Alcohol and the nanny state.

So alcohol seems to be a hot-button issue with our government at the moment.

And for once I can understand why, large sections of our population are heavy alcohol users and a significant chunk of that is underage.

However (as witnessed before), I’m not a fan of government intervention in personal liberties and this is where we’re heading with significant governmental momentum. I don’t question the motive here, but I do question the method.

Currently on the table at various levels of govt (and hence provinces): We have 0-tolerance for alcohol in a driver’s blood, banning of alcohol sales on a sunday and raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21. There are probably other measures on the table too but I don’t recall what they are. Like something about no alcohol sales after 6pm in Gauteng, I think. The reasons range from teenage alcohol abuse to road deaths to work productivity.

Here’s where my skepticism kicks in:

  1. I know of people who drive around with a “bribery budget” permanently stashed in their cars, and it gets used often. This scares me not just for their own safety, but for the safety of the public at large. The laws concerning driver blood alcohol have been getting stricter it seems with every passing year, but enforcement is corrupt and is seemingly having no effect. Legislation != outcomes.

  2. That holds true for teenage alcoholism as well. A newspaper report I read this morning tells that govt. is concerned by alcohol abuse by minors (from the age of 13 up). The “fix” for this is raising the legal drinking age to 21. But wait, isn’t it [b]already[b] illegal for these kids to drink? The problem exists in spite of legislation. Therefore more legislation is bound to have 0 effect, other than actually worsening their “underage” drinking numbers.

  3. People who want to drink on a sunday can simply buy their booze on saturday instead. The only effect I can see this law having is causing inconvenience for people who are not alcoholics, for ex: Oh crap I don’t have a wine to cook with, but it’s sunday, so I can’t get it. Also if the 6pm thing is true, it means it’ll be impossible for me to pick up any alcohol during the week after work, as I knock off at 6pm. I can get it over lunch though, but that requires a degree of foresight reserved for alcoholics, I simply don’t think about alcohol all that much. I usually only realise I need some when it’s almost too late. You could say “AHA! There is the effect!”, but I doubt alcoholics (their target demographic) will have the same problem.

So, my take on this is: We’re once again punishing responsible adults for the faults of an irresponsible minority and completely ineffective enforcement. If our enforcement came even close to some overseas countries I doubt we’d have much of a problem. It’d still be there, just like illicit drugs are still there. But it’d be a thousand times more effective than yet more legislation.

Only way for government to regulate alcohol to some extent is to make it ungodly expensive via their sin tax route. But even this is not fool proof because at some point backyard distilleries will spring up like nobody’s business. It’s really simple to make cheap booze if you’re not overly concerned with taste or estate labels.


I’m too pissed to care…

I’ve heard the research shows that reduced alcohol retail hours just leads to binge drinking.

Both alcohol and cigarettes will probably be banned just about the same time when pot is finally legalized.

Society just never learns.

in KZN the new laws allow alcohol,sales in shops on Sundays and bottlestores between 10h00 and 15h30; pubs theatres etc any day; for me as a micro brewer i can sell every day unlimited. so what’s with Gauteng!!!