Drunk 9 year olds & manufactured morality – time for a Super Vice Tax?


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The moralistic outcry and high horse riding on social media generated by a youtube clip showing a drunk 9 year old seems twee. My first thoughts were ‘what-an-insanely-abusive-thing-to-do-to-that-9-year-old-who-you-have-now-stained-permanently-with-this-upload’, my second thought was ‘I’m-skipping-the-tsunami-of-comments-who-will-want-to-make-all-sorts-of-quasi-racist-assumptions-about-the kid- minus-any-perspective-of-the-booze-culture-we-drown-in’.

I think both initial thoughts were on the money. We live in a booze drenched culture, for a product that has so many negative social impacts, we have liberalised booze to such ridiculous levels that it is available every where at any time. The last chance the Government had to make some real impact on our booze laws was skipped by National in favour of the interests and profit margins of the alcohol industry, to moralise and stamp our feet at a drunk 9 year old seems to utterly ignore the contractions and hypocrisy of our own current bloated nation wide alcoholism.

I decided in my teens that booze wasn’t my thing because I didn’t like the person I became when I was drunk, but that was a decision I made when I was 19, the current thinking by Government when it comes to alcohol seems to be more juvenile than the 9 year olds. If we want a culture that minimises the harm from booze, angry pointing at the boozed up kid misses the environment we as adults has allowed.

If  we want to be serious about minimising the negative impacts of alcohol, we

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1: Get booze out of Supermarkets.

2: Dramatically limit the number of wholesalers.

3: Vast restrictions to advertising.

I  would venture a fourth, more controversial idea as well. A Super Vice tax. The above solutions go some way to minimise the ease of access to booze, but what about making those industries who have negative societal implications help play for the damage they cause as well? How about a 30%  super tax on the final profit margin of the booze industry, the gambling industry and the tobacco industry?  The additional revenue generated by a super vice tax could go into detox programs and better treatment facilities and placing it on the profit line after tax punishes the corporations peddling these vices rather than a vast price increase for the consumer.

The booze industry, tobacco industry and gambling industry need to know that they are tolerated and legal only because prohibition generates worse outcomes, and reminding them of their social obligations for the damage their products cause with a Super Vice Tax would be a welcome reversal of influence rather than this Government’s present position which seems to allow these industries to write their own rules.

Drunk 9 year olds aren’t the problem, it’s our assertion that the 9 year old is the only one with alcohol issues that is the problem.



  1. A supertax would cure nothing. People drink, smoke and/or gamble because they WANT to! They derive pleasure or relief from it. You STOPPED drinking because you WANTED to. The best way to change behaviour is to hold the person responsible for their actions that are linked to that activity. Deny them that chance by blaming the “booze barons” and providing free healthcare, detox and government sponsored welfare programmes will further withdraw them from the chance that you gave yourself to reflect on your actions and their consequences and make a life-changing behavioural decision. Don’t deny them that opportunity by apologising and covering for them.

    • Bollocks, the price of smokes was the most important factor for people quitting smoking. It would work for booze as well.

      • Yea, all the research shows that price is the best way to reduce consumption of alcohol.

        A lot of people want to change but they can’t get in to services and seeing no other way out they just continue on. Using a super tax on alcohol to pay for more alcohol services would be fantastic.

      • Except that booze is preparable in your backyard shed, so if you over tax it, you’ll just create a black market.

      • And fat, and v8 cars, and soft drinks, and solid fuel wood burners, and private schools, and clothes that you don’t like, and house paint in colours not on the approved list of heritage colours…..the problem with people like you is your propensity towards centrally controlled social engineering. You think you know what is best for everyone else and seek to tax the alternative. You preach tolerance, yet refuse to accept that most people want to live their own lives and make decisions based around their own experiences. All aboard the liberal socialist train, next stop, tax fatty foods and anything else I don’t approve of!

    • MIKE – hear, hear, is this an “expert” on addiction?

      “Deny them that chance by blaming the “booze barons” and providing free healthcare, detox and government sponsored welfare programmes will further withdraw them from the chance that you gave yourself to reflect on your actions and their consequences and make a life-changing behavioural decision.”

