Wednesday 22 August 2012

Shining Light On What Crawls Beneath Prohibition Rocks

The Register today published a must-read article on minimum alcohol pricing which picks up on many themes discussed here regularly.

Leading on OFT condemnation of the tomfoolery, unintended consequences we can expect to see are explained.
The report [the OFT] refer to is here [PDF], and despite being hefty, is well worth a read. We learn that minimum pricing, not so surprisingly, causes knock-on price rises. After France introduced retail price restrictions, food prices rose at almost twice the general rate of inflation, and the pricing shackles played a part. Irish families paid €500m thanks to rules preventing below-cost selling.
On bent studies:
In 1999, American economist Thomas Dee found that, in the States, "beer taxes have relatively small and statistically insignificant effects on teen drinking". It isn't what the prohibitionists want to hear.

The watchdog also quoted a notorious Sheffield University meta-meta study on alcohol pricing and demand. The Sheffield academics knew about Dee's beer tax finding and wrote in their study: "Having taken this potential confounding variable into account, the effect of taxes on drinking disappeared." Having acknowledged this point, they then ignored it.
On policy-based evidence:
Some corners of academia, particularly social policy research, are flourishing by presenting evidence that conveniently meets the demand from politicians, which helps stimulate future funding. Report authors have an active role in the development of policy, tailoring their conclusions to government strategy. (Here's a comical illustration.)
And on fake charities and/or government lobbying government.
In addition to manufacturing evidence, governments and their officials also use your money to generate demand for their policies.

In 2008, the largest funder of the [Alliance Health Foundation] was the European Union, and the foundation raised just £70 (seven-zero pounds) in donations from the general public. So much for independence. The modern alcohol campaign is really the temperance movement in return - and the AHF provides the link between prohibitionism past and present.
Little by little, the chicanery and outright lies of the prohibitionist industry are beginning to be more recognised. Very encouraging.

Please do go read the whole thing.


philhandyman24-7 said...

A little bit more of their underhand dealings comes to light (thanks DP), they couldn't lay straight in bed if they tried!

Ivan_Denisovich said...

Petra Meier - University of Sheffield - Directly funded by DoH to find evidence to support minimum pricing - outcome academically inept, blatantly biased junk

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Excellent run-down, Ivan. That's a comment which should be copied and pasted widely if you aren't doing so already. ;)

truckerlyn said...

Here is a response from HM Treasury on views I made regarding Vehicle Exise Duty (VED), Minimum Pricing on Alcohol and Tobacco Tax. I am having to type response here as letter is in pdf format and I am unable to copy it. My points are in brackets)
"You mention that new vehicles carry a lower VED (my point on taxing higher those who can least afford it). The CO2 based VED structure includes 13 tax bands that differentiate between the most and least fuel efficient cars (obviously the most fuel efficient are the newest that the lower paid cannot afford). This includes a peak rates exemption for cars registered before 23 March 2006 that emit CO2 at over 225g/km. All cars are measured in the same way and this helps to highlight lower CO2 and fuel saving choices across all types and classes of car (not allowing for the fact that some of us need bigger cars for various reasons, such as both hubby and self due to back problems where getting in and out of small cars is a problem).
Alexander Dixon from HM Treasury went on to point out how generous the government have been with regard to delaying fuel duty increases, on top of having (apparently) cut fuel duty and cancelling the previous government's pre-announced increases.
You mention plans for a minimum unit price for alcohol, which were highlighted in the recent Alcohol Stratgy. Those who drink responsibly have nothing to fear from this proposal(!!!), We do not expect the majority of drinks in pubs to be affected, only heavily discounted acohol sold in supermarkets, off-licences and 'happy hour' type offers (so this will not affect those who drink responsibly? Again, it will be the lower paid who WILL suffer, however much or little they drink!). This approach aims to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and curb practices such as 'pre-loading' before a night out. The government will publish a consultation on the level of the minimum unit price later this year (like that will make a differnece to what they decide), and I would encourage you to response to the consultation with your concerns. The Alcohol Strategy can be found online at:
You argue that tobacco taxation does not encourage people to give up smoking. The government, like previous governments, has a policy of establishing and maintaining high levels of taxes on cigarettes as this has been proven to reduce smoking prevalence (Ha, Ha!), and is acknowledged to be very effective in encouraging smokers to quit and discourage young people from taking up smoking (that's really worked well then, hasn't it?).
Tobacco duty is also an important contributor to the public finances, forming part of a credible plan to reduce the UK's debt, which is required to ensure low interest rates and a stable platform for growth. It would be worse for everyone if the government did not take action to tackle the deficit (so, they really cannot afford for people to quit smoking or for youngsters not to start, can they!)."
End of reply. Anyone else want to write to their MP or HM Treasury on any of the above points? Could keep them busy for a while, although I suspect you will all get the same PC response.