A group of mismanaged companies - ranging from insurance companies, banks, financial institutions, automakers - come to Washington with their hands out.

American taxpayers are asked to bail out these irresponsible industries to the tune of billions of dollars. And federal leaders bite and feed these companies.

Now, the most prominent of these beggars, AIG, decides to bite the hand that's feeding it and use the taxpayer bailout money to pay more than $200 million in bonuses. In fact, 73 AIG employees received bonuses of $1 million or more. Worse, these bonus babies are from the business unit responsible for creating AIG's financial mess.

Then there's the rest of the American business and manufacturing community. They manage their companies well. Even though the economy has knocked them back too, they're making tough cuts, trimming back and reorganizing their strategies so they can start to bounce back and grow again. Pretty confident there are no million dollar bonuses in these industries; in fact, most responsible companies are doing such things as eliminating bonuses, freezing salaries and cutting 401(k) matches this year.

Furthermore, these are companies which employ blue collar, union and white collar workers - unlike the heavily white collar financial sector companies getting the bailouts. These jobs are in real towns, big and small, supporting real families with real needs and costs - and no safety net.

Yet, none of these companies or industries comes to Washington with their hands out even though the economy has knocked them on their bottoms as well. Rather, these companies - including ours - go to Washington offering them a hand up as they try to resolve tough public policy issues.

We try to be part of the solution, even when problems we didn't create make it tough for us to operate.

The beverage industry is one of many that conduct business responsibly. Our customers are always the priority; we're responsive to our communities and our leaders. We do right by folks.

So then, why is Washington slewing money at mismanaged, irresponsible companies like AIG and others; while federal and state policy-makers are looking to tax the responsible companies in pure money grabs to pay for their failed ventures and other budget woes not of our making? Our industry is not alone in having the tax target on its back because of government spending. But taxing responsible companies that do things right will retard economic recovery by costing thousands more Americans their jobs and robbing companies of the ability to invest in growth and new jobs. None of this is good for the American family or the economy.

More importantly, what message is our government sending? Play by the rules and get taxed. Don't play by the rules and get loads of taxpayer money.

This is still America, right?