Friday 8 January 2010

The Damaging Cost Of Tackling The Alcohol Myth

Sometimes the bansturbators are so ridiculously alarmist that condemnation is near universal. Such has been the reaction to today's call for minimum alcohol pricing (amongst dozens of other measures these fucknuts want implemented before the current gullible administration gets carted out of office) that there is little left for me but the scraps. Which is handy as I haven't got long before I, myself, head up to London to over-imbibe.

Kev B kicked off proceedings with a brilliant breakfast rant, well worth a leisurely read.

Mark Wadsworth calls into question some of the numbers cited in the BBC article, but aside from that, these snippets caught my eye.

... if everyone stuck to their safe drinking limits, it said alcohol sales in the UK would fall by 40%.

"The facts about alcohol abuse are shocking," said committee chair, Labour MP Kevin Barron. "Even small reductions in the number of people misusing alcohol could save the NHS millions."

Don Shenkar (sic), chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said it beggars belief that the government was still "dithering".

It's remarkable that a group of MPs should consider a 40% decrease in sales for any industry to be a good thing. This is as much as to assert that the product itself has been classed as unarguably evil, which of course is not the case at all.

The only reasoning by which such a viewpoint can be successfully argued is if no value is attached to alcoholic drinks, as I have mentioned before with reference to an astute Kiwi.

Any time we make a decision that lets us enjoy a bit of fun but with some risk to our health, that decision is considered irrational and cannot generate any real enjoyment.

Consequently, benefits are either assumed equal to zero or set to an arbitrarily low level.

Kevin Barron has also cropped up here previously, he is the Labour MP who believes the public should not have a say in parliamentary decision-making, so this latest perverse mindset is perfectly in keeping with his bastardised view of democracy.

The authors of this report obviously see alcohol as having no value to society whatsoever, which is not only untrue - we all enjoy a drink and enjoyment of life, I would counter, is an aspiration that society and community should value above just about all other things - it is also demonstrably false from an economic point of view, as Tim Worstall points out.

The value to the person purchasing the alcohol of purchasing the alcohol must be higher than the amount they spend on purchasing the alcohol. If it weren’t, then they wouldn’t purchase the alcohol now, would they?

Now yes, this might be diminished by the costs they also bear in cirrhosis, drunken fights and waking up to one of the Two Fat Slags on vomit stained pillows. And it would be right to take those costs into account as well. But as our first order estimate of the consumer benefit of alcohol our lower bound simply cannot be any lower than the amount that people are willing to spend on purchasing alcohol.

The BBC tells me that this number is £38 billion a year.

The UK alcohol market also enjoyed the biggest rise in value, with sales estimated at £38bn – up 15% since 1999.

Even the Guardian has offered dissent in the form of CiF columnist, Richard Reeves, another recommended read.

But there is another side to the ledger. Alcohol brings significant benefits. The economic ones are most obvious. In the UK, taxes on alcohol and the sector provide £15bn to the exchequer (far more than the costs to the NHS). The hospitality industry employs 650,000 people.

All of this, one would assume, would be considered rather beneficial to the country even by Kevin Barron. Yet he is advocating cutting 40% from all of it.

Therefore, he would like to see £6bn wiped from the exchequor in duty, the loss of 260,000 jobs along with their tax and NI contributions, £15.2bn lost to the collective value of our lives, the same £15.2bn reduction in GDP, plus a 40% reduction in corporation tax receipts from the drinks industry ... or more if they packed up and moved their operations to a more friendly economy.

All to tackle a manufactured scare, and using the same tactics which have already been proven to make no impact whatsoever.

"Many of these policy proposals are based on the premise that the Holy Grail in tackling alcohol harm is to pursue policies designed to reduce the amount everyone drinks, which leads to direct and quantifiable health dividends.

Were that true, we would already be seeing significant falls in alcohol related harms in the UK. The nation’s alcohol consumption has been falling significantly and consistently for the last five years. However, the health dividends that are predicted should follow have proved elusive."

This, Don Shenker, is why the government is 'dithering'. It's because even this collection of social autistics (Barron excluded) are fairly aware that such proposals are daft beyond belief, would be hugely damaging to the economy, to the job market, and to the general well-being of the population, as well as doing naff all to tackle a fairly minor problem.

Now, shut the fuck up. Oh yeah and, for the love of mercy, go find a decent barber.


Oldrightie said...

This is just a typical Labour manipulation to show us that more tax is good for you.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Ta for link. Agreed. Lots of excellent links there, especially the last one saying alcohol consumption is falling.

Witterings from Witney said...

It is reasonable to suppose that if (a) one gets the alcohol at 'cut price' in the HOC bars and that (b) one has a nice health insurance plan, no doubt 'hidden' in one's ACA or 'fact-finding' expenses - one can 'lecture/pontificate' who the 'f***' you like!

Enjoy your p/u in London!

Mac the Knife said...

"Oh yeah and, for the love of mercy, go find a decent barber."

May I recommend a Mr. S. Todd, he has a place of business in Fleet Street as I recall.