Weekend Suds Report

The Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota sued some of the world’s largest beer makers on Thursday, saying they knowingly contributed to devastating alcohol-related problems on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The tribe said it wanted $500 million in damages for the cost of health care, social services and child rehabilitation caused by chronic alcoholism on the reservation. The suit filed in United States District Court of Nebraska also names four beer stores in Whiteclay, a Nebraska town near the reservation that, despite having only about a dozen residents, sold nearly five million cans of beer in 2010. The suit names Anheuser-Busch InBev Worldwide, SABMiller, Molson Coors Brewing Company, MillerCoors LLC and Pabst Brewing Company. — NYTimes

I had to check sources here because at first reading, At first, I interpreted this to mean that a dozen Native Americans on the reservation might have consumed 5 million cans of beer in a single year.  That would be over 400,000 cans for each resident.  Awesome.  They should change the name to Hops City, or Ruined Liversville.

But it turns out it’s the city that has a dozen residents.  The reservation’s population is about 29,000, which means roughly 172 cans each, or a more reasonable 29 six-packs each.  That’s an estimate — I kind of hope at least some of the underage population stayed dry — which means the actual number consumed by each drinking resident averages a bit higher.  Even so, that’s fewer than one six-pack per person per weekend.  It averages 3.3 per person per week.

Please check my math.  But if I’m right, this doesn’t sound even close to excessive.  The Czechs are good for 8.5 per person per week.  The Irish 7.1, Germany 6.3, Australia 6.0.  The US overall is 4.4.  [Source]

There are other variables  — I’m comparing beer purchased at a distributor without factoring in beer consumed at bars, for example.  Still, this doesn’t seem to be like a whole lot, and certainly not enough to get all litigious.  Besides, nobody is forced to buy or drink beer.   

I like the story the first way I read it.  Oh, well.

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