Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

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Archive for the category “Underage drinking”

More Thatcher than Thatcher

The latest unworkable idea to emerge from this government is announced by  James Purnell on behalf of the Department of Health and Department for Work and Pensions. Simply put it is that if an alcoholic does not accept ‘treatment’ then his or her benefits will be withheld.

Let’s take this a step or two further. Drug addicts who refuse treatment also to have their benefits slashed, well that’s already underway. Overweight people could also have benefit problems if it affects their ability to accept certain employment prospects. Smokers could be refused treatment as could people with sports injuries because let’s face it they don’t have to participate.

Alcoholics, drug addicts and smokers etc can only be helped if they want to be helped and no amount of benefit threats will bring about this desire and in fact will mitigate against that state of mind. If the targets of this ridiculous idea do indeed end up without a means of financial support what will they do? The answer is obvious, either they will starve to death on the streets or they will turn to crime in order to survive.

Politicians generally have a knack of answering the wrong questions. The real question is of course WHY so many of our citizens turn to drugs and alcohol in the first place and then solve that, which of course is a lot less easy than bashing the victims.

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Underage & Binge Drinking

The Scottish Parliament is to consider setting a minimum price for alcoholic drinks in an attempt to decrease underage drinking. Well meaning yes but surely doomed to failure.

An increase in price high enough to have any effect will at the same time make buying booze in low price England and bringing it into Scotland an attractive proposition for many and a thriving black market will soon develop. Amongst the young some bright spark will quickly catch on to buying a bottle of Vodka and selling it on at an affordable £3 per nip and either end up being stabbed for his profits or become the next Sir Fred Goodwin.

Public Houses, particularly in rural areas, are social centres and an important part of our heritage and yet are closing down at an alarming rate. A good pub landlord will quickly spot an under age customer or someone who has ‘had enough’ and not serve them, providing a degree of gentle but effective control. The Government could introduce a two tier taxation system on alcohol whereby supermarkets and off licences had a very high tax rate and pubs a much lower one. This way young people are financially discouraged, adults are not penalised and the pubs have their survival chances greatly enhanced.

All that said, the real question is ‘why’ is there such an increase in drinking particularly among the young? Affordability is certainly a factor, the price of alcohol is quite cheap and in fact in some supermarkets cider is cheaper than bottled water.

Consider for a moment though, if you are brought up in a system where you are regularly tested on your ability to conform to narrowly defined educational achievements. You live your life watched by unseen eyes through CCTV cameras and you are judged by society not by who you are or what you can do but by what material possessions that you have. You see your parents working longer and harder just to keep abreast of the mortgage repayments or exorbitant rents and are too tired to engage you in a proper family life and can see this as your future too. On top of all this the media constantly gives the impression that your life is in imminent danger of being lost by stabbing or shooting and rarely highlights anything good happening. Wouldn’t you be tempted to escape into an alcoholic haze? I know I probably would but I was lucky, very lucky, as I grew up when the people of Britain were working together rebuilding the nation after WW2, when the NHS came into being and relieved the fear of accident or illness. A period of time when there was less inequality and trying to improve the quality of life had yet to turn into greed.

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