass,” Koch said.

It seems like a legitimate business point to make, especially considering that 85 percent of the beer made in the United States comes from companies owned by foreign investors.

But, on this day when we celebrate the democratic process, it’s becoming increasingly risky for business owners to participate.

The pushback to Sam Adams Beer, pretty much the official beer of the Colonies, was fierce, immediate, and potentially damaging.

Joseph Curtatone, the mayor of Sommerville, Boston’s neighbor, vowed never to drink Sam Adams beer again.

The local brewery already had enough problems. Sales are way off and the company missed its earnings target. People are increasingly turning to other alcohol.

But that’s a matter of taste, not politics.

Social media picked up Curtatone’s suggestion and the boycott of a beer is picking up steam.

Predictably, calm voices were hard to find in a Boston Globe article this morning on the dust-up, except for one.

I was very disappointed to hear Koch express those feelings. Sam Adams the man was a real patriot but the owner of his eponymous beer, meh, not so much. I like the biz guy Koch and his back story more than I care for his politics. He had an opportunity to make a great impression and stand up for Americans the way Sam did. He wasted it.

Having said that, boycotting is a tough sell. It hurts lots of people beyond the idiot owner.

Curtatone made some good points but unless each of us here is going to burn our Pats gear and not ever watch Brady throw a toss because Brady, Belicheck and Kraft love herr Drumpf, maybe we should be more pragmatic. Let’s focus our ire on Trump and his Republican congressional cohorts in November.

Increasingly, elections aren’t just confined to Election Day. They’re held in the supermarket and liquor stores when people penalize or reward companies for their role in the political debate of the day.

  • BJ

    I’ve had Sam Adams Beer a few times, it’s not one I look for.

    • John

      Probably their main problem, right? It’s okay, and I’ll drink it when I’m in Boston, but I don’t buy it around here.

      We need to focus on the millennials killing the beer industry.

        • Rob

          That mayo essay is a total hoot!

      • BJ

        I assume sacrasm if not…
        If by killing you mean making it twice the size it was, then sure.

        My father in law drinking a case of coors a week for 9.99 or the millennials paying 7.99 for a single pint at craft brewery – which is killing the beer industry.

        • Al

          Those damn millennials, enjoying beer the wrong way.

        • John

          There was an article somewhere a while back about how the beer giants were taking a huge dive.

          The logic was that millennials Are killing the industry, because they are buying craft, not crap, beer.

          It was the greatest article ever for the get off my lawn, this young generation is the worst, crowd.

          I’ll see if I can find it later today.

          edit: I looked. I can’t find the article – lots of articles with references to it, talking about how millenials aren’t killing beer. Also lots of great articles with lists of things millenials are killing (napkins, fast casual dining, home ownership, breakfast cereal, etc.).

          • BJ

            Beer made in giant factory by 1200 guys supplying ~5% of beer (Coors Golden, CO), or 250 craft brewery that employee on average 6 full time supplying ~.5%… Killing the industry.

          • AL287

            My son makes his own beer and prefers wine and spirits. His wife is the same way. She also likes hard cider.

            When he does buy beer it’s not Miller, Coors or Busch.

            They are both millennials.

    • RBHolb

      I buy it only when I can’t make up my mind to get something else.

      “Oh, what the hell, I’ll just get the Sam Adams.”

  • Frank

    “Jim Koch, the boss at Boston Brewing Company, praised the president because, he said, the tax cut for the wealthy will help his company.”

    No. That’s not what he said. He didn’t say anything about a “tax cut for the wealthy”.

    Probably because the new tax law cuts taxes for everyone making at least $10,000 per annum, and no one would call a thousand-aire wealthy.

    Here is what he said.

    “I mean, Americans — I’m the largest American-owned brewery at 2 percent market share. We were paying 38 percent taxes and competing against people who were paying 20. And now we have a level playing field, and we’re going to kick their ass.”
    “And I guess I’m sort of speaking on behalf of what is now 7,000 small brewers in the United States.”

    Boycott away. But at least know what you’re boycotting.

