Friday, February 4, 2011

Four Loko. Whose Fault If It Is Good?

I was out at the 7-11 buying some eggs and I saw this stuff being sold in giant cans that I had never heard of... apparently some type of alcoholic beverage called "Four Loko". Curious, I bought a can and took it home with me. It was okay... tasted a bit like a wine cooler. Everybody at home said, "Oh, that's the stuff they are trying to ban." I looked on the internet and, sure enough, because of the mixture of caffeine and alcohol, a dozen college students have drank too much of the stuff and gotten sick, and now various states are banning it.

Nothing puffs up the Libertarian in me more than government punishing a business because some irresponsible people sell or buy its product... instead of punishing the irresponsible people.

How dumb is that? Hundreds of college students across the country wind up in a hospital every weekend from too much beer or whiskey... and government is going to ban this alcoholic product because a dozen college students over the last 3 years have gotten too drunk on this stuff? Thousands of college students across the country mix highly-caffeinated Coca-Cola with rum every weekend, but government is going to ban this product because it has caffeine in it?

Apparently they also say that the labeling and the packaging make it "too appealing to young crowds." Oh bullshit. "Dude! A giant purple can! I always wanted to drink out of a giant purple can. Fill it with piss if you have to... but I'm buying that giant purple can."

No. Wrong: People (and young people) are buying Four Loko because it is a good product. People (and young people) are enjoying the product because it is cheap and does exactly what alcoholic beverages are purchased to do. People (and young people) are getting sick from the product because they are party-hearty idiots who are a bad combination of ignorant plus highly determined to get very drunk.

Don't blame this "Four Loko" for making an alcoholic beverage so tasty that even young people say, "My, but that's an awfully tasty drink." If it was a company that made a product that made teenagers say, "Wow! Those are the best Brussels sprouts ever! I'll take 3 dozen please!" everybody would be complimenting the company on their brilliant product because they got people to enjoy something they normally wince at when they are consuming it... much like beer or whiskey.

Whose fault is it really that young people wind up drinking "Four Loko"? The same people who are to blame when young people wind up drinking Budweiser. If you aren't going to ban Smirnoff every time some teenager shows up in an emergency room with a 0.4% blood alcohol level from that product, you shouldn't do it with any other product either. Instead, blame the irresponsible store employees or other adults who sold the product to the irresponsible kids.

It's like gun control: I don't believe in stopping gun manufacturers from developing very cool firearms that people want to buy. If a gun maker comes up with a giant purple can of a gun that every teenager wants, I'd say he has done his job remarkably well. It is the job of the gun dealer and the gun licenser (and the gun purchaser) to make sure that the gun is placed only in responsible hands no matter what type of gun it is. Selling a gun to a person who has been deemed by proper authorities to be unfit to own a weapon is the main problem... as is selling booze to a person who has been deemed by proper authorities to be under age.

In America, we have as part of our citizenship the responsibility to be responsible. We have a government that is generally not supposed to save us from our own individual stupidity... only to predetermine a citizen's probable level of stupidity (or lack thereof) by granting or withholding various permissions (to drink or sell drinks, to own a gun or sell guns, to drive, to vote, to go fishing, et cetera).

If you are stupid enough to drink 6 cans of "Four Loko", then it is your fault if it doesn't work out for you. If you are stupid enough to sell or give 6 cans of "Four Loko" to a person who is legally unqualified to be in possession of them, then you also bear the responsibility for your actions, not some beverage company in Colorado. That's just the American Way... or at least the American Way as I envision it.


tomm said...

I saw this after i read your rant, about how they are making 4 loco into enthanol
this is one thing in which I totally agree with you,

WillyJ said...

How unfair I agree. Unless there is some misrepentation of the product