Beer is not a drink that is drunk for its taste, but rather for its effect, which is mood altering. Yes, one finds a beer that suits his or her taste, but I have seen few beer drinkers turn one down simply because they drink another brand.
Commercials portray beer as refreshing, cooling, thirst quenching and stimulating—all of which are false. Alcohol raises body temperature and does not have a cooling effect. If beer was a thrist quencher, why does it not work like a carbonated drink? When one drinks a Coke, he usually just drinks one. It is difficult to have a beer. Why is it, when one is stopped and questioned about how much he has had to drink the answer nearly always is—”a couple of beers”.
Alcohol is a drug and the reason for its use is to change one’s mood. Thus, it is mood altering. Beer alters by chemical means how one feels. Most users will argue that a beer or two does nothing to them or for them. In fact, it has been well documented that even one beer changes reaction time and mental dexterity.
The danger in its use is that 15% of users in this country develop alcohol abuse or dependency. That is 15 out of every 100 users who may find that their consumption will become a problem.
What has all of this to do with selling or not selling beer in Yalobusha County? If we don’t, people will just continue to cross the county line and get their mood altering substance. Yes, they will. But, it will make it a litle more difficult for that 15% who may develop problems with their purchases to wreck their lives.
Let me use an analogy of a two year old and rat poison. Would it be better to put the poison in his crib or keep it in a cabinet? He can get it either way if he tries, but which is less likely to cause problems.
And, lets take the financial gain for the county bunk and lay it to rest. Sure, there may be a slight increase in revenue for the county, but not near the increase in income of the vendors who choose to sell. This is the primary reason for their support. A reason that is self-serving and motivated by greed. It is certainly not for the public good.
The overall cost of the consequences of the increased availability of this particular drug is astronomical and in most instances it comes out of the taxpayers pockets. The victims are usually physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually bankrupt. They must depend on the public trough for assistance. These costs include hospital bills, lost jobs, broken homes, divorces, child neglect and abuse, incarceration and even death. The list goes on and on. Believe me, in most cases, we the taxpayers, in one way or another, pay for all of the above. No beer tax or sales can come close to the cost of these consequences. You may say “we have the problem already” and you would be right. But why increase the potential of making it worse!
Last point—Water Valley is a small, God-fearing, conservative, southern town. Its allure is just that. We have a level five school system, excellent recreational facilities, nearly full employment for those in our county who want to work, future job opportunities on the horizon, adequate local government attuned to the real needs of the citizens, and excellent health facilities. In short, Water Valley is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. If a community is judged as being backwater and behind the times if it does not accept what a segment of its society feels we need in order to travel in the fast lane, so be it.
We as a community need what we have, because we already have what we need. If others need more, there are places other than Water Valley that offer what they think they must have. Let’s leave our town and county as it is. Remember, Yalobusha County Progressive Association, beer sales are not a sign of progress. Few businesses looking to start up or relocate in a community, other than those who sell the brew, list beer sales in their top five reasons for making a move—and if they do, we don’t need them.
/s/ Dr. Joe Walker
(Editor’s Note: Dr. Walker has been in a recovery program for chemical dependency for the past fifteen years. He is a past president of the Caduceus Club of Mississipi, which is a state wide support group for physicians and dentist who have had problems with substance abuse. He is presently a member of the Mississippi Physicians Health Program, a legislative arm of the Mississippi State Board of Licensure. He has been approved for the position by the Mississippi State Medical Association. This board of seven physicians intervenes, monitors and oversees treatment and recovery of professionals who have a problem with chemical dependency. Dr. Walker has served and worked on this board for the past eight years. He is also active in working with patients and individuals with the disease of chemical dependency and alcoholism.)