Cheaper Than Water

I love articles that have a good appreciation for the history of a problem -- although, perhaps "problem" is too strong:
For well over a thousand years now, we’ve had a problem with “the vice of drunkenness”.  “Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode, The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road,” as the writer GK ­Chesterton put it.  As far back as 1362, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “The tavern is worshipped rather than the church, gluttony and drunkenness is more abundant than tears and prayers.”
...[currently supermarkets] sell cider cheaper than water.
Cheaper than water?  That was true of the beer in China when we were there.  Bottled water was quite expensive, whereas the local brew was very nearly free:  I think I worked out that it cost something like eight cents a quart.

It sounds as though earlier policies aimed at this problem have been successful.  As the article notes, in the 19th century the problem was hard liquor, especially gin.  Wise Victorians decided that they needed to make lighter drinks like wine and beer -- and cider -- cheaper and more easily available.  Thus, they passed laws that resulted in the opening of tens of thousands of beer halls.

The author agrees, finally, that this is the right road to taming the problem today:  "We need to get people back into the British boozer and not getting sozzled at home on supermarket deals."

That sounds like a well-formulated policy.  It's also important to keep things in perspective.  Since we cited an archbishop in 1362, why not consider a more famous sermon from an earlier English archbishop?


Eric Blair said...

The use in the article, of Hogarth's "Gin Lane" without his opposite "Beer Street" a sort of ham handed editing.

But really, the real issue is one of self-control. Of which there doesn't seem to be much anymore.

Eric Blair said...

And another thing. When I was in college, which is over 25 years ago at this point, I still remember an advert in a UK music magazine for (I forget what they called them) but they were these test-tube sized containers of colored flavored alcohol, that it appeared (to me anyway) that one was supposed to drink in one shot, and ad proclaimed the product's "strength and potency" which I thought was very odd language for an ad about booze.

I also remember at the dawn of the internet in the late 90's, people complaining about British tourists being drunken louts all over beaches in the Eastern Mediterranean.

So this isn't really a new problem.
I wonder why its an issue now?

bthun said...

Beer is better for a person than much of the water the planets inhabitants consume.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it... OK, that and Eric's point on self control. I'll stick with those two points.

All things in moderation.

Bob said...

Prior to the industrial revolution, EVERYBODY drank beer. Monks brewed beer primarily to get people to church, but also to comfort the sick and dying.

We're all sick and dying, so let's have a beer!

Eric Blair said...

Beer is proof God loves mankind.

E Hines said...

We're all sick and dying, so let's have a beer!

Or, as someone once said, "Every man dies. Not every man ever really lives. Let's have a beer!"

Eric Hines

Grim said...

Well, unlike Tex's post above, that sentiment isn't even a stretch:

Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

Proverbs 31:6-7.