The benefits of booze

July 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Matt Heath writes in the NZ Herald:

A terrible injustice has befallen commercial radio. A change in the law has stopped us giving away on air.

Campaigners have convinced the Government that a sniff of free booze will instantly turn Kiwis into alcoholics and criminals. I’m not so sure.

Like most Kiwis I enjoy a drink. In fact, I love a drink. I’m having a beer as I write this. But I am not an alcoholic and I don’t have a drinking problem. My drinking is more like a hobby. Sadly, like all pastimes, work and family commitments keep me away from it. …

Anti-alcohol campaigners turn a blind eye to the good booze does in the community. You only have to go to a restaurant to hear the happiness it brings. People laughing and enjoying each other’s company. You can’t put these good people in the same boat as a bastard who beats his family.

Indeed they do often overlook the immense enjoyment most adults get from alcohol.

Campaigners use the terribly behaved to beat up on the slightly naughty. They use the sick to hassle the healthy; their bad experiences to limit the good experiences of others. If the alcohol debate was a weather report then light breezes would be the same as hurricanes, spring showers would become weather bombs and Jim Hickey would lose his job.

The reality is there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting sauced. No crime in catching a taxi home because you’ve had too many. Nearly every newsreader, reporter, politician and police officer has.

There is no shame in drinking, dancing, singing and enjoying the company of other humans.

Sure you could do all those things without alcohol. But thankfully we live in a country where we don’t have to.

Well not yet, but the wowsers are doing their best.

The only thing I would change is to have an app on your smartphone that won’t allow you to text or call people if your breath alcohol is over a certain level. That would have saved me a lot of grief in the last month!

But what of the social cost? Domestic violence, drunk drivers, burglary, assault, couch burning and firetrucking. I’m not doing any of those things. I bet you aren’t either.

I might slur “you’re my best mate” and turn the music up till it distorts. But I never stab people or rob their houses. Bad behaviour is a dickhead problem not a booze problem.

Let’s celebrate the good alcohol does in the community. The new guy who becomes fast friends over work drinks. The shy couple who gain the courage to talk to each other for the first time. The diplomats who seal a deal for the country at the bar after a conference. The victorious sports team singing the national anthem after everyone has gone home.

Celebrating booze – I love it.

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35 Responses to “The benefits of booze”

  1. kowtow (7,871 comments) says:

    Alcohol is and for a very long time been a central part of how our culture celebrates and relaxes.

    Anti alcohol activists are anti western culture.They should move to the new “caliphate”.

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  2. wiseowl (798 comments) says:

    I’ll drink to that.

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  3. xy (166 comments) says:

    Mandatory alcohol testing for beneficiaries!

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  4. Redbaiter (7,852 comments) says:

    “Celebrating booze – I love it.”

    Enjoy it while you can.

    If John Key keeps white anting our traditional culture like all of the other multi-culturalists it won’t be around much longer.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2523658/Muslim-campaigners-protest-sale-alcohol-popular-East-London-area.html

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  5. Jim (405 comments) says:

    Matt will surely attract criticism for his pointing out happy things and not feeling guilty for the victims of alcohol fuelled crime with every sip he takes.

    And he raises a good point about the weather. Children who play in puddles should be severely admonished for their insensitivity towards the victims of mudslides in the Philippines. If you’re enjoying yourself then you are probably depriving someone else of their happiness.

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  6. Rich Prick (1,604 comments) says:

    I think your app idea is a brilliant one. It should require you to enter a 35 character password made of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols on a purposely blurred screen in the event you drunkenly wish to continue.

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  7. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    Campaigners have convinced the government…

    A reminder of how this National-led government is as control-freak and nanny statist as Labour’s.
    Shame on this illiberal pinkos.

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  8. David Garrett (6,661 comments) says:

    What did Winston Churchill say? Something like “I have done far more harm to alcohol than alcohol has done to me”…

    Now how do I avoid Godwinning so early? What is the old saw? “There were two political leaders; one a vegetarian teetoller who loved animals and the other a drunk..Which one would you wish to have as your PM? ” Or something like that…

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  9. Fox (202 comments) says:

    Mandatory alcohol testing for beneficiaries!

    Xy, singling out a certain segment of society that’s well known to be prone to alcohol abuse and excessive drinking is called ‘stigmatising’ and is super evil and nasty.

    On the other hand, making the entire population of a country out to be reckless alcoholics based on the actions of a few, and then using that as a basis to ban the sale and promotion of alcohol; well that’s just standard Left Wing politics and, apparently, perfectly acceptable.

