« PreviousContinue »
wegian brewing interests and writing in the "Tageszeitung für Brauerei" (Berlin), July 3, 1913, he says:
The new law went into effect on January 1, 1913, and includes not only beer but all fermente l alcoholic beverages which are not to be classed as wine. The beer is divided into three classes :
“Class 1-Beer containing not above 2.25 volume per cent. of alcohol.
“Class 2—Beer containing more than 2.25 and up to 3.75 volume per cent. of alcohol.
“Class 3—Beer containing more than 3.75 and up to 5.50 volume per cent. of alcohol.
"The tax is based upon the litre of beer sold and that consumed in the breweries and is distributed as follows: Class 1, 2 oere; Class 2, 8 oere; Class 3, 17 oere (10 oere equal 2.7 cents).
“The breweries are obliged to keep certain books: First, one containing all the data necessary to the proper recording of all the operations of the brewery; Second, a book relating to bottling and filling barrels for transport; Third, a sales book recording all the beer removed from the brewery or drunk on the premises.
“The breweries themselves must send exact monthly statements to tax officials of the beer sold or that consumed within the brewery. The brewers who furnish a sufficient guarantee for the payment of the tax are granted credit for a month and a half. There is no daily control exercised in the brewries. One of the permanent functionaries of the establishment, whose name is recorded at the tax office, is obliged by law to keep an accounting of all the beer taken from the brewery. The control office is organized after the Danish system and does not incommode the brewers. All fermenting and lager vats are measured, also vessels for transport. The beer bottles may contain only 35 and 70 centimeters. All the filled barrels and vessels taken away from the brewery must bear the firm mark and a label showing the tax class to which the beer belongs. All filled bottles must have corks or other stoppers stamped with the numbers 1, 2 or 3 and must bear the firm label.
"The control exercised is thus very simple and convenient to the brewer. Now and then an official comes to inspect the records in the different books, compares them with the beer in the fermentation and lager rooms with the sales book, etc. Falsifications in order to be successful would therefore have to be carried through
all the books and would be noticed by workmen and officials. If the control office has any suspicion it may demand access to the usual business book. The system has been put into operation by the teetotalers and temperance people. It must be said that the brewers have received it well. And it has at any rate the great advantage of giving public testimony to the small amount of alcohol contained in beer."
The standpoint of the Norwegian legislator is that the interests of temperance can be best promoted in their country by liberalizing the use of the least alcoholic drinks and placing the real injurious ones under ban. This means in effect to classify ordinary beers and light wines as non-intoxicants. When Dr. Mjoen in the foregoing article speaks of beer of Class II. as injurious to the individual but not the race, he clearly does not mean that its moderate vise is injurious, otherwise it would certainly have been placed among the articles prohibited.
This new Norwegian legislation is the outcome of long and careful study as well as experimentation with various expedients for lessening the consumption of liquor. The country has had a not altogether happy experience with her trial with local prohibition, which has been followed by the usual violations, especially through the sale of a noxious concoction sold as a wine. In the country districts the tourist hotels, of which a large number have sprung up in recent years, have sold liquors of all kinds openly, although located in supposedly prohibition territory.
The monopolization of the sale of whiskey has brought the consumption of this commodity to a low point, where, however, it remains about stationary. Meanwhile the country has not rid itself altogether of alcoholism. After having viewed the whole situation with scientific care the Norwegian reformers have not grasped at absolute prohibition as the one solution. They do not believe the people to be ready for it and dread the evils of non-enforcement. Yet of all peoples the Norwegians should be prepared for absolutist laws. Instead, they aim at the suppression of the sale of distilled spirits and kindred products, expecting that this will be accomplished best by virtually placing a premium on the manufacture and sale of lighter beers, permitting traffic in those not containing more than 512 per cent of alcohol.
Is there not a lesson in this for law makers and reformers in this country? In their wisdom or unwisdom they have never ventured to discriminate between liquors according to their contents; that is to say, in conformity with their injurious or non-injurious properties. If the question has been one of taxation or the imposition of license fees, the guiding principle has not been how light wholesome beverages may be substituted for the manifestly dangerous or outright injurious, but what the traffic will stand. Thus far this unenlightened, one might almost say unmoral, attitude, has been as characteristic of the national as of State law-making powers. Here and there some half-hearted attempt to lessen the financial burden to the vendor of light alcoholic beverages may have been made, but the laws have absolutely failed directly to encourage the substitution of beer and light wines for distilled liquors, whether the aim has been one of manufacture or sale. This is only another way of saying that the motive of legislation has been purely fiscal or one of suppression without a proper distinction as to what is being repressed or suppressed.
Of course, uncompromising prohibitionists who regard all beverages containing alcohol as equally injurious, and of the evil one, will bitterly oppose any legislative effort to encourage the substitution of the harmless for the harmful or to affirm in any way the underlying principle. They insist upon their universal remedy-first local, then state prohibition, eventually to be translated into national prohibition. That hitherto, so far as recorded experience goes, the effect of such sumptuary legislation has not only been negative but largely to drive out the use of the least alcoholic beverages and substitute the admittedly harmful, goes for naught. To say that national prohibition will remedy this is but to leave one will-o'-the-wisp to chase another.
Persons who really have it at heart to make the nation more sober, may well question how long this tyranny of unenlightened opinion shall prevail. They should study carefully the eminently practical and direct steps towards temperance which the Norwegian legislation exemplifies. To answer that it is not practicable in this time is merely begging the question. There is no fundamental difficulty in so fashioning our revenue laws that the more alcoholic beverages are made to bear the greater tax burden, unless we confess that moral considerations must have no place in fiscal regulations. State and local laws affecting the manufacture and sale of liquors can likewise be adjusted upon the principle that the use of the more harmful should be discriminated against, primarily through
the simple expedient of progressive taxation, which in this instance must be clearly reflected in the imposition of license fees.
This is not the place to suggest a scheme of legislation in detail but to ask the question, Has not the time come for legislation after the Norwegian model as described above? Perhaps all the desired advance could not be taken at one step, but a little progress is better than standing still while other parts of the world move forward in temperance legislation. It is not a question of compromise or of meeting the threats of general prohibition, but of doing that wherein prohibition signally fails-promoting actual sobriety. At the same time, it must be confessed that until rational measures are taken to reduce the drink evil, one cannot wonder that so many hanker after the unattainable—absolute prohibition.
THE ALCOHOL QUESTION FROM A MEDICAL VIEWPOINT
STUDIES IN THE PATHOLOGY OF ALCOHOLISM
By ULRIK QUENSEL Professor of Pathology and General Hygiene of the University of Upsala (Sweden)
"A renowned Swedish scientist
• presents here the result of years of intensive study of the literature of the alcohol question and of his own pathologic, anatomical and experimental investigations, carried on in a thoroughly objective manner and stamped with a spirit of scientific inquiry, a comprehensive work in two volumes of 941 pages. The work was completed through pecuniary assistance on the part of the Swedish Government, and has already created attention in the home-land of the author, as well as in foreign parts. It may in one word be characterized as a standard work in the great literature of the alcohol question, being much more comprehensive and especially much more critical than most of the existing publications on this subject."
Thus writes Dr. Scharffenberg, who is himself an ardent absolutist, and although he does not agree with Dr. Quensel on many points, concedes the absolute fairness and conservatism of his conclusions.
The work may be regarded as a scientific companion piece of a more popular publication, “Alcohol and Society,” issued by a committee of the Swedish Medical Society. The volume derives particular value from the fact that the author has subjected the vast material at hand to rigid examination, no matter what point of view it follows. He may be said to have searched the whole alcoholic literature, so far as it bears upon the medical point of view, weighed its evidence, and stated the conclusions with a freedom from abuse and exaggeration which as a rule does not distinguish books upon this controversial subject.
Unfortunately, Dr. Quensel's studies are not accessible in English, nor is his work as a whole adapted for popular reading. In the following pages certain portions of the two volumes are summarized, those being selected that can most easily be understood and that deal with aspects concerning which there is especially need of greater understanding. Happily, the author has himself sum