Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Read This, and You'll Want a Drink. Or Perhaps Not.

The Russian government is encountering some resistance in its attempts to reclassify beer as an alcoholic beverage. Sounds as if the encouragement of beer as the mongoose to kill the cobra of vodka has backfired, though not as badly as the metaphors in this sentence.

At any rate, the goal of reducing alcohol consumption by half within the next decade or so sounds impossible, but not when alcohol is the driving force behind the projected 20% decline in the Russian population by 2050. That's almost half your goal right there!

Lest you think this is some reflection of the Putin-Medvedev thugocracy*, this kind of demographic disaster has been underway since the Soviet period, as anyone who has encountered the work of Murray Feshbach will attest. I took his course in Soviet Demography twenty years ago and the section on the Soviet medical system, which is largely unchanged and probably worse except for the upper strata of society, was the most depressing two hours I have spent in a classroom.

Na zdrovie!

*I was going to use the term "kleptocracy" but I get the sense that Putin at least is keeping his personal share of his country's wealth inside the borders so he can enjoy it in situ.

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