Wednesday 25 August 2010

The Dean Wormer State

I kinda like Rob Hosking's take on New Zealand's proposed alcohol reforms:
"Drunk, fat and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

Neither Prime Minister John Key nor Justice Minister Simon Power yesterday used the famous line from the classic film Animal House, uttered by bossy College Dean Wormer to a group of reprobate students.

But it was hanging there over yesterday’s announcements of tougher alcohol laws.

OK, this isn’t Nanny State, but let’s call it the Dean Wormer state.

Perhaps – to be charitable – it is a Dean Wormer in a velvet glove. The principle behind yesterday’s proposals seems to be to use other societal pressures to moderate alcohol usage rather than tougher laws per se.


The government of course cried off making alcohol more expensive. There are MPs who want to see higher excise taxes, and also a blanket higher drinking age.

We’re going to hear this group utter the political equivalent of another famous line from Animal House: “this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part – and we’re just the guys to do it.”

Futile and stupid, because Mr Key is right. Parliament can never legislate for more responsible drinking.

What it can do is encourage New Zealanders to take a bit more responsibility for the drinking that goes on around each of us – at perhaps the price of also encouraging the Dean Wormers among us to emerge.
Crusty old Dean... (shaking fist).

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