I've half a mind to run for the Utah Legislature.
Which, it became glaringly apparent this legislative session, is precisely what you need in order to serve at the state capitol.
Half a mind, that is.
What's really got my mixed vegetables steamed right now is the passing of Senate Bill 314, which among other things prohibits daily drink specials.
The new law requires establishments to charge the same price for their beverages every day, forbidding them from offering any kind of temporarily discounted drinks.
I don't know about the rest of you, but after a hard day at work, I like to slip on down to the local Sonic Drive-In for a little Lemon-Berry Fruit Slush action -- at half price during "Happy Hour," mind you. Not only that, but last summer Dylan's Drive-In in Kaysville was offering late-night discounts on milkshakes.
Ooh, and you know those occasional 79-cent specials on your 44-ounce bladder-busting Diet Coke at the neighborhood convenience store? Thanks to SB314, you can forget about --
What? Huh? Oh, this just in: I've been informed by a colleague that the Legislature was only talking about prohibiting alcoholic drink specials -- you know, like half-price pitchers of beer or really cheap shots, stuff like that.
Well, I believe I speak for nondrinkers statewide when I say, "Whew." Because I thought this law was actually going to affect those of us in the majority.
Look, I'm not a drinker, so I don't really have a dog in this drunken brawl. But it just seems to me that every time we start monkeying with the liquor laws, it only serves to alienate responsible drinkers in this state.
Yeah, I know that many in the Legislature think the term "responsible drinker" is an oxymoron. Their abiding concern with SB314 is for something they call "overconsumption." They're worried that offering drinks for reduced prices leads to too much drinking.
What we're basically doing is telling the drinkers in this state that you can't be trusted to drink in moderation, so we're going to make sure your drinks never go on sale. That way, you don't go all crazy on us.
Why would we do this? Because we know all too well how these addictions work. See, when signature creations like the "Oreo Overload" or "Mud Pie Mojo" go on sale at the local Cold Stone Creamery, we immediately put on 15 pounds. So it would only make sense that when alcohol is discounted, those who drink it lose all self-control and "overconsume."
Don't we already have overconsumption laws on the books -- legislation that deals with things like public intoxication and driving under the influence? Wouldn't it make more sense to rely on those laws to deal with excessive consumption, and not by making some goofy law that says those who do get drunk better not be able to do it cheaply? ("Well, that guy got drunk and drove his Lexus into a van full of Cub Scouts, but at least he paid full price for his drinks.")
I'm not suggesting we turn Utah into some sort of drunken free-for-all. Nor am I implying that those who don't drink should have no say in the laws that govern those who do.
But I am saying that maybe on this particular subject, responsible nondrinkers should listen to the responsible drinkers a bit more.
The sponsor of SB314, Sen. John Valentine, R-Oremofcourse, emphatically states: "There should not be a discounting of alcohol because it leads to overconsumption."
Well, if that's the case, then it seems to me there should be no price difference in the various types and brands of alcohol, either. Because otherwise, following this logic, a less expensive brand of, say, whiskey would basically be seen as a discount by drinkers and thus encourage overconsumption. Drinks should be priced solely by their alcohol content, so that one type or brand of drink doesn't offer a "discount" over another.
Not only that, but I understand "overconsuming" is also dependent upon things like a drinker's body mass, and even the bar's elevation above sea level. For example, theoretically speaking, it takes less alcohol to get a 110-pound woman drunk on Mount Everest than a 250-pound man in Death Valley. So shouldn't the mountain climber pay more for her drinks? Otherwise she is, in effect, getting a discount that could lead to overconsumption.
Therefore, I respectfully request that the Legislature introduce a bill next session forcing drinking establishments to use a complicated formula that takes all of these factors into consideration -- alcohol content, plus total fluid ounces, multiplied by elevation above sea level, divided by a patron's weight -- to make sure that no one in the state is getting a cheaper buzz than anyone else.
Only then will you have a truly fair set of liquor laws that don't inadvertently encourage "overconsumption."
Of course, if all that fails, I have one final suggestion: Turn the Utah Legislature into a drinking game. Every time one of our elected representatives says something that could be construed as intelligent or even vaguely reasonable, everybody has to take a drink.
That would certainly cut down on overconsumption.
We'll drink to that. Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.