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Friday, March 1, 2013

Beer Like Water in Bohemia

I found this article a while back, but forgot to post it.  I think there are some interesting themes in it:

One of my favorite quotes:

Dr. Heger, a 64-year-old radiologist who likes to toss back a few himself, attributes such resistance to a general Czech dislike of government regulation, a legacy of the country's decades under repressive communist rule.

"It's important to speak against social engineering," Dr. Heger said. "We don't want to suppress smoking and drinking among adults. It's their right." He added: "I'm not against alcohol consumption. It just has to be reasonable."

Social engineering?

Yup, that's what most regulations are all about these days, from cigarette taxes to the infamous food regulations in New York City.

The truth is that smoking does decrease when tobacco taxes increase.  Same thing with alcohol.  I was shocked during my last trip to Romania to see how cheap liquor is there.  Aside from the general lower cost of living, alcohol there does not bear the phenomenal levels of taxation that we have in the US.  Moonshining and bootlegging are not crimes in the US because of public health, but because of 'revenues.'

The scary thing is when the government does take up the task of social engineering.  After all, what if the government gets it wrong?  Remember the failure of Prohibition and the crime it fueled?

If you want to effect change, it must not be done by force, but by gradual social change that happens within communities when they decide for themselves to change.

I've seen this for myself in Romania, where an energetic priest named Fr. Liviu Borsa decided to help the villagers he served to get sober.  The town was wall-to-wall drunks from what I heard.  In fact, several people told me that residents of Cluj knew that a drive through this village meant seeing passed-out drunks at all times of the day.  But, by working with families and the local alcoholics, Fr. Liviu had not only gotten a number of people sober by starting an AA group in the village, but even those who were still drinking were doing less of it and the 'phenomenon' of public drunkenness had almost completely vanished.

By ending the social pressure to drink, Fr. Liviu made it acceptable to be sober and even abstinent.  No coercion... just love and patience.

States don't run on love and patience.  That's a people thing.  So, I agree with the Czech doctor.  The Czech Republic has suffered enough from social engineering.  If they want to change society, then the Czechs have to agree to it first.


  1. Drinking more water wouldn't hurt anyone, though I don't like to see the government decree such things. And it might be just as unhealthy as alcohol if people switch to soft drinks and get addicted to them.

  2. Fr. George, I just discovered that you are also the man behind, which I and others of our parish's prosphora bakers have consulted many times. Thank you for everything!