Sunday, October 30, 2005

Your Country Needs You To Drink

This is a good post, but it buys into one of the most widely held, yet most logically dubious, myths about booze, namely the idea that there are huge hooch-related health costs. Obviously, there are costs incurred in the treatment of chronic illness directly related to hooch, although most of these costs arise as a result of a small number of cases of people with a pathological relationship with idiot oil [1]. But the vast majority of 'drink-related health costs' are nothing of the sort.

Certain there are conditions which are more likely to kill drunks rather than lemonade drinkers, but the corollary to that is that the sober are correspondingly more likely to be killed by other illnesses. Surely it is just as valid to total up the costs of treating those illnesses and call it the costs of non-drinking related illness ? But what would that prove ? Nothing, except that it is the dying part that’s expensive, not the actual cause of death.

Now, bring in the other two factors. Obviously, drunks pay an extortionate rate of tax on vitamin XXX, which must offset many of these alleged costs, but there's something else too. The Health Nazis are right: drunks do die earlier. Or, to put it another way, the sober hang on and on, gobbling up pensions, other benefits and healthcare. Think of all the hip replacements the NHS hasn’t had to shell out for because of drunks who worked all their lives, got to 65 then did the decent thing. Hooch related costs ? It’s the sober that are bleeding the country dry.

[1]Of course, alcoholism rarely presents alone, and if considered as just the particular pathology of more generalised depressive illness, then the total cost of specifically alcohol-related disease shrinks even further.

No comments: