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DC Gets in a Bar Fight Over Alcohol

Government agencies are set to tighten alcohol regulations, leading to backlash from the industry.

by | Jun 29, 2024 | Articles, Opinion, Politics

By Paul R. Brian

America was founded on freedom, and that included the right to have a drink of alcohol if you want. Founding Father Sam Adams even has his own eponymous brand, while Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison greatly encouraged the brewing industry in the 13 Colonies. The first president, George Washington, operated a craft brewery at his home in Mount Vernon, VA.

Today, however, big-government lackeys are trying to be a buzzkill. The departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services are set to issue stricter guidelines about drinking and its potential negative effects on health. The alcohol industry is far from pleased about government agencies trying to give beer and liquor a bad name.

But behind this debate lies two truths: You can’t shame people into self-discipline, and Americans are already drinking less.

How Much Is Too Much Alcohol?

According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking any alcohol at all carries a “tiny, but real increased risk” of health problems, including certain cancers and degenerative illnesses. However, the Mayo Clinic acknowledges that even moderate drinking generally carries low health risks. It defines moderate as two drinks per day for a man and one drink per day for a woman, specifying a drink as approximately five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of spirits.

Heavy drinking, by contrast, is defined by the Mayo Clinic as more than four drinks a day for men and more than three for women. It notes that this is a “high risk” activity that “can increase” the occurrence of cancers, liver disease, and heart disease.

The bottom line is that low or moderate drinking carries little risk, with some studies showing various significant health benefits. By contrast, heavy consumption and binge drinking clearly have long-term and potential short-term dangers in terms of impaired judgment, decision-making, and motor abilities.

Drinking Rates Are Going Down

The United States has seen a general decline in alcohol use, especially beer and particularly among younger people. This includes a 58% decrease in alcohol use from 2002 to 2021 for 16- and 17-year-olds and a 69% drop for 14- and 15-year-olds. As researcher John Elflein noted:

“Beer has accounted for the largest share of the alcohol market in the United States over most of the last decade, but was overtaken by spirits for the first time in 2022.”

Less dramatic decreases in drinking hold true for most other demographics apart from women between 30 and 45, who have seen a significant rise.

We Already Know That Prohibition Won’t Work

Even if the more alarmist scientists and government agencies are right about some of the potential health risks of drinking, we already know from history that prohibition won’t work. Banning alcohol from 1920 to 1933 was a miserable failure that led to a ballooning presence of organized crime, riskier alcohol production, and many people switching to more dangerous substances.

This attempt by government agencies to scare Americans away from having a drink is based on questionable science and puts the government in the role of a snooping schoolmarm. As the opioid crisis ends hundreds of thousands of lives far too early and tent cities spring up across the country, perhaps the focus should shift to those urgent issues. While it’s true that binge drinking and drunk driving are dangerous for society, it’s also true that the government shouldn’t be involved in personal decisions about drinking that don’t affect others.

The nanny state claims to keep us safe, but its intrusions often come with significant downsides. It can also become ridiculous and extremely wasteful, as in the recent case of the government funding a mental health self-help guide for those traumatized by economic problems. What about letting the economy flourish instead? Over-regulation and attempting to micromanage individual choices, while sadly common today, go against the spirit of the Constitution. Even if it’s supposedly for our own good, government crackdowns to save us from ourselves are just un-American.

Guest Author Paul R. Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer focused on geopolitics, culture, religion, and world news. He has reported from around the globe, including the Middle East, South America, Europe and Eurasia, as well as covering the 2016 presidential election.

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