The Four Loko Moral Panic Continues

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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19 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    My brother was killed by a drunk driver.

    Every time I see you people say that alcohol is perfectly fine, I wonder what it would be like to go over to his house for dinner and watch football. I wonder what his kids would be like. I wonder if they would call me “Uncle Bird”. I wonder if they would grow up and cure cancer.

    But no. Instead of typing this on his computer, I’m typing it on mine.

    In a world with legal Four Loko and cancer.

    (Okay, that’s my best shot.)Report

  2. Rufus F. says:

    I don’t know how these things happen either. My best guess is that a lot people go along with these bans not out of some sense of panic or folk demonizing, but along the lines of ‘better safe than sorry’. To wit: okay, probably there’s nothing wrong with X and I’m sure it will turn out to be safe, but we just don’t know for sure, and until we do, let’s be on the safe side in banning it. We can always undo the ban later.

    At least, that seems the more charitable explanation.Report

  3. mark boggs says:

    Sounds like if we could just ban the reckless, college students, we could clear this whole thing up.Report

  4. J.L. Wall says:

    Okay, but I still reserve the right to judge people for actually CONSUMING Four-Loko. Their fear of my slightly arched eyebrows and skeptical expression will be enough to sink this company, I promise.Report

  5. stuhlmann says:

    “But there’s no question that a can of Four Loko, which has less alcohol than a bottle of wine and about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, can be consumed without serious adverse effects”

    I am not familiar with this product; I have no idea how big a can is, or how many cans are typically consumed at a sitting. I will point out though that a bottle of wine is something that is typically shared between multiple people and that drinking a whole bottle of wine is actually quite a bit of alcohol for one person.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to stuhlmann says:

      drinking a whole bottle of wine is actually quite a bit of alcohol for one person

      Pace yourself, eat bread.Report

    • Matt in reply to stuhlmann says:

      I was about to scoff at the idea that a can of Four Loko could possibly contain as much alcohol as a whole bottle of wine, but once again Google and math have proven their superiority over truthiness. Four Loko comes in a 24-oz can and is 12% ABV. Wine comes in a 25-oz bottle and is usually 12-14% ABV.

      I was thinking that 750ml was significantly more than 25 ounces, but I guess not. Stupid tricksy metric system.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to stuhlmann says:

      Not this person!

      But, certainly, for people who can’t drink a bottle of wine in one sitting, or while lying in bed, maybe a warning label would suffice?Report

  6. Will H. says:

    I believe that not enough attention has been paid to the fact that milk has been shown to be very ineffective in reducing hiccups.
    Ban milk!
    Consider the inherent danger to all the kids trying to text while they’re riding around on their bicycles, hiccuping like nobody’s business. It’s a recipe for disaster.
    And take into consideration the evil bovine plot to DESTROY OUR PLANET with the greenhouse gases contained in their evil cow farts.
    And I’m sure George Soros has money going into milk somewhere– to destroy America by giving Americans the hiccups!

  7. craig says:

    I don’t think the stuff should be banned. However, the moral hazard of a product like this is the fact that people don’t actually know how volatile the stuff is, i.e. they probably know they’re being reckless when they drink the stuff excessively, but they don’t think they’re being any more reckless than any other time they’ve spent a night of binge drinking. the fact that the drink hasn’t been on the market for very long and kids are already DYING from drinking the stuff should at least give us pause. Of course, the answer is not to ban it. It is to help people make more informed decisions. So how do you do that?

    My buddy, who is a die-hard libertarian, put it well: whenever you’re dealing with a dangerous product, all you need to do to meet the burden of a moral hazard is to put a label on the product that fairly informs people of the risks. Cigarettes are a perfect example. if people still want to buy it after being fully informed, let them. Not only do you end up with a more informed citizenry, but the individuals who end up getting hurt or killed have less of an excuse to “blame society” for their poor decisions.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to craig says:

      First, if you’re 21, you’re not a “kid” by any measure that our society recognizes. You can drink, you can vote, you can get drafted, and in general qualify for most other perks of citizenship. Let’s not infantilize these people. They are indeed adults.

      Second, binge drinking kills. If it’s not this, it WILL be something else. The label already says 12% alcohol by volume. That’s strong, but not stronger than many malt liquors or strong beers. It’s very typical for a wine. Compared to a hard liquor, it’s not much at all.

      As to having an excuse to blame society… I recognize no such excuses as valid here.Report

      • Bob in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        A 21 year old male is nothing more than a dog with a limited vocabulary set. Get real. It is all relevant in a sense, but come on, what did you know about life or people at 21?Report

        • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Bob says:

          So… what you’re really saying is you’d raise the drinking age in general. To what? And should we take away voting rights while we’re at it? Probably — I mean, dogs don’t vote, do they?

          But die in a war? I’m betting that one would be just fine with you.Report

  8. Jonathon says:

    I just bought a can, not because I’m a fan of drinks like this, but because of the hype. I also drink in a responsible manner and don’t binge then drive. All this attention is only making the product more desirable in my opinion, and the only harm I have heard of comes from people who drink too much and then drive. That has been going on since the invention of the motor vehicle, and drunk wagon drivers and equestrians before that. These alarmist are finding a scapegoat instead of addressing the actual problem. Drink in moderation, binge drinking is deadly even if your drinking water.Report