        • Frank

          So, just as I said. Everyone making at least $10k gets a cut.

          Taxes are proportional, they are a percentage of earnings. So are cuts. Pay more; save more.

          If you don’t like that, maybe you’re a Ron Paul flat tax guy.

          In any case, you editorialized what Koch said. Would be nice to provide a link so folks can get the straight scoop.

          • // Would be nice to provide a link so folks can get the straight scoop.

            You mean like a, oh I don’t know, video showing his remarks?

            Also, there’s nothing proportional about the tax cut. Especially after 2027 when the tax “cut” expires for the little people. But the elimination of the personal exemptions stays.

          • Frank

            I just watched the video. You’re right; after 20 minutes of the CEO’s of Fed Ex, Boeing, Master Card, Honeywell, Johnson&Johnson etc., praising the President, we come to Jim who acknowledges how small a fish he is in that group.

            And I’m right. You misquoted him editorialized what he actually said.


          • jon

            Do you see quotes around “tax cut for the wealthy” in the article?

            Because if you don’t then it’s not a quote… and if it’s not a quote it can’t be a misquote… and if it’s not a misquote, then……

          • Wrong. I never quoted him.

          • Jim in RF

            Wrong. Our household (~$180k) goes up. Giant kicker is the changes to deductions.

          • jon

            I’ve been milking incentives for the last few years now so I’m really not even sure what it’s going to do to my taxes… I think they will actually go down a little bit.

            But we got the electric car last year, and rooftop solar this year, both with large federal incentives, prior to that we had reduced income because my wife wasn’t working for a while, and prior to that we had her tuition to claim (masters degree).

            So I’m pretty sure that come april 2020 if I don’t find another tax incentive to milk I’m going to be in for a bit of a shock.

          • Frank

            “The standard deduction in 2018 as the law currently exists is $13,000 for a couple filing jointly. That number will jump to $24,000. For single filers it jumps from $6,500 to $12,000.”


            Maybe you’re referring to SALT taxes. For that, you have to contact your state legislators.

          • Sonny T

            What’s wrong with you? Don’t you realize Trump can do no right? Ever? 🙂

          • Yep. Same here (~$120k).

          • Rob

            I’ve attended lots of parties held by lower-income folks who were delirious over the fact that they got a few bucks from the tax cuts – just enough dough to buy a couple of cases of Sam Adams.

          • >>So, just as I said. Everyone making at least $10k gets a cut.

            No, no they won't.

            Personally, my Fed taxes will be going up for me by $1300 next year.

            For those wondering about how that can happen when there’s “more $$ in your paycheck”…the law changed the withholding tables taking less $$ out making it SEEM like your taxes went down. Come tax time next year, you’ll find out that your withholding wasn’t enough to cover your Fed tax bill…and your Fed tax bill may also be higher.

            Use the IRS’ online withholding calculator to be sure you are having enough taxes withheld.

          • Frank

            Right. I’ve said that in a couple of responses here. If you live in a high tax state, you’re going to pay more for that sweet high standard of living.

            If you’re not happy to pay, you can take it up with your local and state reps. Local control/Local accountability is always best.

          • Please note I was talking about FEDERAL taxes with no mention of state taxes.

            /The state income tax deduction was negligible in my case

          • Frank

            Your federal tax rate went down. If you pay more, it’s because

            A) You’re making more


            B) You’re paying lots of state and local taxes that you can’t deduct.

          • My tax rate may have gone down, but the other bits of that tax scam hit my overall taxes…

          • Well, that’s really the challenge in evaluating the bill. It’s not just the numbres, it’s the impact. For example, we know the deficit has soared in the aftermath of the tax bill and that will be addressed and there will have to be cuts, particularly with the increase in defense spending. Obviously, it’s unustainable.

            So in the long run, which isn’t that long since it’d be 2027, it’s entirely possible that people will have to accept a lower standard of living AND a higher tax bill as a consequence of the bill. That has to be factored into the calculations.

