The Evils of the Addiction Economy
Eastwood. Clint Eastwood. The moment is a morality tale on not needing to defend his masculinity with tough guy machismo and violence. Marty McFly and Doc Brown are time-travelers on a hurry to get back to their own futures. Full of resolve and bravado the scientist-genius is cheered on by the barroom patrons for one last shot of whiskey: “To the future!” Doc Brown passes out.
I went looking up American and international rates of alcoholism to write this article and I rarely have been so floored. I had had a few relatives with alcohol problems and I drink a little more than I would like, mostly when I am bored.
I had known that alcoholism and alcohol consumption are linked by a highly inequitably distribution of harm — most alcohol is consumed by alcoholics. I had intended to talk about alcohol and domestic abuse, and marketing ads.
I wanted to highlight that taxes on alcohol and gambling, including lotteries, have created a consumption of consumerism that drives targeting its victims.
I had readied myself to make an issue of its formidable change and civic good.
Oh, but the problem is so much worse.
Globally, the total volume of alcohol consumed is up 70% from 1999 to 2017.
In Russia, 1 in 6 citizens are alcoholics. In Belarus, 40 handles of vodka are drunk per capita per year — that’s 2000 drinks, or about 5.5 drinks per day.
Oh, don’t you moralize Americans: you are drinking 3.2 drinks per day. How?
There’s a tear in my beer / Cause I’m crying for you, dear
Ten drinks per day: that is the appetite of 24 million America.
Not the average, not statistics, but 24 million individuals that went to bed last night with ten drinks of alcohol percolating around their blood stream, and who will wake up this morning and do it again. And tomorrow..
I struggle to go to the gym seven days a week — these folks, they don’t miss a day they can’t drink.
Even the vaunted Washington Post can’t fully stand up to the incredible awfulness of those numbers: The drinks are stiff and the article headline is Think you drink a lot? Honestly, I bet most people think they don’t.
Facebook lists me as having 262 friends, and ignoring first-order bias effects, 26 of them had an average of 10 drinks yesterday. Another 26 had 2 drinks.
Maybe that explains all the shit-posts, rants, and trolling. Who knows?
But this is a problem that needs no introduction: most of us have been to that family picnic or that wedding or that college party where a few of our friends or loved ones drank a few more than we would have thought would be good for them. What we may not have known was how extreme the problem was.
Understanding The Very American Tax on Being Bad At Math
Here’s another headline: Americans spend over $1,000 a year on lotto tickets.
Who? I didn’t. I haven’t bought a scratchy or any of those million variants of Mega Millions in years. Anyone buying tickets as an investment plan is crazy!
How the article describes the situation: “Despite the long odds, thousands of Americans will buy tickets for a chance to win. About half of Americans play state lotteries, with total sales topping $71 billion in 2017 (the most recent year on file), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Consumers each spend an average of about $86 a month on lottery tickets.” $86! Who? I didn’t.
And if only half of Americans play, those Americans are spending $172 a month! What poor bastards are wasting 24 hours of minimum wage labor!
Behold: “Americans earning less than $30,000 admit to spending about 13% of their income on lottery tickets.” Lottery tickets are their investment plans!
To scratch out a living, Merriam-Webster: to earn barely enough money to live.
I get it: The Lottery is a fun, low-cost dalliance to daydream big for everyone, and the State graciously takes a proportion of that profit to elderly benefits.
And that’s true: “In the 2018–19 fiscal year, the Pennsylvania Lottery sold a record of more than $4.5 billion in games, from which it generated a profit of more than $1.14 billion to benefit older Pennsylvanians. The Pennsylvania Lottery remains the only state lottery that designates all its proceeds to programs that benefit older residents. As an agency of state government, the Pennsylvania Lottery is a successful enterprise of which all Pennsylvanians can be proud.” These dollars go to elderly prescription assistance, ride-share and ride-free programs, property tax and rent rebates, and care services.
It’s always warmed my heart imaging I could become rich helping grandma.
But the elderly make up about 40% of the total lottery spending! The program net serves mostly to shuffle money into elderly assistance plans and winners.
Badlands: The Lottery is an Investment Plan for Individuals Bad at Math.
That’s…. not good. That’s a model of American life ready to be sunsetted.
Badlands: Poor man wanna be rich; rich man wanna be king.
Americans also lost another $500 to gambling last year.
But, wait, I didn’t gamble!
But, somebody pocketed those $117 billion dollars profit that my fellow countrymen lost.
And because individuals suffering from addictions like these may not show any outward physical symptoms, identify and delivering timely treatments can be a near impossible task for the local community. Like pandemics, the effects of certain addictions are only identifiable as a tragedy of the commons.
And therefore, government accountability has an obligation to step in to help.
Most gun owners could never see themselves not owning a gun
Roughly three-quarters of Americans who currently own a gun (73%) say they could never see themselves not owning a gun. That’s what addicts say.
That’s all I have to say about that.
Except for this: if Americans believe their strongest suit against a tyrannical government is a physical weapon, and not a civic weapon, they have some learning of the Cyber to do: they are being taxed for being bad at computers.
You would think the Republicans and Libertarians would be wise enough to teach their constituents by now what counts: “Not my kids. Not in my house.”