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  10. Liam Hehir (116 comments) says:

    The only thing I would change is to have an app on your smartphone that won’t allow you to text or call people if your breath alcohol is over a certain level.

    As a recipient, I hope!

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  11. SGA (931 comments) says:

    You can, with some small changes here and there, rewrite that whole article replacing alcohol with another recreational drug of choice (not mine, in case you are wondering).
    Just saying….

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  12. Tauhei Notts (1,633 comments) says:

    Just one sentence summed it all up.
    “Bad behaviour is a dickhead problem, not a booze problem.”
    That sentence should have been underlined and printed in a bold type face.

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  13. Jack5 (4,785 comments) says:

    Enjoy it as long as the duty is high enough to compensate the health system, welfare, police and prisons etc, for the costs alcohol creates.

    User pays is the criterion, and since there’s no hope of getting the money from the minority alcohol abusers, the whole alcohol industry needs to pay.

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  14. Jinky (180 comments) says:

    “Bad behaviour is a dickhead problem, not a booze problem.”
    Agreed, but there are a large number of people who only become a dickhead when they’re drunk. That’s why crime and violence increases at weekends when more people are drinking. If you doubt this read anything by Dr Paul Quigley who works in ED at Wellington Hospital or you could volunteer to go out with police on Fri and Sat nights. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a drink and like most here drink responsibly (now I’m older) but haven’t forgotten what I and many others were like as a much younger person. I still have the scars to prove it.

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  15. Griff (6,966 comments) says:

    Only 50% of crime is alcohol related
    50% of weekend a&e admissions are related to alcohol

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  16. Jinky (180 comments) says:

    80% of violent crime is alcohol related. and 75% of injury related A&E admissions are alcohol related.

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  17. Redbaiter (7,852 comments) says:

    “Bad behaviour is a dickhead problem, not a booze problem.”

    To be more accurate, it should be as follow-

    “Bad behaviour is a Progressive problem, not a booze problem.”

    After all, its is Progressives who have worked so assiduously for so long to destroy our civil society.

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  18. RRM (9,606 comments) says:

    Bad behaviour is a Progressive problem, not a booze problem.

    After all, its is Progressives who have worked so assiduously for so long to destroy our civil society.

    How true! Why, I can recall a time, back before progressivism got started, when there was no crime, no civil disobedience and no social disorder.

    The good old days, I think people called it.

    What year was that, again Reddy?

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  19. Redbaiter (7,852 comments) says:

    “What year was that, again Reddy?”

    Maybe this graph could help you out you sad sick in denial loser.

    http://truebluenz.orconhosting.net.nz/graphmm.gif

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  20. RRM (9,606 comments) says:

    Oh I see – Roger Douglas’ free market reforms caused it. Thanks Weddy!

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  21. MT_Tinman (3,033 comments) says:

    Jack5 (4,506 comments) says:
    July 2nd, 2014 at 12:54 pm
    Enjoy it as long as the duty is high enough to compensate the health system, welfare, police and prisons etc, for the costs alcohol creates.

    Who the fucking hell do you think pays for the “services” you listed above?

    Those of us who like a drink are fucking tax payers too.

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  22. David Garrett (6,661 comments) says:

    Red @ 1.46…For once I almost agree with you (Yes, yes, I know you don’t care either way).

    One rather important point though…Your graph appears to show raw numbers of homicides rather than per 100,000 or per 10,000 as is the convention. The shape of the graph is roughly the same, but it is much more credible expressed thus.

    20 homicides a year are obviously a much bigger deal when you have 1.6 million of us (as in the early 50′s) than if you still have 20 homicides per year but the population has doubled.

    But as I say, the shape of the graph is still roughly the same; the increases are just not quite as sharp.

    FWIW I believe the 50′s and early 60′s WAS a golden age in New Zealand: homicides at less than 1 per 100,000 of population per year; full employment, a booming economy; major advances in the health system, particularly for Maori. OK, we had only 3 licenced restaurants in the country and the pubs closed at 6… and “New Zealand cuisine” was something of an oxymoron…so what? It is an absolute myth that people then were all glum and miserable – have a look at “Gisborne Photo News” from 1954 to 1975 which is now all on line. The magazine was full every month with events various clubs put on…and Gisborne was – and remains – just another small town.

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  23. David Garrett (6,661 comments) says:

    RRM: Of course you are being facetious…If you look at Red’s graph – which as I say is pretty accurate – you will see that violent crime really took off in the early 70′s..It has been said – I think with some justification – that the 60′s happened in New Zealand ten years later…I was a teenager in the 70′s, and it was a time of rapid change – much of it for good I suppose, but a great deal that wasn’t. Respect for authority of all kinds rapidly eroded – parental, teachers, police – not helped by the Police’s credibility taking a huge whack from which it has never fully recovered, i.e the investigation of the Crewe murders and the corrupt machinations that followed Thomas’ arrest.

