When the science doesn’t suit, Right tries to shout it down

Written By: - Date published: 1:15 pm, August 22nd, 2010 - 87 comments
Categories: dpf, health - Tags:

The National Party’s official blogger– He who compared Helen Clark to Mugabe and Fiji Frank– makes a characteristic sophisticated response to the distinguished waipiro (alcohol) expert Professor Doug Sellman.

‘The arrogance of some of these experts is best characterised by this quote from Professor Doug Sellman: ‘So, even though the science points strongly to the four key actions described above, our leaders could very well allow ideology to trump science. This brings to mind political regimes we tend to look down on with great disapproval.’ Sellman’s taxpayer funded lobby group has demanded that everything they recommend must be implemented by the Government, without question. f [sic] not, then it means we are some sort of third world country or dictatorship. What fucking arrogance. I encourage Professor Sellman to go form a political party, and campaign on his agenda. Once he wins general election, he can lecture us on what the Government must do. Sellman is like many zealots in this field. They think it is only about the ‘science’, They don’t realise it is also about rights of New Zealanders.’

Hmmm, Thomas Jefferson wisely said: “If it doesn’t pick my pocket or break my leg, I don’t care.”

Professor Sellman is the spokesman for an organisation that has over 1000 medical professionals as members, all arrogantly and ignorantly slandered by Dave. Here’s what Alcohol Action says about their attitude to alcohol:

‘The majority of us enjoy drinking alcohol, but all are alarmed about the way alcohol dominates many social situations and the scale of unhealthy and dangerous drinking in contemporary New Zealand – a crisis that enriches the liquor industry while causing immense harm to individuals and society as a whole.’

Balance is allowing adults, under sensible conditions, to moderately enjoy one of life’s great pleasures. Not the silly situation we have at the moment, where the regulations are of/for/by John Key/Peter Dunne’s alcohol industry cronies like Sir Doug Myers. New Zealanders should have the right not to have their taxes wasted on the massive, gratuitous health/policing/justice/corrections costs that result from people who can’t (or don’t want to) drink responsibly. This violent carnage obviously also denies New Zealanders the right not to have their “leg broken”. Not to mention the aesthetic displeasure that is Courtney Place, Friday at 3am.

The booze barons are the only ones who are benefiting from the current situation, and a sane balance is an idea who time has come.

Big Dog

87 comments on “When the science doesn’t suit, Right tries to shout it down ”

  1. Rich 1

    Prohibition doesn’t work, whether it’s complete or partial.

    Just because you (and I) don’t find pissed 18-year olds on Courtneay Place “aesthetic” doesn’t mean that they don’t have a right as adults to go there and get shitfaced. Closing bars earlier and age discrimination doesn’t solve the fundamental issues that make people abuse alcohol and engage in other self-destructive behaviours.

    It’s only by improving social justice in the broadest sense that we can help people gain the self-respect that helps them avoid substance abuse problems. Of course, the right isn’t keen on this and prefers a repressive solution (targetted at the 19-year old student, not the middle aged drunk driving home from the golf club, of course). It’s sad that the left are led down the same track.

    • RedLogix 1.1

      The “Prohibition Doesn’t Work” argument is morally bankrupt.

      We prohibit rape and murder. We prohibit theft and pillage. We prohibit all manner of dangerous and harmful behaviours, and mandate a whole bunch of others that are regarded as necessary to civilised and orderly life.

      Now just because there still remains a minority of people who rape, murder, thieve and pillage and break these rules…doesn’t mean that the ‘law doesn’t work’.

      What they are really saying here is that when it comes to alcohol we are a hopeless addicts and regardless of what rules are put in place to protect society from it’s obvious harm … we cannot control ourselves and will flout the law regardless.

      • Ari 1.1.1

        Complete prohibition is what is morally bankrupt, because it causes far worse problems than it purports to fix. The problem with prohibition is not that people avoid it, the problem is that the methods they use to get around it are worse than the substance you’re attempting to ban, encouraging organised crime, locking up people who don’t deserve or need to be imprisoned, and restricting access to useful medical treatments.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      Just because you (and I) don’t find pissed 18-year olds on Courtneay Place “aesthetic’ doesn’t mean that they don’t have a right as adults to go there and get shitfaced.

      They don’t have a right to cause the community any extra expense which is what they’re doing when they get shitfaced and so the community has a right to crack down on such behaviour. We don’t want prohibition but we do want responsible behaviour.

      • TightyRighty 1.2.1

        Welfare recipients don’t have the right to cause the community any further expense either, though they frequently do, and we are expected to pick up the tab for that. at least those on the turps contribute something.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The community has a responsibility to maintain everyone within the community to a viable living standard. RWNJs, such as yourself, dispute this.

        • Name

          Quite right. Why should my ACC levies get spent on someone who chooses to play rugby and risks breaking their arm, spine or neck? Let them insure themselves. Why should my health dollar be spent on women who get pregnant despite all the risks of complications? That’s running counter to evolution and encouraging the weak. Why should I pay towards the costs of keeping murderers and rapists in alive and in prison? Anyone who chooses to rape or murder forfeits in my book the right to live in a civilised society and should be taken out the back and shot on being found guilty.

