Post Opposes Blue Laws

I’m stunned. The Denver Post, which I’ve also heard called The Denver Pravda, has come out for repealing Colorado’s ban on Sunday liquor sales.

We can buy liquor at bars on Sunday, but not at liquor stores, which are forced closed by law. Grocery stores can sell only “3.2” beer on any day of the week. How it was decided that beer purchased at grocery stores may can contain no more than 3.2 percent alcohol by mass, as opposed to, say, 3.1 percent or 3.3 percent, I’ll leave the historians of political minutiae. There is one exception, as the Post points out: “Each grocery chain is allowed to sell full-strength beer and wine in only one of its stores in the state, according to Colorado law.”

Regarding the Sunday ban, the Post argues:

…Colorado is among 16 states that still has blue laws prohibiting liquor sales on Sunday. … It has remained the law largely due to efforts of liquor store owners… Their chief concern is that they’d have to pay to staff stores for an additional day but overall sales wouldn’t increase. They argue the sales they get in six days would just end up being spread over seven.

If you follow that logic, then why shouldn’t the government prohibit the sale of say, auto parts on Mondays so those businesses can save a day’s worth of overhead? It’s an argument that is at cross purposes with the basic tenets of capitalism.

The Denver Post endorses capitalism? Of course, the paper is rather selective about this. For example, the paper has endorsed a wide variety of tax hikes, subsidies, and economic controls. But for the paper even to mention the term “capitalism” in a positive light counts as progress, I suppose, however slight.

The Post rightly points out that the ban

is out of step with the lives of Coloradans. … Sunday has become the second-busiest shopping day of the week, and many folks rely on that day to get their personal business done. It makes no sense in this day and age to shackle the consumer for the convenience of liquor store owners.

However, capitalism is not about making the laws “in step” with the majority of the populace at a given time. Capitalism is about protecting the rights of every individual, all the time. If even one person wants to buy liquor on Sunday, and if even one person wants to sell it, then the ban violates their rights and is for that reason immoral.

If the legislature considers repealing the ban on Sunday liquor sales, no doubt some will argue that the ban prevents some instances of irresponsible drinking on that day. But, if that argument were valid, it would also justify a ban for every other day of the week. The large majority of people who buy liquor do so responsibly, and they should not be punished for the vices of a few. Similarly, sales of books should never be banned or restricted, even if some buyers find in certain books inspiration to commit crimes. In all cases, the proper principle is to punish the criminals, not the innocent.

I hope the Post’s editorial writers are careful. If they keep sticking up for people’s rights, they may find that consistency guides them to overturn many of their past recommendations. But, then again, another fitting name for the paper is The Denver Pragmatist, or, “Principles, Schminciples.”

One thought on “Post Opposes Blue Laws”

  1. The blue laws are clearly unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the 1961 SCOTUS decided that they were just fine, and Bush’s SCOTUS would probably do the same.

    Someone like Scalia would see that throwing such laws out as unconstitutional would immediately undermine restrctions on abrotion.

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