Study: Sunday liquor sales would boost state revenue


Removing a so-stupid-few-even-try-to-defend-it-anymore state law that bans the sales of liquor on Sundays would generate between $7.6 and $10.6 million in yearly taxes for the state, according to an analysis Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

"We've supported this in states across the country," Ben Jenkins, DISCUS's communications director, tells Politics in Minnesota. "And the facts speak for themselves."

Hilariously, the driving force behind the Sunday ban is not a mob of teetolalers or moral reformers or any other cloying busybodies, but the Distilled Spirits Council's own state-level counterparts in Minnesota. The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, the state's main liquor trade group, has long opposed lifting the Prohibition-era law. Sound counterintuitive? Not so, MLBA's director Frank Ball tells PiM.

"It's not just that we don't want to work Sundays, but that's the day you spend with family and friends," he says. "We already work six days a week."

Exactly. It's not they don't want to work on Sundays per se. It's just that they already work six days a week and they'd rather not work a seventh. Ban alcohol sales on Wednesdays or even Fridays for all the MLBA cares, just don't give storeowners the mere option of operating seven days a week.

The hole in the MLBA's logic is so glaring we feel silly for even bothering to point it out. Nevertheless: Scrapping the Sunday ban on booze sales wouldn't require liquor stores to open up shop on Sundays-- only that they'd have that choice.

The real motivation, of course, is a fear of competition. Proprietors worry that if the state were to remove what is effectively an industry-wide 24-hour cease-fire, they'd lose business to those ambitious storeowners determined to satisfy consumer demand on the Christian Sabbath. Without the state stepping in to mandate a one-day per week vacation, the only way the indolent bastards could keep intact their superfluous armistice would be to hash out an agreement amongst themselves, which, apart from being logistically near-impossible, would fly brazenly in the face of anti-trust laws-- hence the push for state regulation. (For the public's "safety" of course, always for the public's safety, wink-wink, nudge-nudge).

It's a preposterous law indefensible not only in principle but also (as DISCUS's study suggests) in dollars-and-cents. Can anyone logically defend it?