Rob’s ideas will drive you to drink
NOW, at the hour of our need, when all around is chaos and madness, not to mention the militant stupidity at the universities, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies proposes to make it harder for us get a drink. Shame on him. Davies is among our more dowdy communists. Every morning there comes a class struggle with the wardrobe and the predilection for flapping trousers the tone and weft of which serve as fairly damning indictments of collectivism and committee planning.
Like all communists, he is a deeply conservative puritan and the proposed amendments to the National Liquor Act he announced this week reveal a suspicion, if not outright dread, of those who may be having fun somewhere.
His plans come with attendant horror stories and statistics of foetal alcohol syndrome, road deaths, soggy brains, the national propensity for throwing away the stopper whenever a bottle is opened and what have you.
Naturally, he blames business for all this. “Business, as usual,” he said, “is not making it better, it’s actually making it worse.” Which may well be the case.
But given the links between poverty and alcoholism we could just as easily say it is the government and weak policies that are at fault here.
But Davies wants a “full-on” national debate on the matter. Here goes.
He wants to raise the legal drinking age to 21 and said there was evidence our brains don’t fully develop until we were well into our twenties. The impact of alcohol abuse was more severe on half-formed brains than on fully developed ones.
There is just as much evidence, though, to suggest such a ban would only lead to increased binge-drinking among the youth. But why stop at 21? Why not 35? That, surely, would take care of abuse of alcohol among the youth. And, besides, if your brain hasn’t fully developed by then, well, there is little hope for you anyway.
Davies also proposes limits on marketing, including a ban on adverts aimed at young people – which does suggest a woeful ignorance of the advertising industry.
Firstly, ad agencies are run by young people. And so their campaigns feature young people. Look at the fashion magazines. Full of skinny 15-year-old girls. Who wears the clothes they’re modelling? Their mothers.
It’s the same thing with motoring commercials. They’re full of young people who won’t be able to afford a new car for the next 15 or 20 years. But it’s rich old folk who buy the wheels.
So when you see a beer commercial shot in a nightclub packed with halfnaked Kardashian klones wrapped around the dude with the alco-pop, who’s it aimed at? Delusional old men, that’s who. Research has anyway shown millennials don’t drink nearly as much as previous generations did.
Perhaps the silliest of Davies’s proposals is the ban on new liquor licences to outlets located within 500m of schools, recreational centres or places of worship.
Which means no new liquor licences – ever – for, let’s say, an old, tiny suburb like Observatory. Think about it. You move 500m from any church or school in Observatory and you’ll be in Mowbray or Salt River. Where they have yet more churches and schools. And so it goes.
Short of a culture of responsible drinking – like in France, let’s say, and the Mahogany Ridge – the best way to reduce alcohol abuse is to take up dagga instead.
Much has been written on the merits of marijuana. There’s reams of the stuff out there extolling the virtues of cannabis; how hemp can be used to make diverse commercial and industrial products including rope, food, paper, textiles, plastics, insulation, biofuel and clothing. As for its medical properties, well, we could be here all day.
But let’s not kid ourselves. The vast majority of people who use dagga do so to get high. A bit of euphoria to cut the edge off an otherwise grim day. Which is more or less why people enjoy a glass or wine or two after work.
Time spent with a joint, though, is far more healthy than drinking. The usual violence associated with drunk behaviour is absent with stoners.
Consider the rugby this afternoon. Our hearts may want it otherwise, but we’re more or less resigned to the fact that the All Blacks are going to be teaching the Boks a lesson in Durban.
And yet there will be rugby fans out there, awash with beer, who’ll want to argue and scrap with one another afterwards. There will be blows and there will be tears.
With dagga, though, there will just be giggling. And maybe the munchies.