Goneth the hour?


Is the writing on the wall for that glorious and appropriately named time of the day: happy hour? An hour (or more) in which one can actually afford to drink outside of one’s house in this most costly of countries. The threat comes from MPs calling for cheap alcohol to be banned in an attempt to address the growing evidence of rising drunken violence.

The argument is that we are seeing an increase in alcohol-fuelled violence, so if alcohol is made more expensive we will see less violence. Well possibly, but alcohol does not cause violence, people do. The problem is not that most people are drinking too much, but that some people are willing and able to commit violence that the rest of us could never consider perpetrating (no matter how inebriated we get).
There are of course many reasons for this violence, but ultimately it is about culture, something that politicians are particularly bad at dealing with. It is not a simple alcohol equals violence equation, but one in which situation plays a key role. For most people violence itself is a taboo, but for some Friday night is all right for fighting.
Ironically, politicians have helped create the problems that they are now trying to solve. As the state has increasingly taken responsibility away from those in society who previously held it by virtue of their position and relationship to those around them, we have seen a concomitant rise in social problems. This is not to claim an idyllic past or a current state of terror; but there can be little doubt the state has taken explicit and implicit power away from teachers, publicans, ticket conductors et al. and we are very much the worse off for it.
Your average drinker should not be penalized for the actions of the wolves amongst the sheep. What we need are more shepherds. The government should be looking at ways of empowering those who used to take a more active role in their communities, so that they can be free to live up to their responsibilities. Instead it is incentivizing the shepherds to take the ferry to France, stock up on cheap booze and drink it in the safety of their home with the doors firmly bolted behind them.