Joe Podelco / Lantern photographer
One thing that I find exasperating is the government’s tendency to get involved in every aspect of the lives of American citizens. Whether it is in people’s bedrooms, their wallets or women’s uteri, you can count on the government being there. Most recently, the government has entered a new room of our house: the pantry. Statewide bans of alcoholic energy drinks have spread faster than the Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives a few weeks ago, and it is unacceptable.
Four Loko, a popular alcoholic energy drink, garnered national scrutiny following the hospitalization of nine students at Central Washington University after they consumed large quantities of the beverage. But looking at the situation as a whole, I would say that only having nine students hospitalized out of the thousands who drink Four Loko should be considered a success. The government obviously does not agree.
It doesn’t matter if the drink is “dangerous.” That does not justify forcing the manufacturer to either strip the drink of its caffeine or cease production altogether. Frankly, I don’t think college students go out and get drunk to stay safe in the first place. They want to have fun. They know the dangers of consuming alcohol and energy drinks, and they choose to do it anyway. On the container of every drink, there are nutrition facts, a list of ingredients and the alcohol content. That information is sufficient for the consumer to be able to make an informed decision whether to drink the beverage, and how much.
There are people who think it’s cool to drink large amounts of this type of drink, and why rain on their parade? Let them be “cool,” and let them deal with the subsequent hospital visit. I don’t care because it doesn’t affect me, but governmental bans on certain products will. I don’t drink Four Loko, and I have no desire to. But I’m just waiting for the day that someone has a heart attack from drinking too much coffee — my favorite drink — and the government decides to enforce a “decaf-only” policy on coffee sales. If the government can snap its fingers and ban a type of drink like this, what other restrictions can it impose on us?
Can you imagine a life free from asinine governmental constraints? I can’t either. That’s probably because it’s nowhere near the lives we live in the U.S. In an ideal country, the government would allow us to do as we please, insofar as it does not harm other people. We could drink whatever we want, spend our money however we want and even relax with a little herbal refreshment, if you know what I mean. Yes, the government’s recent actions banned only alcoholic energy drinks, but this is only a taste of what the government can do. Recent polls have shown that nearly 80 percent of Americans don’t trust the government, and I’ll be the first to say I fall into that group. But the way our government is set up, we can only use our votes to choose between the lesser of two evils, i.e., Democrats and Republicans. So the way I see it, the people don’t have as much of a say in the affairs of this democracy as we think we do.
For now, all we can do is keep our eyes open for governmental oppressions and complain about them loudly. And if you get a chance, go out and buy a caffeinated Four Loko because before too long, they’ll be gone.