Tuesday, May 16

Fix Menomonie's Drinking Problem: Add a Brewery?

Menomonie (my hometown) appears to be spreading gasoline on the fire on one end while wondering why the firemen on the other end are having troubles stamping out the perennial problems created by drunkenness.

They want a new bar/brewery in a downtown area that already has eleven bars while at the same time scratching their head over drinking problems. Let's get things straight. First get the drunkenness problem fixed, and then we can evaluate the merits of the new business.

It is well know that Menomonie has some of the worst problems with drinking in a drunk state. A new billboard on the way into town even attempt to warn high school students about the dangers of drinking. In 2001 Stout also published some of the statistics on the drinking problem on campus.

Alcohol consumption

Average number drinks consumed per week UW-Stout 12.51drinks National 05.94 drinks
Five or more, 3 or more times in last two weeks 42.4% of students National 21.5% of students

Percent experiencing the following due to "your" AOD use, during the last year.

Trouble with police, campus authorities UW-Stout17.9% National13.6%
Damaged property, pulled fire alarm UW-Stout12.3 National 07.5
Got into an argument or fight UW-Stout46.0 National 29.7
Driven a car while under the influence UW-Stout53.5 National34.4

What about the drinking problems in our high school? This report has this conclusion:

The 2002 Menomonie High School student AOD use survey indicates that community youth engage in high levels of AOD abuse. Survey results suggest that almost half the students 44.7 % (482 of 1,079) have consumed alcohol over the last year and that their mean consumption rate for an average week is 5.88 drinks. Additionally, it’s estimated that the mean peak BAC (“when you party”) for all four high school grades is at or above the Wisconsin drunk driving limit of 0.10 % BAC.

While it’s difficult to make direct comparisons with other high schools, due to a lack of survey continuity, it is possible to compare MHS student drinking and drug use to a national average of 93,679 college students who were administered the CORE Survey over the last several years. The average number of drinks consumed by this large body of college students is 5.2 drinks per week, which is less than the MHS level.

And our first solution to the problem is to add another bar. Perfect. I don't doubt the market but I do doubt the cities sanity.


Joey said...

Anyone who knows me knows that I've never had a drink and don't like bars. However, in a free market society without government intervention, is it really the city's job to approve or not approve a private establishment's desire to set up a business? I suppose factors such as strain on local government resources could be taken into consideration, but generally, I would say that it is not the government's job to prevent a private establishment from doing what it wants, regardless of my beliefs and opinions regarding the situation.

Jake said...

Looking at those stats I would say the UW-Stoutites do a better job of maintaining when intoxicated. See the difference in amount drank (UW-Stout 12.51 drinks, National 05.94 drinks) compared to trouble with cops (Trouble with police, campus authorities UW-Stout 17.9%, National 13.6%) Let's face you are never going to stop drinking - never. It was already tried with an amendment and we know how that came out. Possibly those stats point out teaching responsible drinking is the start of a solution.

Anonymous said...

Has there ever...EVER...been an academic study published that demonstrates a cause and effect relationship between an increase in the distribution of brewing licenses and an increase in public disturbances?

Even if it was true that most public disturbances are caused by alcohol, this would not be enough to support your cause as you specifically list it. If there is no peer reviewed evidence that implies that allowing a brewing license will specifically increase the number of public disturbances, then the preventing such a license to be distributed is at best irrational.

Disallowing such a license would have created the illusion of progress…allowing the license will promote the area's local heritage. Disallowing such a license would have demonstrated only the ability to make decisions based on faux-evidence and on fear…allowing the license will inspire others in the Menomonie area to dig back into their roots and to bring forth through their local businesses a sense of pride in who we are.

The Menomonie City Council voted in favor of culture and for this I am proud.