Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why Blue Laws Exist

It used to be the case that many states, especially in the Northeast, had laws that prohibited Sunday selling, and some other holidays.  The goal was simple: to enforce the Sabbath, and provide some protection for employees whose employers might otherwise require them to work on holidays.

I am not keen on the government telling businesses when they can and can't be open, but articles like this should be a reminder to those who think that there should be no laws enforcing moral codes what the consequences will be in the liberal utopia.  From November 27, 2013 NBC News:
After working his way up from cook to general manager at the company, Tony Rohr was fired, he said, for refusing to open his Elkhart, Ind., store on Thanksgiving, which he was told was mandatory.

"I just decided I wasn't going to agree to it," Rohr said. "All of these people the whole year had been told they were going to have the day off."

He said that in his 10 years with the company, this was the first time any location has asked him to work on Thanksgiving.
Many spots are opening on the national holiday in an effort to squeeze out extra sales from holiday shoppers.
UPDATE: A reader points out that the marginal profit from being open one day that few people will be ordering pizza might have been $1000; the ill-will it will build for that franchisee and Pizza Hut in general, will cost far more than $1000.  And especially in a place like Elkhart, Ind., where family doubtless means more to most of the inhabitants than making a little extra money.  (In Democrat-controlled areas, of course, the equation might yield a different result.)  Doing the right thing in this case would likely have been more profitable, in the long run, than chasing a few extra dollars.

I am reminded of Adam Smith's observations in Theory of Moral Sentiments where he explained why Invisible Hand is capitalized in his later work, The Wealth of Nations: he believed that God had created a system whereby enlightened self-interest (as opposed to short-term greed), which is inherent in all of us, leads inevitably to a better result for all than the imposition of rules from on high.

5 comments:

StormCchaser said...

Good point.

When I was young and living in Kansas, I noticed an odd effect of blue laws: many stores carried some small amount of agricultural equipment or supplies. This allowed them to be open on Sunday.

Rob K said...

As a Sabbatarian Christian, I'm not a fan. I'm sick of being forbidden to do things on the first day of the week and Saturnalia while the world around me ignores the one day the Eternal LORD, our Creator and Savior, forbid them to work and do business.

Thanksgiving (unlike the Sabbath and the Set-apart Days Jesus Himself commanded and observed) is not commanded by the Savior, Creator, and I-AM of the Old Testament.

Now, if he wants to go at it as a contract issue ("they were promised this day off and now they're not getting it...") that's a different thing altogether.

Otherwise? Show me from the Bible, and the Bible alone.

Clayton said...

I really don't want the government enforcing the Sabbath (Saturday, or Sunday, or even worse, Friday). But one of the justifications for the entire notion of a Sabbath (regardless of the day) is to have a day when something more important than continual work is the emphasis.

Clayton said...

I really don't want the government enforcing the Sabbath (Saturday, or Sunday, or even worse, Friday). But one of the justifications for the entire notion of a Sabbath (regardless of the day) is to have a day when something more important than continual work is the emphasis.

RS said...

The upside of this decision was to open a single outlet on a slow day, probably with much less than $1000 of incremental profit.

The downside is the immeasurable loss of good will and future sales in the ENTIRE chain. Millions.

Yes, this will teach this tiny little meaningless store manager who is REALLY boss.