Oh dear, nanny state researchers are out and about again, finding fresh angles to demonise those of us who enjoy a wee drinkie, a bit of a puff, or a little weed (and not a Little Weed of the Flowerpot Men type)*.
On Wednesday, the ABC breathlessly reported a new study, published in the British Medical Journal, that finds in the UK and Australia, binge drinking is on the decline among all age groups — except those over the age of 40. And of course, it was a natural for that forum of lefty zeitgeist, ABC News.
It seems we baby boomers – and the generation Xers who want to be like us – are more likely to drink more heavily, smoke more and addle our brain with licit and illicit drugs. The habits of misspent youths in the late sixties and seventies stay with us and die hard, it seems.
Of course, the rent-a-quote public health Pooh-Bahs jumped on the study to cry that more must be done to clamp down on elder self-abuse.
When it came to alcohol, the drug of choice of the boomer generation, the media message of the study leaders was that governments must clamp down on “risky drinking” by older fellas and gals– defined as more than 14 units of alcohol a week, or two units per day.
In the UK, a unit is defined as 10 millilitres of pure alcohol. In Australia, one unit equates to a standard drink. So two standard drinks a day is OK, three is binge drinking. On that measure, more than two glasses of chateau cardboard at a sitting is bingeing, though drinking Grange with lobster might also be an indicator of impaired judgment.
Naturally, the experts lining up to comment on these findings said more must be done to combat alcohol and other drug abuse in the over-forties. Naturally, they said more funding’s needed to protect Australian oldies from themselves.
Of course, they did. And what characteristic drivel.
Let’s be honest, which is a damn sight more than these taxpayer-funded researchers are being in sensationalising their findings. What generation is the healthiest in history, the fittest in history, and will become the longest-lived in history? That’s right, baby boomers. We boomers have survived and thrived because we’ve been smart enough to make informed choices about what we do, look after our bodies and our minds, and be less likely to trouble the scorers when it comes to demands on our healthcare services until the very last stages of life.
Educated boomers know how to drink in moderation, consume tobacco and recreational drugs in moderation, and generally not be an intoxicated nuisance to themselves and others. If boomers are prone to genuinely excessive drinking, it’s likely because it’s hereditary: their kids drive them to it.
As usual, however, the approach of the public health Pooh-Bahs is to urge yet more prohibition and abstinence. They want to make boomers’ mature and twilight years a joyless time of temperance and misery – for our good, they assure us. It seems you and I can’t be trusted to use a bit of responsibility, and we can’t be left alone to enjoy what’s left of our decadent boomer lives.
Reports such as this deserve to be filed in just one place: the wastepaper bin. Now, where’s that third drink?
*If you got the reference, congratulations. You’re a Baby Boomer and this article is about you.
Terry Barnes is a fellow of UK think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. This op-ed first appeared in The Spectator.