Kopaunik: A separation of church and state?

By Janice Kopaunik

A local company has a monopoly on a billion-dollar-a-year industry, and nothing is being done to stop it. This company is using its power to pass state laws through that serve to expand its control and increase its revenues, but no one does anything. Unlike necessary monopoly institutions, this is an industry that could perform well through private investors. We are forced to conform to its often ridiculous laws, we pay higher prices, and we have no control over this competition-less arena.

The state government has done nothing to stop this because they are the benefactor. The company: liquor stores. Our state government has an unneeded control over liquor sales, and we are paying top dollar for it.

Government control has come to a head, and I am not sure I can handle it any longer. They have officially passed a proposition to move wine coolers and other less offensive alcohols to liquor store. Can you hear it? It’s the slow chipping away of the few liberties we still hold regarding drinking.

The easy availability of less-offensive alcohol has sparked the movement of the government once again protecting us from ourselves. The justification for the establishment of liquor stores and insane liquor laws is apparently due to the large demand for a containment of these defiling alcoholic beverages away from the eyes of easily offended, impressionable, non-drinking constituents. It raises the question: how do looser states keep their populations sober if people truly need to be controlled, as it is believed in Utah? For such a unified force against the consumption of alcohol, the industry is making a hell of a lot of money. The only plausible reason for this extent of government control is religious influence.

Even the “sin tax” over alcohol sales reeks of church control. When did it become the government’s ability to determine what is and what is not sinful, and if and how much I should pay for my sinful behavior? Can you say “separation of church?”

These laws are ridiculous. The cause, although just, could have easily been fulfilled through a variety of other ways. The supposed intentions of the old bags advocating this law is to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors. They see wine coolers as the fruit punch of beers, particularly appealing to the youthful.

Getting alcohol when you are underage isn’t as hard as the people behind this would like to imagine though. They underestimate the resourcefulness of alcohol-depraved teenagers. A liquor store never stopped me or my friends from getting alcohol, and it surely won’t stop teens today.

Law makers are acting as though some brazen teenagers are walking into grocery stores and buying these low-level alcoholic drinks themselves. They aren’t — but lets pretend they are. The logical solution would be to crack down on stores making the underage sales, enforcing tighter regulations and higher fines for violators. The only thing these laws will do is make buying “bad” alcohol less appealing.

In reality, there will always be someone to buy beer or alcohol for teens. Location of the alcohol is just logistics. Moving these drinks to the liquor store will do little to stop underage drinking. It might even lead kids to drink harder beverages. Harder alcohol is already more appealing. It’s easier to hide, more potent, cheaper and less fattening. And since the willing of-age buyer is already going to be at the liquor store picking up a six pack of Fuzzy Navels, there would be little extra effort to get a gallon of vodka too.

Now I have to make a special trip to the liquor store, pick up the room-temperature hard lemonade and cool it down overnight if I want to have it at a BBQ.

If they want to make sure alcohol isn’t being sold to minors, hiding them in liquor stores is not the solution. It’s just a pain in the ass. If the population holds a belief that alcohol sales should be restrictive and as controlled as they are, then fine, allow privately-owned liquor stores. Government control over this industry is not justifiable, and the scope of their control has gone too far.

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