Letters to the Editor

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ENERGY DRINKS: Let market sort out problems

Letter by Matthew Thomas Cornwall, Tacoma on Nov. 12, 2010 at 4:07 pm with 37 Comments »
November 12, 2010 4:20 pm

The state of Washington has banned the purchase and sale of alcoholic energy drinks (TNT, 11-11). I try to understand why politicians make the decisions that they do and make a judgment after reviewing both sides of the argument. However, in regards to this particular issue, I’m at a loss for words.

Nine college kids from Central Washington University were rushed to the hospital for having blood alcohol contents ranging from 0.123 to 0.35.

I’m not sure if all of the lawmakers in Washington state ever went to college, but I can honestly tell you that most college kids have had a blood alcohol content between those two ranges by the time they finish their freshman year.

I don’t have a palate for alcoholic energy drinks, but I think that citizens should have the right to decide for themselves. I know that these alcoholic drinks aren’t very classy, but stores supply them. Why? It’s simple economics: supply and demand. If the demand for these alcoholic energy drinks were to drop, the sales would drop and stores would no longer stock them.

Despite how some people feel about the capitalistic system in the United States, I believe that it tends to solve its own problems.

By banning and specially taxing certain food and drinks, the government is saying, “You’re too stupid to think for yourself, and you need us in order to live a fully productive life.” I don’t subscribe to that.

Leave a comment Comments → 37
  1. The voters in WA wanted WA to continue with its monopoly in liquor sales so….you really don’t have a complaint, except with your fellow voters.

  2. alindasue says:

    I don’t drink alcohol, so maybe someone here can explain –
    What’s the difference between “caffinated alcohol” and simply having a rum & coke?

  3. alindasue – I think it has to do with the levels of caffeine and alcohol.

    It is the difference between enjoying a drink and drinking to get hammered.

  4. penumbrage says:

    alindasue – The main difference is the addition of taurine and guarana (for alertness/energy) and wormwood (like absinthe, but much weaker).
    The problem is uninformed or unaware people who don’t realize that the wormwood adds an extra unfamiliar element (some people even report a mild psychedelic reaction from it) and that the stimulants mask many of the usual depressant effects of alcohol. Not feeling as drunk (until the stimulants wear off) they often drink more and end up drunker than they planned making blackouts more likely.
    A big warning label would help, but if we could figure out how to keep frat boys from doing stupid things it would solve a lot more problems.

  5. blakeshouse says:

    The nanny state at it agian!!!!!!Runs the same lines as San Fran banning happy meals unless they contain what the city wants it to contain. Any little inroad the socialists can make for more control over the little people the better and it also gives more control over the business that produces the product. As this state continues to erode individual responsibility as well as exert more control over every aspect of life, I suggest to the mfgrs that if the state continues that in their best intrest they should remove any and all products they make outside the border of the gullag..

    When people realize that the nanny state has reuced them to the stautus of infants maybe then enough will put these idiots out to pature where they belong

  6. Sumner401 says:

    Aaaaht he whiners are all over this one…..right up till they are T-boned by a drunk teenager, then the outrage! will change to why the Govt didn’t do something!

  7. “Not feeling as drunk (until the stimulants wear off) they often drink more and end up drunker than they planned making blackouts more likely.”

    Don’t forget alcohol poisoning.

  8. JudasEscargot says:

    Let’s stop this nanny state, huh Blake?

    Quit selling narcotics by Rx only. Package them cute and sell them OTC.

    Free market forever!

  9. headedsouth says:

    My brains cells were destroyed reading this ignorant letter! Thanks!

  10. JudasE, be careful what you say because some here are just stupid enough to try it.
    I like the free market idea as it might apply to all the once approved and now banned drugs we have experienced the past few years. Who needs the FDA? Let the markets sort out what is safe and what isn’t.
    Mr. Cornwall did not think through his letter before he sent it in. 15 seconds of fame or 15 days of shame. That’s the trouble with dogma. His choice I guess.

  11. hortonpeak says:

    Hope you are not the one in trouble while the “free market” sorts everything out. Good luck on your next visit to the doctor or dentist once your world takes over. Cheers.

