Forget Universal Health Insurance

How about mandating benefits like this:

Employees at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo. receive a case of beer a week, which the company does not recommend they drink while riding the bike (like the one on the label of NBB’s Fat Tire Amber Ale) that they get after a year on the job. After five years, they go to Belgium to sample the brews that inspired the company’s creation.

That’s no small prize, either. Fat Tire is one of may favorite beers. Unfortunately it is also a rare treat, because it is not available in Alabama. Not because of Alabama’s stupid beer laws, but because they just don’t sell in very many states.

Oh well, at least I have a few in the fridge now. My wife recently went out of town to see some college friends, one of whom lives in Dallas where they do have New Belgium beer. This friend, at my wife’s request, picked up a twelve pack of Fat Tire, which was then brought back to my house. Needless to say, I was very happy with both of them. I may even be able to look past the fact that the friend is a Republican.  

Anyway, for more on New Belgium, check out their website, or this article. It really is an amazing company:

While it is best known for its line of award-winning brews, having received the “Midsize Brewery” and “Brewmaster of the Year” awards at the 2000 and 2001 Great American Beer Festivals, New Belgium is gaining national recognition as an ethical and environmental business model. In this regard, the greatest achievement to date has been the brewery’s decision (reached unanimously at a staff meeting) to purchase grid-supplied wind power at a premium price in order to reduce its production of carbon dioxide by approximately 1800 metric tons a year.

In addition to purchasing wind power, the company’s wastewater treatment plant utilizes the digestion of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria to clean the water used in the brewing process before it is reused onsite for evaporative cooling, cleaning and landscape purposes. The process releases a biogas, 85% of which is methane. The methane is captured and used to generate electricity and heat onsite. The methane generator runs up to ten hours a day and off-sets the peak demands on the Fort Collins electric grid. This is a new program undergoing its final stages, and when fully operational the company expects a return on the investment in 2004. . . .

In addition to their environmental efforts, New Belgium Brewing is a community-minded business that purchases from more than 300 local and regional companies. One dollar from every barrel of beer sold is donated to charities throughout the states where New Belgium distributes in accordance with localized sales, thereby insuring that money spent in the community contributes to the community.

The Tour de Fat is a traveling event that visits cities where New Belgium distributes. The Tour hosts morning bike rides and showcases local food and music, while promoting a sustainable environment; and it gives the company a chance to publicize their brews in a fun setting while raising funds for local charities. The profits made at a Tour de Fat are donated to local biking organizations.

In addition to promoting a cleaner environment, this remarkable company also sustains its employees. A progressive employee-ownership program introduced early in the life of the company was designed to empower the employees and include them in the decision-making process. Employees currently own 32% of the company. Because Fat Tire Ale was named to commemorate LeBesch’s bike trip through Belgium, each staff member is awarded their own Fat Tire cruiser after a year of work with the New Belgium Brewing Company, a nice perk that promotes biking to work over driving. After five years of employment, each employee is offered a free trip to Belgium to become acquainted with the country and the breweries that inspired the building of their own brewery. These great extras are offered in addition to the ownership plan, full health and dental coverage, a 401K retirement plan, and the kid-and-dog-friendly atmosphere. The workplace has a full kitchen for employees who want to prepare their own lunch; and every other Tuesday, New Belgium buys lunch for the entire staff to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Other staff benefits include a free case of beer a week, ten paid holidays a year, and ongoing training in tasting and appreciation of beer.

Wow. I’ll drink to that.

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3 Comments on “Forget Universal Health Insurance”

  1. JPW Says:

    Fat Tire has a festival in SF in Golden Gate park. I’ve been to it a couple of times. Good fun. Everyone brings their tricked out bikes and they have a “slow” race in which the last person to finish wins.

  2. Texas Redhead Loser Says:

    Dear Wheeler,

    “That friend” has always been a registered Independent. VOTE KINKY!!

    Being fiscally conservative (think Alex P. Keaton with a hemp bag instead of a briefcase) is confusing to people in these crazy times, so “that friend” will overlook the misrepresentation and continue to enjoy this blog. And occasionally buy you beer.

    Happy drinking,
    That Friend

  3. wheeler Says:

    dear ms. friend

    please forgive me for the insult.

    also: “Alex P. Keaton with a hemp bag instead of a briefcase.” brilliant. that ought to be the mascot for the libertarians.

    finally, the drinking has indeed been very happy. i am in your debt, especially as i heard you had to enter a wal-mart to get the beer. i will drink one in your honor this evening.

    truly honored that you read my blog,


    p.s. “VOTE KINKY!!” hmmm, how about this? (muchas gracias jpw).

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