Friday, January 18, 2013

The economy is in shambles, so let us drink.

My favorite political dissident, the ancient Roman poet Juvenal famously termed the efforts of the Roman Emperors to distract the populace from the decline of the Empire as "Bread and Circuses".  In his case, this was literal. Romans were given bread through massive food programs (sharing the "wealth") and were provided cheap tickets to Gladiatorial Games (that era's equivalent of reality TV) and were kept happily distracted as the Muslim armies sacked the outer territories while the Empire crumbled from within under the weight of ruling class largess and depravity. As we reach the declining age of the American "little e" empire (more a financial empire than a military one) we are watching history repeat itself as our politicians offer bread and circuses to the rest of us while the house of cards shatters under the weight of ruling class largess and depravity

More recently, a lesser political dissident George Orwell (who is more well known only because many Americans believe history started in 1776) invented Victory Gin as a religion free "opiate for the masses" designed, in part, to keep them mildly intoxicated and under control.

What then, are we to make of this?

Bill would allow liquor stores to open on Sunday. Erin Mulvaney, Chron.com

A state lawmaker from Houston is reviving an effort to revoke a "blue law" that keeps liquor stores closed on Sundays.
Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson filed a bill last week that proposed liquor stores be allowed to operate seven days a week
Not that I'm opposed to the law, I'm actually in support of it.  And while I don't believe the pie-in-the-sky estimates of "$7.5 Million in new revenue every other year" I do feel that Texas blue-laws, and the Kafkaesque Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission are wealth killers rather than wealth creators.

It's telling however that the same legislators who want to increase regulation on major industries such as banking and oil & gas, are taking such a strident anti-regulation position when alcohol comes into play.  And yes, you're going to hear the argument that opening liquor stores on Sunday is the event horizon for the start of the Texas Apocalypse but this just isn't true.  Having stores open on Sundays just means that less people will stock up on Saturday, that's it.  Yes, it's going to suck for workers in liquor stores, but it could also create some part-time positions (again, positions that Democrats like Thompson pay lip service to hating) and it will make things easier for fans of the Astros, Rockets, Texans, Cowboys, Mavericks and Stars when their teams ultimately go tits-up during Sunday games.

Eliminating blue laws isn't going to be a key component of improving Texas, there are many more important issues than this that need to be addressed, but it will make our policy just a little bit more modern in relation to the rest of the country and that's not a bad thing.  The next, logical, step would be to end Texas' insane three tier alcohol distribution system and wrest control of what we drink from the big players who all posses tin palates.

Until then, an inebriated population is a docile population (except in pool bars and in cars obviously) which would allow Texas politicians to keep from focusing on the hard issues like water supply since we could all drink Scotch.

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