          We all need help from society when the unforeseeable, unchoosable, occurs but when we choose to risk the foreseeable we should bear the consequences on our own. That’s the right, tight, principle.

        • Deborah Kean

          TightyRighty, were there provision for doing so, I would label you “troll”… “Welfare recipients” are people who pay taxes, and who before they were on welfare, and after their circumstances improve, will pay even higher taxes. What the dickens do you mean by “further expense”? You seem to have a fantasy image of “welfare recipients”… the talkback picture of “DPB mothers” maybe?

          • TightyRighty

            ah the old welfare recipients pay tax argument. hoary old chestnut that one is, just because one pays tax doesn’t mean one is entitled to anything. tax is a civic responsibility, welfare is not a civic right. what happens when someone on the dole goes out and commits a crime to pay for booze then beats their partner when drunk? it’s an all to common story deborah, so tell me who picks up the tab (a.k.a further expense)? not being a sycophantic voice doesn’t make one a troll deborah

            name, welfare as the safety net is was intended to be is fine. the welfare system is vastly different from that envisaged and enacted by the labour government in ’38.

            The individuals within a community who are everyones responsibility, don’t seem to reciprocate with anything approaching responsibility for their own situation draco.

            • Maynard J

              I love this “welfare state of ’38” meme – as if that was some perfect set-up, the halcyon years of NZ civil society.

              Truth is if we had no welfare state now, & someone proposed a set up a la ’38, you’d cry bloody murder and moan about it more’n you moan about what we have now.

              Spare us the golden days argument. People out of work get a benefit. That was what was set up in ’38 and that’s what you’re moaning about now.

              • TightyRighty

                No, I have no problem with the safety net concept, it’s the hammock practise that bothers me. and everytime the hammock is nudged, the lefties cry out “benny bashing”. it’s not really, it’s labour party supporter bashing. hate for your personal army to get nudged into something productive would you? the legions on the dole aren’t anon, and the real anon will get sick of supporting their laziness soon.

                • Maynard J

                  Ah good, the “Labour supporters are benefit bludgers” line.

                  I don’t need to provide a response to that because it’s immediately apparent you’re an idiot.

                  But I will ask – do you think that when a beneit was first introduced there was no abuse of the system?

                  Anyway, what percent of Labour’s vote do you think are these long-term benefit abusers? I.e. Labour received 796,880 votes in the last general election. There are about 350k on a benefit, let’s say that 4% (14000) are long term since the percentage will be low because of all those extras that have joined recently. So, is everyone like that a Labour supporter? Doubtful… So us lefties are going into bat for, say, 5000 ‘votes’ because your average benefit scammer’s though pattern is “Labour will assist me to keep my ill-gotten benefit, I’ll vote for them”… Gotta say, this is sounding a bit far fetched…but that’s because (as I said at the start) your concept is idiotic, as are you.

                  To be honest, I think what you resent is the DPB, since that’s the only real change to benefits since 1938. That’s often a theme with you RWNJ’s, I suspect it’s because you prefer your women desperate and dependent upon you. All those single mums out of your reach now because they are supported by the government, and your taxes…how that must chafe.

                  Finally, I loathe those who abuse the system too. It gives sad types like you ammunition, and is an abuse of my taxes, just like you. The difference is I don’t see the solution being a wholesale attack on benefits – if people are ripping us off, they are the least likely to lose their benefits. The real difference is I actually support benefits and don’t use the tiny percentage abusing a system to knock the whole thing because I’m ideologically opposed.

      • J. Andels 1.2.2

        And what about that are generally responsible?
        For instance, pretty much the only drinking I do as an eighteen year old is at friend’s places. We go there, socialise, play cards, the usual. We drink as well, with alcohol we buy from off licenses. No violence, no vandalism. We usually sleep there.
        Changing the law to make it so 18-20 year olds will do one of two things:
        1. Force people to go to pubs, and socialise is what is generally a shitty atmosphere or a gig and neither of which is that great for catching up with friends. The weekly drinking/cards sessions have been pretty much the only way all of us can catch up since we left high school.
        2. Force poorer people to stop drinking. Economic discrimination. The fact is, pubs and bars are expensive as hell. The cheapest bar I know gives you $5 handles, or on pint night (not what it’s called now, because it’s illegal to advertise that, and because it used to be pints and now it’s handles for the same price) $4 handles. Unless you’re living at home, paying $25 for 5 handles is an unacceptably high cost.
        So, thanks for ruining what is a low-key event with your age discrimination.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Dude, I support putting the legal drinking age back up to 20. I don’t support an age split. It was certainly a mistake to drop it down from 20. Our drinking culture wasn’t great before we did and it got significant;y worse after.

        • Marco

          You could always join your local bowling club…1950’s prices. But yeah I get your point, however in my experience your maturity and responsibility is in the minority.

