We're all aware that government guidelines on how much alcohol we might drink have something severely wrong with them. The latest report excised teetotallers from the numbers in order to get rid of that inconvenient fact that less booze can be as dangerous as more. The sweet spot of consumption being, in terms of all risks, more than the maximum we're advised to neck.
It's also true that current weekly limits are rapidly approaching what used to be considered a decent lunch. This might be granting too much to the wowsers. At which point we get this, the very latest research:
Alcohol revenue would decline by two-fifths, or £13 billion, if all drinkers were to comply with the recommended consumption limits, according to a study.
The research found that about two-thirds of alcohol sales in England are to heavy drinkers.
Drinkers who consume more than the Government's low-risk guideline of 14 units a week make up 25% of the population but provide 68% of alcohol industry revenue, according to a paper published in the journal Addiction.
The 4% of the population whose drinking is considered harmful - more than 35 units a week for women and more than 50 for men - account for almost a quarter (23%) of revenue, analysis by researchers at the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) and the University of Sheffield's Alcohol Research Group suggests.
The report said the findings "raise serious questions about the conflicts of interest inherent to voluntary schemes and self-regulation".
It's easy enough to see what the next demand is. If voluntary schemes don't - in the minds of the prodnoses - work then there must be statutory and regulatory ones. It is not farfetched to think of alcohol rations, cards to be presented when asking for a snifter. Actually, that's already been suggested.
As to the basic observation, yes, that's how life works. A large portion of internet usage comes from those who use the internet a lot. Great chunks of road mileage come from those who drive a lot. Significant parts of meat consumption come from those on Atkins diets. People who do a lot of a thing tend to be a goodly portion of the thing being done. We'd be surprised to find that the sexually active and promiscuous are having a decent portion of the new sexual partners going on, would we?
However, the thing which really struck us. There we've got - accurately enough too - the amounts which are actually harmful drinking, those 35 and 50 units a week. That is the sort of level, perhaps a little beyond, at which the risks significantly outweigh those of none at all.
So why are the government guidelines 14 units? The answer being that those limits are entirely invented, there's no medical justification at all. Just plucked from the air they are. Or from the prejudices of the anti-booze movement for all should know that alcohol is the very devil.
Now for the important point. Yes, there's an education function to government, it's fair enough that we be told of scientific results. Not drinking from where the latrine flows out is good advice, it's saved many hundreds of millions of lives and it wasn't known before we were all told about it. It's not well enough known in some parts of the world today. But that is where that function ends, informing.
A free society allows properly informed people to do as they wish simply because that's what freedom is, it's the definition of liberty. People desire to drink more booze than is good for them physically? Well?
Aid those who wish to drink less but find they cannot, most certainly, but our livers, ours to pickle if that's that we wish.
What are, quite frankly, lies about safe drinking annoy but what should enrage is this idea that we should be forced, forced, to consume as they think we should. We do actually see signs, protestations, saying "Our Bodies, Ourselves," books with titles like "Our Bodies, Our Souls." Booze is one of those issues over which this is all true.