Last night, I watched Mr. Big at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. The low point of the evening was when the goddamn national anthem was sprung on me, before I could think of what to do. I ended up standing, while watching those reenactments and monuments of these great heroes who sacrificed their lives so that one day, Filipinos would be compelled on pain of incarceration to honor this phantom notion of ‘country.’
After the anthem, with everyone sitting down once more in such brainless, drone-like fashion upon completing the pagan ritual, I felt somewhat violated and defeated, but told myself not to overthink it na.
(You can read about my exciting trip to a police station last year, in relation to not standing up for ‘Lupang hinirang,’ here)
That would have been an annoying enough interference of the government for one evening. The thing is, as I was going home, I thought that it would be nice to sit around at home with a couple of bottles of San Miguel Super Dry (Yes I know San Miguel is a crony company but they make the best beer regardless). So I went to the Shell Select station nearby, only to be told that there was a liquor ban enforced from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Apparently, this ordinance had been around for quite some time, but I don’t habitually buy stuff at such hours so only found out now.
I tried to buy beer anyway, asking the cashier guy to register my sale at an earlier period, or upon expiry of the ban. I wanted to just hand him the money without demanding a receipt, and get the beer. But the guy said it was all monitored by a surveillance camera. Oh well.
So what is the rationale for this nightly liquor ban? I assume it’s because city officials figure that people are prone to making poorer decisions, such as buying alcoholic drinks, at night, which then makes for increased violent behavior. Or something. I really don’t get it! Bistek Bautista ought to know better.
To the degree that these bans occur, the market for contraband goods increases. I for one would have quickly availed of smuggled beer at that moment if such a cart whizzed by.
This liquor ban does not promote peace and order at all; it simply makes economic transactions more inconvenient, the reduced productivity of which lowers living conditions, however marginally. There is a perfectly innocent reason for buying beer at night, e.g. the inspiration for this strikes me then, or I may not want to deal with daytime storage. Either way, the restrictions to freedom make me and everyone else worse off.
If the city government required all trash cans to be at least 100 meters away from each other, for whatever reason, e.g. trash bins are an eyesore and thus a danger to public well-being, this would result in two things. If I am used to having a trash can within 10 meters away, but am unable to dispose of my crap because of the hypothetical ordinance, I might just litter instead. Or, as a conscientious lover of government, I would feel obligated to carry my crap over longer distances, however inconvenient this may be, before tossing the stuff in the bin. The ban makes people worse off regardless of their reactions to it.
What about leaving consumer choices to consumers? What about addressing the peace and order situation in relevant ways, instead of finding danger in, gasp, nightly beer buying?
Whether you look at it in terms of morality or efficiency, government is a reprehensible, counterproductive pain in the ass. At least Justin Bieber makes millions of kids happy.