Bad ideas galore – They keep getting on the ballot

My grandmother is over 80 and still doesn’t need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle.

~ Henny Youngman

BRANDY, n., A cordial composed of one part thunder-and-lightning, one part remorse, two parts bloody murder, one part death-and-hell-and-the-grave and four parts clarified Satan.

~ Ambrose Bierce

The Devil’s Dictionary

It’s not that all the ideas that make it onto the ballot in Arkansas are bad ones. It just seems like it this year.

Happily, a couple of proposals about legalizing marijuana aren’t going to be on the ballot this November. Not enough signatures. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Arkansas.

Then there is the bunch that wants to make the whole state wet. No, no, Woodruff County, we’re not talking about more rain. We’re talking about booze–a commodity near and dear to many a newspaperman’s heart. It’s said that, back in the day, many an editor kept a bottle in the lower right-hand drawer of his desk–if only he could find it. The drawer, we mean.

And what would any confab of journalists be without an open bar to relieve the ennui of evening sessions? Answer: It would be even more boring than a confab of journalists. (We believe the collective noun for such a gathering is a clatter, as in a clatter of editorial writers.)

So on first blush, and second, and third, you would think a proposal to allow the sale of booze–excuse us, alcoholic beverages–anywhere in this good old populist/puritan Arkansas would be one that all good and true editorial writers could drink to.

Except . . . .

If the voters in County X choose to ban the sale of alcohol in their own county, why shouldn’t they be able to? It’s called local control, or, where alcohol is concerned in this state, local option.

No, it doesn’t make economic sense to us, either. (Or any other kind.) Think of the loss of tax revenue pouring into surrounding counties.

Then think about all those people driving half an hour or longer to the nearest liquor store. Worse yet, think about them driving back from the liquor store after they’ve started imbibing. Some folks in the southern part of the state drive to Louisiana to get their booze. Laissez les bons temps rouler! In the Pelican State, liquor stores have drive-through windows–where you can pick up a daiquiri-to-go. Complete with a straw. Drinking and driving may be against the law in Arkansas, but in Louisiana it’s tradition.

But there are a lot folks in this state who just don’t want a liquor store on every corner. Or even beer at the nearest convenience store in handy reach of the kids.

Sure, those same counties have a lot of private clubs with alcohol permits, bless them all to pieces. As a late, great quote-machine named Will Rogers once said, prohibition is better than no liquor at all.

But why should those of us with a taste for something other than sweet tea impose our tastes on others? Why should folks living in Pulaski County, the oil patch in El Dorado or the Delta counties tell those primitives off in the piney woods or faraway hills whether to let their stores sell booze?

Answer: They shouldn’t. Why not leave that decision to the locals? And learn to live with democracy. Think globally but drink locally! Those who object to living in a dry county can organize and change the law–in their own county.

Here’s a better way of doing all this: A couple of groups in Saline and Craighead Counties collected signatures earlier this year to put alcohol sales on the ballot come November.

In those counties only.

Today the county clerks in those locales are verifying signatures. If enough names are verified, the people in Saline and Craighead Counties will decide the matter. Their matter.

Just as if this were a state where, as the motto says, the people rule.

Maybe there’s some good reason why local voters shouldn’t be allowed to decide a local issue. And if we ever hear one, maybe we’ll change our early, incautious impulse to oppose this statewide proposal. But we ain’t heard one yet.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Editorial on 07/15/2014

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *