Tuesday 1 June 2010

Let's Pay More To Stop Others Doing As They Choose, Eh?

Let's take something which is almost universally consumed in the UK. Say, potatoes.

If the state suggested that everyone would be forced to pay more to buy potatoes because there are some who eat too many of them, thereby harming only themselves, I reckon the proposition would be opposed by just about everyone in the country.

Who wants to pay more for their own goods because a very few are irresponsible?

So what's the difference with minimum alcohol pricing? No, really, I mean it. Why are so many average, everyday, non-righteous in most circumstances, people taken in by this crap?

Because doctors say so? Perhaps, but then doctors said the MMR vaccine was perfectly safe yet hundreds of thousands of mothers were quite willing to ignore them.

Because the country has a 'problem'? It doesn't, of course, but how does that affect anyone but the user?

The public has been suckered into believing the twin menace of a tangible cost to their own finances via national insurance contributions, and a threat of alcohol-fuelled violence to them and theirs.

The former is imaginary, and the latter isn't the prime target of minimum alcohol pricing.

I type till I'm blue in the fingers about the futility of such nonsense, and Tim Worstall, again, has produced something of a reference resource for use in rebutting any argument used by faux-fretting deludos.

A group of experts convened by the organisation [...] has spent almost two years studying how best to reduce alcohol-related disorders, which between them cost an estimated £27bn a year.

That figure covers the cost of healthcare, crime, disorder and lack of productivity attributable to alcohol, including the £2.7n the NHS spends treating the chronic and acute effects of drinking.
The direct costs are more than offset by the £8.4 billion HMRC gets in booze duty (think it's nearer £10bn but who's quibbling?).

The indirect costs have to be offset by the joy and glory that people get from consuming alcohol. Estimating this is not simple but we can indeed put a lower bound to it. As people voluntarily hand over their cash for the buzz from having drunk the alcohol, this joy and glory must be worth at least what is paid for the alcohol which produces the joy and glory. That’s somewhere north of £50 billion a year.

The benefits are therefore larger than the costs: we do not have a problem here.

NICE aren't, you notice, claiming that anyone will be any safer by punishing heavy drinkers, just that yer average Joe will benefit financially. Yet who in their right mind really believes that even if these mythical 'costs' to the NHS or the Police were reduced, the savings would be handed back to the public in their payslips?

Anyone? Is that a hand up at the back? No?

Thought not.

Quite apart from the fact that national insurance payments haven't been hypothecated simply to pay for healthcare for some considerable time - they just go into the big pool of government pocket money - if the £2.7bn was eradicated tomorrow, they'd just direct those funds somewhere else. NI rates will come down once the economy can afford it, and that ain't happening anytime soon. And most certainly not because minimum alcohol pricing stops a few (and I mean a very few) drinking a couple of pints less per week.

The policing precept amounts to less than 10% of council tax bills in general, so even if policing itself was eradicated tomorrow the maximum saving per household would only be around a tenner a month; savings from patrolling drinkers in the High Street at weekends would amount to pennies, if at all. That's if it was passed on to the taxpayer, which is highly unlikely.

The productivity in business? A red herring. These are 'sunk' costs which are anticipated by most industries. If absenteeism was eradicated tomorrow, businesses would be more lean, yes, but they wouldn't produce cheaper goods unless they shed staff to do so, and you can imagine the whining that would ensue if that were to happen. Of course, harking back to the economy bit, if such jobs were lost, it would mean even less chance of national insurance rates being reduced.

So, to anyone who tells you that 'we' need minimum alcohol pricing because 'we' have a problem, I ask this question:

What on earth has it got to do with you? How will it benefit you, or the country at large?

The simple answer is that it won't, and as Tim explains (please read the whole piece), there isn't a problem in the first place.

All that will happen is that the public will be asked to pay more for something in order for others to be stopped from doing as they choose to. Everyone loses.

Oh yeah, and it's also illegal under EU law.

It's a veritable smorgasbord of bollocks, isn't it?


lenko said...

A smorgasbord of bollocks... wonder what that would look like?

You're right of course. The original purpose of taxation was to provide funds for a small-ish government to pay its way, and provide essentials like, say, street lighting or schools.

Somewhere along the line, some bloody unthinking do-gooders have hi-jacked the tax system to do a bit of social engineering. Of course, sooner or later the Law of Unintended Consequences kicks in, and then a man can't get pissed in his own home without paying through the nose.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, so they say. Why don't we save all these do-gooders from going to Hell, by stringing them up now?

