Spreadsheeting bad behaviour - which column?

Friday 16 May 2008

The Australian Federal government is trying to address teenage binge drinking by proposing a tax hike for premixed alcoholic beverages like vodka and orange and bourbon and coke (two personal favourites in my teenage years, when I had the dosh).

The government believes that making these drinks more expensive will stop teenagers getting together and getting shitfaced. I wonder, do any of them really believe this, even a smidge? I know we are all economically rationalised to death and feel constrained onto spreadsheet columns, but does anyone at all involved with the government, including the toilet cleaners, really think that is anything but some sort of lip service? Surely not. And surely they don't think we're that stupid. And surely this is why listening to the blatherings of the world is so damn tiresome. It's enough to make you want to go and get shitfaced :)

This kind of thing really pisses me off. What a waste of time it all is. It's talking about issues without talking about issues. So much fluff, full of soundbytes and infuriatingly signifying nothing.

Teenagers get drunk because it feels really good to be pissed. Because they are full of angst and don't know who the hell they are and are suffering under the weight of living in a world where nothing gets discussed in ways that really make any kind of goddamned difference at all and because no one would listen if they said that Uncle Harry was doing bad stuff to them when no one was looking, or that they felt like losers because they didn't know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives and therefore which VCE stream to set themselves onto at 15 years of age. Or that they felt like they would never ever belong and it didn't seem like there was all that much to belong to anyway and hey, how bad does that make you feel when we are the lucky ones and the rest of the world is being flung about by tempestuous weather?

Teenagers get pissed because it is so nice to quell your fears and shame - and that is surely the absolute crux of it, for mine. Or at least, that was always the reason why I got drunk. To get me out of myself. To have a blast. To tell my friends I loved them (love ya mate, I'll luv ya forever, mate. Now excuse me while I go over here and vomit). To give me a bit of Dutch courage to talk to that boy and maybe get a pash (or more). Fear and shame pursue every single person down through the days and to not address that is to not address anything in the end.

But then, what column would that fit into on the spreadsheet? And is that the responsibility of the government anyway?

Taxing alcopops will make teenagers resort to drinking beer, or they will buy wine and mix their own orange juice in it. Or whatever. Or maybe - heaven forbid - they will buy Blackberry Nip or Brandivino and mix it with Coke. However far your dosh spreads. 'Cause it's not about the taste so much as it's about the high and about the quell. And I really just don't know how that one can be regulated. 'Cause you can stuff it down and keep on going, but so far I have really only found one Place where fear and shame have been nailed. And it's got nothing to do with regulation and everything to do with Love.


  1. "...but so far I have really only found one Place where fear and shame have been nailed. And it's got nothing to do with regulation and everything to do with Love."

    This was a brilliant post.

  2. i've just started working on an arts project with disadvantaged young people and this post nails it so well

    and i wonder if it also nails why many adults drink too - to quell fear and shame, and get out of oneself - methinks it's not just a teenage thing

  3. Kel - yes, I agree. And then you get to the stage of having to drink just to maintain some sort of equilibrium. Sad.


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