            Those are abstracts right now because the other shoe hasn’t dropped yet, so another $30 in a paycheck next Friday looks like a win now, at least for people who haven’t taken any time to look at a bigger picture.

          • Frank

            Pretty sure the tax cuts sunset in 2025 unless Congress extends them.

            I’m not happy at all about the deficit. But with the economy booming, I’m willing to wait and see what the next couple years bring.

        • Sonny T

          Where did you get this graph from, Bob? There isn’t a warehouse worker in MN that won’t tell you they are taking home MUCH more money.

          • Frank


          • Sonny T

            We are sitting on a powder keg story if the lower-income working household is indeed PAYING MORE.

          • Frank

            The only people who will pay more are those that live in states with high state and local taxes. Seems to me those folks already voted for high taxes, so it shouldn’t be too big a deal.

          • Sonny T

            I filled out an accurate W-4. Are you saying I will have to give my tax cut back through some sort of hocus pocus?

          • Frank

            The amount of state and local taxes you can deduct has gone down.

            If you live in Texas, no big deal. If you live in New Jersey, California, New York or Minnesota you’re going to have to pay attention.

          • Without having any data on your finances or situation, that would be impossible to say.

          • Sonny T

            Like I said, if true this is a massive issue, a massive story for journalists. A whole lot of people won’t be able to come up with an extra thousand at tax time. That money isn’t just lying around.

          • BJ

            >a massive story for journalists

            It was when it was passed. It had tons of coverage.

            But someone called it fake news.

          • Sonny T

            The coverage was confusing, in the current journalism of NEVER SAY ANYTHING POSITIVE ABOUT TRUMP. But now that the lower wage worker is getting more, if you think he/she is giving it back at tax time, no chance. They won’t have it.

          • Frank

            You’re not going to get the straight scoop in this comment thread. Talk to your tax guy. Bet you’re gonna be pleased.

          • BJ

            You’re not going to get the straight scoop in this comment thread. Talk to your tax guy. Bet you’re gonna be pleased .

            Upset, I think upset is the word you are looking for.

          • Frank

            Thanks, but I don’t need you to editorialize my comments for me.

          • There are numbers out there and analysis that have been done.

            Or you can just repeat the bilge that the problem is “the current journalism of never say anything positive about Trump” and hope that nobody notices you’re ignoring the numbers and analysis.

            It’s not a bad strategy; it works nowadays.

          • Sonny T

            When has the mainstream press said something positive? I’m waiting.

            I think my assessment is not bilge, but accurate. People are so demented by partisanship they are rooting for China. China!

          • >>When has the mainstream press said something positive?<<

            Perhaps if Trump gave them something positive to report…

          • Sonny T

            My point exactly. There is nothing, ever, never to report positive. Yeah, that makes sense.

          • Please give us some of these positive examples.

            /Not pushing the nuke button doesn’t count.

          • Frank

            4% growth last quarter, expected to sustain 2.8%.

            Unemployment at all time low, expected to go down another point next year.


          • From the second paragraph of your link (emphasis mine):

            “President Trump promised to increase economic growth to 4 percent. That’s faster than is healthy. Growth at that pace leads to an overconfident irrational exuberance. That creates a boom that leads to a damaging bust. The factors that cause these changes in the business cycle are supply, demand, capital availability, and the market’s perception of the economic future.”

            We are getting ready for another crash, probably within a year due to this administration’s fiscal policies.

            Also – The above examples of your “positive news” have been covered extensively by the MSM.

          • Frank

            Watch the prime interest rate.

          • Rob

            You left out the 75 months of economic growth under Obama. T.Rump inherited a humming economy, but in his classic fashion, is claiming credit for it.

          • There’s a lot to evaluating an economy. The average annual GDP growth rate since 1929 is about 3.2%. It’ll probably be something around there for the next year or so. Of course, there’s a LOT more to the economy than GDP and there’s the matter of unemployment being low and wages going nowhere.

          • Frank

            Pretty sure everyone agrees the Obama growth was stagnant. In addition, people were not seeing growth in their pay.

            I got a real juicy raise this year; hope everyone else did too.

