The other day, I proposed a compromise to my wife.* (*Fiction: may not have happened). “Oh?” she says.
“I’ll unload the dishwasher 50% of the time,” I offer magnanimously.
“You should be doing that anyway,” she observes.
“And, in return,” I continue, unfazed, “every day you’ll drive to Delphi and back.”
“Why would you want me to drive to Delphi and back?” she asks, perplexed.
“Compromise!” says I.
In unrelated news, the Sunday liquor sales bill died without passing the House. Rep. Dermody declined to call down HB 1624. This was the bill that would have allowed Sunday alcohol sales. However, the package liquor store interests were successful in inserting a poison pill amendment that invented (for stores other than package liquor stores) a concept known as “self-service displays” which simply means “liquor on a shelf a customer can get to without going through a sales clerk.”
For no good reason, regular stores would have to pull the liquor from shelves where they are now, put them behind a counter, inconvenience customers, and add extra duties for sales clerks. I’m not sure advocates pretended to have any noble policy goals for this measure — if they did, I expect it was “for the children” or somesuch. But, it was pretty transparently a power play designed to stall Sunday sales against public pressure and throw in a fig leaf of “we tried and negotiated in good faith – really we did – but the big box stores wouldn’t compromise.”
See, for example, this disingenuous column from a lobbyist for the package liquor industry: “Serving and protecting consumers should have been at the center of this debate.” Sure. Protecting and serving are what this debate was about, but it’s the package liquor store that is being protected.
Give Sunday sales an up or down vote. If lawmakers actually think consumers need additional protections from the scourge of demon alcohol, use a separate bill to do that. If lawmakers honestly think Hoosiers need to be protected, shouldn’t they be doing that anyway? Are they needlessly endangering Hoosiers by permitting the ongoing threat of “self-service displays?” Seems pretty reckless of them. Unless, of course, that rationale was just a pretext.
Without question this is a very insight comment on the naked rent seeking and fence building that the liquor stores tried to pull this session. Brilliant, Doug.
Hm, I think I heard a very impassioned dramatic presentation that defended the whole list of steps it took to get there.. Alcohol next to the baby pacifiers and diapers. The diatribe was very folksy and designed to shock the listeners into thinking that the big box stores weren’t already selling this /displaying this wherever they like now. In fact, the unexpected and somewhat disjointed presentation by Harrison students preceding the good Senator was literally his set-up to claim “honest to goodness” concern for the children. Irony.
Doug Masson says
The “put it in one part of the store” aspect of the bill didn’t bother me much. I’m not sure whether the box stores had strenuous objections to that one either. Seems like that’s already mostly the practice.
My daughter was pushing the shopping cart yesterday. She didn’t appear phased at all as we cruised past the end-cap display of beer.
If I recall correctly, the portion of the bill that would have removed restrictions on what liquor stores sell was stricken at… the behest of the liquor stores.
I just wish that all these legislators interested in protecting the little guy would have been oh-so-focused 25 years ago when Wal-Mart entered the state.
I mean, it’s just the way of the world when countless local stores were wiped off the map by big-box stores, but when the liquor stores face the same fate, it’s time to act to protect local small businesses?
The solution to the problem is to boycott your local liquor store until the law changes. Of course, I haven’t been in a liquor store in Indiana in ten years, so that’s pretty easy for me to suggest.
To be fair, package liquor stores are required to operate under much stricter guidelines than the convenience stores. If the state rationally needs to regulate liquor sales at liquor stores why shouldn’t it also regulate liquor sales at K-Mart? This bill would have leveled the playing field between the package stores and the convenience stores. From that starting point a Sunday sales law could have been written which would affect operations at all stores equally.
Doug Masson says
Honestly, a level playing field isn’t really my concern — nor is it, for the most part, the concern of the average citizen. Rational liquor laws are a concern and should be encouraged. Pulling liquor that is currently on the shelves, not causing any particular calamity, off the shelves and sticking it behind the counter is not rational.
If there are restrictions for package liquor stores that are irrational – remove them. But, they ought to be careful what they wish for — because one or more of those irrational restrictions may contribute to barriers to entry into the market from which package liquor stores benefit.
My perception is that most minors get alcohol via adults (either willingly or unwillingly), not via any liquor or grocery/big box stores.
Perhaps I am wrong.
Don Sherfick says
I’ve always had a feeling that laws like the one proposed have an easier time of passing constitutional muster because of the 21st Amendment’s special deference (over and above simple “rational basis” equal protection analysis to the states in the regulation of alcohol. And the question of why Sunday only and not some other (less religiously connected) day of the seven seems to have long been “settled”. One could correctly observe that if claimed inequality between package liquor stores and other places was really all that onerous to the public welfare, it has been happening on six of the seven days for quite some time without any significant clamor that I’m aware of. But Sunday sales, like next weekend’s morning-chewing time change, just tend to get some folks pretty agitated. Nobody we know, of course. (: