Thursday, 10 September 2009

Sale of Liquor

As an addendum to the last post I read an article in New Scientist which argues for the use of empirical evidence in government decision making. In the area of law reform this must be critical, as the only reason for changing law can be that there is a properly demonstrated need for the change. It is one thing having a social problem-and another to come up with the empirical evidence that the law change will solve the problem. Restrictions on the sale of liquor were spectacularly unsuccessful in the Prohibition era in the United States. I was brought up in Mt Roskill, Auckland, which was a dry area, where sale of liquor was prohibited. Our local scout troop used to fundraise by collecting empty beer bottles in Mt Roskill and always made large amounts of money. It may be argued that the reason for the evident failure of that restriction was that Mt Roskill was surrounded by places where liquor could be bought, only a 10 to 20 minute drive away. The restrictions now discussed will suffer from the same problems. Passing laws is only an answer if empirical evidence can demonstrate, to an appropriate standard, that this will solve or ameliorate social drinking. I wait with interest to see if the Law Commission will undertake this level of analysis.
As an aside, when we talk about abuse of liquor, we always talk about alcohol, as if the use of the scientific term adds weight to the discussion. I have never heard of sauvignon blanc or claret abuse, although I may have engaged in such abuse myself.

1 comment:

Shivaun said...

Absolutely agree.