Saturday, November 15, 2008

Selling Alcohol on Sunday? Not in My State!

I don’t drink much alcohol. Once in a while I might have a light beer with dinner, because my son and I like to frequent specialty and international restaurants for a variety of fare. We both like to try different types of food. He likes to try different kinds of beer. I usually settle for Miller Lite.

The only mixed drink I care anything about is a margarita. And I admit I like the so-called sissy drinks because I can’t taste the alcohol in them. But I wouldn’t be caught drinking one in public.

As for wine, it has to be the nastiest-tasting beverage I’ve ever put into my mouth. I’ve tried all kinds, and don’t like any of it. I don’t keep any alcoholic beverages in my refrigerator, either. I bought a six-pack of beer once this year. It lasted for months and I shared it with my son.

That said, I think that Indiana’s restriction on the sale of carry-out alcoholic beverages on Sunday is an archaic law that needs to be changed as soon as possible. There is absolutely no good reason for restricting sales of alcohol one day a week.

The law originally grew out of a desire by early Christians to force compliance by the masses on their sense of moral superiority. It was the same reason this country had a Prohibition Era. And it is for the same reason that prostitution is now illegal in most states. It didn’t used to be until the self-righteous protectors of public morality started lobbying back in the early years of the twentieth century. But I digress.

We are now well into the twenty-first century. It is passed time that we base our laws on more practical matters, such as economic issues, interstate commerce, and even what the public at large desires, not just the religious public.

In 2006, according to a poll conducted by the Indianapolis Star, half of Indiana residents were comfortable with a ban or Sunday alcohol sales. This year, the same poll revealed that the percentage of those who want the ban to continue has dropped by five percentage points. The new poll shows the number of people who say they are in favor of Sunday sales of alcohol has now overtaken and surpassed the number who want the ban to continue, if only by a slight margin.

Liquor store owners are generally against the idea of Sunday sales of packaged liquor. That would seem to be counterintuitive. But when you consider that most liquor stores are small, individually-owned establishments, being open on Sunday for only a modest increase in total weekly sales would not be desirable.

But Indiana remains one of only 15 states that prohibit packaged liquor sales on Sunday. That number is down from 19 just two years ago. States are learning that opening Sunday for carry-out liquor sales increases their tax coffers considerably. Indiana could gain $2 million annually. In times of economic distress, states must look to increase revenue wherever it can, as long as it does no harm to the consumer.

Going into the supermarket on a Sunday and buying a 12-pack of beer doesn’t seem like such an evil premise. Yet we can’t do it. Midnight on Saturday is fine, but wait until six o’clock the next morning and it becomes a crime. There is simply no logic in it.

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