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For the last three weeks I have read with interest the articles in the Magnet concerning the Wet/Dry vote. After the first one I thought, well the next one will be more balanced. After the second one I thought, I really ought to write a letter to the editor. But after the last article, I simply had to respond.
The lack of balance in the articles was disturbing, but the tone of the last article truly disappointed me. As an evangelical Christian I object! Evangelicals are neither stupid, not blind. We can do math and we can read studies. We can understand complex issues and yes, we do bring a faith perspective to our decision making process.
Let’s just start with a few facts. First of all some people and businesses will see an economic benefit from alcohol sales, that is a fact. Will the county itself make any money; will it be better off economically? That is debatable. There will be a few fees and some tax revenue, but there will also be increased costs. I don’t think the proponents of this measure have been very forthcoming about either the costs or the benefits. They will not define the benefits economically and I have seen nothing to prove they have considered the costs as a factor at all!
Another fact for consideration, some studies, particularly one from Texas shows that there are more alcohol related fatalities in dry counties than in wet. But here is another fact; the conclusion of that same study it notes that factors other than the availability of alcohol may account for the fatalities.
Here is another fact, most dry counties are rural and according to the latest data from NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the fatality rate for rural crashes is more than twice the fatality rate in urban crashes. So fatal crashes overall are about twice as high in rural dry counties as in urban and wet counties. Is it surprising then that alcohol related fatalities are higher? Several factors, including medical response time, high speeds and crooked roads make rural driving more dangerous. Making Spencer county a wet county will not change those stubborn facts at all.
And, just in case you are wondering, a multitude of studies by respected institutions show that wet counties do have higher crime rates than dry counties. The fact is there are more murders, more robberies, more assaults, and more rapes when alcohol is more readily available. That is a real quality of life issue and ought to be considered as we prepare to go to the polls.
And here is yet another stubborn fact, despite what Mr. Schanding says, religion and politics are not “supposed to be separated.” The first amendment to the constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” In other words the separation of church and state is a limitation on the government, not on Churches or on people of faith. We have a right to exercise our faith at the polls and in the marketplace, in the churches and in our homes. That right is guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
For the reasons listed above and for many others, I plan to exercise my rights and vote no on October 20th. I hope you will join me in voting no, the economic benefits are questionable at best and the negative effects on our quality of life are obvious. Get out and vote to keep Spencer County safe and dry!