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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Let's have some ID for that whine

I did both a blog post and an editorial last week arguing that while it might have been a mistake in the new alcohol law to require carding everyone regardless of age, it might make sense just to leave it alone. The hassle created for old codgers and other regular customers is relatively insignificant, and there is a benefit in taking discretion from the store clerks and thus reducing the chance of mistakenly selling to minors. Opinion is starting to come in from other newspapers, and the tide isn't exactly breaking in my favor.

The Richmond Palladium-Item says lawmakers are now realizing "the folly" of the "waste of customers' and store clerks' time" in requiring "wrinkled and gray-hard custoemrs" to flash their cards, and it supports, if tepidly, the proposed change to require ID only from those who look younger than 40.

Leave it to law enforcement to cite businesses found to be selling alcohol to those younger than 21. If stores repeatedly sell to underage customers, pull their licenses. This would place the responsibility of whom to card in the hands of business owners.

Store clerks should have enough sense to card the 20-something crowd -- some of whom look like they're still in their teens. But not all clerks will. The proposed law to card those who look younger than 40 should ensure that underage drinkers face a tougher hurdle.

But setting the mark at 40 still takes some discretion away from clerks. Why not just support all discretion or none? Why be so insistent on putting the whole burden on overworked, underpaid, bored clerks if that means more kids will be served?

The Gary Post-Tribune decries the "absurdity" of this move by Big Brother into our personal liquor-buying space.

. . . the state of Indiana has gone too far.

Simply put, the new law isn't needed. There is no need to card someone who looks 30, 40, 50 or older.

Such a needless law will slow checkout and anger some customers who don't care to share their personal information to someone selling them a six-pack of beer.

I'm not sure having to show proof of age to buy something requiring proof of age rates very high on the "sharing personal information" scale, but perhaps I'm reading the wrong libertarian tracts.

The Journal Gazette doesn't exactly take sides but does say that what lawmakers should try to avoid is "changing the law frequently, forcing both buyers and sellers to learn their legal rights and responsibilities every year or so," which I agree with. Get it settled one way or the other, then leave it alone for, oh, forever.

I was glad to see at least one person firmly on my side. Matt Getts, writing at fwdailynews.com, talks about all the brave, risk-taking, hardship-enduring people who founded and built this country and wonders how we stack up today. We're a bunch of whiners, he concludes:

What is the big deal? Most people have to get their wallet out to pay for the purchase anyway, what is so bad about an extra 30 seconds to produce your license?

 [. . .]

Leave the liquor law alone. If it prevents or slows underage drinking it is worth the hassle.

We've heard the same complaint when we've had to wait in line to get our cold medicine at the pharmacy. But if making ephedrine, an ingredient in both cold medicine and methamphetamine, more difficult to buy limits the ability to make meth, then that too, is worth the hassle.


tim zank
Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:09am

What's maddening about this is, some overzealous yutz legislator felt it necessary to again fix something that was not broken just to acheive a little more notariety.

WTF ever happened to common sense? We had laws in place, they worked just fine WHEN PROSECUTED. We need not create ANOTHER 10 page law, but to merely PROSECUTE AND ENFORCE the existing common sense statutes.

Responsibility for clerks and business owners is a GOOD thing. We keep punishing everyone just to alleviate any personal responsibility for a handfull of morons?

Your support surprises me Leo, it's not terribly "libertarian" of you.

William Larsen
Tue, 10/05/2010 - 8:47pm

I do not have a problem showing a State Issued ID, what I have a problem with is the State not issuing a State Issued ID to people who have a U.S. Passport, State Birth Certificate, Selective Service Registration card and have a voter registration card, but no SSN. There is no federal law that requires any U.S. Citizen have or apply for a SSN.