      What a self righteous, arrogant comment, a know it all kind of comment, as this is?

      So you seem to expect people with addiction issues (for whom the “free choice” is no longer part of their mental decision making process), to be refused access to free or subsidised treatment and rehabilitation, and to “pull their socks up”, so to say?

      I have met a fair few addicts, and they would die in the streets, had there not been free treatment offered, and support programs made available to them.

      By the way, having enough of such (which is NOT the case here), and having it provided, saves the taxpayer a heck of a lot of dollars, because the recovered will stay off drugs and booze, will in a large percentage return to be contributing citizens, and also offer advice to others, suffering the same, as to what measures to use, to get off booze or drugs.

      But you would send them an invoice, to the amounts few could pay off within reasonable times, so they despair and relapse after that. That is really “smart” thinking, Mike. You have not got a clue about all this, so go back to your liquor cabinet and pour yourself one for calming your nerves, upon reading my response to your silly comment.

      The tax on alcohol should first of all go into the health budget, to finance treatment, counselling and support programs. Nothing is for free, as you wrongfully claim. All consuming alcohol pay tax. And imagine how much tax an addict may have paid, so she/he deserves to get some help in return for paying all that tax!

  2. Our whole country has an issue with alcohol, not just one young lad. To celebrate a 9th birthday with alcohol is simply a early-age replica of most ‘grown up’s’ birthdays. All the numerous boozed up celebrations are deemed to be require alcohol or be dull – 21st’s (18th’s now), 50th’s; wet the babies head; weddings, see in the New Year. Maybe we dim the brain so the years ahead or behind don’t look so bad.

    I find it disturbing that the words ‘drinks’ or ‘liquid refreshments’ when offered at social and formal events (eg exhibition openings, neighbours bbq, work socials), where invariably the word drinks/liquid is presumed to mean alcoholic drinks/liquid. We seem incapable of celebrating anything positive in NZ without alcohol loading, and ‘non-drinkers’ endure social and peer pressure to ‘have a drink’. An alcoholic one.

  3. I am certain I’ve seen you drink Martyn? Lol

    That aside, I think you have a valid point. Also, whilst I don’t smoke pot myself (makes me depressed) I think it’d probably be better to legalise it and then just tax the hell out of it. Most end consumers wouldn’t notice a price difference anyway; it would just mean the cost of their weed helped subsidise health/education for the rest of us. Win/win

    • I am certain I’ve seen you drink Martyn? Lol

      And as the old adage goes, Debbie, it’s not the drinking – but how we’re drinking.

      This country is awash with cheap booze and proliferating liquor outlet (usually in lower socio-economic areas.)

      It’s ironic – book stores are closing down everywhere, but liquor outlet numbers are increasing. That sez a low about our society…

    • So let me get this straight. You would legalise marajuana so the state could ‘tax the hell out of it’ to ‘help subsidise health/education for the rest of us’. Health is already 100% subsidised, except private doctors visits, as is primary and secondary school education. University education is 78% subsidised at present. And you think you deserve more? That would mean being paid to go to hospital or a state school. If you can’t afford to go to school for ‘free’, how is that my problem as a tax payer? You cannot expect any more than 100% of the cost of your lifestyle choice to be paid for by the tax payer. That sounds to me like the sort of unadulterated greed you accuse dirty old National voters of!

  4. It seems to me that we have now a revival of the “tea-totaler” movement, when watching news and comments made by so many. I was also appalled about the video of the 9 year old who was irresponsibly given premixed drinks by others.

    This in itself is disgusting, but as Martyn correctly writes, it distracts from the real issues, not just about drinking.

    When seeing the news-coverage on both leading NZ TV channels on Freeview, I was disgusted more by the way it was exploited by the mainstream media, rather than what was the boy’s situation.

    There are laws already, plenty of laws and restrictions, and while some here lament the “cheapness” of alcoholic beverages in NZ, well, go overseas, especially to a place like Germany, where beer and wine in supermarkets costs only about a third, or a half, of what it sells here for. That is in a country where you get more for your money, and where most earn more money than here.

