Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/254

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250
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

Per Capita Consumption of all Wines and Liquors

Period Gallons Period Gallons
1850 4.08 1899 16.82
1860 6.43 1900 17.76
1870 7.70 1901 17.65
1871-80 8.79 1902 19.14
1881-90 13.21 1903 19.57
1891 16.72 1904 19.87
1892 17.13 1905 19.85
1893 18.20 1906 21.55
1894 16.98 1907 22.79
1895 16.57 1908 22.22
1896 17.12 1909 21.06
1897 16.50 1910 21.86
1898 17.37 1911 22.79
 

These figures should not be interpreted as showing the failure of the various means used for the limitation of the sale of intoxicating drinks. There is every reason for believing that these means are in a high degree effective and that without them the increase in the use of alcohol would have been much greater than it has been. The true meaning of the figures is, rather, to show the increasing force of this desire in modern society.

There are, of course, other great human desires besides the desire for alcohol, but in respect to these other desires it seems less difficult to explain the cause. It is not difficult to explain the desire for bread, nor the keen interest in all matters relating to the means of acquiring it. Problems of labor and capital, problems of high prices, problems of production and distribution of food, relate more or less directly to the bread question and become thus wholly intelligible, because bread is necessary to life. Neither is it difficult to understand another profound human desire, which involves serious social problems, the desire of the sexes for each other. Difficult as these social problems may be, the psychologist's part presents here less difficulty, for the place of this great passion in human economy is clear.

The desire for alcohol approaches the above desires as regards both its force and its universality, but its place in human economy is not thus far clear.

The following familiar statistics are not cited in this case to show the extent of "human depravity," nor to point out an "evil" to be suppressed, but rather to indicate the force of a human desire whose cause we seek to determine.

The people of the United States are now consuming annually about 2,000 million gallons of malt liquors, nearly 64 million gallons of wine and more than 138 million gallons of distilled liquors. In Germany the per capita consumption of distilled liquors is about the same as in this country, while their consumption of malt liquors is, per capita, about one third larger than ours and of wine about twice as large.