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Conscience and alcodollars

Written By: - Date published: 8:02 am, April 28th, 2010 - 37 comments
Categories: capitalism - Tags: , ,

Looks like the government is rapidly backing away from recommendations to crack down on alcohol despite it causing more social costs than any other drug.

Personally I take a liberal view on drugs of all kinds including alcohol (especially single malts) but I suspect that the Nats back down has a lot more to do with not getting off-side with one of New Zealand’s most powerful industries than any libertarian argument.

Meanwhile it looks like their plan to make pseudoephedrine prescription only as part of their “war on p” may breach the bill of rights as it breaches people’s right to be presumed not guilty.

And across the country the police have busted dozens of people on a variety of charges related to pot.

So the question is, is a drug only a moral issue for the Nats when it doesn’t make one of their rich mates richer than the Queen?

But then again what would you expect from a government that appointed a booze marketeer to run our largest city?

37 comments on “Conscience and alcodollars ”

  1. D14 1

    Cover the cost of treatment of alcohol associated injury in the A&E by charging the alcohol industry the cost of treatment.

  2. vto 2

    Fiddling with the rules will make zip difference. Raising the age to 20 – ha ha ha ha. It’s the older folks with the problem at least as much, if not more, actually.

    Put a maximum age on alcohol – that would make a greater difference to alcohol harm. Let’s see – no alcohol over the age of 40.

    Now that would make a difference.

  3. tc 3

    To paraphrase a recent UK drug expert out here…..govt’s continue to ignore the evidence and ban/rank based on political reasons not medical/social/cost benefit factors.

    He lost his gov’t job for stating the fact the taking ‘E’ is safer then riding a horse yet alcohol is by a few country miles the most costly drug in our society….followed by tobacco and made the point that it needs targetting above all other drugs in society.

    This is where it gets political as the booze lobby is powerful, and only gives a shit about it’s bottom line to shareholders not society.

  4. Joshua 4

    Instead of putting up the tax on alcohol, why don’t we put up the tax on alcohol companies – say 50% on all profit – and funnel that money towards social programmes aimed at overcoming addiction. People should not be able to profit off the harm they cause to others.

    • Matt 4.1

      It would be good, but it wouldn’t effect consumption – a 10% rise in price would lead to at least a 10% reduction in consumption and a similar reduction in overall harm.

    • Jum 4.2

      Yay. Run for office Joshua. Your first policy just made the NAct government redundant, forever.

  5. marco 5

    Totally agree with you on this. I like a drink, like most people, but if I go over the top and end up in A and E then I should pay for it in some way. It seems increasing the tax or making the alcohol companies pay for the social cost of alcohol is the easiest way of doing this. This could also be adjusted each year so if the social cost goes down then so does the cost of alcohol.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      If the social cost going down eventuates in the price of alochol going down, you’ll just have a rubberband effect where the social cost goes up again.

      • Marco 5.1.1

        Possibly, however it could also signal a change of attitude towards alcohol. That is in effect what is needed in NZ.

        • Matt 5.1.1.1

          When prices go down consumption goes up. Its not an attitude change that is needed, it is a change in the way we make alcohol available for sale that is needed.

  6. Olwyn 6

    The alcohol question always revolves around a regulate or not-regulate dichotomy, without questioning why we have a binge drinking culture in the first place. Even the “it’s not the drinking, it’s how we’re drinking” ads take the form of a stern telling off, while most of the beer ads actually advocate binge drinking. People in other countries can drink slowly all evening and have a good time simultaneously, why not us? Perhaps it is a perversion of our practical attitude – why waste time eating and dancing and socialising when you can cut to the chase and knock back several beers in quick succession?

    • Bill 6.1

      My, my. You trying to cut to the heart of the matter there Olwyn?

      Don’t know that that’s allowed, is it?

      Anyhow, here’s a wee pause for thought that may or may not be complete b/s.

      But when I look at the drunken desperation exhibited by younger people on a Fri/Sat night, I’m pretty sure that it is on a whole other level to the out of it mess I used to aim to attain at that age. There’s a desperation and a ragged edge that I’m sure was absent in previous decades…but maybe I was just too out of it to notice at the time?

      Moving on. When did teenagers ever eat and dance and sensibly incorporate drinking into their socialising? The eating has always come at the end of the night as the ultimate or penultimate act depending on the urge to up-chuck…oh, and a few other factors.

