Monday, April 30, 2012

EU subsidizes Caribbean rum

We've been told that there are hundreds of examples of the European Union projects that look comical but it's always interesting to see particular examples.

On Wednesday, April 18th, the European Union apparatchiks have approved a nice EUR 46.5 million project:
BELGIUM: Caribbean rum producers get EU subsidy
Most of the money will arrive to the pockets of Western marketing agencies that will produce advertisements promoting the Caribbean rum. Imagine that: the European Union spends money to increase the consumption of rum.

What is the logic behind it? The left-wing politicians controlling the European Union are apparently ashamed that their ancestors discovered America and managed various colonies in the past.

So believing the insane ideology that their poverty was caused by the European imperialists (just to be sure, poverty is the natural state of the human society and one needs to build working capitalism to redirect the society into a different state), they have to help those folks in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Because they don't want to invite those folks to their living rooms, they decided to help them do business. And it's been determined that the most important business of some Caribbean nations that should be supported by the Europeans – in order to help them fight poverty – is the Caribbean rum.

I guess that many others who think "differently" try to get higher tax revenues out of alcoholic beverages.

With such news, you shouldn't be surprised that most of the Czechs don't support the European integration anymore. According to the latest poll, only 1/3 of the nation believes that a united Europe has a future; 52 percent of the Czechs think it doesn't. Less than 20 percent would strengthen the integration and shared competencies, 40% would keep the current degree of integration, and 23 percent would weaken it. 22 percent prefer a deeper integration of Czechia into the EU, 41 percent favor status quo, and 24 percent would weaken it. The overall approval rate of the EU keeps on shrinking; it is currently at 40 percent.

This Fernet beach commercial has won the "Best Feminist Ad of the 2000s" award chosen by the Harvard And MIT Feminist Task Force For Women In The Advertisement Industry. The judgewomen particularly appreciated the end of the commercial which promotes the gender equality by the slogan: "Fernet Stock: even men have their days of menstruation."

There is one more issue that makes the comical story about rum very relevant for us, especially those of us in the Eastern suburbs of Pilsen. I live less than 1 mile (East) from the Pilsner brewery but it's not the only well-known beverage maker in my town. If you walk for less than 1 mile in a perpendicular direction, namely to the South, you will find Stock Božkov, the producer of heavier alcoholic beverages. Its Fernet (established in 1927) has become a valuable brand; excellent advertisements such as the example above have helped.

For more than a century, Stock has also been Czechia's largest producer of the so-called Domestic Rum ("Tuzemský rum" in Czech); see the picture at the top. Why was it called rum? Well, it's because it is really a rum, chemically speaking. However, it's made from sugar beet and rum essence/extract/flavor (which is probably obtained by distillation of real rum-like liquids). When we entered the European Union, the EU apparatchiks have actually prohibited the usage of the standard Czech term, Domestic Rum, because it contains the word "rum". According to the insane EU regulation that contradicts basic chemistry (such as the equivalence of ethanol and ethyl alcohol), the term "rum" may only be used for things produced out of sugarcanes.

The EU has tons of examples of this harassment. The European definition of a banana and its allowed interval of the Riemann curvature tensor – a set of conditions that aren't satisfied by the Latin American bananas (in this case, the bill is directed against Latin America) – is the most famous example.

So the Domestic Rum was renamed as the Domestie ("Tuzemák"), an OK nickname that would have sometimes been used, anyway. An alternative is "Božkov Original Domestic" (no "rum" in it). With 9 million liters sold a year, it's still among the most widely sold strong beverages in the world. But now it's not just about the name. The EU is actually actively paying money to the non-European competition to help them defeat the domestic producers – those who even have the word "domestic" in the name of the products. Holy cow. Of course, Stock, the alcoholic company in Pilsen, has already complained to the EU.

This is another example of the political correctness run amok. It's unfair and it won't help the folks in the Caribbean, anyway. It's unfair because Czechia has also been a colony of some Western European empires in the past – whether we talk about Austria or Germany – and we're also savages who have been discriminated against and who deserve this help if someone else does. Our producers have been harassed in similar ways since our EU entry and in terms of a financial amount, the damages have arguably been comparable to the overall amount of money that we received as net malefactors.

(The list of traditional Czech brands in the food industry that have been banned is particularly long. A positive exception are Olomouc syrečky/tvarůžky – smelly surface ripened round cheese from Olomouc – which became regionally protected by the EU against the will of some Germans and Austrians.)

It won't help the Caribbean countries much because such an activity will help them to get satisfied with the production of rum and the production of rum is not what the wealthiest nations want to do to be wealthy. There are many ways how the EU could help to the third world. In particular, it could and should open the markets for free trade.


  1. During a trip to Prague in the '80s I remember being surprised that there was a domestically produced rum -- I was even more surprised how tasty it was. It reminded me of butterscotch. Too bad its such a well kept secret. I have always thought that with a clever marketing campaign it could catch in in the US.

  2. Dear rsala, thanks - I actually like the domestic rum as well. It's mostly a national domestic beverage for us but it's already "traditional" as well because it's been made for more than a century.

    It's of course "more industrial" and the main reason why people insist on the Caribbean and sugar canes is that it's supposed to be a fancy drink not produced everywhere – and because many people are simply Luddites who believe that the ethanol produced in one way is something completely different than the ethanol produced in another way.

    Czechs have been largely immune towards this opinion for centuries. Industrially produced food products, especially when they're cheaper, are simply accepted by pretty much everyone.

    Of course, this rather characteristic, industrially advanced fact about our nation is a huge scandal for everyone whose job is to sell very expensive food or food products. ;-) So we often hear about the low quality demanded by Czechs etc. but the scientific fact is that the quality is the same from a chemical viewpoint; just the extra price added for the smug brands may be lower here. ;-)

    Instead of making commercials in the U.S., well, I guess you could try to produce our domestic rum yourself. The moderate zone has everything you need for that. I doubt that we have some monopoly to produce these simple beverages.

    Of course, there exist fancier beverages, some of which are also made by Stock Božkov, like the herbal drinks Fernet etc. Citrus Fernet was recently added, a more female one but I like it, too. Becherovka in Carlsbad is also great, a favorite drink of ex-prime-minister Miloš Zeman, the ex-leader of then the not-excessively-social democratic party.

    But I guess that many nations have their "localized" treasures among beverages that are not exported too much. People only get used to drinking them locally.

    When my ex-roommate Jochen Brocks visited me in November, with his GF, he told me that he didn't find Pilsner Urquell to be any sensation and wanted to follow me in whatever else I drink. So I ordered some black beer that I choose whenever it's a standard major beer in a restaurant and of course, he loved it, too. It's sweeter and I may actually like it more than the Pilsner, regardless of the lower price and less famous brand names.


  3. Hahaha ... you bring back many memories. I was touring the homes of many of your glass artists from morning to night. Everyone had their own herbal drinks that they offered ... and of course it was impossible to refuse. I was in fine shape by the end of each day! And of course, back in those days, there was nothing that could compare with the beer made right in you hometown.