We are often tasked with criticizing government leaders and their actions due to overreach of their constitutional authority, but we recognize that occasionally legislation does in fact take tangible steps to attempt to expand, rather than limit our freedoms, and when that happens it ought to be noted.
We already have a few bills proposed by a range of legislators, who, at least on the issue of alcohol policy, seem to be attempting an expansion of personal freedom rather than a detriment.
Three bills that have emerged in the Mississippi House and Senate deserve just such credit and attempt to offer a decisive empowerment of consumer market freedom, specifically in regards to alcohol policy. Senate Bill 2304, introduced by Sen. Philip Moran, would allow for wine and liquor to be sold by stores on Sundays. House Bill 4, introduced by Rep. Brent Powell, would increase the number of liquor store permits an individual could own from one to three. Senate Bill 2031, introduced by Sen. Robert Jackson, would reduce the tax for package retailers’ permits in specific locations.
These bills are less about access to alcohol than they are about recognizing how government has intentionally suppressed a specific market, crushing the potentially large economic impact of a major industry. We wouldn’t allow the state to take similar actions regarding other businesses, so why do we turn a blind eye to the state’s strong handing of liquor and wine stores?
The question must be asked of those political defenders of prohibition-era policies: where does the line get drawn? If stifling the sale of alcohol is inherently good, then why not ban all liquor and wine sales in the state, or shut down distilleries, or limit the hours of operation so severely that stores are forced to close?
There is no philosophically consistent line by which one can defend both the free market and that an entrepreneur seeking to expand his business cannot own more than one liquor store.
Much more reform is needed before we can truly consider ourselves a state that values freedom, especially when it comes to alcohol policy. Alcohol can’t be delivered by Door Dash, Grub Hub, Postmates, or other apps, shipped to you online, sold to you before 10am or after 10pm, made by you to share with a friend, or brought in any amount by you from out of state. There’s clearly a long way to go.
However, these bills and others present a commitment to expanding freedom in the state, just as every bill should.