The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta recently calculated the cost of binge drinking in the United States. The societal costs of excessive drinking in the United States comes to $226 billion per year, or $1.90 per drink. You know what this means, 20-year-old social science major at Big Ten University, don't you? That's right - we have a market failure. (Note: I did not say Southern Illinois)
The costs not borne by the market transaction involve the cost of lost productivity, property damage, alcohol-related disease, and increased policing. Or, as they call it on State Street in Madison, the Saturday before Halloween. So, what should we do? Are alcoholic drinks to be taxed at a rate to raise revenue to cover the cost of these externalities, or do I figure that as an adult, my taxes and insurance premiums cover the costs of the behaviors I myself exhibited during Unofficial St. Patrick's Day in 1999?
Sorry, liver - I messed you up, but at least I calmed down later and just have a beer or two from time to time. Moreover, I'm lucky that my bad decisions as a college undergrad did not negatively impact others... just my GPA the semester I turned 21.