14 September 2011

A war on alcohol?

The Center for Consumer Freedom’s article, Behind the Neo-Prohibition Campaign, details just how far the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) goes in funding and manipulating the neo-prohibitionist movement.

The stated mission of the RWJF is: “to improve the health and health care of all Americans. Our goal is clear: To help Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need.”

It seems, however, that RWJF’s real goal is to fund (to the tune of $265 million over just four years), and to create one voice for the neo-prohibitionist movement. The RWJF, under the cover of distorted “research,” propels anti-alcohol policies based on beliefs that alcohol consumption is a dangerous evil.
Nearly every study disparaging alcohol in the mass media, every legislative push to limit marketing or increase taxes, and every supposedly “grass- roots” anti-alcohol movement was conceived and coordinated at the RWJF’s headquarters.
The [RWJF] approach seeks to shift blame from the alcohol abuser to society in general (and to alcohol providers in particular). So the RWJF has turned providers into public enemy number one, burdening them with restrictions and taxes to make their business as difficult and complex as possible. The [RWJF]’s message to typical consumers, meanwhile, is that drinking is abnormal and unacceptable. The RWJF seeks to marginalize drinking by driving it underground, away from mainstream culture and public places.
Under the guise of health care, the RWJF pushes its temperance agenda (increased taxes on the industry, elimination of alcohol marketing, and legislative roadblocks to obtaining licenses) through studies, media, lobbyists, and by villainizing alcohol consumers and manufacturers. The goal is to grow the anti-alcohol movement to the same proportions as the anti-drug campaign. Some advertising funded by the RWJF even analogizes beer drinking to heroine use. The “RWJF game plan: Position alcohol as a drug that cannot be resisted by an individual’s own efforts, and therefore requires legal restrictions to save the individual from himself.”

The fact that many of the results from the RWJF funded “studies” are bald fabrications, based on soft numbers, does not create nearly the flashy headlines that the RWJF study conclusions do. Results can be easily manipulated, and, statistics can be slanted in any direction. The source of funding for a study should always considered before any real conclusion may be drawn. The RWJF frequently creates numbers based on conjectures, and funds studies to create their desired result.

Unfortunately, the RWJF is funds a lot of research into alcohol use, consumption, and effects. Even more unfortunate, is that law makers base laws and regulations on the fabricated results, misleading and soft numbers, and the hysteria created by spurious anti-alcohol headlines, rather than on objective assessment of real facts.

For a foundation focused on health care, perhaps their focus should be on the individual, on educating the individual, rather than declaring a war on the product.


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