        • felix

          When did we start calling them “off-licenses”? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone in NZ use that term in casual conversation, but I see it used in online discussion quite a bit.

      • mcflock 1.2.3

        Also, it’s not just about the aesthetic shortcomings of public shitfacity. It’s also about A&E departments overflowing on a Saturday night, and occasional admissions to the morgue.

        There is a balance between attempted prohibition and everybody being like Oliver Reid. But then that would make the issue complex and thus remove it from the New Zealand political arena.

  2. Now we all must remember that John Key has big investments in the booze industry, we cannot allow his business interests to suffer.

    Much better the tax payers pick up the cost of road accidents and domestic violence and all the rest of the problems from booze in society.

    How can you expect such a nice man like Mr Key to miss out on a money making venture. Think of his childrens future, so much more important than New Zealands working population.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    Letting an alcoholic like Farrar decide alcohol policy would be like ….

  4. RedLogix 4

    New Zealanders should have the right not to have their taxes wasted on the massive, gratuitous health/policing/justice/corrections costs that result from people who can’t (or don’t want to) drink responsibly.

    Yeah… a quick back of envelope calculation suggests that the real cost is a number somewhere between $10-20b pa. In other words about 8-10% of GDP.

    Staggering really.

    • Umm….you ran a back of the envelope, I spent a month working on it. Collected excise taxes very slightly exceed aggregate external costs (police, health etc).

      • loota 4.1.1

        But what about the human costs? Someone causes a death while drink driving, yes there are police, health, justice costs which you have no doubt factored in, but you are then also down two productive members of society (the perp temporarily and the victim permanently), plus the victim’s entire family suffers a greivous human cost.

        Or perhaps this was all accounted for too, somehow?

        • Lats

          At the risk of sounding flippant, I’d say that is a cost attributable to human stupidity, not alcohol…

      • RedLogix 4.1.2

        Well that was a wasted month of your life Eric.

        The estimated cost of crime in this country is around $9b.

        Ask any cop and they’ll tell you alcohol is associated in one or another with about 2/3 of all crime.

        Ask my brother-in-law who is the Head of Plastic Surgery at a major NZ hospital. About a 1/4 of his case load has it’s origin in an alcohol related incident. Ask the same question of any ambo, or ED worker…you’ll get the same answer.

        Ask any major employer about how much lost productivity and human potential is flushed down the pisser each year. Given that total wages and salaries in this country are about $90b, the $1.7b that Brian Easton estimated for this aspect strikes me as a pretty conservative number.

        Ask the families and loved ones of the 400,000 odd New Zealanders who have a major problem with alcohol just how much grief and misery they’ve gone through. How many families got smashed up over booze-fuelled fights and stupidity. How much money that should have been spent more wisely got diverted into the booze baron’s pockets instead…. the sheer lost opportunity that can never be found again.

        And don’t imagine I’m banging on in some kind of idealistic vacuum here. I got to deal with a consequence of our piss-saturated culture today… right next door to me. I’m having to watch a man whose got the capacity and will to make something of his life, but the booze will ensure it never happens.

        • Richard

          What you are talking about seems to be entirely about the culture surrounding drink. It’s the way that some people drink. It’s a culture problem.

          Legislating (alone) isn’t going to change culture.

          What we need is a better informed, better educated, more intellectual society with more free time. That will be a change in culture; drinking habits will follow.

          Excessive alcohol consumption is a symptom of a poor, ignorant society. It doesn’t cause our society to be that way.

          • RedLogix

            Agreed Richard…

            I ‘ve been a bit soapboxy about this today…. sometimes events have a way of colouring how you think about something.

            But yes you are right, legislation alone is certainly not the whole story, but at the same time we should not remain unaware of vested commercial interests acting to protect their business by keeping the playing field skewed in their happily profitable favour.

          • Ari

            Legislating can also help inform and educate society, however, so there’s a lot of stuff we should be doing legislatively that we perhaps aren’t.

        • Galeandra

          Eric isn’t reading anymore, he only popped by to try prick your balloon and demonstrate his own ineffable superiority.

    • Rich 4.2

      Why don’t you just assert that our entire GDP is blown on booze, whilst you’re at it? It’d be about as meaningful.

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        And why don’t you assert that booze is just a harmless misunderstood and fun social stimulant that’s been demonised by woozers? About as meaningful too.

        The only people qualified to really talk meaningfully about booze are the ones who get to clean up after it …day in, day out. Ask them and you get a different answer to the one right wing economists arrive at with their dry narrow assumptions.

        Or you could have been left holding the mother whose son had gotten smashed, drove insanely fast, bounced off three buildings, careened 200m into a steel barrier and removed the top half of his head. Literally. When she arrived on the scene his mom was I’ll wager, not too receptive to the idea that “collected excise taxes very slightly exceed aggregate external costs” …and that somehow made it all ok.

        • Draco T Bastard

          he only people qualified to really talk meaningfully about booze are the ones who get to clean up after it day in, day out.

