Sunday, August 29, 2004

The problem of consumer choice

The Observer reports on potential moves to further liberalise trading hours.
The chairman of the Keep Sunday Special campaign is quoted: The time has come now for the people of this country to admit we made a mistake allowing Sunday work to become normal for so many people. We need a new act to guarantee a shared weekly day off for everyone.

What particularly struck me was the use of the plural we. How are we to admit our mistake and produce a new act - a deliberative democratic consultation exercise, a referendum perhaps? My alternative is as follows: allow shops to open when they want - no restrictions, and if we decide we want a special day (or whatever) it will be apparent because less people will shop on that day. Why should a minority (or even a majority) be able to determine when the rest of us buy a loaf of bread or a can of Coke? Surely there are more important things for the government to spend scarce resources on then this?
Also, in London at least, you can shop every day of the year thanks to the racial diversity of shop owners. Why should they keep Sunday special, and if there is a loophole for them on religious grounds (or whatever) what about a loophole for atheists or agnostics or anyone who doesn't agree that sunday is special?

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