Disillusioned Discordian

Binge Drinking Vs Suicide
January 8, 2008, 2:10 pm
Filed under: Current Affairs

Following yesterdays post on Binge drinking I’ve been thinking about the way in which the government reacts to these media induced health scares. There is the old chestnut regarding the relationship between citizen and state, something that is reworded in Nu Labor speak as reassessing the responsibilities of citizenship (or some other waffle). Within health there is a move from simply treating people who are ill to trying and change the behavior of citizens to ensure they don’t get ill. When viewed in the form of public information campaigns about the risk of STIs, Drink Driving etc. then one can find little to fault. Increasingly however when it comes to health the government is starting to overstep it’s mark.

For many the smoking ban represents an unwarranted intrusion into our civil liberties. Our freedom too act, or what is otherwise called ‘Negative Freedom’.  I in part agree, but also realize the Positive freedom of the non-smoker to enjoy smoke free air. In a sense the smoking ban is reasonably logically consentient with liberal philosophy in that it acts to restrict freedom in the protection of another’s well-being.Unfortunately the government seems to think that it has some obligation to ensure we are not fat, unhealthy or drinking etc. Instead we must be fit, tee-total and hardworking. It assumes that it has an obligation to protect individuals from themselves.  This is a paternalistic attitude which treats people as incapable of making decisions, the ‘Nanny State’ if you will. Health is mostly judged in terms of longevity; meanwhile mental health and happiness are practically ignored.  Current Suicide rates are currently 17.5 per 100,000 for men aged 15 and over compared to 17.9 per 100,000 for alcohol related deaths (see gov stats site). Binge drinking is public enemy number one, yet the isolation, depression and anxiety (caused from reading my blog) which lead to suicide are swept under the carpet.

It’s easy to be seen to ‘crackdown’ on binge drinking, but to stop people killing themselves then the government might be forced to face up to the truth that our individualistic  stress ridden consumer capitalist life-styles aren’t all they are cracked up to be. You ask people who drink a lot why they do so and you can guarantee that the stress of modern living and the pressure we are all under is a major cause. Another is because it’s jolly good fun and increases your chances of getting laid or even married.

I constantly despair that politicians fail to look at the bigger picture, and more often than not I think they are too hooked on the idea that Economic Growth = Happiness to realize the true problems. Authors such as Oliver James are on the right track, as demonstrated by his new book ‘The Selfish Capitalist: The Origins of Affluenza’. I’m not one to reduce all of society’s ills on the economic system (Leftists are mistaken in thinking that socialism is not capable in creating depressing things – George Galloway, Tom Hickey, Stasi  and the Trabant etc.) but within the Marxist tradition writers such as Adorno deliver some devestating crisitsm on modern society, surely there has to be a better way?

I dunno maybe the filth could be given powers to hand out on the spot fines for looking a bit glum or not smiling in public. Alternatively we could all be more Idle.


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