  12. It seems just as arbitrary as most prohibitive laws these days. If I’m not allowed to ride my bike without a helmet because there is a tiny chance I could get injured why should you be allowed to drink poison and risk injuring yourself?

  13. ronnview – in Idaho they let people not wear helmets when riding………I guess the state figures that anyone stupid enough to not wear a helmet is brain dead already….

  14. beerBoy — I have somehow managed, even as a small child, to ride my bike without veering into the path of an oncoming car for 40 years (well, 35 if you figure I probably learned to ride a bike around age 5.) The helmet I choose to wear has been a complete waste of money and comfort so far.

    I can also walk down stairs without a handrail.

  15. Yep……accidents never happen to smart people because the cars zooming past you are all looking out for you.

    I mountain bike and have landed on my helmet a few times. Even the best bikers crash (especially if they are pushing their limits).

    I got re-ended by a semi as I was legally and carefully taking a right turn. Fortunately I was wearing my seat belt and my new model car (which was totaled) had a very high crash safety rating. Our bikes were crushed, some CDs were thrown out the window but, other than that, we were OK.

    The helmet keeps heat in and sometimes is uncomfortable but it only takes one time. The worst case scenario is your skull crashing into the concrete and…..you don’t die.

  16. make that “rear-ended” rather than “re-ended”.

  17. I don’t ride my bike on busy streets. I meander around the neighborhood. When a car comes I look to see if the driver seems to be aware I’m there and if he doesn’t I pull over and let him pass. I too have crashed my mountain bike a few times. Broke my hand once. Still, my injury incidence has been a tiny fraction of 1% of my rides.

    Nobody seems bothered that they passed a law that I HAVE to do something I will probably choose to do anyway everyday on the off-chance it might protect me once or twice in my life, but everybody is up in arms about a law that protects us from a substance that is a proven danger?

    It’s just stupid that my government trusts me to smoke or drink myself to death, but they mandate I wear a bike helmet.

  18. I think it is stupid to not wear a helmet but understand the concern over maintaining the right to be stupid.

    I am regularly stupid in my shop when I operate power tools without proper eye protection….

  19. Well there you go. I wear a helmet because I want to, but resent that I have to.

  20. Dumb gov. idea – bicycle riding on the same (right) side as vehicle direction.

    The original idea of opposing vehicle visibility was so that both car and cyclist would be able to see each other at a safe distance and adjust accordingly. But That good idea was discarded for a stupid one. Even though everyone could see each other.

    But no…the politically inept (correct) crowd just had to order bikes to be on the same side and traveling in the same direction as cars…so that both are forced to play the game of “blind-dumb-chicken”.
    Boy! I can’t see the cars coming up behind me but at least I’ve got my little mushroom hat on. How did we ever survive childhood without “Nana”?

  21. “Nana” laws….it’s all about safe and easy……revenue collection.

  22. I say get rid of them. They do nothing good for society. I constantly see kids drinking them, littering the ground with their empty cans, and begging law abiding citizens for spare change so they can go back into the store and buy another $2.50 blackout. It’s a travesty, one that is very appealing to young kids and teens. Outlaw them! So sick of ghetto people asking me for change and seeing them walk out with a can inside a bag. At 9:00 am, no less.

  23. lrm130 “ghetto people” Seriously?!!??

    They may live in the “ghetto” but what they are is alcoholics. Being “ghetto people” isn’t the problem, alcoholism is.

  24. larsman – Bicycles are illegal on freeways – for good reason. Cities should use that same logic regarding specific streets that can not safely maintain bicycle traffic.

    I agree with you – I would much rather be able to ride against traffic on the shoulder of the road so I could see who was trying to kill me and have more of a chance of surviving.

  25. gowenray says:

    Over my years of being a member of our society, (and believe me it’s been more than a few!), I’ve seen or read of many products brought to the market place. Many were nothing but shells, promoted by slick advertising and, intended to produce quick profit.
    Over time I’ve witnessed many products that governments found necessary to castigate in order to protect the public from itself.
    I have yet to understand how the concept of market awareness works for preventing those products that harm from getting there in the first place. You always have to assume the regulatory agencies that usually belong to government are always going to take an inordinate amount of time to get their act together. So, the phrase “Buyer Beware” is about the only self-help concept we’ve got going for us. Well, that and a whole cadre of hungry trial lawyers.

