Throughout several decades, various levels of government, supposedly for our own good, have imposed sanctions on various activities and products.
Oddly enough, the reality of the foregoing flies in the face of the first precepts of municipal law, which state that the first consideration given to any bylaw must be public health and safety.
When it comes to alcohol, drugs and gambling, public health and safety seem to be the last things any municipal council member considers.
A question which comes to mind is, how effective have any of these regulations and sanctions been?
For centuries the use and abuse of alcohol has had a devastating impact on communities and individuals, but it was largely unregulated. People could make their own wine, beer and other spirits, but governments derived little or no revenue.
Eventually it dawned on the wise rulers of various countries that they were missing the revenue boat and began to impose tax sanctions on the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic products.
Then along came the self-righteous American federal government, which imposed a total ban on such alcoholic activities and products. And thus our American neighbours encouraged the speedy development of organized crime and large scale bootleggers, who, along with a majority of American and Canadian citizens, didn’t think much of the sanctions.
Prohibition created fortunes in Canada and the United States and also helped establish and fund political dynasties, which still flourish.
This was also an era that witnessed the burgeoning of social and public health problems and the attendant public costs related to alcohol abuse.
Prohibition eventually ended, but the social and medical costs of alcohol abuse continued unabated.
Our sagacious government leaders still cling to the system which created huge revenue streams from the sale and regulations governing alcohol. Those same leaders seem to somehow be unaware of the even greater health care and social costs relating to alcohol use and abuse.
The resulting problems stemming from the imposition of poorly considered sanctions on alcohol have been largely ignored by politicians who are now blindly following the same path with drugs.
Sanctions and regulations and the current rhetoric about relaxation of those sanctions and the creation of revenue streams from drugs all ignore the gross social and public health costs associated with drugs.
Then along came casinos and almost every level of government in almost every political jurisdiction in North America jumped on the legalization of gambling bandwagon, all the while ignoring the resultant social chaos gambling can and does cause in too many families in too many communities. And all because of the lucrative government revenues derived from gambling.
The question remains unanswered, how is all of this working for us?
Instead of trying to determine the government’s role in what drives so many people to abuse alcohol and/or drugs, politicians simply lick their lips and dive into the revenue trough that has been created through the legalization of gambling.
Governments everywhere are too busy counting the incoming flow of dollars to notice that even greater amounts of money are being spent trying to deal with the social and health care chaos created by the ever-expanding use and abuse of alcohol, drugs and gambling.
Recently the Supreme Court of Canada offered its own contribution to the destruction of the social fabric of this country by throwing out most of the legal sanctions against prostitution.
Strangely enough, the virtual legalization of prostitution probably won’t find much support in political ranks because too many politicians think it is their sole right to profit from the populace.
Again, how’s all this working for us?
Sodom and Gomorrah couldn’t hold a candlestick to modern day Canada.
Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former district councillor.