February 10, 2008

But I Still Wouldn't Be Able To Buy A Six-Pack Before An NFL Game In Blount County, Tennessee

It's a good thing to see stupid beer regulation laws slowly going off the books. Pennsylvania is considering getting rid of its "case laws," which require that beer stores (which are, as I take it, different than liquor stores) only sell beer by the case -- only "taverns" can sell six-packs, and then only two at a time. To make it even more stupid, there is no time limit on the turnaround time between a single customer's visits to buy these six-packs, so you can buy two six-packs at a tavern, put them in your car, and walk right back in and buy two more. For those of us who might like to sample different varieties of beer, this is an inconvenience that does not seem to advance any identifiable state purpose. Pennsylvanians should be happy that these stupid laws are going to go away soon.

Which, of course, is how I felt about the beer and liquor laws in Tennessee. Grocery stores could sell beer but not wine. Liquor stores couldn't sell beer. In Blount County, I couldn't buy a six-pack of beer before noon on Sunday. (But I could do so in Knox County, that notorious den of debauchery and vice.)

Those laws did little to reduce overall alcohol consumption, so far as I could tell; only guys like me who had failed to plan ahead to buy their beer in time for the game were slowed down. But I wasn't going to church anyway (the game was on, after all) and I don't think the state should be in the business of encouraging people to go to church in the first place (there should be no penalty for going to church, but not penalizing conduct is not the same thing as encouraging it).

I like the California system much better -- the store can carry anything it likes, based on what it thinks its customers want to buy. Convenient, encourages commerce and thus collection of taxes, and it trusts grownups to make their own decisions.

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