          • >>I got a real juicy raise this year; hope everyone else did too.<<

            An actual raise or more in your paycheck because of the federal withholding changes?

            When adjusted for inflation, Wages have been stagnant for decades:


          • Frank

            I’m in a highly sought after profession working in a very profitable field.

            I understand my situation doesn’t fit everyone.

          • That narrows it to either IT or health care.

          • Frank

            Learn to code.

          • Ha. I used to be able to. You don’t build out the MPR News website from scratch without having some ability in coding, but it was never my forte and, of course, not really my job.

            I’ve had a good run and retirement will be a blast. Keep working there, young fella, I need the check each month.

          • I don’t know too many economists who aren’t completely flummoxed by the lack of significant growth in real wages considering the unemployment rate. I got nice raises during the Obama administration, but that doesn’t mean real wages were growing then either.

            For all the data that’s out there, this remains the one area that politicians can’t seem to understand: real wages are the economy for people.

            The data tells us we’re in a booming economy but wages still feel like ’08. What’s going to happen when the next recession comes is frightening.

          • refereemn77

            >>I got a real juicy raise this year; hope everyone else did too.<<

            No big raise here, unless you count under 1% as a big juicy raise. It won't keep up with inflation. And, budget cuts at work. We are a large (20,000+ employees worldwide), privately held company. My company is just going to pay the family shareholders more dividends.

          • Frank

            Sounds like the recipe for a career change.

          • JamieHX

            I do not agree that “the Obama growth was stagnant.” It was fairly slow, but we were coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. And some economists say that slower growth is better for us

          • Interesting to watch this discussion while also watching this one.


          • kevins

            You are catching on.

          • // When has the mainstream press said something positive? I’m waiting.

            You’ll have to have that debate somewhere else. It’s irrelevant in the analysis of a tax bill.

          • Sonny T

            Again, to return to my point, do you or does anyone think a working person can come up with a surprise bill of one or two grand in April? Do you imagine they can just cut back on trips to the spa and write a check?

          • I work and I could. It’s about $20 a week, or most of the “windfall” I got from the tax bill. But then again, I used the tax calculator the IRS provided and those elsewhere and as a result I put extra cash away every week precisely for that purpose.

            So, yeah, a working person could put that much money away if they wanted to and had to, though it might require them giving up a few things, which is what saving is all about.

            Financial planning requires a long view. It’s not our nation’s strong suit.

          • Sonny T

            Well thanks for listening. And I assure you there aren’t a lot of savers around, and even fewer who could borrow, so, as I say, if true there is a ticking time bomb in all of our trunks…

          • The Resistance

            And other people are so demented by partisanship they are rooting for Russia! Russia!
            I was listening to a guy in Helsinki the other day. Sounds like there are some extremely strong and confident Russkis!

          • Sonny T

            Despite your mocking, my analysis remains valid. There might be a freak or two who supports Russia, but open support of China in this trade thing is mainstream.

            Why don’t you just admit it? You are against America prevailing in this trade war, aren’t you? And we all know why. You want Trump to fail, at any cost.

          • You’re confusing the tax benefit with the withholding amount.

            Also the source is indicated there at the bottom of the graph. Tax Policy Center.

            They also have a tax calculator that should be included in people’s tax planning. But it’s a mistake, a big mistake experts warn, to do no tax planning and just assume your tax bill in April will be covered by your withholding.


            Long term, it’s important to keep in mind that under the new law, taxable income is going to go up for many people. Short term, your tax RATE is going down. One of those is going to expire. Guess which one?

            The notion that you need to do no significant tax planning unless you live in a high tax state is really bad financial advice.

          • Sonny T

            Like I said below, if they’re cutting taxes now they intend to get back later, good luck.

          • Are you saying you didn’t know the tax cuts are to expire in 2027?

          • Sonny T

            oh boy, I’ll worry about 2019

      • Frank

        Politifact countering the Heritage Foundation with the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center. Super.

        • Frank

          Let’s see what the IRS says.

          From estimated taxes to withholding, tax reform has a significant effect on your taxes.

