Madison's bar owners want permission to sell alcohol for another hour each night, and our city leaders seem inclined to go along.
As spokesperson for the Lake Herman Temperance Union, I feel obliged to question the wisdom of selling any more hooch in Madison. Folks here and throughout the state already have no trouble getting more than enough alcohol. On the Facebook edition of my Wednesday commentary on this issue, police-officer-turning-restaurateur Mark O'Loughlen says keeping our local taps open 'til 2 a.m. will only exacerbate our problem with local drunks.
I have to wonder what market remains for drinking at 1 a.m. At that hour, I can't imagine there's a surge of customers who are just getting started. Movies, ball games, and other evening events generally wrap up by 9 or 10 p.m. I'm willing to bet that a majority of folks in the bar at 1 a.m. asking for more have already been at it for a while, and a majority of the alcohol consumption that would take place after 1 a.m. is probably excess and unwise consumption.
But let's be charitable. Let's assume there really is a great and wholesome demand for the opportunity to socialize after 1 a.m. (after all, a great community is built on conversation... at the bar... in the middle of the night...). Let's suppose the city can serve a vital public interest by helping Ted Hosselkus at Stadium Sports Grill make $55K to $60K more each year. And let's suppose we buy the bar owners' argument that we can promote public safety by keeping the bars open longer.
Fine. Let's do it. Let's keep the bars open all night long. Give people the chance to socialize all night. Let 'em wait 'til sunrise to drive home in daylight.
And after 1 a.m., serve nothing but pop and coffee. Give everyone a chance to sober up before getting behind the wheel to head home. After all, we don't need alcohol to have a good time, right?
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