Wednesday, January 07, 2009

NOT PJ: Whine Merchants

Bernard Darnton surveys the government's whineries, and discovers nothing but boos ...

You’d think that just once a year the do-gooders at ALAC could take a break from a hard year’s hectoring and relax with a couple of cold beers. Sadly, no. Looking irritatingly chipper the day after the ALAC Christmas party, they were straight back into the busy-bodying.

And it’s not just ALAC – the place is infested: the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council whines that “there is no safe drinking level” and it’s happily reported here, some outfit called “Alcohol Healthwatch” (a charitable trust with a reassuringly amateur website, but effectively a branch of the Ministry of Health) is constantly banging on about booze and its evils, and the Police are nagging the government to lower the drink-drive limit instead of enforcing some of the laws we’ve already got.

Where does this nonsense about “no safe drinking level” come from? Since sitting down to write this, I’ve nibbled on a couple of brandy-filled chocolates that some kind soul left on my doorstep over Christmas and I’ve noticed no ill effects. If this is living dangerously I really need to get a life. (I note from the chocolate box by the way that the French, quite sensibly and very unpuritanically, call brandy l’eau de vie – “water of life.” I wouldn’t ask a Frenchman for advice if I had an aggressive enemy on my border – take note, Israel – but if he was cooking dinner and serving drinks, then count me in. I assume that the Gaza peace negotiations are a well-catered diplomatic affair.)

The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council claims that even one drink doubles the risk of injury – presumably from five eighths of bugger all to bugger all. Two more drinks doubles the risk again. With five drinks your risk is up six times. Seven drinks and it’s ten times. Chuck all that into Excel and do some formulas and stuff and it turns out that the first drink increases your risk of injury by virtually nothing – that being the initial risk – and each subsequent drink increases your risk by less than the previous one. I regularly write these columns with a few on board but even so I’m more likely to catch mad cow flu than stab myself with the cursor.

All this chatter about risk is just a way of keeping people scared. And scared people look for someone to protect them. And who better to protect them than a bloody great big government? One conveniently full of bureaucrats babbling incessantly about how risky everything is.
ALAC’s mission is to “change social norms” – to introduce a social stigma around “drinking for effect”. Their “It’s how we’re drinking” advertisements present New Zealand’s drinking culture as an unmitigated evil.

Not everyone sees it that way. For every stereotypical party-girl who gets wasted at Friday drinks, shags someone on the photocopier, and regrets it the next day, there’s a Dennis from Accounts who thinks that binge drinking is the best thing since sliced bread, unsliced bread, soft round baps, toasty warm muffins, and hot dripping crumpets.

It is criminal that the state steals from Dennis to fund a campaign to eliminate one of the few pleasures of his dull, green-visored existence. Of course, if he’s any good as an accountant he probably keeps his dough well out of the reach of the killjoys’ sticky fingers.

Drinking is fun. That’s why people do it and have done for thousands of years. For as long as people have had minds they’ve wanted to alter them. And for as long as people have made up their own minds what to do governments have disapproved and tried to herd those minds into order.

Drinking also has its costs, as the meddlers tirelessly remind us. The answer is not to socialise those costs and then berate everyone for enjoying themselves but to privatise the costs and let each of us weigh up the hangovers and broken photocopier screens against the rowdy good times swimming in the water of life.

* * Read Bernard Darnton's regular column every week here at NOT PC * *

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Blogger mc2 said...

Well Bernie if you double 5/8 you don't get 1 you get 5/4... basic maths did they not teach you that?

There is nothing at all wrong with a few drinks (few being a relative term of course), and I think that you might have a good point with the user pays concept like a hangover writ large.

But drinking too much too often IS a problem and those that cannot help themselves do need help from others (even if they have to pay for that help they still need it)


1/08/2009 08:34:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life is and of itself is risky. Getting out of bed in the morn' constitutes a major risk. Once do-gooders realise that fact, drinking absolutely pales into insignificance.

1/09/2009 08:36:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...


Do-gooders realise that life is risky. What is important to realise is that do-gooders lust for power over other people. They use the excuse of "preventing risky behaviour" to acquire the power they lust for.

BTW there is another term for your "do-gooders". It is "collectivist"; a particular variant of which is known as the "socialist".

The necessary attributes of these vermin are their fundamentally deceptive nature, their dishonesty, their sense of self-importance, their lust for power and their sense of entitlement to that which belongs to others.

Now, whether they really care about alcohol or not is moot. The issue is whether other people care enough about freedom.


BTW why don't you select a tag line and post over that? There are a number of people posting as "Anonymous" and it is difficult to know which is which.

1/09/2009 10:29:00 am  
Anonymous frank cobain said...

Do-gooders. Collectivists. Evil-doers. Charlatans. Busy-bodies.
Call them what you will, their colours remain the same. Semantics really.


1/09/2009 01:22:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Now, whether they really care about alcohol or not is moot. The issue is whether other people care enough about freedom"

Libertarianism has a lot to say about freedom but little about learning to handle it. Freedom without judgment is dangerous at best, useless at worst. Yet libertarianism is philosophically incapable of evolving a theory of how to use freedom well because of its root dogma that all free choices are equal, which it cannot abandon except at the cost of admitting that there are other goods than freedom.

1/09/2009 02:28:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...


You write:
"Libertarianism has a lot to say about freedom but little about learning to handle it."

Really? Try learning about the topic BEFORE you comment. That way you won't make such a fool of yourself.

Libertarian thinkers and writers have published and debated a great deal about what freedom means, the moral & ethical issues involved & the evaluations and values that exercising freedom entails. It's clear you are unfamiliar with any of this. Were you to have read of it you'd not be making idiotic assertions, as on this occasion. This material is not secret. It is freely available for your education. So, go do some reading. Von Mises, Hazlett, Rand, Reisman, Herman-Hoppe, etc. etc. etc. There are many examples. It's just that you have been too lazy to have bothered. It's time to remedy your ignorance. Get moving!

You assert: "Freedom without judgment is dangerous at best, useless at worst. Yet libertarianism is philosophically incapable of evolving a theory of how to use freedom well because of its root dogma that all free choices are equal, which it cannot abandon except at the cost of admitting that there are other goods than freedom."

Where do you get this shit? There is no root dogma that "all free choices are equal". That's you making up bullshit assertions again. You are clearly quite the liar.

More suggested reading for you is what Prof Peikof writes about ethics and morality.

Rather than post your silly assertions on this site have the decency to learn about the topic.


PS what is your problem? Why not choose a unique tag line for yourself?

1/09/2009 05:35:00 pm  
Anonymous twr said...

Anon, I'd say it's irrelevant how freedom manifests itself. The concept is still valid. Many people have used the results of peoples poor (free) choices as the excuse for removing the choice from everyone, however some people's undesirable results are not considered (by the proponents of Libertarianism) to be grounds for removing the option from others. eg: Why the hell should the fact that x person can't handle their liquor mean that I can't enjoy a drink? Muddying the philosophical waters inevitably ends up with totalitarianism.

1/09/2009 11:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Colin's dad said...

Colin White says the anonymous poster on this thread is Red Baiter or The Banned One. It is the same person.

1/12/2009 12:20:00 pm  
OpenID Bernard Darnton said...

Good piece on this in the Herald this weekend:

Otago University health researcher Jennie Connor tells us that "kids who drink a lot when they're young set up sexual behaviour patterns that continue". Somewhere in this tautologous train wreck of a sentence is a claim that would take several decades of comparative research to validate. Has this been done?

1/12/2009 01:47:00 pm  

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