I'm a petty person, so I'm naturally pleased to read about the troubles in the French wine industry.

Pinched by overproduction, shrinking exports, advertising restrictions, an aggressive campaign against alcohol abuse and changing drinking habits, at least 6,000 growers and winemakers staged spirited demonstrations nationwide Wednesday to press the government for help. ...

France's wine industry, which employs about 500,000 people, says exports through Aug. 31 dropped by more than 5.5 percent in volume and 9.6 percent in value. Experts say Bordeaux was particularly hard hit, with foreign sales of its signature reds down 25 percent.

I hope all that UN obstructionism was worth it! Oh well, at least you've got plenty of wine to drown your sorrows. Unless...

Aggressive campaigns against alcohol abuse and drunken driving also appear to have curbed consumption.

President Jacques Chirac, determined to reduce the 45,000 deaths a year blamed on alcohol, launched a crackdown in 2002 that officials say has led to a dramatic decline in road deaths — but also has been blamed for a drop in wine sales.

France has a population of approximately 60 million, so compare that to America's 105,000 alcohol-related deaths per year and our population of 300 million. Maybe France is right to brutally repress the free speech rights of its subjects, but at least one Frenchman still believes in freedom:

Gregory Lozinski, a 22-year-old businessman, said he empathizes with winemakers — even though he only drinks about a bottle a week.

"I can understand that the wine industry is anxious," he said. "I'm a partisan of freedom: If you want to get drunk and die of alcohol abuse, that's your problem."

(HT: James Taranto.)

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