July 17, 2003


”As a committed libertarian,” writes Ross Fitzgerald, “I do not believe in legal action as a solution.”

He also writes:

Bearing in mind recent class-action litigations against tobacco companies, why, I wonder, aren't those who make and supply alcohol (brewers, distillers, publicans) being sued as aggressively as tobacco companies have been?

Since the alcohol industry seems determined not to admit publicly that what it sells is, to a significant minority of Australians, an addictive and socially damaging drug, the threat of widespread class actions may push companies towards greater social responsibility. The line that "We just make the stuff, it's the user who needs to be responsible" rings about as hollow as "Guns don't kill people, people do".

As with the debate on gun control, Australians need to confront the damage that alcohol causes when moderation gives way to excess and abuse, and to decide who's ultimately responsible for the negative outcomes.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 17, 2003 05:56 AM

"More State Control!" is hardly a libertarian motto. You might try something like "There's FEDERALES to put outta our misery!"

Posted by: mojo at July 17, 2003 at 06:04 AM

He obviously subscribes to that branch of libertarianism that doesn't believe in personal accountability.

Posted by: Sean E at July 17, 2003 at 07:07 AM

He obviously confused the term "libertarian" with "liberal."

Posted by: T. Hartin at July 17, 2003 at 08:09 AM

"and to decide who's ultimately responsible for the negative outcomes."

The idiot doesn't get the contradiction, even.....

Posted by: Keith at July 17, 2003 at 09:30 AM

He's just jealous of the Jake Ryan Beer Fund.

Posted by: Brian J. at July 17, 2003 at 09:41 AM

Lets say we have prohibition - it also had some marked negative outcomes, so who is to blame here then?

By his reasoning you should be able to sue the government for prohibiting alcohol....... madness.

Posted by: Rob at July 17, 2003 at 09:50 AM

One word for Fitzgerald; HYPOCRITE.

Seems like he's against regulation except if he gets to impose his ideal world.

Hands of my gaspers, cigars and bottle sof scotch Fitzy or I'll aim an empty at your befuddled nog, no make that many empties - better drink fast and copiously in view of what he'd like to do.

Posted by: d at July 17, 2003 at 10:14 AM

After reading Ross's entire piece, rather than just Blairy's excerpts, I don't think he's trying to encourage suits against brewers, just pointing out the risk they are running. Paradoxically, the climate of litigiousness he is talking about has been created by the good old libertarian USA. Judging from these comments, the neocon position is that there should be no regulation of alcohol at all, which is just as idiotic as prohibition. Having said that, Ross does write with the zeal of the reformed drinker.

Posted by: Kolchak at July 17, 2003 at 10:20 AM

Maybe what he meant was that he used to be a libertarian, before they committed him.

Posted by: Mongo at July 17, 2003 at 11:09 AM

Don't regard oneself as a neo-con Kolcchak , wahtever that is supposed to mean. Freemarketeers, very restricted government, open taxis is a long seated tradition , not just a philosophical proposition: it made England great unbtil that mongrel Peel came along and adopted the Euro habit of big bumhead bureaucracies and theft otherwise called taxation.

The products are lawful. And notice, you can make liquor yourself - comquat liqor, cherry brandy, and a whole range of head splitting wines.
Regulation of the products is just one more excuse by big government to steal what is not theirs. Hands off my hooch.

Posted by: d at July 17, 2003 at 11:11 AM

Ban lawyers from parliament and close the law schools for 25 years.

Posted by: slatts at July 17, 2003 at 01:24 PM

You're right, d -- pre-Peel England was bloody fantastic, especially if you were a chimney sweep or in debtors' prison. And those open taxis -- brilliant, although a bit brisk in winter. For more info, read some Dickens. The fact that an idea comes from a "long-seated tradition" doesn't make it any less crackpot. It's time that tradition got up and stretched its legs.

Posted by: kolchak at July 17, 2003 at 01:38 PM

The tobacco industry became the class action whipping boy largely because of its history of lies and deception on the harms caused by tobacco.

Ironic, as tobacco was considered benign in the colonial days of the demon rum. Perhaps alcohol manufacturers have had an easier time because they did not indulge in mass deception to the same extent.

Posted by: Johnno at July 17, 2003 at 01:40 PM

By open taxis, kolchak, one is summing up what common law advances.
And you know something, Kolchak, Dickens wasn't quite the ruth teller some make him out to be.Dickens is as reliable as greenies are to science- mind you, they prefer fiction writing too.
I'm not sure what to make of your last remark. One might mistake it to read , yes there are too many communard arseholes in Australia who also are bent on overthrowing cpommon law and it is time for hard headed stiff common law entrenched judges to kick the butts of judges and lawyers bent on throwing it down, and, a few pollies can be booted with stell capped boots right up their behinds on tto the cold hard cruel streets.

Let those commie rats cry like little Oliver, `more Sir' and one shall also roar, `what, more boy... rightho', and give little Oliver another kick up his flatulent bottom.

Posted by: d at July 17, 2003 at 02:02 PM

Dickens was so a ruth teller!

Posted by: John Dawkins at July 17, 2003 at 03:13 PM

Clever again d.

A freemarketer like yourself bagging a guy who contributed so much to the lowering of trade barriers.

But then again he was involved in passing the Mines Act, and the repeal of the corn laws.

Bloody Tory Socialist.

Posted by: craig at July 17, 2003 at 03:38 PM

The sad thing, kolchak, is that your completely inaccurate and inappropriate use of the word "neo-con" makes me automatically discount anything else you have to say. It makes you sound ignorant.

Positions associated with "neo-con" include both a favoring of strong military power, including using it for charitable missions, and a marshalling of social science data to support traditionally conservative ideas (on policing, marriage, etc.-- but in support of the modern conservative position of favoring immigration with assimilation.) Neo-cons tends to be marked by pragmatism. Opposition to all alcohol regulation is NOT AT ALL a traditionally neo-con position. (In fact, neo-cons are often very open to the use of statistics showing the problems with alcohol consumption and have an open mind to various regulations.) If you wish to refer to people with those positions, you should use the term libertarian.

Posted by: John Thacker at July 17, 2003 at 09:42 PM

Well, Thacker has cleared that mystery up, what a neo-con is, glad I'm not one. Sounds like neo-cons have a bad case of the Dewey - cf. B.Russell pungent put down.

And, regulation..erk.
`Social science' .... the quackery of sociology and psychology.

Statistics - a misused branch of mathematics for quasi-science.

I puke over neo-cons -socialistos in fag dress.

Posted by: d at July 18, 2003 at 09:50 AM

And flash my RWDBs badges at them.

Posted by: d at July 18, 2003 at 12:49 PM

Since governments have made, via excise and other taxes, more money from alcohol than the brewer, wholesaler and retailer combined,(and licensed its sale),then the members of parliament who passed the offending legislation must be the ones responsible,
so we should sue them.
Seize their superannuation!

Posted by: Bai at July 19, 2003 at 01:20 AM