Why Are You Boycotting American Vodka To Punish Russia?
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has decided to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine by ordering the removal of Russian-branded liquor from state-run liquor stores. Governors of Ohio, Utah, and Pennsylvania have also ordered Russian liquors off the shelves. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott asked Texas restaurants and shops to stop selling Russian goods.
It’s a weirdly authoritarian response, especially against the retro-socialist background of having state-run liquor stores in the first place. It also isn’t going to accomplish what these governors think, unless their only goal is to look like they’re doing something, because the economic harms will fall on people completely outside Russia’s borders.
Let’s start with the obvious: The booze you’re removing is already here. To the extent that the profits go back to Mother Russia, that’s already happened. Russia loses zero rubles when you take the vodka you already paid for and hide it in the stockroom for a few months.
But there’s a bigger issue: “Russian” vodka often isn’t actually from Russia at all.
We went through all of this back in 2013, when Russia’s parliament passed an anti-gay law and LGBT activists responded with a boycott of what they thought was Russian vodka. There was a logo and everything. The primary target was Stolichnaya Vodka, one of the more popular brands.
Yet the Stoli that gets imported to the United States is not Russian at all. It’s made in Latvia, and the company that manufactur
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