It appears we need help preventing our society from going down the drain. Big Brother is back, but this time to control what we drink.
The Alberta Games and Liquor Commission has banned the sale of beer with an alcohol content higher than 11.9 per cent until it can establish the effects high-alcohol beer has on binge drinking. Liquor stores may sell the remainder of their stock but are not allowed to order more until the AGLC report is presented, likely in the spring. Is this really the role of the AGLC?
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration recently issued warning letters threatening action if companies do not stop producing drinks containing both alcohol and high levels of caffeine. Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner for the FDA, believes that "the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern." The concern is that dangerous situations, such as drunk driving, will occur more often because people consuming caffeinated alcoholic beverages are 'awake drunk' and do not realize how impaired they are. This sounds almost plausible, but not quite.
The AGLC and the FDA need to do a little more simple thinking. The concern in Alberta is binge drinking, which is usually defined as more than four or five drinks more than once in a two week period, means people purposely getting drunk and often. But the high-alcohol beer is $8-$12 per bottle, so binge drinkers would be spending about $30 to get drunk several nights a week when they could buy a six-pack of an average bottled beer for only $10. Has the AGLC forgotten about wine and liquors? There are definitely cheap versions of both available with alcohol content levels above the 11.9 per cent that the AGLC is concerned about with beer. And apparently the FDA forgot that Americans are able to mix liquor and caffeine drinks themselves. Although at first both appear to be doing something 'good' for society, binge drinkers can drink anything and Americans can mix their own drinks, therefore neither the AGLC nor the FDA will accomplish their objectives. So neither government agency has provided sufficient reason to stop the sale of high alcohol beer or caffeinated alcoholic beverages. People who endanger the lives of others, through drunk driving and other reckless behaviour, should be prosecuted. But drinking certain types of alcohol is no crime if others aren't harmed. The AGLC and FDA should make people aware of the dangers of certain types of drinking practices. There is, however, no way they can stop people from engaging in them.
Make your own moral judgements on binge drinking, but that is not the core issue here. My real problem is not the ineffectiveness of the AGLC and FDA decisions. To be honest, I do not drink beer or mix liquor with caffeinated drinks so neither would directly affect me, but I do care that these government agencies believe they have the right to choose what I drink. This is a perfect example of too much government control. Soon we will all be limited to disgusting gin because Big Brother thinks that's all we deserve.
Has our society become so pathetic that we are unable to make decisions for ourselves? I hope the AGLC and FDA will not successfully ban high-alcohol beer and caffeinated alcoholic beverages because I happen to like making decisions for myself.