The poor people need regulating

The anti-alcohol lobby does it again

The Age has reported today that “poorer” areas of Victoria have more liquor stores per capita than “richer” areas, prompting calls for tighter alcohol controls in poorer areas. That’s interesting; I thought the anti-alcohol wowser movement only hijacked mainstream media on weekends via the Sunday Age. They must be expanding.

According to a recent study, “poor people” live in areas with higher concentrations of liquor stores than “rich people”, and this leads to increased rates of social harms such as domestic violence and alcohol-related chronic illness. Or to use the politically correct expression favoured by academics who have never worked in the real world, there is an “inequality of outcomes”.

Clearly these wife-beating poor people with bad liver function need more supervision so that they can be liberated from their undoubtedly miserable existences. Then they’ll be able to live the abstemious, culturally-approved lifestyles of the “rich people” who are so obviously the demographic we should all aspire to be like. Because a working-class person choosing to drink more than the strict recommended guidelines is A Universally Bad Thing That Must Be Stopped, while the pinnacle of life is being trapped in an upper middle-class suburban nightmare of mindless consumerism where your only aspiration is to take on ever-increasing levels of mortgage debt and your sole creative thought is deciding what colour leather interior will look good in your new Audi (just as long as you have no more than two standard drinks in the process).

All jokes aside, what kind of serious researcher uses the dichotomous, kindergarten-grade expressions “rich people” and “poor people” when referring to socio-economic differences across geographic regions? More to the point: what kind of professional journalist replicates these expressions when reporting on the study’s findings? Answer: a lazy one! Or one who is 5 years old.

At the beginning of this news item we’re told that the study is “prompting calls for tighter controls”. Oh my God! Oh my God! We need tighter controls! Something must be done about the “poor people” and their alcohol problem! Haven’t you heard? We need tighter controls! When you read the article through to the end, it becomes clear that these “calls” are coming only from the lobbyists researchers who conducted the study. Another classic example of the anti-alcohol lobby and their media hostages fabricating a frenzy.

And what is their suggestion? The researchers call for greater control at a “local level” and applaud the recent introduction of planning permits for liquor stores, calling it a positive step. In other words: don’t let “poor people” have too many liquor stores in their neighbourhoods. Come again? A plan to solve social problems based on restricting physical access to alcohol? Excuse me while I pee my pants laughing. Yeah, that’ll work. Just like the Prohibition era did in the United States. Ahh! You guys crack me up.

I don’t deny that alcohol is a big problem in some parts of the community, but I have two main criticisms of the way these cardigan-wearing nannies generally go about their crusade. The first is that many of these lobbyists steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the social, mental and (yes) health benefits of responsible alcohol consumption – especially for people who work damn hard for a living* and just want to relax with a few quiet drinks at the end of the day in the privacy of their own homes (*our researcher friends are not included in this category).

The second is that these morons are fighting a force of nature that cannot be suppressed; ever since human beings have walked on two legs, we’ve been thinking up new ways to ferment things and get inebriated. And we will go to extraordinary lengths to do so. Blind Freddie can see that. But sadly, Terry Teetotaler from the anti-alcohol lobby cannot.

Controlling the number of liquor stores in “poor” neighbourhoods sounds like a plan that will possibly have little to no positive effect on those who actually experience alcohol-related harm while simultaneously making the lives of the majority a little bit more shit. Just because there are some people who abuse alcohol, does that mean everyone else in the “poor” neighbourhood has to suffer for it?

And if someone is predisposed to domestic violence or alcoholism, is the solution just to make sure they never have access to this dastardly poison? Repeat after me kids: band-aid sol-u-tion. I could talk about awareness, education and grassroots action. But that would be pointless, since Australia is a nanny state where the solution to every problem is to “confiscate” things as if we’re all children who’ve been caught playing with matches.

I also remain unconvinced that the prevalence of liquor stores actually has any bearing on rates of alcoholism and domestic violence. Just because two phenomena coincide does not mean one causes the other. The article simply states that “previous research” has proven this, but it does not elaborate on this claim. The anti-alcohol mob has a track record of stating baseless claims as fact, so it’s always best to err on the side of skepticism when reading about anything they’re involved in. It would have been nice of the journalist to expound upon the research that actually proves this link, but of course that analysis would be too complicated for the mainstream media. If it can’t be moulded into the “a new study has shown that this thing causes this thing” template in 500 words or less, it’s just not worth reporting.

In other related news that I’ve just made up, a recent study has also shown that fathers in “rich” areas who work in highly-paid professional jobs spend an average of 17.4 minutes per week with their children. Previous research has demonstrated that the amount of time fathers spend with their children is inversely related to the likelihood that their children will grow up to be fuckwits. This has prompted calls for tighter controls. A recent government proposal to introduce a licensing system in “rich” neighbourhoods, under which fathers must maintain a logbook of contact hours with their children and may only be granted a licence to spawn further children after they have logged the requisite 120 hours, has been hailed as a positive first step.

I’m sorry. I’m in a slightly weird mood today. Someone in my apartment building is smoking weed 24/7 and I think the fumes coming up through the shared ventilation system are starting to get to me. They should really regulate that marijuana stuff, you know.

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8 responses to “The poor people need regulating”

  1. Helen olivieri says :

    Sorry, the recommendations of this study you refer to is not my idea of a problem. I do agree with your railing against gross generalisations and dichotomies like “the rich” v “the poor”, but frankly, and contrary to your assertions, alcohol has no health benefits of any kind. Tannins and polyphenols which happen to exist in some wines have been shown to have benefits, but alcohol does not. And I have often used alcohol with the aim to unwind and socially lubricate myself, but I have always regretted it. Exercise, a good chin wag with friends, good food, and sleep, contribute to successful relaxation, and we mis-attribute the benefits of a good occasion, sometimes, to the alcohol that happened to be there when we were shooting the breeze with friends. Can we please stop perpetuating the idea that alcohol is essential to health, de-stressing, and being socially accepted? Thanks. At the same time, I agree that raising prices or restricting access is going to reduce use, or the problems that come from over consumption. It’s a cultural problem. The culture of alcohol as the panacea for all troubles spans all social groups in oz it seems to me.

    • Helen olivieri says :

      Sorry, missing negative in the last sentence!! Prohibition or restriction of access does not reduce consumption.

  2. Miss Demure Restraint says :

    Perhaps the studies should take a look at how often domestic violence goes unreported in high income families or the true rate of alcoholism in this same demographic. Come on people . . . regulation never stopped anything. Your pot smoking neighbors are illustration enough of that.

    Beautiful post, well-written and intelligent.

  3. Sam Flowers says :

    Great article. Your penultimate paragraph would not be out of place in The Onion. Alas nor would it be in the ‘serious’ press.

  4. Edward Hotspur says :

    I don’t do studies often. But when I do, they are biased end-result-driven agenda-laden studies that create false dichotomies. You are so jealous.

    Good post!

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