Justice is an elusive quality, yet one we demand not just for ourselves but for others as well. We want what is right. That is a universal truth. What isn’t universal is what people consider right. For some, might truly does make right. For others, right and wrong are found on the pages of scripture. The matter is subject to debate, believe it or not. But there are a few things that I have to believe are right, and if I can’t then I’m not sure this is a society I want to be part of.
Last week, I learned that Commissioner Christopher Pike had been wondering if there was a way to limit the number of places to purchase alcohol in a given ward. I’m sure that Commissioner Pike’s interest was a matter of what he feels is right. I have little doubt that Commissioner Pike believes that alcohol makes people do stupid things and that if people drank less alcohol, they would do fewer stupid things. I can’t argue with that.
However, Mr. Pike has missed out of a few things. The first is that people who want to drink alcohol will find it and drink it. He knows as well as I do that one cannot outlaw alcohol. We tried that and it didn’t work. His ideas to limit the places that serve it sounds like it should be reasonable. It isn’t.
Limiting the places that serve alcohol means that a handful of places will get the opportunity to serve the demand of a given ward, and that new players will not be permitted. This isn’t right. Commissioner Pike is arguing about establishing a protection for current purveyors of spirits, and prevent free enterprise from taking hold. He is hoping there’s a way for government to step forward and take away a man or woman’s right to open up a business that may or may not be to his liking.
However, is that just? Is that the world we want to live in? Personally, I don’t want protectionism for any industry. I have argued against the certificates of need because they are a form of protectionism. They protect established health care facilities from having to face upstart competition. This is how Phoebe has managed to maintain its stranglehold on healthcare in Albany. Commissioner Pike is hoping there’s a way to apply this model towards alcohol sales as well.
The sad thing is, I seriously doubt Commissioner Pike views it this way. I honestly believe the thought came about as a way to curb violence and crime in his ward. He probably thinks that limiting the number of places is preferable to trying outright ban alcohol because it’s less likely to result in a black market. He’s probably right on all of those counts. But just because the man is right, it doesn’t mean the idea is right.
Far too often, when it comes to government, people forget that. Folks forget that our nation is set up like it is because no one person has the right answer. I write a lot about my opinions, but I don’t claim to be right on everything. I’m quite sure some of my ideas, or possibly even most of them, may well be wrong. However, we must let people be wrong for themselves. We need to let them make their mistakes, and they must deal with the repercussions of those mistakes. Justice demands that people pay for their mistakes, but justice also demands that they be free to make them.
I don’t know how far Commissioner Pike wants to take this idea. It may well be a passing fancy that’s time has come and gone. I hope it is, because if not, then he’s got one hell of a fight on his hands. I will not abide by justice being trampled on by the people who create the laws. Let’s just hope this idea dies a quiet death so we can move on to things that truly matter.
Written by Tom Knighton. Tom Knighton is the managing editor of Laws-n-Sausages.com, a political blog focusing on SWGA. He is the former co-owners of SWGAPolitics.com and currently serves as the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Southwest Georgia