Why I support Cameron’s plans for a minimum price on alcohol


3:49 pm - December 29th 2011

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contribution by Representing the Mambo

It feels like I’m the only person who thinks that Cameron’s plans for a minimum price for alcohol, possibly similar to the type being mooted by the Scottish parliament, is a great one. And a surprising one, given the government’s normal commitment to doing exactly as their corporate paymasters desire.

Cameron is prepared to slap down his cabinet colleagues who want a voluntary code of practice. Many of his perpetually restless MPs are up in arms about the decision. (All the more reason for us to support it, surely?)

This, contrary to what many of my chums on the left think, is not a matter of individual liberty. To get to the heart of the issue of excessive boozing and the problems it causes one has to, as usual, follow the money. See who benefits from the maintenance of the status quo and the liberalising of the licensing laws under the last Labour government.

Deaths directly attributable to alcohol consumption are in the region of 9000 a year and the social costs (which of course, will disproportionately affect those on lower incomes) are huge. Lives and families are ruined, and the number of people in hospital every year with health problems either exacerbated or caused by alcohol abuse is colossal. To be honest the raw numbers of deaths don’t do justice to the scale of the problem.

We have a generation of binge drinkers that are doing permanent damage to their livers. Between 1997-98 and 2006-07 the figures for young people (18-40) admitted to hospital with alcohol-induced liver disease well over doubled. The idea that the liberalising of the licensing laws would in fact decrease binge drinking has proven to be a total fallacy.

Pubs and supermarkets don’t care about the increase in crime and hospital admissions that have followed liberalization and lower prices. It is all about the profits. And their bag-carriers in the Labour government were all about the profits too.

I’m not sure what Cameron’s motives are for taking a stand on this. Maybe it is Daily Mail style social authoritarianism. But the effect of an increase in prices would be positive. Lives would be saved and consumption of alcohol would reduce.

Would the left object if a Conservative government decided to do something about the strip clubs springing up all over our cities?

Obviously there are class issues and base political calculation at play and any minimum price would affect working class people disproportionately, but the solution is obvious. Drink less. The left shouldn’t be encouraging heavy alcohol consumption and siding with the drinks companies and their socially destructive agenda.


A longer version of this piece is on Representing the Mambo blog.

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Reader comments


Your motivations are all well and good, but you haven’t actually bothered to think it through.

It’s not that it’s nanny-stating, it’s that it would be utterly ineffective and regressive nanny-stating. You think actual alcoholics are going to cut back on the sauce because it’s a bit more expensive? Nope. You think it’s going to just cost them more money? You bet. You think binge drinkers will stop drinking loads? I go out and drink heavily from time to time, it’s not going to dissuade me. I’ll just be going for inherently cheaper, stronger alcohol which I wouldn’t otherwise have touched with a bargepole in order to offset this ridiculous charge.

You think there will be no black market? I attract your attention to the slight problems they’re having with cigarettes on the other side of the Irish Sea. I attract your attention to what some might say is the booming trade of illegal drugs all over the world. Tell you what, it’s actually pretty easy to produce your own booze.

The insinuation that binge drinking is a particularly modern problem is also shot through with bullshit. It’s been a British trait for centuries. The suppliers of alcohol aren’t to blame. I’ll drink until I’m merry if I damn well want to – all you’re going to do is put a bigger hole in my wallet.

I’ve got a bathtub and I’ll brew myself some gin

3. Chaise Guevara

“This, contrary to what many of my chums on the left think, is not a matter of individual liberty.”

Um, yes it is. You wish to restrict people’s ability to consume alcohol, to reduce their individual liberty in that fashion. The fact that it is ALSO a matter of public health does not let you wave away the issue of liberty, and I notice that you don’t actually attempt to do so in your article.

“Would the left object if a Conservative government decided to do something about the strip clubs springing up all over our cities?”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the implication I’m getting from this is that you think lefties who oppose minimum pricing only do so because Cameron is the one chasing it. If so, that sounds a bit hypocritical given that you think we should support minimum pricing because Conservatives are “up in arms about it”. If not, could you clarify?

[Incidentally, this lefty would object if Cameron tried to “do something” about strip clubs. Individual liberty again, y’see.]

You say it is not a matter of individual liberty but fail to qualify that comment, I assume because there actually isn’t a qualification for it, because it is a matter of individual liberty.

If people want to drink themselves stupid, that is their own choice. They must be held responsible for their actions, but so long as they are paying the already extortionate tax on alcohol, they are more than covering the cost of their medical care needed.

Why do people feel the need to tell others how to live their lives?

I think from an economic point of view, alcohol like tobacco is an ‘inelastic’ product. Meaning, you raise the price, you make more money because people are not put off buying it.

The way I look at it, the Swedes pay through the nose for booze, and so what do they do? They don’t drink sensibly, they binge drink.
Face it; it’s a Northern European trait and it’s never going to go away.

It won’t work here anymore than it will work in the land of my fathers if the SNP goes ahead with their plan. The way to decrease alcohol related deaths and disease from a public health standpoint is through education and social pressure. However socially irresponsible it is for our supermarkets to supply Vino Collapso / Off Yer Heid Lager / Banzai Alcopop etc at below cost price, the way to tackle it isn’t by having a minimum price.

Even if it were a lot higher than most of the current plans call for, people will still buy it.. or resort to making their own which may well be worse. Tackle the binge drinking culture at the root of the problem, don’t waste time and infringe individual liberties by trying to that the disease rather than the symptom. People won’t stop abusing alcohol because you make it more expensive, any more than they will stop eating chocolate if you make that more expensive to tackle obesity.

“Deaths directly attributable to alcohol consumption are in the region of 9000 a year”

Except they’re not. Why you’ve used an article a year out of date I don’t know, maybe because the latest figures show a drop in deaths (which is silly, since the drop in deaths is caused, according to the ONS, by lower consumer spending, which on the face of it would support your point).

The latest data is here (soon, next month, to be superceded) http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health4/alcohol-related-deaths-in-the-united-kingdom/2009/index.html

Let’s move on…

“We have a generation of binge drinkers that are doing permanent damage to their livers. Between 1997-98 and 2006-07 the figures for young people (18-40) admitted to hospital with alcohol-induced liver disease well over doubled. The idea that the liberalising of the licensing laws would in fact decrease binge drinking has proven to be a total fallacy.”

Given that the “idea” was that drinking would become something not confined to “happy hour”, which was a stupid idea to simply expect to happen upon a change of the law, in an environment of greater and greater costs to licensed establishments that meant an inability to stretch out opening hours in the most part anyway, it was doomed to be a fallacy in those terms*.

But then you’re wrong about how the whole binge drinking situation would be addressed. Look at those figures I linked to…

There were fewest alcohol-related deaths among people aged under 35

Binge drinking, as we know, is a problem with people that binge drink for long periods of time. There are health problems that come from severe binge drinking, yet the people you talk about in terms of admissions are not the people dying. In fact for every 1 person between 18-35 that dies, around 25 people over the age of 55 do.

What’s interesting though is that the rate of deaths for young people has, since 1991, increased by a percentage point of ~0.001% in males, with no discernable trend of increase in the years 2001-2009, and females around 0.0005% with more of an increase recently, though only by 0.003%.

While the increase in deaths has been greater for men and women in the 35-54 bracket, they follow the same trend of an increase in deaths between ’91 and ’98

By contrast, those in the 55-75 bracket have steadily been increasing in deaths, both men and women. Men have risen by 0.018% since ’91, and women 0.007%. Why would it be that those in these brackets would have a steady trend of an increase ongoing while those in all other brackets would see an overall increase, but one that has leveled out (and may even be starting to decline, too early to tell)?

Why are we targeting the young with our social/alcohol policy when it is clearly the old that are the “problem” when it comes to deaths? Young male deaths due to alcohol may have doubled, but so have deaths of males in the 55-75 bracket!

Perhaps we need to have curfews for OAPs, and more age checks at the supermarket counters to stop the perils of later-age binge drinking?

Questions that are pertinent here, unanswered, and leave your argument as too simplistic, are:

Were those dying pre-98 those who could afford the alcohol, while those post ’98 reaped the benefit of the effect Labour had in it’s early years of dealing with poverty and the wider situation of a growing and thriving economy? Are we simply saying, by pricing alcohol such that the working class are unable to afford to drink much, that we want a return to death by alcohol to be the sole realm of the well off?

Given the steady increase of deaths by those aged 55-75, are we looking at some other trend that is different from binge drinking, and that may have already been dealt with by improved education on alcohol, labeling and information? (Check out the NHS’s own surveys with kids between 12-18 to see how year after year consumption of alcohol is down for children in general, while amount consumed in binge drinking is up for the lessening few that still do)

What generational effects are there? Those in the 60+ bracket now were born soon after WW2 ended, allowing for a greater population now of 60 year olds than 10-20 years ago, in 1991 those who were 60 would have been born in 1931. With the changes in industry and society is our current alcohol death rate the product of a particularly bad period of drinking culture 30-40 years ago, or is an increase in the rate of deaths due to alcohol the effect of a lessening of other factors that would usually kill. i.e. has a decrease in heart disease as a killer opened the path to alcohol related illnesses taking some of those beneficiaries of better health practices?

What would be the side effects of more expensive alcohol, we know from taxation that it is not less deaths. Despite the price of a pint rising to £2.80ish now from £1.40 in 91 (i.e. an increase of 3.5 times inflation) we see a higher level of deaths. Where is the evidence that price itself can do enough to change people’s health, as opposed to people’s economic situation?

I’m sure there are more other commentators may point out, so shallow is your analysis and quick praise of authoritarian action.

“Obviously there are class issues and base political calculation at play and any minimum price would affect working class people disproportionately, but the solution is obvious. Drink less. The left shouldn’t be encouraging heavy alcohol consumption and siding with the drinks companies and their socially destructive agenda.”

Instead, what you’re saying, is those with money should be able to enjoy the lifestyle they want, however they want it, while making it harder for the working class to achieve that.

There’s an obesity problem, also mainly affecting those in poverty as I understand it. Perhaps we should therefore also do away with the machinations of Bernard Matthews and their provision of cheaper turkeys for the masses at Christmas, it would no doubt be much better, after all, if the poor had a christmas dinner of a few potatoes and broth and got skinny, while the rich could dine on turkey, ham and pork safe in the knowledge that no dirty prole is sharing the same social status as them.

You write “liberalisation” as if it’s a swear word, the trouble is that any liberalisation has to be handled properly. Letting everyone have the same footing, access to life’s luxuries, and protection from social divide is nothing to stand against. We should grow and evolve as a society, and that means learning from problems as they arise, not retreating to what we already know and feel is safe. It’s amazing to hear a supposed Lefty (if I’m reading right) take such a conservative view on health policy. Maybe I shouldn’t be.

To analogise, I’d posit there are more female deaths in the armed forces right now, the way to tackle that is to help increase the safety of ALL armed forces personnel, not to try and revert back to a situation where women can’t join the army.

*I’m not entirely certain that there were any specific aims and measurables determined at the law change to try and show or determine effects on bringe drinking by the law change though.

@1

The minimum price will mean that there won’t be any “cheaper, stronger alcohol”.

“The insinuation that binge drinking is a particularly modern problem is also shot through with bullshit. It’s been a British trait for centuries.”.

Binge drinking may well be. Were there many people vomiting in the street after closing in the 50’s and 60’s? Were a dozen police needed for every town centre on Friday and Saturday nights?

@4

“If people want to drink themselves stupid, that is their own choice. They must be held responsible for their actions, but so long as they are paying the already extortionate tax on alcohol, they are more than covering the cost of their medical care needed”

So can you prove that the tax from alcohol goes towards the cost of medical care? Is it okay for A&E to be clogged up with drunks who drunk themselves silly on cheap supermarket beer and then beat each other up?

Perhaps if people are so worried about not being able to get cheap alcohol, they should do more to tackle those they know who do cause trouble when they drink.I’m with Representing the Mambo.

Also, as its mostly supermarket alcohol which will be hit, this should help pubs. No reason to sit at home boozing when its not much more expensive to go out and sit in nicer surroundings.

This, contrary to what many of my chums on the left think, is not a matter of individual liberty.

Actually, it is – and that’s why you’ll get more support from your chums on ‘the left’ than you pretend, your particular part of ‘the left’ having long-since abandoned any pretence to liberty.

Far from representing some voice in the wilderness you come from the same teetotalitarian wing of New Labour as the odious Keith Vaz.

Put up the price of beer and the minority of genuine alcoholics will eat less (or their children will). Thats because they’re alcoholics.

As to the rest of us drinkers this is the usual infantilising interference into our lives that lead many of us to vow never again to vote Labour.

@1:

There won’t be any “cheaper, stronger alcohol ” if the pricing comes into effect.

“The insinuation that binge drinking is a particularly modern problem is also shot through with bullshit. It’s been a British trait for centuries.”

Sure. The problems associated with binge drinking aren’t. Were a dozen police needed to patrol city centers each Friday and Saturday night in the 50’s and 60’s? Were the gutters full of vomit on Sunday mornings during the 20’s and 30’s?

@4 “If people want to drink themselves stupid, that is their own choice. They must be held responsible for their actions, but so long as they are paying the already extortionate tax on alcohol, they are more than covering the cost of their medical care needed.

Why do people feel the need to tell others how to live their lives?”

So can you prove that the tax on alcohol covers the cost of the medical care needed? How large a % goes to the NHS? Is it okay that A&E is full of drunks who beat each other up after getting legless on cheap booze from off-licences.

Why do people feel the need to tell others how to live their lives? Because when someone gets legless and vomits everywhere or beats someone up, it affects others. If people just got very drunk and didn’t need to go to hospital or abuse others, I couldn’t care less how much they drunk.

I’m with Representing the Mambo on this one.

OK, you may have to pay a little more for your alcohol. But let’s give this a go and see if it helps.

Would the left object if a Conservative government decided to do something about the strip clubs springing up all over our cities?

Yes we would, because its another example of Labour’s war on ‘sin’.

What the hell business of the State is it how and when people take their clothes off?

Lets take a guess on where you stand on violent films and videogames while we are at it, shall we? How about kids who dress like adults?

13. Chaise Guevara

@OP

Galen @7 raises an interesting point here: “However socially irresponsible it is for our supermarkets to supply Vino Collapso / Off Yer Heid Lager / Banzai Alcopop etc at below cost price, the way to tackle it isn’t by having a minimum price.”

When supermarkets sell alcohol below cost, they’re not trying to increase the amount of alcohol consumed. In fact, the more alcohol bought below cost, the more money the supermarket LOSES. The concept of selling below cost relies on the idea that people already plan to buy alcohol – hopefully, if you can lower the price of alcohol by the right amount, this will attract these shoppers into your store, where you’ll get your profit back due to them buying other, non-alcoholic goods.

Add this to the fact that the link between minimum pricing and lowering consumption doesn’t seem well-supported, and I’m not sure what your justification is for demonising supermarkets. And then we have the personal liberty issue again, the one you’re avoiding by pretending it doesn’t exist. If people choose to use a product, and the seller doesn’t lie about the product’s effects, is it actually fair to call the seller the villain?

Really, I think this article is written from a puritanical, anti-liberal perspective… and you think the reason lefties will disagree with it is because they want to “encourage heavy alcohol consumption and side with the drinks companies and their socially destructive agenda”? This is why it’s a bad idea to end your article with a pre-emptive straw-man attack on anyone with the gall to disagree with you.

Out of interest, does this article reflect LC’s position (whether that means Sunny’s or the overall opinion of all the “conspirators” listed to the right)? Or is it here as one possible opinion to enourage discourse? Either’s valid, I’d just be interested to know which.

1.Tom

It isn’t utterly ineffective nanny-stating. There is plenty suggest that increases in prices reduce consumption. It is banal to suggest otherwise. It won’t eradicate the problem, I’m not naive enough to think that, but it would be a start.
Binge drinking isn’t a wholly modern problem. But there has been a dramatic increase in the last few years in young people being admitted to hospital with alcohol-induced liver conditions, as I pointed to in the article. That counts as modern, I presume……….
You say that the cost of alcohol won’t effect people’s behaviour, and then say that if the price goes up it will effect your behaviour.You can’t have it both ways.

3. Chaise Guevara

I repeat my initial statement. It isn’t. The decision by the labour government wasn’t motivated by libertarian concerns, it was motivated by corporate interest. They may have used arguments about liberty to justify their policies, but so did George W Bush. It was never about that.

If your asking for me to choose between public health and the right for kids who don’t know any better to destroy their livers and ruin their lives, I’m going for public health. If you follow your argument through then presumably you would be happy for young kids to have access to alcohol if they so wish. Its a matter of individual liberty after all.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but the implication I’m getting from this is that you think lefties who oppose minimum pricing only do so because Cameron is the one chasing it. If so, that sounds a bit hypocritical given that you think we should support minimum pricing because Conservatives are “up in arms about it”. If not, could you clarify?”

I was being glib. I think the reasons for people opposing Cameron on this are varied. I’m sure it is rather more sophisticated than mere anti-Cameron sentiment. Still wrong though.

As for strip clubs, fine, if thats your point of view. Again though, it is bizarre to argue that the primary debate about their existence or not is about individual liberty. Its about thoroughly obnoxious glorified pimps exploiting women to line their pockets, and whether we want that. Trying to dress it up in flowery political rhetoric about freedom is just window dressing.

4. Chris

Again, I don’t think this question is about liberty. The decisions about alcohol and licensing policy in recent years have been informed by corporate greed, not government’s desire to make us more free.

“If people want to drink themselves stupid, that is their own choice.” No, these things have social consequences on families and communities. Sometimes people have to be saved from themselves, sadly.

5 JC
I disagree. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that an increase in prices would decrease consumption. Just like anything else that you can buy……..

6. Nikki

“Face it; it’s a Northern European trait and it’s never going to go away.”
As I have earlier intimated, there has been a dramatic increase in binge drinking in recent years. That is a cultural thing. Cultures can change, and have changed. The liberalization of the licensing laws has only served to make this worse.

I suppose I have touched a raw nerve here. The left has always had a bit of a blind spot when it comes to booze and fags. They end up parrotting corporate propoganda about individual freedom and use lots of emotive and hyperbolic language, when in fact the arguments are quite simple. They like boozing and smoking and wish to do as they please. That’s all there is to it. Which is a perfectly valid argument, but don’t try and embellish it. It is perverse to talk one minute of banking regulation, stopping companies from polluting the environment and preventing unscrupulous loan companies from taking advantage of low income families through legislative means and then in the next breath saying people should be allowed to do whatever they want without any oversight.

I’m also slightly disappointed at some of the cavalier statements about pricing having no impact on behaviour. Just think about what your saying. Its patently nonsense. There are plenty of recent studies in Canada that would disprove that thesis at a stroke.

“Would the left object if a Conservative government decided to do something about the strip clubs springing up all over our cities?”

Yes. Yes I would. If consenting adults wish to dance/watch someone dance in various states of undress, it’s none of my or the State’s business.

Minimum alcohol pricing is a regressive tax. And suggesting that alcoholics just “drink less” demonstrates a severe lack of understanding when it comes to addiction. I’m not denying that we have a drink problem as a nation, but simply whacking up the price will do nothing except make people poorer and alcohol suppliers richer.

Life isn’t easy and there aren’t easy answers. If stopping people binge drinking was as simple as just raising the price, we would have done it already.

8 Lee Griffin
Hands up, I didn’t use the most recent statistics. I was just looking for a rough number of people who die every year, and the last few years it has been in and around the 9000 mark. It went down at the last count, and yes, you may have may made my point for me if deaths go down if the amount of money circulating in the economy goes down.
I’d accept that there isn’t a direct correlation with the number of deaths now and current policies. Young people are less liekely to die as they are well, young and it will take probably a couple of decades to see if I was right or wrong in thinking it’s a ticking time bomb. I hope I’m wrong. We’ll see.

“I’m sure there are more other commentators may point out, so shallow is your analysis and quick praise of authoritarian action.”

Words hurt Lee. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that increased prices decreases consumption. Let me turn the argument on its head. If reducing the price had no effect, then why are supermarkets advertising cut price booze, or reducing the price in the first place? Might it be that it encourages people to buy it? Again, like many of the commenters on here, you have a position and are happy to make statements that seem superficially plausible to back them up. A closer examination exposes them as ludicrous.

“Instead, what you’re saying, is those with money should be able to enjoy the lifestyle they want, however they want it, while making it harder for the working class to achieve that.”

