We make lots of шутки about Russians and their vodka, but really, is alcoholism a serious problem in Russia? I mean, our first semester Russian book illustrated a dialogue between Russians at an AA meeting. Is this harsh reality or blatant stereotyping? Either way, it's an awful choice for a text book dialogue. But do we expect any less from Начало? Certainly, we don't expect any more.
So, I looked up the truth about alcoholism and Russia. There was good news and bad news.
1. Russia is FULL of alcoholics.
2. Alcoholism is the main reason the average life span for men is 58.
3. Beer is marketed as a soft drink and treated as such by many Russians. I guess compared to vodka, beer kind of is a soft drink....
1. There's barely any tax on vodka! That's good news for me anyway. Here's to cheap good times in Moscow! I can't wait.
2. Russia is the fastest growing beer market in the world. What can I say? I'm a dirty capitalist. Growing markets excite me.
3. Beer is heavily taxed, which creates revenue for the government. Vodka is barely taxed, which creates revenue for the people. The only loser here is your liver.
So, there you have it, the pros and cons of Russia's alcoholism in a neatly distilled potato. Perhaps if it weren't winter 13 months out of the year, people would have a reason to sober up once in awhile. As it stands, I honestly can't blame them. But when their young men fall a couple decades short of the average life span, I can't feel bad for them either.