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Matthew Engh, Fargo, Published September 05 2012

Letter: Chief Ternes is misguided

After reading in the Aug. 23 Forum about how Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes wants to reform alcohol laws to prevent business owners from determining their own prices, I was extremely disappointed. Not about the fact that someone wants to do away with drink specials but rather that a public official is so misguided that he thinks it’s reasonable for government to dictate how business owners price their goods.

I’m aware alcohol-related crimes are a problem, however, penalizing business owners for making competitive business decisions, rather than incentivizing bar patrons to make responsible choices, is not the right answer. Should Verizon or Sprint be prohibited from offering competitive texting plans because of the damage caused by texting and driving? This isn’t a “fine line between free enterprise and curbing excessive use;” the two are completely divorced from each other.

Common sense would argue that the vast majority of individuals likely to commit crimes related to alcohol abuse would be willing to pay steeper prices or find lower-cost alternatives such as a liquor store. This would do very little to prevent crime, while at the same time restricting the freedom of hardworking business owners.

The answer to this problem is not regulating the market and harming local business. Either reform the laughable DUI penalties in North Dakota or reallocate current police resources to address this problem (or both).

It’s the responsibility of the police to protect and serve the people, not to harm commerce.