May 18, 2008
Taxing The Piss
“We don’t think there’ll be a simple change-over, because we know many young people simply don’t like the taste of beer, or straight alcohol,” she said.
“That will be a good thing if it delays some people from having their first introduction to alcohol, or if it puts them off drinking for a number of years. That will have a positive impact.”
This is the dumbest bunch of bullshit I’ve read in a week. Can you say, “prolonging the inevitable”?
The Australian Government intends to increase tax on “alcopops” by 70%, as this will supposedly “help to cut teenage drinking, because the so-called alcopops disguise the taste of alcohol”. Up until this point I’d been rather blasé about the issue, but the truckload of bullshit that Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon wheeled into the discussion has prompted me to respond.
People like to get drunk, regardless of age. It’s been glorified throughout history. It’s glorified everywhere you look in the media. Getting drunk is fun. More importantly, getting drunk teaches individuals to become responsible for their actions.
My introduction to binge drinking occurred at around age 15, three years before our national legal drinking age allows a person to buy, drink or possess alcohol. It took me around a dozen violent vomit explosions and killer hangovers to realise that my actions, however fun they were at the time, had consequences. I learned that drinking a lot is fun, but it fucks you over. I learned personal accountability for my actions.
My experience was not uncommon. Beginning binge drinking at the age of 15 was later than a lot of my peers at the time. It’s what teenagers do – experiment, participate in risk-taking behavior, and learn. There’s a small percentage who don’t learn, and who are thus plagued with problems throughout their lives. That’s another discussion entirely, though.
“Cask wine is the drink of choice for someone who wants to get hammered,” Mr Smeaton told AAP.
He’s not wrong. From experience, goon is the cheapest, most popular decision for the discerning binge drinker.
“We need to increase the tax on things like full-strength beer, on cask wine, and on port.”
Okay, now he’s wrong. Increasing taxes in an attempt to quell an activity that members of society knowingly participate in is an act of social engineering, in its simplest form. And it’s not going to work.
People are going to binge drink, regardless. Alcopop sales will plummet, and both goon and straight alcoholic spirit sales will soar. And then they’ll attempt to implement further tax hikes, and then where does it end?
Look. Taxing the shit out of an activity isn’t going to reduce its prevalence. I doubt that the popularity of binge drinking has increased in any other manner than proportionately. There’s more kids than ever, so there’s more of them that binge drink. This has gone on for generations. Hell, wasn’t rum used as a currency during colonial times?
The act of binge drinking in ingrained into our national culture. Logically, we should teach kids how to handle alcohol from an early age. I don’t mean teaching as in the bullshit hour-a-week program that they probably still receive in early high school, as I did. I mean, really raise, address and discuss the issue with kids from a young age.
Tax ain’t the answer. You can’t throw money at – or in this case, take money from – an issue to make it go away. The problem’s deeper than that, and it deserves a reasonable, rational response.
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