      Remember when you were 15? There was absolutely nothing to do and so you’d just ‘hang around’? Then the step from ‘nothing to do’ with no money to ‘nothing to do’ with money comes along. And businesses step on up and look to part you from your cash. And they and we know that taking drugs when there is nothing to do is much, much better than not taking drugs when there is nothing to do. And alcohol enjoys a moral monopoly.

      Will this change? No. Because we are to be consumers. And if we were engaged in non-market activities, something that expanded our understanding of what it is to be alive, then we might slip away from the marketeers grasp. And we might not experience the listless boredom of a 15 year old hanging around the actual or virtual street corner anxious to be beguiled by the only obvious promised pathway to excitement and maturity and purpose…getting out of it.

      Wouldn’t it be nice if education and society were something broader than preparing for the job market and a life of dedication to ‘paying your way’?

    • Jum 6.2

      Absolutely. Overseas countries are so much more civilised about their drinking. If they could just get over their going to war at the drop of a Bush order, they’d be perfect. It appears that we back off war but our warlike nature comes out in our drinking habits. Some might say we have not evolved enough. I might say a curfew on all those who might harm those more vulnerable and the problem would be solved.

      captcha stone(d)

  7. bearhunternz 7

    It’s always the “booze barons” at fault isn’t it? They hold people down and force them to drink their product. I’m completely in agreement with the idea of charging people at A&E if their drinking caused their injury. I’m also for drunks paying to be detoxed by police and a law change obliging judges to impose tougher penalties on offenders who were under the influence of alcohol when the offending happened. The sooner people get the message that it isn’t okay to get pissed and damage people or property, the sooner we can get to a better drinking culture.

    As for taxing the producers, I’m not sure that’s sensible. If you do that, you can kiss goodbye to a couple of hundred wineries currently operating on the margins of survival. And even the major “alcopop” producer reported a $44 million loss last year, so it can’t be selling THAT many of them…

    • Joe Bloggs 7.1

      Agree 100% bear – Blaming the so-called “booze barons” for the reluctance of youth to drink responsibly is just mischaracterisation.

      Ironic to see such spin from the UMR-meisters when Labour had the whole of the last decade to address the social ills arising from drinking, but did sweet f.a.

      And the reference to Doug McKay is similarly trite – expect to variously see him described by the radical left as a whaler, a battery chicken potentate, a biscuit tycoon, and a mercenary magnate of casual therapeutics over the coming years – ‘cos he’s also worked in seafood poultry, biscuits and casual therapeutics as well.

    • Jum 7.2

      If these alcohol pushers are willing to spend billions on PR (look at Key) to achieve their sales then they must know their manipulations of people are paying off with liquor sales, beauty product sales, car sales, slimy Key politician PR spin. Don’t insult my intelligence by trying to convince me that these PR people aren’t influencing people’s habits. Galbraith recognised that people pre-19thC did not need admen. We don’t need them now. It interests me that the right love admen but continue to preach individualism. They know about brainwashing, which makes them cynical liars in the extreme.

  8. walter 8

    Drinking isn’t a problem, intoxication is, so why not:
    – Enforce the law that says bars aren’t allowed to serve intoxicated people.
    – Enforce the law that says you can’t be drunk in a public place.

    By the way, did you see the hospitality lobby wanker on tv last night saying ‘the problem is people drinking at home, then coming to the bars’ The audacity of the man! The only problem with people drinking at home is that his lobby isn’t making any money off them.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      The police already spend huge resources patrolling the streets on weekend nights as it is.

      • freedom 8.1.1

        ‘The police already spend huge resources patrolling the streets on weekend nights as it is”

        They are consuming these resources because of violence and property crimes, committed by people affected by excesses of alcohol who are often struggling with stresses of economic uncertainty and more often they are just frustrated by being little more than cogs in a broken machine, lashing out for some sensation of affecting the world around them.

        bring in as many law changes as you want, the problems will not just go away. The costs will warp and shift, the people will still be left angry, forgotten and brutally aware that something is definitely wrong in our world and it has very little to do with walking into a bar after 2am

  9. freedom 9

    It is the uneducated hypocrisy of the ‘ alcohol is ok but marijuana is evil ‘ argument that irks me.

    Marijuana is illegal because of Hemp.

    It is early in the 20th Century, Hemp reserach proves it will replace petrochemical products. This scares many large corporations which had just been given the same legal rights as a real person to lobby government. These newly annointed Media and Chemical Industries, had just invested in expensive and pollution-heavy paper processing and Synthetic Fabric plants. So these companies, such as those owned by Hearst Industries, the largest media company in the world at that time, decided to act!

