Government, specifically the South African government, seems to have an insatiable urge to meddle in affairs that would best be left alone. It seems that it is not enough for them to merely siphon our tax money into their private coffers but that they must also destroy the economy while they’re at it.

It doesn’t take a policy analyst or a degree in economics or law to realise how ill thought out these proposals are.
A new brainchild of the meddlesome nanny-state is a proposal to change our current liquor laws. Here is a list of some of the proposed changes below:

  • “Raising the limit to buy and consume alcohol from 18 to 21 years of age.
  • Preventing liquor sales from any outlet which is within 500m of a school, place of worship, recreation facilities, rehabilitation or treatment centres, residential areas and public institutions (which would include post offices). Further, no liquor licenses shall be issued to petrol service stations, premises attached to petrol service stations or premises near public transport.
  • Any existing liquor licence held by an outlet which will be affected by the above legislation will lose that licence within the next 2 years.
  • Standardisation of opening hours throughout the country.
  • Restriction of advertisement of alcoholic beverages, prohibitions of sponsorship and promotion associated with alcoholic beverages.
  • Proposal to make manufacturers and distributorsof alcohol responsible and liable for damages and harm caused if a person drinks to excess and is then involved in a car accident or a crime.”

(Food24, 2015)

There is already almost zero respect for the current drinking age and by raising it, they are not doing so much as preventing underage drinking, rather they are creating a larger pool of criminals. People will drink if they want to drink. Prohibition is still a pertinent example of how regulation does not control society. In fact, it corrupts it.

This is not exactly prohibition to the scale that we saw in 1920’s America, but it comes close. A large portion of current drinkers will be excluded under the new legislation. These drinkers have already passed the age of consent and have grown habits, consumer practices and tastes around alcohol. By banning their business, one only encourages dissent (as they ignore the new laws) or further damage to our already crippled economy.

There is already evidence to suggest that the drinking age of 21 doesn’t work in America, and this is a state with the framework to at least attempt to enforce such a problematic regulation (John M. McCardell, 2009).

The other proposals (in regards to proximity to certain locations…etc) further risk hurting our faltering economy. The liquor industry employs a huge amount of people and provide work for many more in the form of pub and shop employment.

Suddenly removing a business’ right to function is akin to expropriation, just with no benefit for anyone. To force an established business to comply with these new laws is a violation of our (supposed) free market and property rights.

The proposal to shift the responsibility of accidents to the alcohol provider rather than the user is akin to blaming BIC because a kid stabbed himself in the eye with a pen. It is unworkable due to a myriad of concerns (many of which are raised on the Food24 Comment section) and unethical. Responsible use is solely in the hands of the user! Anything otherwise removes our status as rational members of society.

In a nation characterised by corruption, institutional failure and dissent, is a proposal like this really at all reasonable? I think not. Even if the laws are passed, as they may very well be (Food24, 2015), most people will keep on drinking, newly underage or not. Corruption will grow in yet another industry and nothing will really change except a decrease in institutional trust and economic growth.

This law will just become another hole in the fiscal bucket. A wasteful policy which at best will be unworkable, and at worst, will further damage our society and economy.

 

Don’t hesitate to post on social media and sites such as News24 about the dangers of this new bill. Concerns about the proposal can be directed to: [email protected]

 

Food24, 2015. Raising legal drinking age from 18 to 21 – and other new liquor law proposals. [Online]
Available at: http://www.food24.com/Drinks/Wine/Restaurants-and-Wine/More-liquor-law-madness-20150629

John M. McCardell, J., 2009. Commentary: Drinking age of 21 doesn’t work. [Online]
Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09/16/mccardell.lower.drinking.age/

Nicholas Woode-Smith is co-founder of the Rational Standard and its Technical and Marketing Director. He is a student at the University of Cape Town, with majors in Politics, Philosophy and Economic History. He is the youngest council member of the Institute of Race Relations in history and the Regional Director of Southern Africa for African Students For Liberty. He also writes science fiction – prominently, the Warpmancer and Cape Zero series.