          Oh, I’m sure that the people who’ve managed to take stock of their wasted lives and have turned round and said “man, was I really that stupid? Yeah, I was” can probably talk quite meaningfully about it as well.

        • Lats

          The scenario you describe here, as tragic as it is, doesn’t detract from the fact that alcohol users do, through their excise tax, cover the financial costs to government of their use. Demonising alcohol because of incidents like this has little effect, stupid people are still going to drink and drive and kill either themselves or others. Sadly we can’t legislate against this level of stupid. An outright ban on alcohol isn’t the answer either, as it unfairly penalises the vast majority who are capable of drinking responsibly.

          I also don’t accept your argument that “The only people qualified to really talk meaningfully about booze are the ones who get to clean up after it day in, day out.” Thats just a trite bit of rubbish. I consider myself just as entitled to comment, if only because future legislation may have an effect on me and my loved ones. We all have a vested interest in this debate.

          • RedLogix

            Demonising alcohol because of incidents like this has little effect, stupid people are still going to drink and drive and kill either themselves or others.

            The alcohol eliminates their sense of fear and causes them to do stupid things they would not otherwise do.

            Sadly we can’t legislate against this level of stupid.

            No you cannot shift the blame onto ‘stupidity’. Most alcohol abusers are when sober every bit as intelligent and normal as you and I.

            An outright ban on alcohol isn’t the answer either, as it unfairly penalises the vast majority who are capable of drinking responsibly.

            Like an outright ban on letting kids play with guns isn’t all that fair on the majority who manage not to shoot themselves. Besides it’s not a ‘vast majority’ who drink responsibly. That’s a bit of a myth. There isn’t really a clean black and white dividing line between responsible and not…. there’s a whole spectrum of costs that most people like to pretend aren’t happening, usually being paid by other people close to them.

            We all have a vested interest in this debate.

            True, but not all interests are equal.

            What I keep reading around alcohol is a huge amount of denial and minimisation around the real costs of alcohol being so freely used in our society. Until everyone, and that includes all those folk who truly believe they can drink ‘responsibly’… understand that for every 100 people who drink, around 10-15 will not be able to control their drinking causing misery, heartache and shame.

            And that all of us have an interest in that reality.

            • Lats

              Red, from previous comments I’m guessing you’re involved in the emergency services in some way, so you obviously have valuable insights into the destructive side of alcohol consumption. I don’t intend to demean your experience in any way, but I suspect your view on this is slanted a little, since clearly you see way more nastiness than most of us normal citizens. I do need to respond to a couple of your comments:

              Like an outright ban on letting kids play with guns isn’t all that fair on the majority who manage not to shoot themselves.

              Similar to drinking, current laws around guns restrict the age of licence holders, to (I think) 16 years of age. Current gun laws already place strong restrictions on security of firearms in the home, including locking the weapon, ammunition and bolt (where appropriate) in separate secure areas to prevent children from inadvertently getting their hands on them. However, also like drinking, just passing a law doesn’t magically guarantee compliance.

              Similarly, I think parents need to exercise some responsibility around their chidren’s access to alcohol, and teach them about responsible drinking. I’m not advocating locking the fridge or liquor cabinet, but I think setting the example in the home that it is possible to enjoy a glass of wine or beer with dinner and not get completely trolleyed isn’t a bad start.

              Besides it’s not a ‘vast majority’ who drink responsibly…. understand that for every 100 people who drink, around 10-15 will not be able to control their drinking

              I dunno about you, but in my world 85-90% counts as a pretty big majority. A survey conducted in 2003 by ALAC noted that roughly 88% of adults class themselves as current drinkers. By ALAC’s estimate any episode of drinking that included 5 or more drinks was classed as “risky” drinking, and that as a result roughly 25% of drinkers were engaging in risk taking behaviour. Personally, I think that is a load of bollocks, but then ALAC has a chip on their shoulder about alcohol and have a strong desire to see the end of alcohol in our society. I personally don’t consider having 5 beers “risky” behaviour. On the rare occasions either my wife or I have a few drinks it is either at home, or one of us chooses to be sober driver.

              At some stage the issue with drinking must come down to personal responsibility. No amount of legislation is going to prevent those who are really determined to have a drink. Look at drug laws. Statistics from the health select committee a few years back noted that 50% of the population admitted to having tried cannabis, and about 10% admitted they were current users. That is about 400,000 people who are currently defying the law to get their hands on their intoxicant of choice. Clearly a prohibition model isn’t effective, leads to at least as many problems as it attempts to solve, and penalises those who are able to consume alcohol (or cannabis) without detriment.

              As a liberal it saddens me that so many of my left-leaning peers are so keen to play the authoritarian role. We are quick to point the finger at the NATS for playing big brother and trying to control us, but at some stage we need to look in the mirror and see that we are just as guilty of trying to enforce nanny state policies as the right. Why are we so certain that we know what is best for everyone?

              • mcflock

                But then alcohol abuse is associated with a disproportionately large chunk of crimes, assaults, and accidental injuries. Particularly for young people (<25y.o.). If you want I'll try and hunt down some non-ALAC sources – they turn up in NZMedJ every so often (probably because we're such pissheads 😉 /joke).