And out comes the straw man……….. If there was a way of making the wealthy pay more for consumer goods I’d be all over it. Sadly there isn’t. This is a deeply imperfect solution. I don’t imagine for one second its a cure-all. But it’s better than nothing.
And as for your food argument, the costs of food used to take up a rather greater share of peoples income didn’t it? And at the time they eat less and there was less of an obesity problem? So what your saying is that if you increase the price, then consumption goes down. Wait a minute……….

“Letting everyone have the same footing, access to life’s luxuries, and protection from social divide is nothing to stand against.”

Another straw man…… where do I suggest otherwise?

10 and 12 Shatterface.

I’m in violently in favour of political liberty. I don’t think that is analogous with allowing people to destroy their bodies and with it ruin their and their own families lives though
Once again I don’t think you have actually read the article. Increasing the price will not provide a national cure for alcoholism and binge drinking. But it will have some effect on consumption and hopefully reduce some of the health problems that go way beyond the minority of genuine alcoholics.
Loved the comparison with Keith Vaz though. Very droll……..
The article reflects my views alone. I just sent it to Sunny and he agreed to put it on here, which was very nice of him considering that he must have known the reaction would be less than adulatory.

“Yes we would, because its another example of Labour’s war on ‘sin’.

What the hell business of the State is it how and when people take their clothes off?”

Strip clubs sprang up all over the country during the Labour years. The war on sin exists only in your head. I’ve had to repeat this over and over again, but Labour and latterly Conservative policies on licensing, alcohol pricing, gambling and strip clubs were driven by corporate lobbying. End of story.

They like boozing and smoking and wish to do as they please. That’s all there is to it. Which is a perfectly valid argument, but don’t try and embellish it.

Indeed, there is no reason to embellish it. What you have just described is individual freedom at play.

Your impulse, and Cameron’s proposal, is the antithesis to that. It is state intervention in peoples lives for the purpose of social engineering.

It is the tyranny of the do-gooder- most tyrannical because it is carried out with the approval of your own conscience.

19. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 Representing the Mambo

“I repeat my initial statement. It isn’t.”

Once again you’ve repeated the claim that is isn’t an issue of personal liberty without saying why you think that. As I’ve explained why I think it IS such an issue, I’m not sure what this empty repeated statement is meant to accomplish. To reiterate: if you impose a minimum price on alcohol, you are restricting my ability to buy it. How, then can it possibly not be an issue of liberty? Please answer the question this time.

“The decision by the labour government wasn’t motivated by libertarian concerns, it was motivated by corporate interest. They may have used arguments about liberty to justify their policies, but so did George W Bush. It was never about that.”

So? If Labour was motivated by corporate interest, that has no bearing on whether or not liberty is a factor in the issue itself. The people who disagree with you on this thread are not bound by Labour’s motives.

“If your asking for me to choose between public health and the right for kids who don’t know any better to destroy their livers and ruin their lives, I’m going for public health.”

Dear me. No, I’m asking you to reconsider if forcing people to live healthily is an appropriate way to create public health. Your statement ignores two mind-blowingly obvious facts: 1) kids are not allowed to buy booze regardless of the price, and 2) your policy affects everyone, most of whom do “know better”, even if they nevertheless make choices that happen to annoy you.

“If you follow your argument through then presumably you would be happy for young kids to have access to alcohol if they so wish. Its a matter of individual liberty after all. ”

Your “following the argument through” skills need work. I don’t think we should let young kids have alcohol, so grow up and stop straw-manning me. Children are not considered to be capable of making fully independent choices. That’s why they can’t drink, smoke, sign legally binding contracts, or choose not to go to school.

“I was being glib. I think the reasons for people opposing Cameron on this are varied. I’m sure it is rather more sophisticated than mere anti-Cameron sentiment. Still wrong though.”

If the individual liberty argument is wrong, perhaps you should say why this time?

“As for strip clubs, fine, if thats your point of view. Again though, it is bizarre to argue that the primary debate about their existence or not is about individual liberty. Its about thoroughly obnoxious glorified pimps exploiting women to line their pockets, and whether we want that.”

You don’t get to decide what the “primary debate” is; different people focus on different things. I focus on whether you should be allowed to tell adults how they’re entitled to earn a living if they don’t harm anyone else by doing so. As with the minimum pricing issue, you’re attempting to brush aside an objection to your policy by refusing to discuss it, claiming that only one out of several factors is the “true” or “primary” issue.

“Trying to dress it up in flowery political rhetoric about freedom is just window dressing.”

Dismissing an argument as “window dressing” is just an attempt to avoid addressing the point. Are you actually capable of defending your own policies, or is it all question-dodging and ridiculous straw man attacks?

20. Chaise Guevara

“I suppose I have touched a raw nerve here. The left has always had a bit of a blind spot when it comes to booze and fags. They end up parrotting corporate propoganda about individual freedom and use lots of emotive and hyperbolic language, when in fact the arguments are quite simple. ”

Jesus H Christ. The reason you’ve touched a nerve isn’t because of your position on minimum pricing, it’s because of the attitude you display here: i.e. you’re OBVIOUSLY right and anyone who disagrees with you is an idiot “parrotting corporate propoganda” who wants to “encourage heavy alcohol consumption” and sides with the eeeevil supermarkets. If you don’t agree with something, it should just be dismissed as naivety or stupidity… or even better, spammed with straw man attacks!

Want to talk about emotive language and hyperbole? Try this: “If your asking for me to choose between public health and the right for kids who don’t know any better to destroy their livers and ruin their lives, I’m going for public health.” Who said that again?

