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Money Goggles – A Preacher’s Position on Sunday Alcohol Sales in Toccoa

IMG_7154This month, the city of Toccoa voted to approve the sale of alcohol on Sundays by 18 votes. Toccoa was not the first city to lax the laws of the sale of alcohol on Sundays. It is following a trend. The laws are coming down all across the South as “antiquated,” and damaging to restaurants that give people jobs. I want to point out a few facts that will hopefully show you that our attitude toward alcohol needs a radical adjustment.

Before I give you my opinion of this law, I want to say up front. I do not think you are evil if you have a glass of wine with dinner or a cold one after work. I am not saying we need to go back to the days of prohibition, but as a society, our attitude toward alcohol needs to change.

Alcohol statistics are absolutely shocking, but no one, talks about it. You will see goofy drunk driving commercials where police are painted into the background or a vehicle is filled will alcohol sloshing all over the place, but these commercials, do not even come close to addressing the significant issue that alcohol is in our country. There not even serious commercials. They are jokes. I think these stats in the United States will blow your mind and you will never see these or beer commercials the same again.

1 out of every 121 licensed drivers will be arrested in a given a year for drunk driving. That equates to 1.5 million drivers a year that are caught drunk driving. It does not include those that are not caught. These 1.5 million drivers, and the others that are not caught, are 1.4 times more likely to be involved in a auto accident resulting in a fatality. For every 88 instances of driving, one person will be arrested for d.u.i., so every 88 cars you see on the road, one of them will be arrested for drunk driving. I will never look at Atlanta traffic the same.

Every 2 hours, 3 people are killed in alcohol related highway accidents. That equals 36 deaths a day. Anything that kills 36 people a day should be a part of our national conscience. Cancer, obesity, gun violence, crime…anything that kills 36 people a day, should be talked about, studied, and efforts made to stop these deaths. In stead of talking about the deaths and the damage of alcohol, alcohol is glorified across television. Laws are coming down across our county making alcohol more accessible with a simple two word “drink responsibly” thrown in, but the above stats beg to differ if we can.

Alcohol gets even worse. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) informs us that excessive drinking between 2006-2010 accounted for approximately 88,000 death each year. Listen to this quote, “Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death.” Why aren’t we treating alcohol as such? Excessive drinking not only kills people on the highways. Excessive drinking is killing the drinkers! But we find those horses during the Super Bowl just so gosh darn cute. We need to wake up.

One last scary alcohol related stat. “The Bureau of Justice Statistics has reported that 40 percent of homicides involved the defendant drinking alcohol.”

Someone explain to me how our society has condemned smoking cigarettes and has glorified alcohol? Laws all across our country are restricting cigarettes everywhere. We are so afraid of the dangers of second hand smoke, there are very few public places where it is even allowed anymore. Cigarette companies are extremely limited on how they can advertise. Camel was told to get rid of Joe. But the last time I checked, cigarettes are not killing random people on the highway at a rate of 36 people a day, or playing a role in close to half of all murders.

Do not think I am arguing for smoking to be allowed in restaurants again. I am saying it is time for us to treat alcohol like we do cigarettes. It is time for alcohol ads to pulled from television. It is time for alcohol consumption to be allowed in limited places. It is time for us a society to pay attention to the dangers of alcohol. “Drink responsibly” is not working. 36 deaths a day, one of the leading causes of preventable death, and involved in numerous homicides.

Now, I want to bring this discussion back to the city of Toccoa. I love my home town, but this vote is disgusting because alcohol had very little to do with this decision. This vote to allow the sale of alcohol on Sunday had nothing to do with the virtue of consuming alcohol. It had everything to do with money. The new city ordinance does not allow every purveyor of alcohol to sell their product. It only allows the “Sunday sales of alcohol by the drink for on-site consumption.” This means grocery stores, liquor stores, convenient stores, and the like still cannot sell alcohol.

Basically the new ordinance is a favor to restaurants to help their bottom line. Proponents of the new ordinance want to argue that the law will help restaurants survive protecting jobs in our community. That is bologna. If your restaurant cannot survive without selling alcohol one day a week, then you are running a lousy restaurant. Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay do not need alcohol sales on Sunday to break even.

Here is where this gets even more despicable. Certain restaurants wanted more money, which I completely understand, but what blows my mind, is the lengths our city went to get itself more money. Toccoa City Manager Billy Morse when discussing the writing of this new city ordinance to allow the Sunday Sale of alcohol stated, “A fee for that Sunday sales license will be established and incorporated in the ordinance.”

The restaurants obtain a monopoly on alcohol sales on Sunday in Toccoa, and the city will be paid by these restaurants. A clear example of mutual back scratching that would make Washington proud.

Billy Morse I challenge you to make that fee for Sunday sales to be one hundred million dollars. 36 deaths a day from highway accidents, one of the leading causes of preventable death, and involved in 40 percent of homicides where a suspect is arrested.

Again, I am not saying we should ban drinking all together. I am not saying you are evil if you have a glass of wine with dinner or a cold one after work, but if you do not see alcohol and cigarettes as similar societal dangers, your head is in the proverbial sand. 36 deaths a day on the highway, one of the leading causes of preventable deaths, and involved in 40 percent of homicides where a suspect is arrested.

I haven’t yet mentioned the $224 billion, or $1.90 per drink, excessive drinking cost the nation’s economy which was mostly paid by the government in 2006.

It is time that drinking gets the smoking treatment.

Preacher Jesse

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