Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Why the Belgian Post Office is Better Than the U.S. Postal Service
You can learn as much or more about the attitudes of government officials by observing what they do rather than what they say. It's clear in so many ways that many elected and appointed officials at local, state and federal levels of government in the United States would love to ban or at least further restrict our right to purchase and responsibly consume beer, wine and spirits. They might not be running on the Prohibition Party line, but look at what they do in everything from excise tax increases to restrictions on where and when alcohol may be purchased or served.
It even filters down to our postage stamps. That's right: postage stamps.
You might not think it matters, but it serves to prove a point. In a country where our first President ran a distillery, the author of the Declaration of Independence was a collector of fine wine and at least one leader of the revolution was a brewer, you might expect a more favorable attitude towards alcohol among politicians. Not so and postage stamps are evidence.
When has the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) produced a stamp to honor brewers, winemakers or distillers? It has not happened recently, that's for sure. Perhaps a stamp collector might have some historical information on when (or if) this has ever occurred. However, in 1998 when the USPS was producing a series of stamps marking key happenings of the 20th Century they went out of their way in the collection of key events in the 1920s decade to have a stamp honoring Prohibition. That stamp showed a barrel being dumped. Nothing subtle about that stamp. The 1930s collection did not have a stamp marking the return of alcohol.
Contrast this to the Belgian Post Office, which recently issued a series of stamps called "This is Belgium," which contained two beer themed stamps. One honored Belgian Trappist ales and another the gueuze style of beer made in the country. At least they had the sense to salute a part of their culture that makes positive contributions to the economy, lifestyles and national pride.
We've had Elvis, the Muppets and comic strip characters on stamps. Certainly the brewing, wine and spirits industries deserve at least one stamp each. The USPS says it listens to public suggestions for stamp topics. If you have an idea on how to rectify this omission you can contact them at: Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, Stamp Development, U.S. Postal Service, 1735 North Lynn St., Room 5013, Arlington, Va., 22209.