“Maybe, instead of the tipsy-inducing effect of power, officious officialdom just hates happiness.  In their simplistic narrative, freedom and mental health are irrelevant or nonexistent.  They think of us as mindless, biochemical machines to be kept in good working order.  They neither care nor think about why people drink.  There are many legitimate reasons: drinkers may be depressed, lonely, socially dysfunctional, mentally ill, unmotivated, battling to cope, sedentary, or suicidal.  They may just think it’s lekker.  The Department of Trade and Industry attaches no value to feelings, happiness, enjoyment or contentment.  It neither values mental health nor appreciates its benefits, including physical health benefits and safety benefits”.

Bureaucrats drunk with power behind absurd idea to raise legal drinking age: Leon Louw’s latest column which appeared yesterday in BDlive published by Business Day [subscription required]

Further excerpts

Alcohol for black people was banned initially, followed by relaxations during the 1970s and 1980s.  During “transition” (the 1990s), restrictive laws were virtually scrapped and liquor-related crime fell.  Then, with no further law reform, crime rates rose due to shoddy and corrupt policing.  Clearly, we should do the opposite of what is proposed.  We should show respect for civilians by completing the liberalisation process.

. . . . .

Since the department did not examine the evidence, the Free Market Foundation (FMF) did.  According to mainstream research summarised in a forthcoming FMF publication, the evidence is “inconclusive”.  According to one of the sources, “how to prevent alcohol-fuelled violence continues to perplex scientists and policy makers (because other factors) affect the relationship”.

Despite there being statistical relationships, “cause cannot be assumed”.  Because drinking is often a coping mechanism, it might “moderate” crime and suicide rates.  Research produces “mixed results (because) statistical links could be … cultural”.

In other words, culture and context rather than alcohol explain the violence for which alcohol consumption is blamed.

. . . . .

Internationally, nine countries with no minimum drinking age — nursery school kids may booze — have the lowest average homicide rate, 3.3 per 100,000.  Seventeen with minimum drinking ages younger than 18 years average 5.3 per 100,000.  The 109 with our current age of 18 years have the highest average — 8.7.  The average for the handful of countries SA is planning to mimic is 5.4 homicides per 100,000.

Banning alcohol for 18-21-year-olds is irrational because their inebriation induces no more than a tiny fraction of all violent crimes and road accidents.  A few innocent young adults are being scapegoated for everyone else’s behaviour.  Sober people in other age groups cause two-thirds of road accidents and most violent crimes.