          Paycheck Checkup
          Standard Deduction Increase
          Child Tax Credit

          • That’s good advice to use the paycheck calculator as it’s a pretty good possibility that more people are going to owe taxes next spring than has been withheld, the GAO says.


          • BJ

            That’s the thing. I’m taking home about $200 more per month, change in the withholding, but my taxes only went down $120 per year.

          • Nobody will notice until after the election.

          • BJ

            It’s funny how that will work out for the people who made that happen. It’s almost like they planned it. If i remember this was a Paul Ryan bill.

          • MarkUp

            He’ll be retired in January, and someone else will inherit the backlash come tax season.

          • Exactly…

          • Frank

            If you live in a state with high taxes, that’s true.

            But then you’re paying for that high standard of living, so it’s all good.

    • Sonny T


  • It’s hard to understand why business execs choose to be open about politics. Time and again, the decision to do so comes back to bite, causing some sort of public relations nightmare. One possible explanation is that they become so detached from the practical day-to-day functioning of the company and “the little people” that they open their traps and speak freely – thinking only of an approving audience of their business and political peers. The problem with living and communicating inside that bubble is that the public can see through bubbles. I’d be willing to bet that a CEO who lives in a wider world would be much more circumspect.

    • RBHolb

      Aside from the bubble is that successful people tend to get a lot of praise for their achievements. A lot of that praise comes in the form of downplaying or excusing missteps both big and large.

      You can see it with professional athletes who behave like boors, because they know that the worst that will happen is some tut-tutting, and maybe a directive to walk through a children’s hospital saying hello. You can see it in performers, who see no reason not to make offensive, racist tweets because they are a “star,” and are to be excused. You see it in CEOs who deliver value for the shareholders and assume that they are above the concerns of, as you put it, “the little people.”

      We are a society that values success over discretion. Here we are.

      • // You can see it with professional athletes who behave like boors

        Seinfeld used to say that sports fans are just rooting for clothing, as we judge them primarily based on what uniform they’re wearing regardless. Same thing for politics.

        • RBHolb

          Athletes are often talked about as role models, generally when they mess up and a commentator is expressing his disapproval.

        • Maybe we need a show about “Politicians in cars getting coffee”.

          • That would be awesome.

          • jon

            Politicians in cars, being asked to leave restaurants.

          • Frank

            We should all start bringing bull-horns with us when we dine out so we can screech at politicians we don’t like. Oh, and we need to designate a YouTube streamer among our companions.

            What could go wrong?

          • Ooooo… I remember this episode. Right you are!

  • Jim in RF

    The MyPillow guy is right there, too.

  • Gary F
  • jon

    When you put big money into politics, you can’t act surprised when people start voting with their wallets.

    When what you buy defines which political candidate can buy which offices, the idea of voting by going to a different brand or store should surprise no one.

    I know big business might be disappointed that citizens united actually did something to force citizens to unite, but that’s not a good reason for citizens to disband.

  • Al

    If Sam Adams were any good, I’d be more upset. It’s not. Happy to pay more for [much] better local beer.

    • No kidding. We (in MN) have a craft brewing bonanza.

      Drink local beer!

      • jon

        It’s not just in MN either (though I’d say we are lucky to be near the top of the list)… I’ve had some really good local beer all over the country.
        OK, CA, NV, OR, WA, FL, CO, MI… though last time I was out east (South of Boston) I did drink a lot of Sam Adams (it was years ago, the craft beer boom was still in its early days.)

        Just have to make a point to get out of the places the tourists go… I don’t personally understand or support importing things for tourists… fly in the tourists, then fly in the food and drink that the tourists have access to at home… seems to defeat the point of travel…

    • Jeff

      Sam Adams is at the bottom of the barrel on my craft beer list. There’s some chain restaurants that don’t have any local craft beers and then I’ll go there but I’d never get a Bud/Coors/Miller over a Sam Adams regardless of political or tax burden affiliation.

    • refereemn77

      Agree. I’ve tried Sam Adams. I’ve never liked any of it. So many other options!

