Throughout the entire year, we’ve been assailed by politicians and voters ranting about how the government is getting too intrusive and too controlling and it should just let people make their own decisions and let the free market decide.
That lasted less than two weeks, when the beverage Four Loko started sending people to the hospital. Now governments across the country are stepping in to ban the drink on the grounds that it’s dangerous.
Why is it dangerous? Well, because people are dumb, that’s why.
Here’s the deal: Four Loko is a flavored alcoholic “energy drink.” A 23.5-ounce can boasts an alcohol content of 12 percent (six to comply with some states’ regulations), which is about the same as sparkling white wine, or on the higher end of the alcohol content scale for table wines. Some beers also have 12 percent or higher alcohol contents (but those are technically “barley wines,” for you fellow beer snobs).
Four Loko also contains per can (according to the company website ) the same amount of caffeine as a tall Starbucks coffee: 240 milligrams.
So one can of this stuff will get you buzzed nicely, in two respects.
The problem is not that these things have a significant alcohol and caffeine content; it’s that people are chugging several cans at a sitting — some of them underage people who have no business drinking booze in the first place. Read the news stories about all the people who’ve been hospitalized or killed due to consuming Four Loko and you’ll notice a recurring theme: that the victims consumed multiple cans of the stuff. It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking Four Loko, beer, wine, tequila, vanilla extract — if you ingest more than 70 ounces of a beverage with 12 percent alcohol content, you’re going to be one hurting puppy.
But hey, personal responsibility is so one Election Day ago — time to get overprotective Uncle Sam to step in! And it will, perhaps by tomorrow; the FDA could rule that caffeine is not a suitable additive for alcoholic beverages and thus effectively ban Four Loko in all 50 states, including the five that have already banned it at the state level.
By the way: cigarettes, with their dozens upon dozens of harmful chemicals that cause 438,000 premature deaths in the US each year? Still available.
Sure. Makes perfect sense.
EDIT: As of November 18, the FDA is holding off on a ban. However, the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission will, through an emergency regulation, ban “malt beverages” that contain caffeine and other stimulants. Technically this means beer with caffeine added through infusing the brew with coffee — which is delicious — will be illegal when the new regulation goes into effect Monday. Thanks, nanny state. Screw you too.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.