    Obviously it is impossible to isolate to one or even a few factors and say “that’s what did it”, but I believe the major negative change from that time was a marked movement towards so called individual rights at the expense of one’s responsibilities – to ones family, to other members of society, and to one’s own country. I don’t think there is much doubt that if there had been a call to arms to fight you know who in 1970 it would have been nowhere near as successful as in 1940.

    Are we better or worse off as a whole now? Who can say? An entirely subjective argument which can never be resolved…Women not afraid to go walking in the dark on a summer night vs. women dressing however they like, a bar on every corner and a bewildering array of ethnic food….cops literally kicking some punk up the ass before he became a serious crim and glorified thuggery on the rugby field vs. not too bright rugby players being expected to be role models for the young as well as follow the rules of a game almost as silly as its American cousin…I dunno…but then I am not as smart as ‘old Red…

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  24. Longknives (4,624 comments) says:

    I for one have had a gutsful of the endless media coverage about the ‘Evils of Alcohol’. (TV1 Sunday is basically pushing for alcohol to be banned)
    And all the wowsers on Facebook bleating “Support me I’m doing ‘Dry July’”
    Get a fucking life losers- There is NOTHING wrong with having a cold beer after a hard days work, or a glass of wine with dinner, or a Scotch to help you wind down at night.
    I take great pride in telling the ‘Dry July’ brigade that I intend drinking even more in July!
    They will have to pry the beer out of my cold,dead hand…

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  25. MT_Tinman (3,033 comments) says:

    DG, I was a teenager in the 60s and it was great.

    Change started in the late 60s and continued at pace through the 70s, the major change being television and it’s ability to teach NZers about the world around us.

    Combined with the increase in communications technology this allowed NZ to start to grow up.

    I disagree that a 1940-type call to arms would have been unsuccessful, it just would have needed to be sold better and proved to be the final measure available.

    Are we better off now? Of course we bloody are – even if the brain dead, the humourless and the outright nutters now have a voice.

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  26. David Garrett (6,661 comments) says:

    MT: Really? Just think about what I have said above…you are obviously a bit older than me (I am 55) but as I said in my maiden speech, when I was a kid my sisters would think nothing of going walking on a hot summer night…in the state housing block I was brought up in people literally left their doors OPEN – not just unlocked – when they went out during the summer…everyone left their keys in their cars…or most people did.

    Crime rates were very very low…do you remember Clive James once mocking us because the theft of a missing Mark 2 Cortina was on Crimewatch? Vandalism happened, but it was a schocking thing, and something to be ashamed of if your family member was caught doing it…

    Open entry to Uni; no underclass of ferals supported by taxpayers…Red can no doubt trot out a much longer list if he can be bothered…

    And what was the downside? Some overt and much more covert racism…women having something of a harder road if they wanted to be in the professions, and a “road closed” if they wanted to be a tradesman…much more of a homogenous and comformist society…I wasn’t yet born, but in 1955 there was apparently some national tut tutting when some All Black said he was “absolutely buggered” on live radio…As I say, I dunno…my gut feeling is that we were better off in the golden age, but since I am myself something of a non conformist perhaps I would not enjoy the reality so much…

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  27. Longknives (4,624 comments) says:

    Peter Jones 1956…

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  28. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    Fox says:

    Mandatory alcohol testing for beneficiaries!

    Xy, singling out a certain segment of society that’s well known to be prone to alcohol abuse and excessive drinking…

    Citation?

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  29. MT_Tinman (3,033 comments) says:

    Not a great deal older DG.

    DG, it was a simpler time and no doubt what you describe is true but in my house, on the outskirts of ChCh, the door was locked when we left. I never have left my keys in a car (although when first driving the car was a 1937 Morris 8 and a screwdriver unlocked the ignition – something at least one policeman found objectionable when he tried to take my keys off me).

    We were warned at home and school of what is now referred to as “stranger danger”.

    Women and girls still walk of an evening in most places just as they did in my day and considering the number of young ladies I see wandering around alone and drunk (a big change I admit) during the early hours of a Saturday or Sunday morning compared with the crime statistics they still do so safely.

    There are, I believe, far more positives than negatives in the current day, the negatives just attract more noise.