  • Rob

    I buy what I like. Sometimes that means obtaining stuff from people with political views I may not share. But life is too short to vett every single consumer purchase.

    • refereemn77

      I tend to agree. If we stopped buying products (or watching sports, for that matter) of every company we disagreed with on something, we might not be able to buy much at all.

      If it’s a trend (see Elon Musk and Twitter), then maybe I will think about finding an alternative…

  • AL287

    Steak well done with ketchup alone would make me vote for someone else.

    If you like your beef well done, stick to pot roast and shady real estate deals.

    • Barton

      It was the the ketchup that turned me off.

      • boB from WA

        Why ruin good ketchup. 🙂

  • Frank

    Dont know where you’re getting your info from, but the standard deduct for married people just doubled.

    • The standard deduction and one’s tax liability are not linear in the tax “reform” legislation.

      • Frank

        That’s so. But we’re all starting off with twice the deduction.

        • Or, we’re starting off with no exemptions.

          That part is pretty irrelevant, at least in comparison to the bottom line, which is all that really matters.

          If you have actual numbers that prove or disprove an assertion, cite them. Not this distracting nonsense.

          • Frank

            I’ve cited a link for every assertion I’ve made. If you care to look, you’ll see I’m unique in that.

  • Jerry

    I have to say that an unwillingness to pay taxes is very on-brand for a company named after Samuel Adams.

  • Frank

    Well there you go. Not only are you paying higher Minnesota taxes, you can’t even complain to the politicians about it.

    But your situation is not common.

  • Frank

    Man, that doesn’t add up.

    Minnesota marginal income taxes are 2% higher than Wisconsin across all brackets.

    And Minnesota tacked on a wheelage tax *on top* of that.

    Maybe you need a better tax guy?

  • Frank

    Tax Bracket (Single) [2] Tax Bracket (Couple) [3] Marginal Tax Rate
    $0+ $0+ 5.35%
    $25,390+ $37,110+ 7.05%
    $83,400+ $147,450+ 7.85%
    $156,911+ $261,510+ 9.85%

    Minnesota tax tables

  • The Resistance

    I’d be very be very nervous if I were a businessman cozying up to Trump. I’m sure the fine people at Harley Davidson wish they had never come near him. Why working women and men vote for a person who supports a boycott of the company that employs them is beyond me. The party that wants government to get out of micromanaging business is doing a terrific job of doing just that.

  • John F.

    Say what you want about it, but I really look forward to Sam Adams Octoberfest every year.

    • refereemn77

      My favorite is Paulaner Oktoberfest. It’s a great beer!

  • lindblomeagles

    Whether you like Trump or not, he’s a divisive personality, and tends to feed off of combative situations. His show the Apprentice was that way. His trade war is that way. His immigration stance is that way. His take on bigots and people who didn’t vote for him is that way. His war with the media is that way. This guy lives to fight just to fight. So, as a company, you can’t publicly join Trump without, on some level, being complicit in divisiveness.

    • I think that’s a debateable point. The tax cut legislation is all about politics but I don’t know that it’s all about any other issue that Trump identifies with. If the assertion is that if you agree with Trump’s tax philosophy you therefore agree with his separating of children from their parents, I think that’s a logical flaw.

      You still have to have a functioning democracy and a healthy debate has to be part of that.

      • lindblomeagles

        Ah, but people’s perception is the issue here, not the facts. For instance, Trump’s perception of the media is they don’t write nice things about him. The fact is the media covers the story, and some of the stories about Trump are indeed negative. Factually speaking, Trump’s actions led to the negative press, but Trump’s perception doesn’t mirror the facts. Same thing here with businesses. Factually speaking, as you mentioned, some businesses support Trump’s tax policy, but they don’t support his position on immigration. And yet, the perception some people have, as I mentioned above is any support for Trump means you support everything Trump does or say. That’s the key here. Some businesses are going to receive negative press when publicly supporting Trump because the perception of Trump is negative. As a business, you have to expect some of that when you publicly declare allegiance to him.