                I actually think a bigger improvement in alcohol attitudes, particularly in pubs but it should flow on into homes, will be when the private investigators & security guards act is finally tweaked to require venue security staff to be trained and certified. If their career directly rides on it I think they'll be less inclined to turn a blind eye to the extent that some do now (there was one recent LLA hearing where the police reported people throwing up on themselves at a table, but patrons and staff around claimed they'd not seen any such thing…)..

  5. Outofbed 5

    Yes when I heard he had attacked Doug, I had a quick gander at the comments on kiwiblog
    Fuck they are truly vile people

  6. The Big Dog 6

    An ethical, Jeffersonian libertarian should have no problem with sane regulation, a balance between anarchy and prohibition.

    Even Milton Friedman acknowledged “there’s a definite problem with negative externalities.”

    Only 8 per cent of heavy drinkers are under twenty, much as the Tories response on Tuesday will blame them.

  7. felix 7

    Why is Kiwiblog listed in the sidebar under “Right Blogs”?

    Shouldn’t it be under “Party Sites”?

  8. liquor.industry.roundtable 8

    How dare you criticise your betters ?

    Don’t you know that we are often knights (and dames) of the realm ?

  9. clandestino 9

    In all your emotionally hyperbolic ‘costings’ of alcohol, where you include every indirect negative consequence, do you think about the other side of the coin? Every day I see talking heads moralising on the ‘drinking’ problem we apparently all have, without ever mentioning people drink in the first place because it’s fun. Many take drugs because they’re fun too. The supermajority of us aren’t alcoholics, drink sparingly during the week, don’t die in car crashes but – like generations before us – will drink on the weekend.
    Take the ads away, raise the age, whatever; people are still going to have a good time like they always have. Maybe if the link between sex and alcohol was broken it would make a difference, but which idiot is going to suggest this is possible.
    And I’m sick of the ‘they don’t do it overseas’ bullsh*t. It simply isn’t true. Young people the western world over spend their weekend out on the town visibly having a good time…what a sad direction we’re heading in with this teetotaler crowd.
    Sure there are costs, but you always have to clean up after a party. We already have ridiculously high comparative prices to Europe and draconian, punitive laws, why are we ruining life for ourselves.

    • RedLogix 9.1

      without ever mentioning people drink in the first place because it’s fun.

      If you’re such a frightened little boy that you need to antidote your fear symptoms before you can have ‘fun’…then I do feel sorry for you.

      The supermajority of us aren’t alcoholics, drink sparingly during the week, don’t die in car crashes but like generations before us will drink on the weekend.

      Yeah I know… you’re bullet-proof.

      Maybe if the link between sex and alcohol was broken it would make a difference, but which idiot is going to suggest this is possible.

      Yup… the only way you can get a woman to sleep with you is to first use a drug to suppress her better sense. You get points for honesty.

      Sure there are costs, but you always have to clean up after a party.

      A few sticky carpets, a stack of dirty glasses and bottles and some used condoms were not the kind of mess I had in mind.

      • clandestino 9.1.1

        This is the problem, you sound like you remember having a good time but can’t quite bring yourself to admit it. Ahh f*ck it, when a beer or wine is $15 in a bar and you wonder why our cities are dead and empty of life, I hope you’ll be happy at least those damn kids aren’t around to spoil your chardonnay.

        • loota

          Time to move your life on from revolving around a bottle.

          And for the record, too many of us NZ’ers make very unpleasant drunks. Not sure if its some kind of latent aggressiveness, self directed anger which gets turned outwards or whatever, but a lot of other drinking cultures have nothing like it. Here I am thinking of the South Koreans and the Japanese. Famous bloody binge drinkers. But they do not subscribe to “Friday night, its time for a pint and a fight” like anglo-saxons tend to do.

    • mcflock 9.2

      alcohol doesn’t kill people, people kill people?

      • prism 9.2.1

        Alcohol is just a fluid in a container until people use it – excessively, and then it leads to bad consequences and some deaths. That little slogan from mcflock above is used for excusing over-supply of guns. And it is just as silly and simplistic whenever it’s chanted.

        • mcflock

          it seemed to be the gist of clandestino’s comment, and no, I don’t agree with it when applied to either alcohol or firearms.

          There is often a wide space between looking narrowly at the immediate perpetrator of a negative and meaninglessly saying “society is a cause”, but when you have the situation where societal structures directly enable the act (widespread firearm possession) or to some degree motivate the act/lower resistance to the impulse to commit the act (alcohol) then that gap narrows considerably.

      • Deborah Kean 9.2.2

        Alcohol kills people, trust me on this (and no, I am not going to go into detail about how I know…) Just suffice it to say that on top of all the rest of it, my son had a placement at CADS while doing his B. Nurs in 2008.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.3

      Young people the western world over spend their weekend out on the town visibly having a good time

      Yes, they do. They grew up in a different culture where everybody would have a single drink with dinner every night to enhance the meal. This is somewhat different from our culture where the purpose of drinking is to get drunk.

