BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Prohibitionists see an opportunity amid COVID-19’s onslaught.

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But riots would violate social distancing, right?

Beer writer Andy Crouch, who is from Massachusetts:

“Liquor stores are filling growlers out of kegs in the back of a truck in customers’ driveways. There are no liquor laws anymore. How we go back to “normal” after all of this is beyond me.”

Here in Indiana, watching as dozens of alcoholic beverage laws vanish (temporarily) overnight has been like watching the Warsaw Pact crumble in 1989. The Indy Star explains, focusing on a key point.

Indiana, once a last bastion of blue laws, considers alcohol sales ‘essential’, by Chris Sikich (Indianapolis Star)

Political watchers say it’s unlikely anyone had to make pleas to the governor, or at least plead very hard. Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, said there would be civil unrest if the government had tried to outlaw alcohol when everyone was stuck at home.

“He’s doing something that both meets demand and doesn’t create a new problem,” Downs said.

He said (Eric) Holcomb’s likely chain of thought was quite logical.

“Grocery stores are open and would have continued to sell alcohol,” Downs said. “So that means liquor stores had to be an essential service too (to ensure an even playing field). And if we’re trying to make sure that restaurants can survive, that means people who order food for carryout absolutely should be able to get their booze there rather than create more risk by travelling elsewhere.”

According to a high-powered medical authority, it isn’t so simple. Peter P. Bach says that continuing to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages during the pandemic, when people are compelled to stay at home with their loved ones, only enhances domestic violence.

Consequently, a new reason for prohibitionism.

Ban alcohol sales during the pandemic, by Peter B. Bach (Boston Globe)

Domestic violence appears to be rising and states need to shut down liquor stores until home isolation is no longer needed.

Millions are beaten and injured annually in the United States by drunken domestic partners and parents, and that is when times are good. With the economy tanking and families locked together because of stay-at-home orders to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, domestic violence rates appear to be soaring. This requires an urgent response: States should immediately order the closures of liquor stores. They can reopen when home isolation is no longer needed.

And yet this: “Most adults drink rarely or not at all. Just 10 percent of adults account for 75 percent of all alcohol sold, consuming 10 or more drinks per day.”

No question that confinement of families, sudden demands to oversee home schooling, precipitous job loss, and worry over an invisible viral predator are the ingredients of a toxic domestic brew. But alcohol is what turns it into a second invisible public health crisis.

Most adults drink rarely or not at all. Just 10 percent of adults account for 75 percent of all alcohol sold, consuming 10 or more drinks per day. That kind of excessive use impairs judgment, engenders anger agitation and dysphoria, and can lead to violent behavior.

Reducing access to alcohol during the crisis will reduce the frequency of home violence. Finland’s liquor store employee strike in the 1970s as well as Sweden’s curtailment of liquor store sales on certain days in the 1980s, both had that effect. South Dakota imposed twice daily sobriety breathalyzer checks for individuals with multiple arrests for drunk driving last decade. That worked too. Not only did drunk driving rates fall, but so did calls for domestic violence — both by about 10 percent.

These data could support curtailing liquor sales at any time, and reducing domestic violence was one of the motivations for the temperance movement a century ago. But our response to the coronavirus pandemic itself is what makes this move appropriate now and for the duration of home isolation, as the isolation frustrates an array of safeguards we have in place to identify domestic abuse in the first place.

The reasoning leads to a predictable place: “These data could support curtailing liquor sales at any time, and reducing domestic violence was one of the motivations for the temperance movement a century ago.”

And, we recall how the temperance movement a century ago played out, eh?

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