    Hearst Industries created a campaign that within two years had sold the public on the Reefer Madness of Marijuana. The evil crazed dope smoker was born. All proof of which was quickly fabricated and reported in his newspapers. then blindly reported elsewhere (nothing’s changed there then)

    At this time it was ILLEGAL NOT TO GROW HEMP on US farms. Hemp was subsidised by the Government to support the textile industry. Ropes, sail canvas, fabric of all varieties and of course paper were all being derived solely from Hemp. New products were being developed at an amazing rate but the Chemical companies were pushing the development of all sorts of cool new Petrochemically derived products and wanted Hemp out of the way. It was far more profitable to process controlled oil reserves than work with free citizens who might want a share of the profits. ( see modern Dairy for a working exaple of how much profit farming can produce for individuals ) Not surprisingly the laws were changed and thousands of US farms became overnight bankrupts.

    The story goes on and gets worse but you know the end result. Hypocrisy strived ahead and the medically, financially and morally bankrupt lies of the modern world put Marijuana, the oldest known socially used and all natural drug, on a list at par with opiuim and other dangerously addictive narcotics. Which it is not.

    Alcohol is a far more dangerous drug no matter how you look at the argument. It is more addictive. It is more processed and contains numerous chemically dangerous additives for the human body. It contributes to violence and all manner of other social problems. I have known smokers and drinkers for many years. In my experience not one single smoker has ever committed violence unless there was alcohol or another narcotic consumed as well.

    As far as the organised crime problem of gangs and the underworld roving schoolyards with tinnies of destruction. The first step is to be honest and look at the facts, then lift your hysteria for a moment and address the actual motives. Fear, Ignorance and our old friend, Profit.

  10. Lanthanide 10

    There are 13 states in the US that allow hemp licenses, however none have issued the licenses due to federal law against hemp growing.

    All of this could quickly change as California is looking to legalise (not just de-criminalise) possession and sale of marijuana later this year.

    captcha: unacceptable

    • freedom 10.1

      the law changes for marijuana are logically driven from a medicine based argument and thankfully gaining some traction. Sadly they will have little to no affect on the required Re-Industrialisation of Hemp that this modern world so desperately needs to replace the reliance upon Petrochemicals

      • Lanthanide 10.1.1

        Except as you pointed out one of the foundation arguments for prohibitting hemp is because of the myth that it can be smoked like marijuana, which is an illegal drug that is bad for you. If marijuana is no longer considered an illegal drug that is bad for you, it knocks down one large impediment against growing hemp.

        • freedom 10.1.1.1

          agreed, but for the century of generationally ingrained dishonesty that has given the Industrial Military money-machine a petrochemical powerbase beyond the dreams of the emporers of Rome

          but i would love to be proven wrong and see the world awoken to the gargantuan profits that Hemp could provide

  11. todd 11

    Walter.
    By the way, did you see the hospitality lobby wanker on tv last night saying ‘the problem is people drinking at home, then coming to the bars’ The audacity of the man! The only problem with people drinking at home is that his lobby isn’t making any money off them.

    A few years back my son and friends always got hammered at home (enough so that they all chucked)then got in a taxi and hit town.As he was 20 years old apart from telling him he was doing himself real harm there was little I could do.Some times they were refused entry but often as not they got in to any bar they liked.If you listen to the young ones they will tell you they wont pay the club bar prices so they but cheap booze to get hammered then hit town.
    In a small bar i own i double prices after 11pm so most cant aford the prices and just go home.(mostly older over 30ts)

  12. wyndham 12

    For years the Nats hammered the then Labour government about “Nanny State”. Fervent Nats such as Hooten and Farrar used the term incessantly.
    So that now leaves the present government with no room to move, even on a matter such as alcohol abuse which requires some real decisions.

    They’d prefer to see our youth go to hell in the proverbial handcart rather than be accused of Nanny Stateism.

    Conscience ? What conscience ?

  13. “By the way, did you see the hospitality lobby wanker on tv last night saying ‘the problem is people drinking at home, then coming to the bars’ The audacity of the man! The only problem with people drinking at home is that his lobby isn’t making any money off them.”

