My daughter Helen Coleman sent me the following thoughts about the reasons for the growing problem (in UK and other western industrialised countries) of young people acting anti-socially as a result of excessive alcohol intake:
I donít often get actually cross at what I read in the newspapers. However, what is starting to make me fairly spit is the number of people who, deploring the levels of public drunkenness and the resultant anti-social behaviour amongst young people, are saying that itís the fault of the publicans, who ought to refuse to sell alcohol to anybody whoís already obviously well-tanked up. Have any of these people ever tried saying "no" to a drunk? Have they ever had any dealings with drunks at all? Are they so ignorant theyíre simply not aware of the way in which a perhaps perfectly friendly drunk can suddenly switch to being violently aggressive? Do these people fancy being in that situation, without any backup, and knowing that the police will take a good half-hour to arrive?
I also find it depressing that nobody seems to have bothered to examine the reasons why so many young people seem to regard alcohol as a solution to everything. My own personal hypothesis follows. Itís based purely on limited observation and equally limited reading, but may have some validity.
After the first world war, Germany was more or less economically bankrupt, and its people, from what Iíve read, were suffering from a great disillusionment with its leaders. The only area of the economy which was obviously expanding was the gin-shops.
We arenít economically poor, but we are, I think, as a nation, disillusioned with our leaders, who appear to be morally and idealogically bankrupt. In addition, young people in particular know that they are likely to be subject in the future to severe poverty, if they arenít already. Housing is becoming unaffordable and the wages of education is debt. Whilst we still have to support the existing senior generation through our national insurance contributions, we have been assured that we canít expect the state to support us in old age, and so should pay in to an (unregulated) pension scheme if we wish to have any income at all in old age. These payments, of course, are coming out of a wage packet already reduced by the depletions previously mentioned.
Given the lack of hope for young people, and the parallel of 1920ís Germany, is it really so surprising that so many of them are taking to the bottle?
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