Australian Politics & Current Affairs
By Nick Kenny.
If you live in Australia, chances are you’ve had a bender. Chances are you’ve hit the town on a Friday or Saturday night at some stage, and smashed far in excess of the “safe drinking limit”. Those who haven’t done this, at least once, are a minority – we are a generation of pissheads. Just like the generation before us, just like the generation before them, and just like the generations that will come after us.
It is also highly probable that you did not drink-drive, you did not assault anyone, you did not end up in hospital, and you haven’t developed cirrhosis of the liver, nor will you ever. As educated adults, the vast majority of us understand the consequences of our behaviour, and regulate it accordingly. Unfortunately for you, and for every other young Sydney-sider who enjoys a well-earned bender at the end of the week, grumpy old bores with too much time on their hands are trying to rob you of your natural born right to make up your own mind and live your own life.
Apparently, all this time you haven’t actually been having fun. According to the powerful preventative health lobby, you’ve not only been miserable, but you’ve been in some wretched limbo known as “Quality-Reduced Life Years”. Without consulting you, or anyone you know for that matter, the anti-booze crusaders have come up with a brilliant tool to describe how happy they think you are. They refer to it as “Quality Adjusted Life Years”, and in case you haven’t already guessed, being wasted doesn’t rank too highly on their little yardstick.
This is a measurement devised by a bunch of pencil-necked geriatrics who over-indulged during their own adolescent years, developed amnesia, then gotten all hot under the collar when young people do what young people have done since the dawn of time. They now want to live out their boring existence until the age of 100-and-something, they want everyone else to do the same, and they reckon if you don’t conform, you are one sick individual. Literally, sick.
“Quality-Adjusted Life Years”. Meaning that someone who isn’t you is measuring the quality of your life, and you get no say in the matter. So if you’ve been drunk every weekend of your adult life, any health official with an axe to grind could argue that you have had zero quality of life all those weekends, and you were in fact officially dead. I’m no philosopher, but anyone who’s half-cut, dancing, and singing “Flame Trees” next to a full esky on their front porch at 2pm on a Saturday arvo is not only alive and kicking, but they’re pretty bloody happy with themselves.
But no – according to the preventative health lobby, this type of behaviour is not only unacceptable, but downright reprehensible. They attack the party lovers by shoving their way of life down the throats of anyone in arm’s reach to prove a point, screaming the same old worn-out slogans like “risky behaviour”, “economic costs”, and “alcohol-fuelled violence” over and over. As if the poor behaviour of a tiny minority is cause for choking the rights of the happy and peaceful majority, as if you can ban and tax yourself into an economic paradise, and as if people are going to suddenly stop enjoying themselves because “research indicates…”.
Drunken assaults, and binge-drinking in general, have actually declined over the past decade, but the public health wowsers won’t let the truth get in the way of a good yarn. There’s nothing quite like a single isolated death, like that of Lucio Stein Rodrigues, to provoke an illogical reaction out of people. This poor young bloke’s death was without a doubt a terrible tragedy. But people die all the time, and usually from much more inconspicuous causes than a one-in-a-million king hit. But to pounce on someone’s death, exploit his family’s grief, and start making unreasonable demands for their own wowser agenda, is just plain sick. Make no mistake – every lobby group, including the public health crusaders, have policy entrepreneurs and high-level connections just waiting for a perfect storm like this to hit. They see this as a window of opportunity to attack while the fog of emotion lies heavily on the public’s mind, then they shove their draconian laws through parliament while the painful memories are fresh and the time is ripe.
The worst thing is that we actually pay these people a salary to ban and tax the things we enjoy. This taxpayer-funded preventative health machine is a powerful and growing force, made up of medical professionals, health ministers, bureaucratic bean-counters, and a whole bunch of other government big-wigs getting paid handsome salaries to ban and tax the things we enjoy. Yesterday, it was tobacco. Today, it’s booze. Tomorrow, it will be fast food. And when they’re done with that, they’ll find a new public enemy number one, because that is what moral crusaders do. They are an incredibly powerful force, bent on dictating to the common people what they can and cannot do, as though without their “help” we’d all be paralytic drunk 24 hours a day, or chain-smoking ourselves into oblivion, or gorging on KFC until we drop dead of heart problems. You are but a dopey, helpless child to these people, and it is their mission to force you to live your life the way they see fit.
Boardwalk Empire’s fictional main character he called alcohol “a product fellas gotta have”. In one sentence, he summed it up – there is not a law in the land clever enough to get between a man and his drink. Almost a century ago, the United States government passed one of the most disastrous, costly, and extremist laws a democracy has ever seen – absolute prohibition of alcohol. It was the most epic of failures. Yet in 2013, the preventative health lobby, and their powerful mates in government, are still trying to push the same water uphill with the same useless rake.
In a supposedly free, open, democratic, and tolerant society, this is unacceptable. I propose we draw the line, and bring in a two-step process to deal with alcohol. Step one: educate the population about the likely and potential effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Step two: let grown adults make up their own minds and live their own lives. That is all.