Sunday, August 13, 2006

Wal-Mart vs family values: "Dry laws" being challenged

Tomorrow's NY Times has a Page One story about the battle to make towns and counties in the South that remained "dry" even after Prohibition ended in 1933 "wet"again. This one gave me a bit of a chuckle -- and raised my brow too.

During my trip to the South last year, my father was a bit annoyed and even indignant when he discovered North Carolina had a law that prevents grocery stores from selling beer until noon on Sunday. Why? To make sure people are able to go safely from church to the stock car racing track, naturally. Actually, it made me feel good that someone in government was also thinking about the tourists, who want nothing but to get to their destination safely -- them and their families.

Among those who want the "blue laws" lifted are the beer and liquor companies, the major restaurant chains -- and, of all companies, Wal-Mart, which by some estimates sells over a billion bucks worth of alcohol per year in the States. Normally, I say just let the stores do business the way they want. But if this is a matter of emboldening families and reducing the strain on the health care system, then the answer is obvious. This should be a local decision; and if people want to keep liquor out that is their right.

It might even be something we should look at -- quite frankly and in my opinion, the drinking age of 18 or 19 in Canada should also be raised to 21. If it helped reduce the number of divorces and domestic violence incidents in this country, I'd be all for it.

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