You start out with the assumption that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is either a callous bastard or a well-meaning fool, and all the while you refuse to address the objections that these people raise. How effective a tactic do you think this is, in terms of persuading people to your way of thinking? Do you think being an unpleasant person will make people rally around your flag?

As for strip clubs, fine, if thats your point of view. Again though, it is bizarre to argue that the primary debate about their existence or not is about individual liberty. Its about thoroughly obnoxious glorified pimps exploiting women to line their pockets, and whether we want that. Trying to dress it up in flowery political rhetoric about freedom is just window dressing.

I think your use of the word pimp gives us a chilling insight into just what you think of the women who work there.

I disagree. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that an increase in prices would decrease consumption. Just like anything else that you can buy……..

So it’s consumption you want to decrease. Thats not the same thing as reducing alcohol related problems. For that you have to target those with those problems, and you have to do that more intelligently than simply making them poorer.

Most drinkers don’t have alcohol-related problems, and those who do – alcoholics – aren’t going to cut back on alcohol because for them it isn’t a matter of choice: they’ll just cut back on other things, and those cut-backs will impact on their health, or their family’s.

Young people are less liekely to die as they are well, young and it will take probably a couple of decades to see if I was right or wrong in thinking it’s a ticking time bomb. I hope I’m wrong. We’ll see.

Talking of straw men, your whole post is built on one.

Alcohol consumption has been falling significantly in the UK over the last five years but, of course, we won’t let facts get in the way of your desire to stick your nose into the way other people live their lives. Will we?

“David Cameron is understood to have instructed officials to develop detailed proposals to ban the sale of drink at below between 40p and 50p a unit.”

Per unit? So 24 500ml cans of Carling becomes 42 pound so you fucking scum can feel like you have done some good.Fucking scum,filthy interfering fucking scum, you catch the scum part?

The danger of minimum prices is that you can end up with a similar situation as to illegal tobacco, and as evil capitalists as Tesco and Wetherspoons are, they at least have to respect and follow rules and regulations as to the sale of their products, whereas the elderly Mr and Mrs Fincham selling bootleg cigs and booze to 12 year olds from their front door do not. (An elderly couple in my town actually got arrested recently for selling illegal tobacco to children, which reportedly smelt foul and caused serious lung problems, above and beyond what normal cigs cause) Raise the minimum price threshold too high, and you create the space for a black market to form, with all the negative consequences that entails.

I propose that Cannabis be legalised, the booze lobby is always very keen to see that cannabis remain illegal, due to their fear that it will compete against their product. With that in mind, and assuming that it then faces the same stringent quality regulations tobacco does, it can’t contribute anyway near as much harm to society or individuals as binge drinking, and might lessen the damage booze does.

19. Chaise Guevara

Its a good job I’m on holiday. If I wasn’t I’d have got bored with you a while back.

We are going around in circles. I’m saying that my concern about the social costs of alcohol consumption outweighs my concern for your concept of ‘individual liberty.’ It is wrong because drinking has social consequences. individuals don’t exist in a vacuum. Yes, I am in favour of restrictions on the availability of alcohol. I don’t know how much clearer I can be. There isn’t much point asking me a question, me answering it and then you asking it over and over again because you don’t like the answer.

You think the issue is primarily ‘individual liberty’. I would suggest that you examine the actual political and social issues at play here rather than saying “I want to do whatever I like” over and over again, which is your argument boiled down to a sentence. Sorry to be blunt. But if you are going to deliberately misrepresent what was an honest attempt to engage with an important issue then you can’t expect me to be endlessly polite.

“Children are not considered to be capable of making fully independent choices. That’s why they can’t drink, smoke, sign legally binding contracts, or choose not to go to school.”

So you are in favour of restrictions on individual liberty then under certain circumstances? Of course, we all are. The argument is about degree. Thats where we disagree.

“Dismissing an argument as “window dressing” is just an attempt to avoid addressing the point. Are you actually capable of defending your own policies, or is it all question-dodging and ridiculous straw man attacks?”

I’ve addressed your points, over and over. The issue is that you haven’t liked my answers and you have difficulty accepting that, for some reason. We’ll both survive.

20 Chaise Guevara (again)
Glad to see ou have as little to do this evening as me :)

The original article is fairly calm and lacking in hyperbole. I’ve ratcheted it up a notch in the comments as the response has been a bit disappointing and well, defensive to a degree.

“You start out with the assumption that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is either a callous bastard or a well-meaning fool,”

No I didn’t. There is a fine libertarian argument to be made for just doing what you like. It hasn’t been made on these pages yet. Again, we come back round to my prior point. I haven’t accepted your arguments as valid ones so you have reacted badly. I don’t know why. Neither of us will have any impact on the final decision and so it would be nice to think we could debate it calmly and rationally.

“Do you think being an unpleasant person will make people rally around your flag?”

Mr Guevara. I’m a lovely man. I just don’t like being talked down to as I have had the temerity to try and question the prevailing left wing consensus on a subject with some facts, figures and different sort of arguments. I have no problem with you taking issue with me. Someone did earlier with some facts and figures, and they had a point. You haven’t.

You might as well issue food and clothing vouchers to alcoholics instead of ESA. That would be no more hysterically illiberal than regressive taxation.

