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This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

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Social costs of Alcohol rise from $2bn per year in 2008 to $36bn in 2010! ;-)

Gradual education of a few target is starting to sink in. And some "legacy" media commentary on the nonsense of numbers; albeit buried in Interweb pages; is coming to the fore.

Cris Berg of Australia's Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) wrote about the "costs" of alcohol consumption promoted by single-interest-fanatic (SIF) groups in Alcohol and the nanny state inquiry: This isn't just about money

In their submissions to the inquiry, the Australian Medical Association, the Alcohol Policy Coalition, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, and the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine all cite the $36 billion figure to variously justify higher taxes on alcohol, or more controls over alcohol supply, marketing and licensed venues.

The 13 authors of the paper came to $36 billion by piling on as many "costs" of alcohol as they could imagine. They took the full kitchen sink approach. They included everything from the lost productivity of workers affected by alcohol, to the cost of hospitalisation of children who have been abused by adults believed to be affected by alcohol.

In fact, as the 2008 study found, the direct costs to the public healthcare system of alcohol consumption are much more modest: about $2 billion a year. This might still seem like a lot. But the government received more than twice that from the excise on alcohol sales: $5.2 billion.

NB: I'm a member of the IPA.