Alcohol is a substance that, if consumed in varied levels, can have effects consequences in four areas of our lives:

The first is the disorientation of perceptions. Visually we are impaired; our reception and interpretation of the world around us becomes hazy; the level of sound we receive is frequently magnified or dulled; our pain is reduced; we no longer smell as well as we did; our taste is weakened: the Maccas isn’t as salty or sugary as we wanted it to be. The rest of the areas resound around our interpretation of time, our body movements as well as our emotions are exploited, inhibited or maintained.

 

The real question I ask of every fellow imbiber of alcohol the morning of a killer hangover is this: “is/was the feeling worth it?” Is the liver deadening, vomiting, and huge cost of liquor truly worth it, for the short period of time in which we truly feel in the moment, in sync with our surroundings and in a state of true happiness.

No.
For a 750ml bottle of bourbon, vodka, or rum that retains an alcohol percentage of approximately 40% (with a cost of around $40) it is not worth it. The financial burden on a uni student is huge. A bottle of vodka can amount to the cost of a week’s worth of groceries… or a 12 pack of Canadian Clubs.

 

The question still remains: do we cop this financial blow to enjoy a new experience, where pick up lines are a necessity and picking up, itself, is the only option? Or do we go cold turkey, avoid the temptation of the demon in the bottle and save our dollars? Obviously we can’t quit cold turkey. Telling the majority of uni students to stop drinking is like telling the Pope to renounce Catholicism. It’s impossible. Should we perhaps focus on introducing a tax on alcohol? Should it be lowered for students and maintained for anyone outside of University? Or should the tax be reduced as a blanket rule across the whole of Australia? Or should the luxury tax (extra GST) be maintained and nothing left changed?

 

The only way these questions can be answered is by looking at our cultural views on alcoholism. It is arguable that the higher the luxury tax of alcohol, the better the government revenue. This goes hand in hand with the great percentage of this University, in fact, prefers to avoid drinking altogether. In a 1500 person survey conducted in 2015 found 70% of MRS residents don’t drink alcohol on a ‘typical night’ and three quarters of the MRS community drinking once a week or less, with a quarter of the study identifying as non-drinkers. But it would be very unlikely to find a student that both drinks and prefers the tax remain the same, let alone increase.

 

What we have to think about are the long-term policy and ethical considerations. If alcohol is taxed more heavily, two realities exist:

  • Reality A depicts a population that lessens its consumption of alcohol;
  • Reality B, the rather more likely, depicts a population who’s low socio economic status minority becomes lower and even larger.

 

If it is lighter, the opposite occurs: people become more alcoholic, the public health service spends more money and the low SES becomes smaller and richer.

 

Alcohol is a substance that already exists in this society. However, as a society we definitely need to take a hard look at the cultural value of this substance, and whether the tax should exist; or if it should be increased.

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