A couple of months ago I wrote this post about AA’s tradition of anonymity, and how AAs use it (and break it) to suit their purposes. Among the reasons for breaking anonymity that I wrote about, were for spin control, and as as an abuse excuse. After reading this op-ed in the Cape Cod Times, I felt compelled to add a third reason: as an appeal for sympathy in order to bilk the good people of Massachusetts out of some more tax money.
Bill Wolfinbarer is an AA who also happens to be deaf, which is wholly irrelevant, aside from the fact that he is exploiting his disability to change public opinion over the recent Massachusetts repeal of an alcohol tax. Half of those tax proceeds were going to alcohol recovery programs, and no doubt the road to most of those programs led to AA. Apparently, some of those dollars were spent in paying for an interpreter for him to use during AA meetings. He is also using a near death experience, the survival for which he has labeled a “miracle,” as a way to pile on to his need for sympathy.
Now, in commenting on this piece of written lunacy, I could fixate on the obvious question – which is why would a god who is capable of intervening in Bill’s hospital treatment to breathe new life into him, and who is capable of ridding him from his alcohol addiction, not do anything about his lack of hearing? It seems to me that curing Bill’s deafness, instead of getting getting Bill to beg the people of Massachusetts to fork out $1.20 for every case of beer they buy, would be an easier way to go about doing this. I could also ask what seems to me to be an obvious question, and this is what does he mean when he writes, “…if there are no interpreters, we cannot grasp this lifeline and we cannot receive the gift of fellowship” ? What does he mean by, “lifeline”? Why would AA God™ give Bill a spiritual awakening that only a sign language interpreter could tell him about? I figured it would be something he would feel, but of course, I’m not AA God™, so what do I know.
I thought I would instead focus on his what he writes about the financial costs of addiction. Bill is arguing that there is a consequential cost to doing away with this sin tax that exceeds that of the actual tax – and that it would in the long-term be a lesser cost to the taxpayers if they had this tax, and therefore the funding for 12-step programs. The only flaw in this argument is, twelve-step programs don’t work. By any measure, they do absolutely nothing in helping people quit drinking. So, the colossal waste of taxpayer money is in funding programs like these to begin with. It is, after all, one of the primary reasons we have have this blog.
As a liberal do-gooder, the last thing I would advocate is the idea that we should not help people in need, including those with addiction issues. And as a person who at one time had a fairly severe problem himself, I certainly empathize with the need to help those in need of some assistance. I would like nothing more than to see people like Bill receive some sort of assistance, but only for methods that are proved to be effective. Or, at the very least, haven’t proven to be ineffective. The last thing I want is to have my tax dollars – and yes, I have paid them in Massachusetts – go to pay for someone to interpret religious dogma for the deaf. If this guy wants to worship some deity who fixates on alcoholics, but doesn’t look after after the needs of the poor and handicapped, then more power to him — but he isn’t doing it on my dime. I’m more than willing to pay for the same service, if this guy were being treated with something besides spiritual voodoo.