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Drinking the jet fuel

April 18, 2011
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A New York Times op-ed piece from this past weekend did an excellent job of nailing down Russia’s tale of woe with vodka and its liquor taxing policies. It can be found here.

Simply, Russia raises taxes on alcohol, in a pledge to support public health and make a dent in the 40,000 per year drinking deaths across the country. But at the same time, it launches public service campaigns to denounce over-drinking, thereby diminishing the desperately needed tax revenue that could go towards supporting Russia’s crumbling social services. It’s a tangled and messy tale, and when laid out like this, makes a lot of more sense.

The tragedy of excess vodka consumption and the consumption of moonshine of dubious quality is well-documented. What hasn’t been investigated is the mismatching messaging coming from various arms of the Russian government. or so it seems. With Medvedev standing against it, and his finance minister for it, who is one to believe?

It’s odd, the transition that’s made between totalitarian states and sub-democratic societies in terms of messaging, often it changes from monolithic, consistent, harsh sorts of messaging to more diverse, often conflicting sorts of messaging. While dissent is positive, wholesale upheaval over basic government policies and projections should not be. The growing pains, ah, the growing pains.

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