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Is it the role of government to legislate the sale of alcohol?
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     There is much to-do about the proposed legislation to allow alcohol sales on Sunday.  The two sides of the issue are very passionate about the virtues of their position. This is just one question among many that our elected officials have to contend. But it is a good example to use in addressing a major issue of the day. It boils down to one simple question that is reverberating not just here in Georgia but around the country. What is the role of government?
    There is still hope, real hope. Real hope is still found in that great Declaration of Independence. You see, our Founders anticipated this day, for the Declaration continues with “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
      We are at a critical point in our nation’s history; in fact, it is a point of no return. We are within a short distance from our government becoming “destructive of these ends” by assuming a role reversing the intended method of governing “of the people, by the people, and for the people”. Yes, it is our nation’s very survival at stake. We are not engaged in a Civil War but rather an Ideological War. The words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address still ring true to our time; “We are engaged in a great … war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” 
      The rise of the Tea Party is a good indicator that hope is alive and the values and principles of our Founders are not totally lost or forgotten. We have not arrived (and I hope we don’t) at the point where “we the people” need to exercise the right to “abolish it.” But we have arrived at the point where we need to “alter it” and get it back on track and in line with the US Constitution. I believe we, as a nation of self-governed people, can long endure. It is a choice. And we have arrived at a decision point in our nation’s history.
      So, back to the legislation for Sunday alcohol sales used as an example for this piece. Is it the role of government to make a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sunday?  Where does it fit in the role of government to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? It doesn’t. Quite the contrary; it takes away the liberty and freedom of choice by the individual.
      Some argue that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values and that the sale of alcohol goes against these values. I will argue neither point. Both are correct. What I will argue, however, is that our Founders recognized the importance of freedom of religion. Values of other religions are not represented in this piece of legislation. Will there be a law proposed for the same restriction of sale of alcohol on the Jewish Sabbath? What makes one religion’s values more important than another? Even Jesus provides for freedom of choice in the most important decision in our life; salvation.  Religion is a personal and free choice. Our Founders recognized and experienced the perils of restriction based on religion and properly addressed it in the Constitution.
      Others argue that alcohol is a drug akin to marijuana and should be more controlled. There are a number of ways to debate for and against alcohol in this approach. Suffice it to say that both alcohol and marijuana may be considered drugs. So why are there currently different laws to address each? Good question.
      Prohibition did not work for alcohol and I would make the argument that current laws are not working with regard to marijuana. Again, freedom of choice should be the guiding factor. Then, what about harder drugs? Should they also be included in the “freedom of choice” argument? It depends. The proper role of government is to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
      When a drug takes away the ability of a person to make a choice (mind-altering) to the point where it impacts the rights of others then it is the proper role of government to control that drug. Research and statistics can be presented by study groups, both pro and con, regarding the dangers and rewards of both alcohol and marijuana. Reality is that both are a part of our society regardless of the laws. In my humble opinion, valuable resources are being wasted in a battle that will not be won with regard to law enforcement and court time in relation to marijuana. Taxpayer money could be better spent. 
    May I make a suggestion in the cause of liberty and the freedom of choice? Allow this issue to be settled at the lowest possible level. Let local governments decide by putting a referendum “to the people” on this issue.
Michael Harris

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