Blue Laws Are Bad Laws
By Erin Lale,
Recently, the Henderson City Council enacted a city ordinance to ban sales of new cars on Sunday. I would not have gone along with this. There are three reasons why this is wrong:
1. Stifling competition is bad for the economy.
All across America, people on all points of the political compass are fed up with crony capitalism, government interference in the free market, Mussolini-style state capitalism (which Mussolini called fascism), and all the other things people call it when government and business collude to benefit specific people at the expense of everyone else. On the national stage, we have the bank bailouts, the car industry bailouts, Solyndragate, etc. This is more of the same, writ small on the city scale. Stifling competition is bad for capitalism, bad for the economy, bad for jobs, and bad for customers. Henderson should be encouraging businesses to identify unfulfilled market needs and niches and fill them. I would like to see Henderson have more successful businesses, not fewer.
2. It’s none of the government’s business.
To remain efficient, government must do only those things that society needs and cannot get any other way. There must be a clear benefit to society, not to specific companies that want to use government power to get a leg up on their competitors, from government action for that action to be a just and good use of power. Society as a whole comprises the customer base who may want to buy new cars. Society as a whole includes people who may want to do business on Sunday, and in a free society people are free to choose what they buy and when they buy it. If a business owned and operated by people who do not mind doing business on Sunday wishes to sell to them, it is none of the government’s business to say they can’t. This kind of restriction of commerce is a slippery slope; if government is allowed to ban car sales, what will they ban next? We must be vigilant to prevent government over-reach.
3. Favoring one religion over another is un-American.
Let me quote my mom here, because her reaction on reading about this in the morning paper is what led me to examine this issue at such length. My mom, Meta Lale, said, “It reminds me of how in the UK, the garden nurseries have signs that say ‘We do not sell garden gnomes on Sunday.’ It’s based on religion.” She is right, of course. England has a state religion, the Church of England. Its edicts are placed into law there as a matter of course. England’s bad example is the reason that our founding fathers put a legal separation between church and state into our Constitution. Part of the First Amendment forbids a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Originally, the Constitution only applied to the federal government, but court decisions have also applied it to the state. Since I’m not a lawyer, I don’t know if this would apply at the city level. This ordinance might not actually be unconstitutional, but the city isn’t supposed to be making controversial laws in the first place. City council elections are non-partisan because the council is not supposed to be a legislative body. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be technically unconstitutional because it’s on the city level, though, it’s still un-American. If you’ll notice in the article, they clearly state they don’t want “outsiders” who are fine with doing business on Sunday to move into our town. Just exactly who are “outsiders” who are OK with doing business on Sunday? Whoever it is aimed at, it discriminates against Seventh Day Adventists, Jews, atheists, pagans, Hindus, heathens, Muslims, Sikhs, various types of Native American believers, and Sunday-Churchgoing Christians who are willing to give said types of people a job or buy things from them. Some things are just plain wrong.