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  30. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    Never mind Fox, I’ll save you the trouble:

    “Social welfare beneficiaries only had modestly higher rates of alcohol or drug use and diagnoses than the general population” – The Economic Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the United States

    “…it is estimated that only 4 to 8% may meet clinical DSM-IV criteria for [alcohol] abuse or dependence; it is not clear that for most of these individuals their use of alcohol constituted the primary reason that they did not or could not gain employment” – Alcoholism, Volume 14, The Consequences of Alcoholism.

    “Most studies of TANF recipients and persons receiving other types of means-tested government assistance find rates of substance abuse that are somewhat higher than those in the general population not on assistance, though not greatly so. Typical among these is a 2002 analysis of substance abuse among persons in families receiving government assistance conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). That analysis found that past month illicit drug use was reported by 9.6 percent of persons age 12 to 64 in families receiving government assistance (including Medicaid, SSI, cash assistance, non cash assistance, and Food Stamps), compared to 6.8 percent of persons in families not receiving assistance” – Drug Testing Welfare Recipients: Recent Proposals and Continuing Controversies

    “The state of Florida passed an almost identical testing procedure that ran from 1999 to 2001 and was reintroduced in July of 2011 that was struck down by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta the following month, citing the fact: ‘there is nothing inherent to the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a “concrete danger” that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use.”

    The Tampa Tribune investigated the results of those July 2011 drug tests and found that ’96 percent proved to be drug free’, another 2 percent never bothering to complete the lengthy application process, and 2 percent actually failing drug testing. At an average cost of $30 per test, the state was hemorrhaging tax dollars at a rate of ‘$28,800-$43,200 monthly’…” – Drug Testing Welfare Recipients to Prevent Abuse

    That’s just the first few scholarly studies I could be bothered unearthing. There’s plenty of others.

    So hey, yeah, let’s all us nanny statists waste more of the taxpayers’ money singling out a group whose pattern of alcohol consumption is little different to the general population and restricting their rights because… well… because we desperately need to feel superior to someone and beneficiaries are a convenient scapegoat.

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  31. David Garrett (6,661 comments) says:

    MT: that’s a very thoughtful reply…I readily admit it is no clear cut thing, trying to work out whether things were better in the Golden Age of the mid 50′s to mid 60′s…lots of stuff we take for granted now and don’t even notice..we would probably miss if we were magically transformed back to the 50′s..Ethnic food, good coffee, women who didn’t expect you to stay the night…

    Actually I think there is probably a fairly marked gender difference…50′s women were subject to many more constraints than now: how they dressed (long gloves and dresses at calf length or below on formal occasions); who they slept with and how often; the outcome of unwanted pregnancies; the limitations on career and even occupation which I have referred to earlier…We on the other hand have it much freer than hitherto…even professionals are no longer expected to routinely wear ties; we can swear like troopers in bars regardless of their being “ladies present” … I dunno…endless discussion…

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  32. Don the Kiwi (1,634 comments) says:

    I agree that the ’60′s were indeed a golden era – for all the reasons DG states. I was a teenager in the 50′s, and turned 21 in 1963. Even the 6 pm. closing didn’t make that much difference – plenty of parties, dances, sly-groggers……….:-)

    But to go back there? No, I don’t think so – too much has changed. And besides, we’re much better of financially now, though there has been too much progressivism in society at large – gender issues, feminism have to a degree curtailed freedoms which back then were taken for granted – not any more.

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  33. Dean Papa (775 comments) says:

    But drinking is really cool

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  34. Jim (405 comments) says:

    Janky says: “80% of violent crime is alcohol related. and 75% of injury related A&E admissions are alcohol related.”

    Hmmm… what percentage of violent crime involves a violent criminal?

    However Janky’s point (which differs from http://www.alcohol.org.nz quoting NZ Police saying half of serious violent crimes are related to alcohol) can show us that alcohol is a very weak factor:

    * 80% of New Zealanders aged 15 years or more drank alcohol in the past year (MoH 2013)
    * Offence rate per 10,000 population for “Serious Assaults Resulting in Injury” is 20.0 (NZ Police 2013)

    So in 2013:
    * 80% of adult NZers drank alcohol.
    * 0.2% of NZers committed a serious assault (half of which were alcohol related according to police)

    Looks like a huge percentage of us are capable of enjoying a drink without feeling the urge to beat someone senseless.

    I’d bet that the violent crime rate would greatly increase if alcohol was forbidden.

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  35. Left Right and Centre (2,861 comments) says:

    You’d need quite a few fuckin drinks before attempting to tolerate more than a minute of mindless boofhead audio-vomit spewing off a Hauraki DJ – shee-it.

    But I like the article. Well done Matt Heath.

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