Drinking and Morality in New Orleans.

Hey readers, I am writing to you from a place perfect for Drinkers with Writing Problems. It is the home of William Faulkner, and it has inspired writers from Ernest Hemingway to Anne Rice. It has also inspired a lot of vomiting in the gutter and pissing in alley ways. Yes that is right, I am on vacation in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

This utopia of writing, drinking, and jazz inspires me to write. As I walk through the narrow streets surrounded by beautiful buildings and the cacophony of competing jazz rooms with an open rum drink in my hand, I think about morality. I’m not thinking of the morality of binge drinking or even nudity for the sake of needs, but the arbitrary morality imposed on us through laws.

In New Orleans it is perfectly legal to walk around the streets with an alcoholic drink in your hand, something illegal in most other parts of the country. It leads to public intoxication and some unruly nights, but it also leads to some really lovely walking tours. You can experience this gem of American melting pot culture accompanied by a lovely little buzz.

Then I think back to the place from which I flew. I too live in a tourist destination, Chicago. In Chicago we have walking tours as well, but open alcohol containers are illegal. Oh ya, there is one other thing we have, a huge budget crisis posed to cripple the state. Yet the only solution that politicians have offered is a property tax hike, which in and of itself could cripple the city or state. I am left wondering why politicians have not offered a creative solution to these budget problems, and the answer is arbitrary morality.

It would only be a drop in the bucket, but a real long-term solution to fixing a broken system is a million drops in that bucket and you have to start with one. Picture this. A politician introduces legislation that allows companies like walking tours, neighborhoods, or even entertainment venues to purchase permits to allow open containers. Then an inordinate tax is applied to these permits and that tax gets added to, for continuity ask let’s just say street cleaning. Why can’t this legislation be introduced? It is because the arbitrary stance that drinking in public is wrong or bad. The politician would not get re-elected.

I understand why this idea will never come to fruition, but I like to imagine a world where politicians actually solve difficult problems the creative way. I get frustrated that our laws are dictated by a hangover of Puritan morality. But guess what, people in Wrigleyville already vomit in your alley, so let’s tax them to be able to do it with an open drink in their hand. And while we are at it, let’s take a look at Colorado, I think they are pretty happy with the size of the drop in their budget bucket from their recent courageous legislation to rise about arbitrary morality.

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