28. the a&e charge nurse

According to these boffins “a 1% rise in the real price of alcohol would equate to an economy wide reduction in ED assault cases of 5000 per year: a substantial reduction in harm and utilization of health resource”.
http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/dentl/resources/Beer_violence1.pdf

We could argue that the majority should not be penalised financially because of the actions of the few, and to this extent I strongly agree with shatterface [21] that one of the difficult questions is how we TARGET any intervention toward those who spoil it for the rest of us.

The original article is fairly calm and lacking in hyperbole. I’ve ratcheted it up a notch in the comments as the response has been a bit disappointing and well, defensive to a degree.

No.

You have been shot down in flames in the comments and rightly so. It’s a shame that we can’t do the same with Cameron, who actually has the power to oppress us.

Alcohol consumption has been falling significantly in the UK over the last five years but, of course, we won’t let facts get in the way of your desire to stick your nose into the way other people live their lives. Will we?

Violent crime has also been falling but you won’t get New Labour to admit they overpopulated the prisons, or that police have too many powers.

If this policy wasn’t part of an isolated temporence movement it wouldn’t seem so sinister, but its the trailing edge of a tidalwave of draconian solutions to imaginary problems that our children will look back upon with astonishment.

Alcohol consumption has been falling significantly in the UK over the last five years but, of course, we won’t let facts get in the way of your desire to stick your nose into the way other people live their lives. Will we?

Violent crime has also been falling but you won’t get New Labour to admit they overpopulated the prisons, or that police have too many powers.

If this policy was part of an isolated temporence movement it wouldn’t seem so sinister, but its the trailing edge of a tidalwave of draconian solutions to imaginary problems that our children will look back upon with astonishment.

Personally I would prefer to see more stringent licensing than higher prices, imo, the problem with alcohol is that it is now a regular factor in street disturbances, especially at the week-end.
Supermarkets do not care about the consequences caused by (mainly) young people in and around town centres, drinking ‘tinnies’ in parks and bus-shelters and then vomitting in front gardens.
Most people just want to relax and drink, not cause distress and inconvenience for other people, tighten-up on who can sell alcohol. Better still, do as they do in New York, it is illegal to drink alcohol outside of licensed premises other than in private residences, or carry it openly in the street.

21 Shatterface (again)

Now you are just being offensive. Trying to imply that I’m sort of mysogynist because I’m not in favour of women being exploited by the dregs of free market capitalism is shamefully dishonest. The women who work there are being treated as sex objects. The money may be good for some of them but that doesn’t change the nature of whats going on in there. It is still exploitation. There is nothing prudish or reactionary in that statement. The way to sexual equality does not lie in treating people like comodities to be ogled over by sweaty, greasy sleazy male pigs. There’s a bit more to it than that I’m afraid.

“So it’s consumption you want to decrease. Thats not the same thing as reducing alcohol related problems. For that you have to target those with those problems, and you have to do that more intelligently than simply making them poorer.”

The argument has been made over and over again that the proposals won’t affect consumption. I think it will. Evidently you agree. Thank you. And I think if people drink less then that is a start, and only a start, in dealing with the problem. There are those with far greater problems that as you say this will probably have little effect on. There are another, large layer of people who aren’t alcoholic but are drinking to a degree that will have deleterious effects on their health in the long run. This is a problem that isn’t acknowledged, perversely, because its true of a lot of people. We drink too much as a nation. It goes beyond a minority of genuine alcoholics. I would have thought the huge increase in 18-40 year olds being admitted to hospital in the last few years was an indication of that.

I do need to keep reiterating this. I don’t think that a minimum price is a panacea. But at least it is the beginnings of an attempt to grapple with a problem, that, whether you like it or not, exists.

22 pagar

This isn’t necessarily about the actual volume of alcohol consumed. Its about who is doing it, and how often, and who cheap alcohol is available to.
We have an aging population. A change in religious demographics. Economic contraction. It isn’t as straightforward as you would suggest.

Mr Guevara. I’m a lovely man. I just don’t like being talked down to as I have had the temerity to try and question the prevailing left wing consensus on a subject with some facts, figures and different sort of arguments. I have no problem with you taking issue with me. Someone did earlier with some facts and figures, and they had a point. You haven’t.

You haven’t established a ‘left wing consensus’ against minimum pricing of alcohol. You want to seem like some kind of radical resisting ‘corporate lobbying’ but your attempts to tax people for their own good are pure New Labour.

Its like listening to the EDL blather on about how politicians won’t let you talk about immigration. You aren’t the rebel here, speaking truth to power, you’re dishing out baseless myths about broken Britain while all evidence shows alcohol consumption is falling.

36. the a&e charge nurse

“The Police Superintendents have advised that alcohol is present in half of all crime. A 1990 study for the Home Office found that growth in beer consumption was the single most important factor in explaining growth in crimes of violence against the person. Research also shows that high proportions of victims of
violent crime are drinking or under the influence of alcohol at the time of their assault. In an analysis of data drawn from 41 probation areas between 1 April 2004 and 31 March 2005, the Offender Assessment System Data Evaluation and Analysis Team found that:

* over one-third (37%) of offenders had a current problem with alcohol use

* 32% had violent behaviour related to their alcohol use

Research has found that alcohol had been consumed prior to the offence in nearly three-quarters (73%) of domestic violence cases and was a ‘feature’ in almost two-thirds (62%). Furthermore, almost half (48%) of these convicted domestic violence offenders were alcohol dependent.

