Charles Rehn - Democrat for President 2004

A Conversation With America
Questions That Must Be Answered
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Vices: Alcohol


The easiest way for me to explain my positions about both of these drugs is to begin by saying that I have a bit of an aversion to alcohol. I don't think that alcohol, itself,   is bad any more than guns.

But, I grew up in a family pretty well known for the abuse of alcohol. And it wasn't so much that they drank too much.  It's the effect the drug had on them.

My stepfather was one of the nicest, best-liked popular guys around any job where he worked, or around friends of the family.  He was an incredibly sweet person who was willing to go out of his way to help other people - except when he was drinking.  As time went on, he drank more and more.

Like many people who have a drinking problem, though, when he was drunk, he was one of the most vile, violent, immoral and hostile people you could imagine.  It was a true Jekkyl and Hyde story.

But, his story isn't all that different from a lot of people. They're fine when they're sober, but when they drink alcohol, it's like an allergic reaction - suddenly they're a different person, just looking for any excuse to argue or fight with someone else.

Now, I could make a case against alcohol, but I would less than honest if I did so.   Just as I would be less than truthful by saying that everyone who drinks alcohol is a potential child-abuser or violent or even likely to become violent. To do that would be to exploit the sensational stories we see on tv - like the guy in Chicago who rammed his truck into a bar because they wouldn't sell him another drink.

It would be like saying that any medicine with side-effects should necessarily be banned.

Besides, I take a drink every once in a while.. particularly in social situations where others are drinking...  I like a good beer when moving furniture, and I love the taste of Bailey's Irish Cream in my coffee.

But, generally, alcohol makes me feel ill, dizzy and clouds up my mind. And, the so-called medicinal effects of alcohol, such as preventing blood clots and providing aid against hardening of the arteries can be more easily remedied by taking an aspirin.   There are many alternatives.

But, we all have our ways. Margaret Thatcher of England said that one of the ways she dealt with the tensions of office was to take a good belt of whiskey.

The only real problem I see with alcohol is the same thing that was wrong in the promotion of cigarettes: that is, that when you promote its use as a way of fitting in or of being socially accepted or more appealing as a person, it becomes an advocacy of the use of drugs.

Further, that when vices are taxed - what we call sin taxes - either to (at least in the public eye for image reasons) reduce their use or to increase governmental revenues, then the government is essentially endorsing and making a commitment to promoting the use of an addictive or harmful substance or behavior for profit. It's an easy target, because no one in their right mind would suggest that drinking is a good thing to do. 

However, if someone suggested that the government take a reading on the emissions on your car every year, and then taxing you based upon the level of emissions, people would be outraged. Still, the emissions are harmful, and the more you drive, the more you pollute.

True, some state taxation is based on the control or reduction of pollution.  But, if those taxes were consistently raised higher and higher because of a government's need for more taxes in the general fund (as opposed to using them toward abating pollution, even) then Americans would be outraged even more.

Ultimately, I don't object to people drinking alcohol, so long as they use it responsibly, and our culture makes provision for the treatment of abusers so that their lives are not ruined by their weakness, but, in fact, are empowered to overcome it.


Suicide Rates Fall in Many Countries, Rise in Some In the case of Russia, the situation has become so serious that suicide is the major cause of death among young males ...Levi told Reuters Health that the reasons for these increases are complex, but probably include widespread alcohol abuse, based on data obtained from Russia and other former Soviet Union states. .. The worrying side of the report indicates that suicide is increasing in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, with suicide death rates of 35 to 40 per 100,000 residents, Levi said. According to Levi, the positive trends observed in several countries in recent years may be due, in part, to changes in the management of depression and other major psychiatric disorders

Memory Troubles? Remember to Drink Less  The study, which appears in the June issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, found heavy users of alcohol had more problems with daily memory tasks, such as remembering to return a phone call or send a birthday card, than people who drank very little. "Heavy users of alcohol reported making consistently more errors than people who did not drink or drank only small amounts of alcohol," says study author Jonathan Ling, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Teesside in Great Britain

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(C) 2002,2003-2009 Charles Rehn Jr IV  All rights reserved