      • clandestino 9.3.1

        That is exactly the kind of bollocks that’s trotted out whenever this debate is brought up…have you lived in continental Europe??!? I have, for years, and people there drink more than us. FACT. The Spanish, famously, don’t start till 12 and don’t stop till 8, in the morning that is. The Italians consume tremendous quantities of wine, and do equally tremendous quantities of cocaine. Where in the world is this utopia of considerate consumption? I think you may mean Asia, where many are allergic and thus do not over do it so much.
        “A single drink with dinner every night to enhance a meal”…I’m sure my parents would agree with you.
        “If you’re such a frightened little boy that you need to antidote your fear symptoms before you can have ‘fun’ then I do feel sorry for you.”…what is it with the extrapolations where alcohol is concerned?!? It’s a frickin AID to a good time, not the good time itself! Many go out on the weekend to bars to dance to good music and drink a few standard units, don’t cause trouble and have fun with friends; have we all lost sight of life’s pleasures?? You might be happy with having to fork out 30-50 bucks for this but I don’t have to be.

        • RedLogix

          It’s a frickin AID to a good time, not the good time itself!

          Interesting. You know ethyl alcohol is a relatively simple organic molecule. Ask a chemist to show you the ‘fun’ element in there sometime.

          The most common physical reactions of fear include:

          * Rapid heart rate
          * Increased blood pressure
          * Tightening of muscles
          * Sharpened or redirected senses
          * Dilation of the pupils (to let in more light)
          * Increased sweating

          While acute fear generates intense unmistakeable disabling symptoms, less intense chronic situational fear that cannot be escaped from is subconciously suppressed in order that we might continue to function. (If you want an example of this, recall how extraordinarily well dogs will completely mask intense pain in order to prevent other animals attacking them…so that they can continue to function and hopefully heal the injury.)

          Humans do much the same; chronic social and emotional stress causes a fear reaction, creating physical symptoms of fear in the body, but because we mask them in order to function normally. For this reason we aren’t usually conciously aware of the discomfort they create.

          The common physiological reactions to low doses of ethanol in it’s initial euphoric phase of intoxication essentially act as antidotes to the above symptoms. That’s why it ‘makes you feel better’. It’s because it’s relieving the masked chronic fear reactions that are making you subconciously ‘feel bad’ most of the time.

          Now if you aren’t willing to accept this simple explanation and don’t want to confront and heal the real cause of why you are using alcohol, then I’ve little more to say. Just don’t ask me to swallow the bs evasions people trot out to justify themselves.

  10. Jones 10

    I really don’t like this paternalistic attitude that we have towards alcohol. Some people may choose to binge drink. That’s their right. When I’ve done it, I’ve made a rational decision beforehand about roughly how much I’m going to drink. Occasionally I drink more than what I intended. That’s a risk I choose to take as an adult.

    There’s an attitude here that seems to say it’s a given that we need to stop this binge drinking culture. I think that the people who say this either have very short memories and can’t remember themselves binge drinking, or they have lived a very sheltered life indeed. Can everyone who argues against binge drinking say that they never had good times doing it themselves?

    Yes, I understand that alcohol has externalities that cost society. And you get around that by taxing it, like you do other sorts of risky behaviour i.e. ACC levies. I admit that I enjoy binge drinking sometimes and I’m also happy to say that I’ll pay the societal cost through taxes on the alcohol. But what irritates me is laws that say when I can drink and new potential laws that would stop other adults (18 and 19-year-olds) from being able to drink in certain situations.

    Yes, raising the drinking age to 20 would save lives according to experts (and anyone else with a brain). Raising it to 30 would also. Can anyone who argues for restricting 18 and 19-year-olds’ access to alcohol please also argue why it should not be restricted for anyone under 30.

    And please, if you don’t like how Courtney Place looks at 3am don’t go there at that time. I don’t like the way certain people dress. That doesn’t mean I want to ban them from dressing in that way.

    So can everyone drop the paternalistic attitude and remember that maybe they have been engaged in binge-drinking before.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      Substitute the letter ‘P’ for the word ‘alcohol’ in the above and it reads….?

      • J Mex 10.1.1

        Substitute “cream donut” and see how it reads.

        • RedLogix

          Well lets rank the total harm caused to society these three things. Any argument with ranking them in this decreasing order?

          1. Alcohol

          2. P

          3. Cream donuts.

          Any suggestions on the relative order of magnitudes here? (And for the time being let’s not get too diverted by the resulting obseity and diabeties epidemic if everyone indulged themselves in say 5-10 cream donuts a day.)

    • loota 10.2

      I like a good cognac or three, I’ll admit it now.

      And that 18 year old Glenfiddich, that bottle disappears fast. HOWEVER

      Yes, I understand that alcohol has externalities that cost society. And you get around that by taxing it, like you do other sorts of risky behaviour i.e. ACC levies.