    Walter, the problem is precisely that younger people are sitting in someone’s house getting mangled before heading to town. If they are obviously intoxicated, they will be refused entry to the pub. This is one reason why there are a lot of drunk youngsters roaming the streets late at night. Bars account for less than 30% of the booze consumed in NZ, yet the Law Commission’s report recommendations will impact almost entirely on bars. So bars will be hit in the pockets again, while off-licences and supermarkets will continue to prosper and younger drinkers will continue to get hopelessly pissed on cheap booze in uncontrolled environments. That’ll help reduce alcohol harm all right…

    • vto 13.1

      Better to have them in bars spending their $50 on 4 litres of beer…

      thank having them at home spending their $50 on 20 litres of beer…

      The logic of this report is all arse about, you’re right.

  14. Steve 14

    Interesting that they flat out reject an increase in alcohol tax, but are quite content to push through an increase in that on tobacco (totally agree with the latter and think the former is a better control than increasing the purchase age)

  15. Herodotus 15

    Why not just use the existing law. A shop gets caught out selling to minors, loss of licence + fine. Can you imagine cnr dairy or a large supermarket that has lost its ability to sell. No 3 strikes, just 1. The police dont give me 3 stikes on speeding then I get the penalty.
    Allow 18-19 year olds to buy alcohol in the bars/clubs etc (A controlled enviroment) just not the ability for takeaways or drinking in public. Like a L for driving this could be viewed in a similar light.

  16. Jenny 16

    A whole new demographic for Broad Brother to repress.

    Thousands of law abiding young people will be turned into criminals overnight.

    I would like to argue that raising the drinking age to 20 as well as being a stupid and punitive action is a right wing attack on civil freedoms.

    Sure I can accept that there is a New Zealand wide drinking problem and particularly a youth drinking problem, and that something needs to be done. But all studies show that the most effective way to lessen this harm is to make alcohol more expensive with targeted excise taxes. This has proven particularly true for young drinkers.
    In Australia, the problematic youth market for alcopops collapsed when targeted taxes were brought in following public concern at the distressing levels of youth drinking.

    Unfortunately I have not been able to find the link, but I once read in New Scientist, of a Swedish study on problem youth drinking, that showed that by putting the prices up, which as well as making alcohol harder for young people to purchase, created a teen culture of peer pressure where those few young people who were still tempted to spend their limited amount of money on alcohol, were discouraged by the disapproval of their peer group.

    The National Act government has ignored the strong recommendation of the Law Commission Report on the pressing need to raise the price of alcohol through excise taxes, and instead zeroed in on an authoritarian approach.

    Like any other Big Brother intrusive spearhead, for instance the 1930s prohibition, or the current illegality of marijuana, prohibition will not stop young adults drinking. (indeed it could make it more daring and therefore glamorous, it could also put them at the mercy of possibly unscrupulous older people who will be still able to buy cheap booze for them)

    This punitive approach will only lead to greater criminalisation of young people, with the possibility of details of many thousands of normally law abiding citizens entering the police data base and being held there for the rest of their lives.

    Our extreme right wing, war on terror nut job, of a Police Commissioner, Broad Brother, will just love this.

    After years of young people being accustomed to being allowed to drink, this latest law change is not only a godsend to those in prominent positions who have been lobbying hard for more authoritarian police powers but could also give licence to any bullies in the front line of the force.

    So to all you young people over the age of 18 even if you are teetotal, defend your friends and next year make your vote count and throw this instinctively repressive right wing administration out of office.

  17. SPC 17

    What’s required is a definition of public drunkenness – one by a set blood alcohol level.

    This allows the arrest and fining of those drunk in a public place. If the last licensed establishment to serve the person a drink was co-fined, this would ensure host responsibility (a block on drunks entering the premises and controls at the bar on who is being served).

    All that needs to be targeted is public drunkenness – as we have in the past those who drank and then drove.

    As for treatment of problem drinkers, this funding needs to increase – and so some increase in tax is required. As for alcopops – while the market has expanded/diversified, these have always existed if in a smaller range and larger bottles. It was always easy to home-mix them anyway.

    The problem with the report line is that it would encourage drinking cheaper product at home and (if the age was effectively enforced) have teens turning up at parties hosted by 18 and 19 year olds – it is the text message generation (it would have to increase the teen pregnancy rate).

  18. eye saw 18

    with regard to the new “rules” on purchasing items from the switched on/off gardener stores where if one purchases ,say a bag of fertiliser then one has to supply photo id ,full name, date of birth,address,phone number and time of last visit to toilet and did you clean your teeth and ask your mum,details so the police can come and take these details and then begin investigations on you.

    Now is this legal?
    What legislation is it under?
    I thought the police were there to enforce laws not invent new ones.
    This has implications of a police state.

  19. You make something illegal and it creates a black market. Simple as that.

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