As you might guess, we spent the better part of the day at PJP prepping for Thursday’s Pi(e) event. And by prepping, I mean we made A LOT of pie dough and ordered an exceptional amount of food supplies to be delivered tomorrow as we plan for an epic week of baking.
I did take a few moments this afternoon and read today’s edition of the Columbia Missourian, as I usually do. In particular, I read that the City Council is interested in moving forward with plans to restrict special types of alcohol sales from 9 pm to 1:30 am. The proposed restriction centers on drink specials that offer two-for-one drinks, bottomless drinks for one price, special events such as Ladies’ Night, and drinks sold to the public for less than it costs the establishment to purchase it.
I HAVE A FEW THOUGHTS.
To begin with, I don’t advocate reckless judgment concerning alcohol consumption. As a parent, I’m hopeful my children won’t be so lured by the siren song of cheap drinks that they make terrible and unsafe choices. That said, I’m completely certain that they will eventually have a few nights out where they drink too much. Will a special like two-for-one Long Island Iced Teas be the determining factor? Goodness, I hope not. What I do hope is that they take an Uber or taxi back to their future apartments and then regret it all the next day when they are hungover.
As as the work mom to a whole crew of Team PJP, I routinely yell “make good choices” at them as they leave for the weekend and for holiday breaks (especially spring break, gah). Mainly because I care about them, but also, I want them to have fun too. And look, your 20s are routinely full of choices about who you are and what your life is becoming. Will all choices be good ones? Nope. That’s the beauty of being so young.
So that this move to curtail drinking in Columbia is under the guise of helping us all make better choices is a total stretch. The reality is that college kids are going to drink…either on a budget with a $2 beer on special, or in their apartments with some very cheap beer from the grocery store that no one my age would deign to drink. And what about people my age? What if we want two-for-one cocktails? I’m not opposed, but it appears I won’t even have an option. (I am opposed to Ladies’ Nights, solely on the theory that this is 2019 and Ladies’ Night sounds like 1977 called and wants Friday nights back.)
Removing the controversy over the issue of drinking, this is really a story about how willing we are to let our city government establish what can and can’t be sold in our businesses and when. The city argues a public policy reason of reducing crime and increasing safety. Of course that is compelling, but at what risk to our entrepreneurial freedom? For example, an establishment can’t sell someone a drink for less than it costs the establishment to buy it. So does that mean that bars and restaurants are under the obligation to provide invoices from vendors to the city to justify their drink pricing?
State and federal regulation do an excellent job of policing alcohol consumption, as well as the sale of alcoholic beverages. By increasing the layer of regulation by city ordinance, Columbia becomes less and less attractive to businesses…which means less tax revenue, which means less for public safety funds (and funds to fix all the potholes on city roads). I don’t advocate bacchanalian revelry on the streets of Columbia every night by any means…but I do advocate the right for businesses to set their own pricing and for the city to allow state and federal regulation work as intended.
Count me out on this one. Except on the whole Ladies’ Night thing…that can go.