CBS News reports the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota plans to sue 5 international beer manufacturers for $500 million. This amount is to cover the cost of health care, social services, and child rehabilitation caused by chronic alcoholism on the reservation; to which they feel the manufacturers knowingly contributed. The lawsuit also names four beer stores in a bordering town which sold 5 million cans of beer in 2010 despite only having 12 residents.
There is indeed a devastating problem in this American Indian tribes’ reservation – one in four babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome, and the average life expectancy is between 45 and 52 (over 30 years shorter the North American average). But blaming the consumption of alcoholic beverages, a voluntary act, on the manufacturer defies common sense. In fact, there has actually been a ban on alcohol in the reservation since 1832 which was lifted for just two months in 1970 prior to being restored.
If an outright ban on alcohol hasn’t curbed the rampant alcoholism, how can anyone believe that $500 million from the beer companies will fix the problem? Personal responsibility must come into play here, and blaming the manufacturers treads a slippery slope. The production and sale of alcohol is highly regulated, and fully legal – what laws did the manufacturers break? The growing trend to place the blame on whoever has the deepest pockets in hopes of getting an easy settlement must be reversed.