Saturday, January 02, 2010

US Falls Behind Russia - - - Again

Back in the 50’s we Americans were all concerned that the Russians had some sort of mystical advantage over us. They were first to send an artificial satellite to orbit Earth, and as Sputnik mocked us from a 150 mile-high orbit, our schools underwent a drastic makeover to promote math and science literacy.

Something that I was caught up in as a youngster.

Then when they shot Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit Earth, into space on top of a flaming tube of controlled explosions it seemed our fate was sealed and we would be constantly tossed about in Russia’s wake.

Only to see ourselves finally surpass Russia in 1969 as we made a soft landing on the moon and had a couple of our guys walk around on the lunar surface.

But now, apparently, we find ourselves in Russia’s wake one more time. This time it is the exercise of big government policy to correct the bad health habits of its citizens.

Russians, everyone knows, drink vodka like fish. But since the fall of the soviet empire in 1991 alcoholism has been on the rise in Russia. Alcoholism, and death due to alcohol consumption is at an all-time high. Average life expectancy of a Russian male is 60 years.

Now your average Teabagger American would say that consumption of alcohol is a personal choice and that someone can choose not to drink just as they can choose to drink. And it is this attitude that puts America in the same position it was in, in 1957.

This week, Russia doubled the price of vodka sold in that country. Doubled it. Not to raise revenue, although the added money will probably help ease their impacted health care industry. Not to raise revenue but to make it harder, and dearer, for Russians to buy and consume vodka.

To improve the overall health of Russian citizens.

Now the question is, will this work? Will making vodka cost twice as much decrease alcoholism in Russia? Decrease the death rate? Increase the life expectancy?

Yes and no, I think. Yes because if a person has to choose between vodka and paying the rent, the more responsible ones will choose paying the rent.

No because an alcoholic is an alcoholic. There are some people who cannot help themselves because it is in their genes. These people have little choice in the matter, Teabagger opinions or no.

But yes, Russia is on the right track in identifying things that are harmful to humans and making it harder for their citizens to consume harmful products. Yes, it is big government and yes, it is paternalism writ large.

And although I don’t like to admit it, sometimes we need someone to say something is not good for you.

But I fall short of saying that government, by fiat, should outlaw harmful substances because sometimes that does more harm in the long run, than good.

But where there is a vice, whether it is alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, instead of outright outlawing them, why not follow Russia’s footsteps?

Why not tax these vices, and tax them dearly?


Anonymous said...

We should follow the Russians lead on heavily taxing everything that is harmful:

All forms of tobacco
High fat foods
High sugar foods
Alcoholic beverages
Tanning beds
Gasoline (add + $3 per gallon)
Aresol cans

Who would be the first group of folks to raise hell about this? Democrats! It would be so unfair to the poor.

Hal said...

Yeah, especially that part about taxing tanning beds. If I had a nickel for every impoverished person I've seen getting some rays in a tanning bed, well, I'd be able to buy overtaxed cigs until I die of COPD.

You, Anon, are a maniac.