Justin Hauke

Criticism of the Anheuser-Busch deal has grown increasingly ridiculous. In a particularly glaring example of one-sided electioneering, the Post-Dispatch reveals (as if this were a shock) that Cindy McCain holds more than $1 million in Anheuser-Busch stock and stands to reap a significant windfall if the InBev deal goes through.

Shocking. You know who else stands to benefit? Me, probably you, and just about everyone else.

Who actually owns AB? The Busch family? Its employees? The city of St. Louis?

Let's take a quick look at AB's latest financial statements. The largest individual shareholder of Anheuser-Busch (owning about 5 percent of total shares) is Warren Buffet. Well, he's from Nebraska, so obviously he's an outsider. But what about institutional investors? Well, a British conglomerate owns about 6 percent. And Mr. August Busch? A whopping 0.2 percent (though I believe he has about 4 percent of the voting power)!

And you know who else owns AB? Me, along with several hundred thousand of my closest friends at Vanguard. And probably Barack Obama, Francis Slay, and Matt Blunt, too.

Saint Louis has no "right" to AB when only one percent of the entire company is owned by AB insiders. And more than that, how do Missouri governmental officials have a right to have any say in a shareholder decision whatsoever?

One comment in the Post-Dispatch article is particularly misguided:

[H]ow ridiculous to say that Barack Obama wants the brewery to remain American while Republicans want it to go. Hello!?! Republican (Ex Chief of Staff to Matt Blunt) Ed Martin is behind the "SaveAB.com" along with SEVERAL other Republican operatives.

I don't see all of these Democrats in the city doing much to stop the deal.

As well they shouldn't, because it's none of their business. This is a decision for the 99 percent of the company owned by outside investors. That's how a free-market economy works. As voting shareholders, we can each choose to vote however we please. But what we cannot do is ask our government to step in and force a decision on our behalf. There is nothing less American than that.

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Justin Hauke