  26. gowenray — “Buyer beware” is at the core of my beliefs. Simply put, use your head to watch out for yourself instead of hoping someone else will do it for you. The problem with my method is that there are so many people who won’t do it for many different reasons.

    There are many people who believe that any product offered must be safe, otherwise the government wouldn’t allow it. You can tell how many people believe this when a drug or food product is proven to be unsafe and the masses go crazy. “We’re paying the FDA to make sure our food supply is safe. Why aren’t they doing it?”

    I can see the wheels spinning in the heads of the 21-yr olds buying these drinks. Mom says they’re not safe, but they wouldn’t sell it if it wasn’t so Mom must be wrong.

  27. Ronn – I can think of a couple of other things going though the 21-yr old male mind but would get bounced by Ma Nanny if I spelled them out.

  28. The maker of a caffeinated alcoholic drink that has been banned in four states, including Washington, has agreed to stop shipments to New York state.

    Gov. David Paterson and the State Liquor Authority announced the agreement Sunday with Chicago-based Phusion Projects, which makes the drink Four Loko, and with the state’s largest beer distributors to stop selling caffeinated alcoholic beverages.

    “New Yorkers deserve to know that the beverages they buy are safe for consumption,” Paterson said.

    The Associated Press

    Read more: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/11/15/1425119/new-york-four-loko-drinks-wont.html#ixzz15NkRpFwz

  29. xring — that’s for sure!

  30. Ronn – IMO ‘THE INCIDENT was an attempt to put some to those thoughts into practice.

  31. crappyemailname says:

    Normally I’d be against the state banning a particular alcoholic beverage, but with Four Loco and drinks like they’re a dangerous combination of uppers (caffine) and downers (alcohol). It’s not about being able to “handle your alcohol” in this case. A single can of this stuff has the equivelent of 4 cans of soda and 3 cans of beer. Consider just how bad of a combination that is in itself, then think about how many people are going to stop drinking after just one can. Probably not many.

    As much as I’m against big government and government having control of our daily lives an decisions, I have to admit that, in my opinion this was one of those rare few cases where “big brother” actually knew what was best.

  32. crappyemailname says:

    “By banning and specially taxing certain food and drinks, the government is saying, “You’re too stupid to think for yourself, and you need us in order to live a fully productive life.” I don’t subscribe to that.”

    I too hate that there are those in the government with that attitude, especially as an individual who spends a lot of time educating myself and putting a lot of thought in to the decisions I make.

    But honestly not everyone can make that claim and the more I look around at our society, frankly the more I see there are people who do need to be directed to make good decisions. There is significant percentage of society out there who, if they are honest, let others do their thinking for them. They let the TV, the newspaper, their friends, their co-workers, talk radio and the government do their thinking and form their opinions all the time.

    Heck, think I’m wrong, a trip down to the local Wal-Mart should be proof enough that not everyone can handle the responsibility of freedom of choice.

  33. “By banning and specially taxing certain food and drinks, the government is saying, “You’re too stupid to think for yourself, and you need us in order to live a fully productive life.” I don’t subscribe to that.”

    You know what sounds good when you’ve been drinking alcohol? More alcohol! So yes, after you’ve had the equivalent of 3 beers and 4 Cokes in one quick drink you probably are too stupid to think for yourself.

  34. speakeasy says:

    “Shielding men from folly fills the world with fools.” Herbert Spencer 1844.

    Thanks to past efforts by politicians to protect us from ourselves, we currently have an ample quotient of fools in the U.S.

    Laws such as this help ensure that fools here at home continue to be protected from their own folly……….

  35. When the government sets a speed limit they are saying “you’re too stupid to decide how fast to drive.”

  36. The same could be said for stop signs or any other traffic controls……

  37. bB — good, you see my point. Where, oh where, do we draw the line?

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