Thursday, 24 December 2009

Karl du Fresne on the "new wowsers"

I have covered the economic aspects of the current outbreak of Wellington wowerism on this blog a number of times before, see BERL for some examples. Now Karl du Fresne writes on One in the eye for the New Wowsers. He says
The New Wowsers have their tails up at the moment because they sense that the public, caught up in a moral panic over binge drinking and alcohol-related crime, will be receptive to a puritanical backlash against liquor consumption.

They are skilled in the selective use of statistics which paint a picture of a country gripped by alcohol addiction. One of their favourite claims is that 700,000 New Zealanders are “heavy drinkers”, based on World Health Organisation criteria.
Selective use of statistics and economics, just look at the BERL report. du Fresne continues,
But they ignore inconvenient statistics that show we are drinking slightly less alcohol per head than we did 30 years ago, and that New Zealand is ranked only 28th out of 190 countries (many of which ban alcohol altogether) for per capita alcohol consumption – well behind Germany, Britain, France, Switzerland and Denmark.

Even using the New Wowsers’ own criteria, the percentage of “potentially hazardous” drinkers has remained stable since 1996, despite the recent teenage binge drinking phenomenon.

The New Wowsers don’t want to acknowledge that alcohol abuse is confined to a relatively small – if highly visible – minority, and that most New Zealanders are moderate and responsible drinkers. And they can’t see, or don’t want to see, that our social drinking habits are vastly more civilised than they were before the liberal reforms of the 1980s and 90s.

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