Sunday Sales and Social Norms

Paige Bowers wrote an article for Time.com’s February 22, 2009 issue. In it, she outlines the current argument for and against selling alcohol on Sunday’s. Several states are considering whether to repeal the restrictive legislation currently in place.

She writes, “Proponents of Sunday sales argue that state budgets are under plenty of pressure too and that by allowing people to buy beer, wine or liquor on Sunday at grocery or package stores, states could reap millions of dollars in tax revenue. Besides, as President Roosevelt learned in the 1930s when he successfully repealed Prohibition, drinks have a way of keeping hopes high when things look bleak.”

I don’t care one way or another. If I really want a bottle of wine on Sunday, I’ll just steal it from my neighbor’s home while they are at church. The religious fanatics trust me with the key to their house. Foolish Zealots.

But back to the story and there is an interesting point to this tale: MORALS ARE RELATIVE.

As the economic climate continues to grow more stormy, our societal values shift to convenience, allowing more leniency in the name of recovery and economic protection. As the article above outlines, several states are seeking the profits derived from the Sunday sale of alcohol. If the financial benefit is really the bottom line, why haven’t made this decision before? What has been keeping Sunday Sales from occurring long before now? What is the reason for the prohibition on this one day of the week? Did we suddenly determine that Sunday Alcohol Sales is now a good thing? Or was it just our empty cash drawers that drive our decision-making? And where does this kind of reasoning stop? How broke do we have to be before we say enough is enough?

For instance, one news story spoke of California’s budgetary concerns and the benefit to the coffers if marijuana was legalized. Another report extols the financial virtue of more casinos and horse tracks. On line gambling is on the table.

But what about prostitution? That would bring in a few dollars. What about child pornography? Instead of making it criminal, we can make it profitable.

Where does it end? What is the moral absolute that establishes our boundaries, determines our decision making, directs the course for society’s path? Apparently, only the cash drawer truly knows.

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