Friday, 20 April 2012

Is alcohol really a right?

I know it was a few weeks ago now that the price of alcohol was in the news again.  However, stumbling across an article on the BBC ( really got me thinking about it further. I found the article fascinating.  On the one hand it reminds us that we really don’t know much about what goes on in all the countries in the world (unless I am the only one who didn’t know how ‘dry’ the States still is), on the other it got me wondering how relevant ‘Footloose’ still is today. 
On the whole though, I wonder why the UK seems to think that alcohol is a right for everyone.  Every time there is a discussion about the problems of alcohol abuse in the country there is a call for increased prices in order to restrict access.  This comes from those concerned for our health and of course the costs associated with it, which ultimately affects us all.  This I understand completely and I do think we need to listen to these people before we end up with real restrictions on access to alcohol similar to those used in parts of Scandinavia.  

Nevertheless, whenever there is a call for price restrictions, it seems there is general outrage and concern that not everyone will be able to afford their regular fix of this drug.  Surely we do not consider alcohol a human right?  I know there was much jeering when a politician tried to express that access to the internet was a human right.  In a way though, that’s easier to understand.  Have you ever had to try finding something like the number for an electrician in a power cut?  These days, so much is on the internet there is an argument to say that you would be disadvantaged without access to it.  However, if the health counsellors are to be believed, not being able to drink much is a good thing.  So why do people get so upset about it? 

It makes me wonder what would happen if we were declared a ‘dry’ country.  Some of the US counties in the article are large areas, compared to the UK.  Would we have riots like last summer?  How much money would we save for the NHS compared to the taxes lost?  Would it just be a nicer, calmer society on a Saturday night?  Would we all become caffeine addicts instead?  Of course there are already many people in the UK that choose not to drink because of religious beliefs or due to health reasons (chosen or forced) and I wonder what the percentage is of drinkers vs. non-drinkers.  I am sitting here curious to know what level of support there would be for a 'dry' week in London, for example.  It will never happen but I'm curious.

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