Monday, September 14, 2009

Here we go again

It's starting again. The anti-drink brigade are getting limbered up. The report last week by a pschologist who said that "middle-class" parents who tried to get their children to have a responsible approach to drink by allowing them a glass of wine with dinner when they are sixteen or seventten are naive and basically leading their children down a path to alcoholism, liver disease and eternal damnation. I read the article and it was startlingly devoid of any scientific evidence, it just seemed to be this one guy's opinion. Yet it was front page news in the Irish Times and it was followed up by a full page article on the front of Saturday's weekend section. This article had a headline "Go on, darling, have a drink" and a large cartoon of 5 or 6 teenagers with glasses of wine in their hands.

This psychologist's idea is that complete a complete ban on drink in the house is the best way to teach your children how to behave. This is how Ireland has traditionally done things and it has obviously worked brilliantly and we don't have any binge-drinking at all.


Why not try to be a bit more European in this regard. In Italy and Spain, it is profoundly uncool to be drunk; it is seen as a weakness and a lack of control. Yet they drink wine with pretty much every meal, wine is as cheap as chips and life seems to be perfectly civilised. Why can't we do this? Just like sex, teenagers are going to do it whether we want them to or not. What is wrong with a little education from the parents with regard to alcohol? Take the mystery out of it, lead by example with regard to moderation, it seems to make sense to me.

You would imagine there was a huge teenage wine-drinking problem in the country. I have been standing behind the counter of a wine shop for 10 years now and I have never, not even once, had someone underage looking for wine. However, we close at 8pm and I wander past O'Brien's where they have plenty of young people (not necessarily underage) buying beer, cider, vodka etc.

But not wine.

The leaking of anti-drink propaganda happened this time last year as well and we were hit with a 50c increase in duty on wine. Prices have fallen since so this rise has been swallowed by the wine trade and then some. Sales have also fallen, so the take on excise is down since the increase was introduced. What would a normal person do - leave duty alone maybe or even decrease it to try and boost sales and therefore the tax take? We are not dealing with normal people here..

So is this "research" being promoted by the geniuses in the Dept of Finance to soften us up for another rise is excise duty?

You betcha.

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