Excuse me, time for my lie-down.

SadButMadLad said...

Governments are very rarely successful in changing society. Taxation hardly ever works unless it is execessive and even then black markets or avoidance/evasion will occur to get round it. Advertising by government doesn't work either. The only time taxation does work a bit is when it is lowered as a carrot. Sticks never work.

Society does change but this is by pressures caused by industrialisation/technology/science/etc. Eg. Industrialisation changed society from agricultural to production line and humans adapted and in the process changed. Same with technology changing the way we do things. Science has changed peoples views by showing, for instance, that skin colour is actually a minor difference compared to other genetic differences between groups. Pressure groups do their bit too, but they take a lot of time and effort to change society.

Anonymous said...

Hold on ,one hooting ,tooting,
pissed as a fart minuti.
Correct us if we are wrong, but
cant remember the boozing legions
manning the barricades when the
smokers were being stuffed by the
Puritans and MetroVolk.

Hike the prices of booze sky high,
George and Danny,lets watch the
sozzled whimps squeel and chudder.
Who the hell still boozes these
days,seven nights a week sofa
saddos and the total pricks who still frequent sterile knobhead

Earl Greys 4 pm Bunch

JuliaM said...

"...I reckon the proposition would be opposed by just about everyone in the country."

Mmm, I think you've underestimated the number of people who believe in the government 'doing something' to help those unfortunates who believe themselves to be adults free to make wrong choices should they so wish...

Anonymous said...

Here we go, new boss, same as old boss, just as bad


The Lincolnshire Poacher said...

I was watching some utter cock from NICE this morning on Aljabeeba.

Holier than thou twat!

If they want to control drinking then re-establish the old licensing hours.

JohnRS said...

"It's a veritable smorgasbord of bollocks, isn't it?"

This phrase perfectly encapsulates government health policy over recent years. The whole Nanny NHS approach, exemplifed by the unmissed Lardy Liam, that says someone in an office in Whitehall should have the right to decide what I eat and drink is wrong in so many ways. It will be good to see the EU kick the alco-facists into touch. It's a shame we can't do the same with all the other bansturbators that think they should be interfering in the lives of the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Hi lenko,
Agree with most of your comment as I do with DP and most of the other comments, but taxation was original invented by kings to fund wars.
Not a lot has changed really.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I washed this complete utter Wingnut blabbing on about it on GMTV this morning , some liver specialist or something.
Still an utter Wingnut though.
I wish they'd just said, oh do please, just fuck off.

Anonymous said...

It won't be a problem. Just make your own. Wine and beer making are interesting hobbies and when this topic first came up for discussion last year, I visited my local homebrew shop and found that perfectly drinkable wine, from a kit, could be made for £1.20 a bottle. I think the Government, if it agrees to these proposals, is going to regret it. Perhaps they don't realise that many people spend only £3 on a bottle of wine. An increase of £1.50 (actually, at 50p a unit, a bottle of 13% wine will cost £4.88) just won't be acceptable.

Anonymous said...

John R said, "It will be good to see the EU kick the alco-facists into touch. It's a shame we can't do the same with all the other bansturbators ..."

And that makes me think. "What if", "just say", but what if the whole thing is to beat everyone up with the proverbial stick - no smoking, no drinking, no lard, no salt, no freedom whatsoever - by using the sovereign current nation-state government and its quangoes to implement it.

Then, "what if", "just say", but what if the EU comes along and offers the proverbial carrot - saying to support the EU means the EU, once in charge of the erstwhile sovereign nation-state governments will be quick to offer carrots for everyone and eliminate the sticks?

It could be a part of the ploy. Beat everyone with sticks using the national constitutional sovereign governments the power-that-be want to dispose of.

Then come in with the carrot, offered for showing support of the EU - and the 9 other regional governments proposed to be part of the one-world-government all the national politicians seem aware of and are falling over one another to show support, hoping to retain some sort of government post once the new order is established.

But that could be part of the plan, why we get the stick now (from the national governments EU wishes to get rid of), because they know they can turn 180-degrees around and offer the carrot later on (by the EU super-state they wish to place into total power to gain its support) - but only at the price-tag of supporting the new one-world regional system of government.

lenko said...

Anonymous -- "taxation was originally invented by kings to fund wars."

Precisely, just like I said. To provide essentials -- like kicking the crap out of the French and the Spanish.

Ah... those were the days!