      Could you explain to me how alcohol excise or an ACC levy “gets around” or makes up for a life time with a deformed face, badly working jaw and metal plated skull from going through a windscreen due to driving drunk? Somehow the accounting makes it even out?

      So can everyone drop the paternalistic attitude and remember that maybe they have been engaged in binge-drinking before.

      Yes, because there is a natural trend that we can feel comfortable with, everyone please return to the don’t give a shite, every man/woman/child for themselves attitude.

      But what irritates me is laws that say when I can drink and new potential laws that would stop other adults (18 and 19-year-olds) from being able to drink in certain situations.

      By the way there is an awful lot of research appearing which suggests that modern western humans are not emotionally and psychologically maturing until (at least) the mid 20’s. In other words, that a form of juvenile or adolescent period of life is extending in the case of many young people.

      • Deborah Kean 10.2.1

        “So can everyone drop the paternalistic attitude and remember that maybe they have been engaged in binge-drinking before.”
        Your grammar is a wee bit confused here, but I understand you to be saying that you think that critics have (probably) indulged in binge-drinking themselves… Sorry, that’s bollices! There are some of us, perhaps many of us, me for one, who never have. Honest to God never. I have never indulged in binge drinking and I know that’s true of many, perhaps most people.

      • Lats 10.2.2

        By the way there is an awful lot of research appearing which suggests that modern western humans are not emotionally and psychologically maturing until (at least) the mid 20′s.

        So you are advocating raising the drinking age to 25 or so?

    • Draco T Bastard 10.3

      Can everyone who argues against binge drinking say that they never had good times doing it themselves?

      To be honest, I wouldn’t know – I don’t remember them. No, I’m not joking. Which really means, in the end, that I didn’t have fun.

    • mcflock 10.4

      Yes, raising the drinking age to 20 would save lives according to experts (and anyone else with a brain). Raising it to 30 would also. Can anyone who argues for restricting 18 and 19-year-olds’ access to alcohol please also argue why it should not be restricted for anyone under 30.

      Actually, yes:

      quickest source article found via Sage Online:

      Steinberg L.
      Risk taking in adolescence: New perspectives from brain and behavioral science
      (2007) Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16 (2), pp. 55-59.

      Developmentally, late teens and young adults are less risk-averse, particularly when under peer observation. The peak period is just prior to 20y.o., although everyone is different and a significant number of folk are only tending towards “adult” behaviour in their mid-20s (some never do, but that number is fairly small).

      And the social factor is also an argument why e.g. voting is reasonable at 18, because it’s a secret ballot, but drinking is not (it’s a social pasttime that lowers already diminished risk assessment and impulse control).

      Maybe it’s unfair, blown out of proportion, based on blaming everything on da yoof of today. . . but the late teen/early 20s area is not a bad place for an arbitrary cutoff for alcohol.

      Or to flip your line around, why shouldn’t 10 year olds be able to walk into a pub, by a beer and then vote to die for their country?

  11. felix 11

    I like drinking. And taking drugs of most kinds.

    Some of the best and worst moments of my life have been in massively altered states.

    This whole thread is meh. Most of the problems being attributed to our culture of drinking can just as simply be attributed to our culture of aggression. Far bigger issue.

    Btw, when did “drinking” become “binge drinking”?

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      When that became the standard culture in NZ.

      • clandestino 11.1.1

        This is the refrain of last resort heard on countless TV segments…you need to GET OUT of New Zealand and experience places where alcohol is just one of a variety of substances going around. Our problem is not a cultural one, it’s people watching too much Ten 7 and Noise control instead of getting out there and seeing what all the fuss is about.

        • Draco T Bastard

          This is the refrain of last resort heard on countless TV segments

          As I don’t watch TV I wouldn’t know. What I do know is the drinking culture I grew up in and seen get worse over time.

          Our problem is not a cultural one, it’s people watching too much Ten 7 and Noise control instead of getting out there and seeing what all the fuss is about.

          Oxymoron much?

          • clandestino

            I’ve got nothing against TV, just the droning lecture that comes out of them, reinforced by the above. Maybe it’s a difference in philosophy, but I’d hate to deny kids the experiences, good and bad, I had the chance to enjoy and learn from. What it comes down to really.

            • Draco T Bastard

              See, I’d prefer it if the children learned from my experience so that they don’t keep repeating the same stupid mistakes. Keep doing that and society fails to progress.

    • RedLogix 11.2

      Felix…. here have one ‘massively altered exemption pass’. If anyone desrves it you must.

      Like loota I’m not a total wowser, I’ll go through the odd bottle of good local red (not chardonnay) … but the last time I had a hangover was 30 years ago. In other words I’ll drink enough to relax and get pleasantly buzzed and then quit. Any more and I just get sleepier than usual.

      But routinely drinking for the sake of blacking out and not being able to remember…strikes me as pathological. Drinking to blot out the pain, that’s makes alcohol capitalism’s opiate.

      • felix 11.2.1

        I don’t disagree at all with that last para RL, I just reckon there’s a huge grey area between that and the third para.

    • clandestino 11.3

      Couldn’t agree more, it’s the aggression. Always has been, always will be.

