Good drinking policy is good economic policy

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No, I’m not talking about Mayor Dave’s Alcohol License Density plan, or whatever forbidding more bars in the downtown area was called. That was also likely bad economic policy.

What I’m talking about is two lawmakers’ decision to put forth a common sense proposal that will treat drunk driving offenses the way all drug offense should be treated – with treatment.

State Rep. Peter Barca, D-Pleasant Prairie, on Thursday introduced the bill that would change this. Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, co-sponsored the bill, which would require anyone convicted of a second or third offense and placed on probation to take naltrexone for the duration of their probation. The probation sentence would be an option for the judge, not a requirement.

The bill is a good idea, Lehman said, even at a time when the mood of the people in Wisconsin and the Legislature is to get tougher on drunken drivers and when people acknowledge that Wisconsin is not considered tough when it comes to drunken-driving laws.

“This is a much smaller item. This is the rational look at the use of one therapeutic drug,” Lehman said.

It sounds a little bit fishy that any one medication would be required for a conviction. Would it not be more sensible to require psychological examination, or consultation on treatment? This seems rash – and I’d like to know what legislators had connections to the pharmaceutical that makes the drug.

Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction. Another important step will be the elimination of payday lenders in Wisconsin. It’s stirred up a lot of discussion recently – likely because of the recession and the increasing number of defaults. Of course, people have been getting screwed by the “cash advances,” the “auto-title lenders” and the “cash heavens” since the state lifted an 18 percent interest rate cap in 1993. But most of the people getting screwed were already in pitiful states of poverty. Plus, it was the 90’s. It would have been a total buzz-kill to spend time figuring out better options for people at the bottom.

Here’s the question. What is the link between payday lending and drug addiction and/or alcoholism? I would not dare say that the places enable the beginning of a drug or alcohol habits, but they certainly enable their survival. They cater to people desperate for money – who can’t get it anywhere else. With exorbitant interest rates that guarantee that nothing short of a lottery ticket will get you out of poverty, it seems obvious that alcohol and drug addictions are a partner in crime of the payday loan industry.

Maybe these two bills, seemingly unrelated, will combine for a crucial point in Wisconsin’s fight against alcohol abuse and its side effects.

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5 Responses to “Good drinking policy is good economic policy”

  1. KB Says:

    Well, pills are cheaper than, you know, actual help. And I don’t like the idea of the state requiring you to take a drug. Visions of Peter Griffin throwing away “chill pills from the man” come to mind.

  2. Paul Axel Says:

    The state already, in many instances, requires individuals to take drugs, often as part of a probationary sentence. If the individual committed an offense due to a mental illness that can be treated with drugs, the court may order the defendant to submit to a prescription in lieu of committment or jailtime.

    In reality, it is far far cheaper to medicate a person than to put them in jail or in an institution. The bill could be amended to include “actual help.”

  3. shane Says:

    This paragragh below baffles me. How did you come up with this correlation?

    Here’s the question. What is the link between payday lending and drug addiction and/or alcoholism? I would not dare say that the places enable the beginning of a drug or alcohol habits, but they certainly enable their survival. They cater to people desperate for money – who can’t get it anywhere else. With exorbitant interest rates that guarantee that nothing short of a lottery ticket will get you out of poverty, it seems obvious that alcohol and drug addictions are a partner in crime of the payday loan industry.

  4. The Sconz Says:

    What don’t you understand Shane?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I think he doesn’t understand the lack of evidence cited or argument made to support your claim that somehow pay day loans make or allow people to become alcoholics. Sure it’s obviously possible, but by no means is it intuitively a fact or even likely.

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