Monday, January 4, 2010

What does history say about vodka price hikes?

Beginning Jan. 1, the minimum price for vodka in Russia is nearly doubling. What will this mean? If history is any guide, it means that the regime in the Kremlin will become less popular. More people will die or be sickened by home-brew, usually called samogon. The government probably will collect more tax revenues from the sale of booze.

But will the price increase diminish the level of alcoholism? That's doubtful. The treatment of alcoholism requires a spiritual aspect. I believe that one reason that alcoholism afflicts Russia so is that the country is still recovering from the Soviet legacy, which insisted on a materialistic perspective. Most people familiar with recovery from addiction or alcoholism recognize that the individual unaided cannot recover from his dependence. A group or a therapist can help - but real recovery results from reorienting the individual, encouraging the growth of a spiritual life within that individual.

I doubt that this is part of the Kremlin plan.