Letter to the Editor: A Forced Sabbath
Even though it's 2012, Pennsylvania's Blue Laws still are in effect.
To the Editor:
Most Pennsylvanians believe that long dead and buried are the days of archaic "blue laws," in which Sunday shopping and performances were banned. I wonder how many are aware that for one industry, the blue laws of the early 1900s continue.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly, in its usual "infinite wisdom," has always protected automobile dealers by barring them from opening their showrooms on Sundays by law. Apparently this is acceptable to auto sales facility owners as they conclude that if all competitors are barred from doing business on Sunday, everyone gets a forced day off courtesy of enforcement by "Big Brother," and no one shall lose business.
What would happen if an auto dealership sought to gain competitive advantage by opening on Sunday? Would the owner be arrested, tried, and imprisoned for being a good, hard-working entrepreneur who offers excellent service to the customer?
Can one imagine the furor that would ensue if the Legislature were to mandate that restaurants and grocery stores be closed on Sundays as well, if we returned to the mindset of the 1920s, the era in which Pittsburgh symphony musicians were fined $25 (the equivalent of $329 in 2012 dollars) for performing on the Sabbath day that some observed, and sports events were precluded from occurring on Sunday by law?
If special-interest industries lobbied the General Assembly to enact legislation forcing them to close their doors on Sundays and made contributions to campaign coffers, would the era of widespread Blue Laws return? Nothing would surprise me as we have the finest government money can buy, one in which power, influence, and dollars often supersede reason and the public good.
How would gambling casinos have managed to be exempt from the smoking ordinance if not for the flexing of powerful muscle and massive contributions? How would those associated with Pennsylvania's uniquely punitive and Prohibition-style state liquor stores have survived to this day were it not for powerful interests fighting progress and in many respects keeping the calendar page at that of 1920?
I think it is great that many individuals choose to observe their Sabbath and to refrain from the pursuits in which they generally engage on other days of the week. I find it chilling, though, that in 2012, the supposed era of enlightenment, government dictates that there shall be a Sabbath for every automobile dealer in the state and that every resident shall be forced to join them in observing it.
Upper St. Clair