Previously we argued that space settlements should invest in preventive medicine in order to reduce healthcare expenses. We discussed several causes of diseases and measures to deal with them. Here we will turn to another important cause of preventable diseases: alcohol.
Alcohol consumption is related to several medical conditions including cancer and liver disease. Also alcohol is a major cause of traffic accidents and violent crime. Even a modest consumption of alcohol will increase aggression in humans and about forty to fifty percent of US homicides involve alcohol.
By reducing alcohol consumption society will not only save medical expenses but also decrease crime and accidents.
Several scientific studies have shown that alcohol taxes are an effective tool to discourage the consumption of alcohol. Other policies suggested by research is to restrict advertisement for alcoholic beverages and to limit opening hours.
In our opinion the revenue raised from alcohol taxes should be used for:
- to cover medical expenses due to alcohol consumption
- to fund rehabilitation for alcoholics
- to partially fund a Victim Compensation Fund
Of course, critics of an alcohol tax (mainly the alcohol industry and their cronies) will argue that higher tax will be self-defeating as it will decrease the revenue available for listed expenses as the result of lower consumption. However, they are completely missing the point. Raising revenue is only of subordinate importance.
The reduction of alcohol consumption will mean that less people will suffer from alcohol induced diseases, less people will become victim of violent crime or traffic accidents. Also reduced alcohol consumption will result in higher levels of productivity. It is reasonably to assume that the saved expenses will outweigh the potential revenue lost.
One practical example of a reduced level of general alcohol consumption would be that fewer children will be born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). People who suffer from this condition have to coop with lower intelligence, behavioral problems as will impaired hearing and sight. Apparently the live time cost of a FAS patient is about two million USD. This is a lot of money, society could have saved and used for other purposes.