Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday Liquor Restrictions and the Intoxication of Competitive Protection

State Representative Ron Alting (R-Layafette) says in today’s Star that the interim study committee on alcoholic beverages will be gathering information regarding Indiana’s “blue laws.” I’ve never supported half-measure morality in the public sphere. For example, I thought it was ridiculous when we decided we would allow casinos in Indiana, but only if we put the gamblers on a boat and made them go 100 feet into a body of water, as if there were a morality cleansing. going on.

What makes half-measure morality worse is when powerful interests harness people of faith’s religious-based objections to protect their own profits. I say, "No more." Until we repeal the 21st Amendment repealing the 18th, sales restrictions are nothing more than protection against competition. This is true no matter how vehemently religious leaders insert “moral” objections as a way to assert their relevance in a debate that is long over.

You probably know that Indiana currently does not let grocery stores sell liquor on Sundays. One might assume a legislative decision was made to keep people from drinking on Sunday instead of going to church, right? Then why do we let people buy as much alcohol as they want on Sunday if they do it at a restaurant or bar? But for the fact that restaurant association has a stronger lobby, does this make sense to anyone?

Also, in Indiana, only liquor stores can sell cold beer. But for the fact that liquor stores have a strong lobby, is there any reason to leave this privilege just to liquor stores? If the belief is that cold beer results in overconsumption, alcoholism, or drunk driving, why would you have it available anywhere? If “cold beer” sales are all that’s keeping liquor stores open, I emphatically support extending this privilege to every business with a license. Liquor stores are cancers on every impoverished community in America, in particular in African-American communities. I wouldn’t shed a tear seeing all of these stores collapse.

If you need to put the liquor and the displays in a separate areas like video stores do with adult movies or cigarettes, so be it. But in my world, every entity that can sell ANY type of liquor should be able to sell every type of liquor it wants. Maybe Walmart and Kroger wouldn't sell hard stuff because of its "family-friendly" philosophy, and more power to them. But let us ("us" meaning we all but Republicans mostly since "unrestricted free markets" are their guiding philosophy) not act like we come at this from any "moral" basis. This debate will be about legislators protecting their friends' bank accounts.

You might also have these powerful interests throw in a dose of the "icky people" scare tactic for good measure. That's when someone tries to make you afraid of having to be near "icky" people at a grocery store because now (s)he won't stay with all the other undesirables outside the liquor store.

We'll see if I'm wrong. I doubt I will be. Not competiting is more intoxicating than cold beer from a grocery store on a Sunday.


1 comment:

Steve said...

If you want to talk "protection against competition" by "strong lobbies" in this arena then you can't forget the wholesalers who continue to fight the Granholm decision Free the grapes!