07/14/08 — Tears in U.S. beer: Anheuser-Busch takeover brings back nostalgia

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Tears in U.S. beer: Anheuser-Busch takeover brings back nostalgia

No one really should be crying for the stockholders of American beer giant Anheuser-Busch. The proposed takeover by the European brewer InBev isn’t going to leave them with empty pockets.

But the sale is a loss of sorts for Americans — at least in the historic sense.

The proposed new owners claim they won’t change much — but they might. Anheuser-Busch is involved in a lot of philanthropy as well as in the amusement business. Some of the most beloved parks in the country are owned by the beermaker.

And what about the Clydesdales? Will they be getting the pink slip?

There are real reasons to watch this merger. Don’t forget that thousands of Americans work for this firm and the company has a long history in this country.

But there is also a reason to feel a little sad. Something that was and always has been a piece of Americana is now about to be owned by foreigners. That just doesn’t seem right. Even if they change nothing other than making some personnel cuts at the top, the new InBev model will no longer belong to Americans, so it can’t possibly be the same. It won’t be ours anymore.

It is a lesson for all of us who think that American institutions and companies are safe simply because they have been here a while. It is why supporting brands that are uniquely American might be an idea worth considering more often. Maybe if we want to keep American companies strong, we might want to look at labels before we buy.

American entrepreneurs have built this country. It would be a shame if the term “made in America” was replaced by “used to be made in America.”

It is a possibility worth pondering — and preventing.

Published in Editorials on July 14, 2008 11:27 AM