Wednesday, 16 January 2013

If Cuts Look Like Biting, Break Out The Swag Bag

I see that the UK tobacco control industry is proposing yet another method of stealing other people's money to fund their non-jobs.
The UK government could raise at least £500m a year by capping the amount of profit tobacco companies can make from cigarettes, academics have said. 
They are calling for state regulation similar to that used to limit the price of water.
The difference being, of course, that the water industry was built up using taxpayer funds and then transferred to private industry on the proviso that excessive profits weren't applied. After all, water is - unlike tobacco, as anti-smokers continually parrot - an essential resource. Tobacco companies have evolved using private money and their products are a choice not a necessity.

The two products could not possibly be more different. It's like comparing apples not even with oranges, but  with monster trucks.
Dr Robert Branston, from the University of Bath, said the tobacco industry was "incredibly profitable", with some companies making 67p in profit out of every £1 received after tobacco duties. He described that as an "incredible sum".
It is a sum decided by willingness to pay, one of the basic principles of economic theory which has been understood for, ooh, about 500 years give or take. It's also a principle which those on the left - with which the public health profession is overwhelmingly populated - have always despised. Mostly because the benefits their particular professions often offer tend to attract a willingness to pay level of fuck all.

This is why communist theorists, and governments which have followed their ideology, have often sought to control prices. However, they have usually done so more out of crassly misguided care for the poor, for example, rather than self-interest. Combined with incomes policy which enforces a state-sanctioned wage, they believed this would make the lot of the proud worker more affordable.

This certainly isn't the case with the BBC reported proposal.
"The results suggest that price caps could give the UK government scope to raise tobacco taxes by approximately £500m annually without affecting the price the consumer pays," they wrote. 
The report said this was the equivalent of funding anti-tobacco smuggling measures across the UK and smoking cessation services in England twice over.
And boom! There it is. It is nothing more than a veiled plea for more cash. Not for the poor or the oppressed, or the starving in Africa - but for the tobacco control industry.

They've looked through a window into the big tobacco's analogous home, seen the iPad and family silver, and think it would all look good in their new state-funded loft conversion. So they have put a call in to their mate big Dave, and his henchmen with their Everest window-busting crowbar, to come help them burgle it.

Just for added laughs, do note the way they are so considerate in thinking about the consumer. They don't want us to pay any more than we already do with this policy, apparently. Oh no, 'cause they're caring guys and girls, so they are. Perhaps they have forgotten their perennial calls for crippling increases in duty over and above inflation, which are specifically designed to bankrupt poor smokers into quitting whatever the real life consequences.

To end on a lighter note or two, it's interesting that one of the lead authors of this pre-crime casing of the tobacco industry's joint wasn't mentioned. You see, it's also the work of one of the biggest troughers in the tobacco control firmament, Anna Gilmore, whose name has cropped up here many many times before. She who is always on the look out for another way of boosting her income by producing studies to order, and someone about whom I was proud to have been quoted by tobacco tactics as being willing to "say anything for a grant".

She doesn't change her spots, does she?

The woman is so transparently compromised as a serious and objective commentator on tobacco matters that it was probably wise that BBC-published quotes were attributed to this Branston guy instead, eh?

What's more, this isn't even new. It's just a rehash of the same cash grab claptrap from 2010, which I have written about before after the daft political Welshies bought it as a credible policy rather than daylight robbery for self-enrichment.

Perhaps this austerity thing has them worried. This always seems to happen with tax-spongers, doesn't it? Faced with possible benefit cuts the most unscrupulous see no shame whatsoever in resorting to theft.


George Speller said...

"anti-tobacco smuggling measures" I thought smuggling "wasn't a problem"?

Michael J. McFadden said...

George, excellent point! LOL! They can't keep their lies straight, can they?

67% profit on the base product price? Disgraceful. Hmmm... but is that "profit" as in money that goes into the execs and shareholder's pockets? Or is that "profit" as in money the companies get that they then use the bulk of to pay tobacco farmers, buy machinery, pay their factory workers, and ship their products out?

Now how much profit does the government make on the taxes it charges on the product? It has no workers to pay or machinery to buy or trucks to drive (Well, given the amount of profit they DO make they might need trucks to drive all those bills around to the various banks....)

Actually, the best way for the government to attack those company profits would be to eliminate taxes. The price would go down so much that the companies would then have to compete out of their profit margins the same as most other products do.


Michael J. McFadden said...

Chris Snowdon just wrote an article touching on this subject

and I currently have a response queued up in their moderating line. Since it may or may not ever see the light of day, I thought I'd add it here as well.


Four pounds for 12.5g [of tobacco]? Hmm... that would come out to... 320 pounds per kilogram?

Here in the USA in Pennsylvania we pay .... hmmm.... a bit less than $15/lb, which would come out to about $32 per kilogram, or ... hmm... just about 20 pounds per kilogram.

Mr. Snowdon, when you speak of the government getting 80% of the price in tax, I think you may be underestimating them. Granted, there might be some slight transportation charges involved but I doubt it'd be more than a pound per pound (so to speak) so it looks to me like the British government is making somewhere on the order of 300 pounds per kilogram of tobacco -- all of it with no effort, no investment, and no guilt.

I'd say the present-day tobacco situation is about as clear an example as any anarchist could ever dream of in encouraging citizens to disrespect the rule of their governments and regard them as nothing more than mobsters out to steal people's money through completely illegitimate taxes.

Nice, eh?

Michael J. McFadden

Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"