  12. Bored 12

    As a very mature male living in Mt Vic who walks along Courtenay Place on the way home once or twice a month in the small hours (with my wife from visiting friends etc and not on the way from Mermaids as some smart arse might suggest) I find the constant stories implying it is a scene of constant violence, vomit up to the knees, and drunks 3 deep in the gutter total crap. No doubt there are the odd unsavoury incidents although as far as I can see no more than when I was young. One thing that pisses me off is the moral rightousness of those over 35 whose own youth they prefer to forget. And that is pretty much everyone over 35. Big Dog seems typical. And the alcohol (opps sorry should have used the highly emotive ‘booze’preferred by the wowsers) industry has always got rich this way so what’s new there – much like the car industry and the employers who have dodgy safety records.

    • RedLogix 12.1

      Agreed Bored… Courtenay Place is not nearly as bad as is implied (there are much worse strip bars elsewhere…)

      And no, there is a difference. While there was always alchohol at parties, and always those who used and misused it…. they difference now is that it’s considered an essential pre-condition for virtually every social activity of any sort in this country. And not just occasionally… every weekend.

      • loota 12.1.1

        there are much worse strip bars

        exotic dance venues if you would please.

        captcha: husbands

        (damn how does the system do that)

      • Bored 12.1.2

        Ah RedLogix, I’m afraid the ‘odd bottle of red wine’ you go through makes you a binge drinker – given its about 5 standard drinks in NZ or well under a bottle of wine. Of course this helps the wowsers who can scream “binge drinker” and make it sound like you are the mythical Courtenay Place inhabitant when you are in fact a bit sleepy watching TV.

        The other minor point one might make is the definition of “binge” drinking – a quick web search comes up with various numbers (eg between 10 and 20+ standard drinks in the US).

  13. Rodel 13

    Urban myths. ‘Prohibition has never worked’; ‘Prohibition makes things worse’.

    People who believe this get their information from Hollywood type Elliot Ness movies , not from real US health and crime statistics.

    Can someone quote us the real stats on crime, domestic violence and street violence during the prohibition era in the US and in NZ?

    Not sweeping generalizations based on a few fictional novels and film scripts.

    PS I actually enjoy my alcohol

  14. Big Dog 14

    Doug Sellman predicted it. Blame the youngies- the media will channel your propaganda. Refuse to do what will actually make a difference. Massively waste taxpayer money on gratuitous, ass-end, unfair jails:


    The director of Christchurch’s National Addiction Centre, Professor Doug Sellman, said the Government was wrong to see alcohol abuse as essentially a youth problem.

    Research found that 92 per cent of New Zealand’s heavy drinkers were 20 years and over, and 70 per cent were 25 and over.

    “Aiming measures primarily at youth while avoiding anything substantial that would reduce heavy drinking among adults is scapegoating young people for the country’s heavy drinking culture and fails to address the main issue,” he said.

    The Government had avoided the big policy decisions, such as increasing prices and restricting advertising, and ended up with a package that was “like treating cancer with a couple of aspirin”.

  15. Big Dog 15

    Once again, for the stubborn illiterates on this thread, what the 1000+ medical pros of Alcohol Action are calling for is sane regulation, not the of/by/for alcohol industry present, with its massive negative externalities, measurable and immeasurable.

    Here’s leading libertarian/historian Tyler Cowen on prohibition:


    It’s a common view that Prohibition “didn’t work,” and we’ve all seen cinematic tales of speakeasies and mob killings that lend credence to the idea that lawlessness ruled. Context is always the first casualty of history, but Last Call does a lot to help situate the impulses of the era, and yes, make them seem a little less crazy. At the same time as temperance was flowering, so were crusades for clean water and sanitation, which saved millions of lives. Alcohol, seen as a major scourge of civil society, looked ripe for a once-and-for-all ban that would put mankind on a new course. “Figuring per capita,” Okrent writes, “multiply the amount Americans drink today by three and you’ll have an idea what much of the nineteenth century was like.”

    Prohibition did work largely as intended. Alcohol consumption quickly fell to 30% of its previous level; by the time of repeal it was still no more than 70% of its pre-Prohibition level. Most notably, alcohol consumption remained low for decades; the U.S. didn’t return to pre-Prohibition levels of per capita consumption until 1973. Alcohol-related diseases fell. It remains the case that high alcohol taxes reduce the incidence of cirrhosis, as reported in the 2007 book Paying the Tab, by Philip J. Cook of Duke University.

  16. Big Dog 16

    The “libertarianism” of people like Dave Farrar–like Sarah ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ Palin and her Tea Party– is intellectually bankrupt. It’s a selfish elite who think they have the absolute right to do whatever they want, and stuff everyone else. As their spiritual high-priestess Thatcher said, there’s no such thing as society. To make thing worse, Dave doesn’t believe in rights for working class people who are ill and struggling with modern life, and commit offences. He think the state/justice/corrections should treat them as harshly/vindinctively as possible, as if they’re all end-stage Graham Burton.

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