Archived Story

Government v. the people

Published 12:28pm Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to the online article Monday about the petition submitted by those pushing for liquor and other alcohol in Hartselle.

Those pushing for liquor sales are blatantly placing more importance on beer tax revenue for the government than on the people served by the government. The underlying philosophy – the good of the whole is greater than the harm or inconvenience to the individual. Said another way – that which is good for the government is good for the individual.

Naturally, a government will not choose to limit or stop any form of revenue it finds. There is a tendency to seek more. Applied to liquor and other alcohol, the clear trend is that government will seek different ways to make more money from liquor and other alcohol – bars, extended bar operating hours, Sunday liquor sales, entertainment districts, etc. Look at Decatur and Arab as prime examples.

One supporter of legalized liquor sales said in the online article “We’re desperately needing it.” This is the first time that I recall that “desperate[ion]” has been used to push for liquor sales. Do those pushing for liquor sales really believe that the Hartselle city government desperately needs more of your tax dollars? According to two city councilmen, the Hartselle city budget is on sound financial footing.

I ask you to consider others who are “desperately needing it”. They are alcoholics. They are desperate children and wives of alcoholics. They are victims of alcohol related crimes. They are the ones who pick up the pieces after the party is over. They are parents getting that late night knock on the door about their child killed in alcohol related accidents. How can any community leader turn their back on people like these in order to gain a few pennies per drink from the beer and sales tax? Why would a government choose to make revenue from something that causes so much personal harm and destruction? Without a doubt, liquor causes a lot of problems. To deny this is dishonest. To turn your back on it is unjust.

What is the “it” that victims of liquor and other alcohol desperately need? The “it” is compassion for the individual. This compassion motivates us to think about the needs of others as greater than our own desires. If making liquor and other alcohol more available in Hartselle causes greater temptation for the alcoholic, why vote yes? If making liquor and other alcohol more available in Hartselle leads to more violent crime, why vote yes? If making liquor and other alcohol more available in Hartselle opens the door for bars and nightclubs, why vote yes?

Finally, the current slogan of those pushing for liquor sales is “Its Time.” I agree. It is time. It is time for compassion on victims of liquor. Its time to seek good for individuals over expansion of government budgets. It is time to set aside the dogged pursuit of convenience. Its time to look beyond the forcible defense of such common liberties. It is time to care.

Jeff Johnson


  • DJJerry

    Mr. Johnson, I am a NONE drinker, but those things that you mention, every one of them is already happening. Those people that you mention that have a problem with alcohol, already live in Hartselle, they just get what they want from another city or municipality. The MORAL issue, IS NOT an issue as Alcohol is already legal to posess and consume in the great city of Hartselle.
    Business and community leaders always talk about “shop Hartselle First”. Well it would be nice if many of our local businesses could compete with what businesses such as restaurants, mini-marts, bowling alleys, grocery stores and gas stations in other cities have to offer. It is NOT a level playing field.
    I just wonder if Mr. Johnson has ever been a guest of another restuarant or any other business that serves alcohol outside of Hartselle, when he could have stayed in Hartselle?
    If our city government is on such good footing, than how come there was a vote at the last city council meeting about raising the sales tax?
    Since those Hartselle residents that want it are going to spend this money on alcohol, let’s keep the money and the taxes in our city.
    I hope that every Hartselle resident will realize that this is about my choice. If you do not want it you do not have to buy it. But let’s give our local businesses a chance to grow and compete with the businesses in surrounding cities.

  • btal

    It is interesting that Mr. Johnson opens his letter with a stawman pseudo “anti-government” position, attempting to argue that those who favor alcohol sales are big/more government types.

    In actuality, those who favor alcohol sales are the ones who are more pro-liberty and for the individual than those who want to use the government to continue to limit freedom. Mr. Johnson fits into the group that was behind the 18th Amendment to the Constitution – using the heavy hand of government to control individual’s lives and choices. History shows that those who pushed for the 18th Amendment used all the exact words and arguments being used today in Hartselle. Now, like then, those arguments proved to be false.

    Being a christian and a retired military veteran, it is amazing to hear of pastors in Hartselle using their positions to actively interfere with government and elections. If the the tables were turned, they would be having conniption fits about the 1st Amendment being trampled. Hypocrisy is not pretty to watch nor an admirable trait.

    In short, all Americans including Hartselle citizens have the right and freedom to make legal alcohol purchases since the 21st Amendment was ratified in 1933.

  • anutherHartsellecitizen

    I can certainly appreciate that this article/response was composed over a period of time, after much thought and consideration. It is clear that the writer took his time to draw on, elaborately, every possible scenario to evoke emotional responses from anyone who chooses to read this editorial.
    I certainly understand that much of what he says is true. There are millions of alcoholics in the United States. There are millions of families affected by addictive behaviors of all sorts. There are millions of men, women & children in this world that are neglected, abused, and hopeless, and it is a truly sad,overwhelming, & depressing situation.
    However, those people are already here… They live in Hartselle now… They buy their alcohol in Decatur, or Cullman, or Huntsville, or Moulton. We might make it more convenient for them to purchase alcohol, but if they want it, they are going to drive 2 miles down the road to the foot of “Hartselle Mountain” to get it. We are not creating a monster, nor are we feeding a monster any more that it is ALREADY being fed! We are just saving it some gas money that HOPEFULLY it will use to support other businesses in OUR TOWN! Restaurants that we cannot currently lure will find our town more attractive because they can make enough revenue to make it feasible to build here.
    Cullman recently reported that they have made more than 1 million dollars in revenue in the first year of alcohol sales. Unless you have been living in a cave somewhere, you should understand that Hartselle is heading in the direction that Moulton was headed a few years ago, and is quietly dying. Independent businesses have a hard time surviving because no one spends money here. We have VERY FEW restaurants that have “sit-down” dinner service, because people go to Decatur, Cullman, and Huntsville to dine due to the quantity and diversity of restaurant choices. As much as we like Cracker Barrell and Sedona, every once in a while, we enjoy some live music and patio dining at a *gasp* bar.
    If someone told me I could never have another drink of alcohol, I would be okay with that. The item that is being sold is not as important to me as the fact that my town will attract new business, new citizens, and the overall infrastructure will be bolstered.
    But, that’s just my opinion…

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