    Yes, they also have their alcohol problems, and it is more visible in many places. And yes, many New Zealanders have issues with alcohol consumption, and certainly many other issues in their lives apart from alcohol.

    There is more to it than the alcohol, which is a drug, a legal drug, which admittedly does cause harm to some. There are also other drugs, and they also cause harms, and most of them are illegal in New Zealand.

    But is it not the lack of other things, perhaps of sound basic education, of not having learned to live better lives while doing more sensible constructive things, that is the problem? Is it not the non existence of needed social networks, a lack of social cohesion, a lack for other incentives in life, apart from seeking opportunities to “get wasted”? Is it perhaps also the over consumerist, commercialised society portraying drinking as so “cool” and “entertaining”, and as an essential part of modern lifestyle?

    I know how grim it looks in some parts of town and the cities, I know how depressing and uninspiring some neighbourhoods are, I know there are a lack of jobs for adults, lack of income and other issues, but is that in itself not rather the cause for alcohol’s and drug’s attractiveness, so people want to “escape” from the dull, depressing daily realities?

    The same may apply to many work environments, as many go out on the town, or get wasted at parties after mid-week, or during the holidays, as their daily lives seem to be so empty and un-fulfilling.

    I am for more reasonable restrictions and controls, for opening hours, for outlets selling booze in certain places, but in New Zealand I get asked as a mature adult at the supermarket checkout, or they have a supervisor come to check on me, before a booze sale is authorised. I know no other country where that is the norm. So is this not enough to stop this. Do some want to turn this into a middle class, modern “Saudi Arabia”?

    My challenge is, do not blame the booze or the drugs, do look at the reasons behind of what happens, and address that, before you talk about banning, raising prices for those, who just want to enjoy a few drinks at home, and before bringing in yet more laws and rules.

    Perhaps it is time for some New Zealanders to learn a bit of fulfilling cultural life, to enjoy things without a glass or can of booze in their hands, rather than demonise the drink, which may be held by an irresponsible, immature person, who needs to look at her-/himself more?

    The media has in this case just reinforced the stigma and prejudices that exist. Showing a Housing NZ neighbourhood will feed well into the prejudicial mindsets of the largely upper middle class urbanites leaning back in front of TV or their computer screen.

    “Here we go again”, they will say and sigh. More restrictions for those damned “useless”, “irresponsible” and “lazy” beneficiaries, I can already hear this call in the background!

  5. I think the booze , fags and/or gambling phenomenon comes down to how well society is functioning .
    Like crime , for example . How many of us remember a time when a murder was a rare and horrible thing ?
    I heard it said recently that societies morals were being re focused to harmonize with the new economy . One of greed , fear and/or desperation .

    It’s my fear that until we fix our society , boozing , fagging and gambling along with wanking , brawling and thieving will not only be sustained by determined practitioners but will worsen if any punitive methods are used to slow down such human abominations against morals , social mores , and good taste much less other things still that make the neighbours close their curtains , makes dogs bark or gets one the unwanted attention of the police .
    My personal feeling is that the very worst thing to do is make a big deal about it . That little pissed kid ? The bigger Mr Do-Right should have found out who the kids mum/ dad was and told him / her / them . Not to go about Youtubing it like he’s some kind of moral enforcer . I noticed he wasn’t shy about having his face smeared across the TV as if he was a Super Star . A bit harsh perhaps and I’m sure ( hope ) the older boy was trying to do the right thing but I don’t think what he did was right .
    Hand wringing moral outrage is a reaction I’d expect of the Neo Right . A sneaky little kid downing an alco pop drink is blindingly human .
    I agree that ethyl alcohol is a monstrous drug . It’s the very worst drug I’ve tried , no contest and what it’s doing in supermarkets beside the cheeses and biscuits in full view of children is a mystery to me …. Oh , I remember now . ronnie brierly was progressive enterprises wasn’t he ? And then there’s that other charmer dougie meyers of Lion Nathan .

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