Individual responsibility

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2002

To tax or not to tax alcohol seems to be the question. I will once again explain the fallacy of the pro-tax group's arguments.

Alcoholism is not a social problem; it is an individual problem. The costs of alcohol-related tragedies are not the responsibility of our society; they are the responsibility of the individual. To claim that anyone (and everyone) who drinks alcohol is responsible for the tragedies incurred by those who drink in excess is ignorant in the extreme. The only thing more absurd would be to allow the use of this inept logic to impose an unfair tax on our society.

Shall we also ask for a tax on belts and wire hangers to pay for the atrocities of child abuse? How about a tax on cameras to offset the cost of fighting pornography, or a tax on barbecue forks to help pay for the costs of gang violence (yes, they are becoming popular weapons). We could place a tax on cars capable of exceeding 20 miles per hour to help pay for damages caused by speeders. And, finally, we could levy huge taxes on all food items with high fat content (or sugar content) in order to pay for all the monstrous costs associated with heart disease, diabetes, high-blood pressure and obesity.

Alcohol is no more responsible for alcoholism and its related tragedies than these other inanimate objects are for tragedies caused by their improper use. And taxing law-abiding, reasonable users of alcohol to pay for the atrocities caused by the criminal few is no more intelligent than any of the "taxes" I listed above. In addition, it has been proven worldwide that taxation does little (nothing) to curb any of the related damages. England and Ireland, for example, have extremely high (if not the highest) alcohol taxes and yet still suffer from very high rates of alcoholism and its related damages.

As for the costs associated with alcohol, I agree we pay too much. My opinion is we shouldn't be paying at all. The state doesn't pay damages when someone shoots someone. The state doesn't pay damages when someone robs someone. The state certainly shouldn't be paying when someone breaks the law by drinking and driving and causes an accident. Neither should we be paying for the rehabilitation of those who can't control how much they drink.

In closing, I will offer some insight for those who maintain a "moral" opinion of alcohol. There is only one being capable of "evil" on this planet and that being is Man. Man is the master of his actions. He chooses to do right or wrong. He chooses, sometimes, to drink too much. This is not the alcohol's choosing. Do not be deceived into believing otherwise. Ultimately, Man is responsible for his own actions.

Patrick McGonegal


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