An All Party Group of MPs investigating alcohol and crime was advised by the British Medical Association that alcohol is a factor in:
* 60-70% of homicides
* 75% of stabbings
* 70% of beatings
* 50% of fights and domestic assaults
http://www.ias.org.uk/resources/factsheets/crime.pdf

The precise numbers may ebb and flow from one year to the next but the social cost of alcohol remains fairly impressive?

29 Pagar

“You have been shot down in flames in the comments and rightly so. It’s a shame that we can’t do the same with Cameron, who actually has the power to oppress us.”

Hmmm
Lots of people have disagreed with me. That was to be expected. I didn’t do it to be popular.

If someone had come up with a killer argument against my central thesis, that would be being “shot down in flames.” I’d hold my hand up and say fine, you got me. It hasn’t this time though. All the actual factual evidence cited here has backed up my case. Instead there have been a whole series of misrepresentations, generalisations and “me me me” comments masquerading as serious commentary.

Ergo, my point stands.

I’m bored now. Sleep well.

I’m off for a nice, refreshing glass of…………. water.

“It feels like I’m the only person who thinks that Cameron’s plans for a minimum price for alcohol, possibly similar to the type being mooted by the Scottish parliament, is a great one. And a surprising one, given the government’s normal commitment to doing exactly as their corporate paymasters desire.”

Dear God, such ignorant, ignorant, stupidity.

So, although I don’t agree with it. For example, the numbers about hosptial admission for booze related diseases are flat out lies (http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2011/12/10/how-to-lie-with-numbers-alcohol-and-health-care-edition/) but we’ll let that pass.

OK, so, as you say, Brits booze too much, it’s killing too many Brits and so, what should we do? Bearing in mind that we don’t want to allow too much or even any more profit to the booze meisters.

Well, what we would do is raise the tax on booze.

What we would not do is impose a minimum price. For, what does a minimum price do? Excellent, well done, it fucking protects the profit margins of the corporates who sell cheap booze.

You know, hey I can make cider at 20 p a pint! And the government insists, no, insists! that I cannot sell it at less than £1 a pint. And buggery me, they’ve also threatened to jail any of my competitors that try to !

Unless you are completely and totally ignorant of business and economics why in buggery would you support minimum pricing?

Now you are just being offensive. Trying to imply that I’m sort of mysogynist because I’m not in favour of women being exploited by the dregs of free market capitalism is shamefully dishonest. The women who work there are being treated as sex objects. The money may be good for some of them but that doesn’t change the nature of whats going on in there. It is still exploitation. There is nothing prudish or reactionary in that statement. The way to sexual equality does not lie in treating people like comodities to be ogled over by sweaty, greasy sleazy male pigs. There’s a bit more to it than that I’m afraid.

You are pretty much proving my point that this is a moral crusade not a health one. You drew the parallel with lapdancing, and here you are banging on about women being exploited – not harmed – by being leared at by ‘sweaty, greasy sleazy male pigs’. You infantilise the dancers, and dehumanise their customers and still fancy you occupy the moral highground.

The argument has been made over and over again that the proposals won’t affect consumption. I think it will. Evidently you agree. Thank you. And I think if people drink less then that is a start, and only a start, in dealing with the problem

Its not a start. The people more likely to reduce their consumption because of price increases will be casual, social drinkers, not people with genuine alcohol problems. This is like the war on drugs: everyone knows if you decriminalised them you’d increase consumption but reduce the problems associate with them, but the target is the consumption, not the problems, whatever the consequences.

There are those with far greater problems that as you say this will probably have little effect on. There are another, large layer of people who aren’t alcoholic but are drinking to a degree that will have deleterious effects on their health in the long run

Those people have a choice, as do people who eat junk food. Do you aim to increase tax on chips and burgers too, because if this is really about people’s health logic and consistancy says you should. What’s special about alcohol?

This is a problem that isn’t acknowledged, perversely, because its true of a lot of people. We drink too much as a nation. It goes beyond a minority of genuine alcoholics. I would have thought the huge increase in 18-40 year olds being admitted to hospital in the last few years was an indication of that.

No, we don’t ‘drink too much as a nation’. You’ve admitted that consumption is falling, as a result of demographic changes, religious taboos, etc. Some people drink too much, and they are not going to be swayed by regressive taxation.

40. Chaise Guevara

@ 25 representingthemambo

“We are going around in circles. I’m saying that my concern about the social costs of alcohol consumption outweighs my concern for your concept of ‘individual liberty.’”

No, you said that individual liberty simply isn’t an issue. If you accept that it is, but it’s a sacrifice you’re willing to make in the cause of reducing boozing, that’s ok. I still disagree, but it’s not an unreasonable place to stand. What hacked me off, among other things, was you repeatedly just stating that liberty had nothing to do with it. This is patently untrue, as you’ve now admitted.

It’s the difference between balancing a negative effect, and putting your hands over your ears and going “la la la” every time someone mentions the negative effect. One is reasonable, the other is ridiculous.

“It is wrong because drinking has social consequences. individuals don’t exist in a vacuum. Yes, I am in favour of restrictions on the availability of alcohol. I don’t know how much clearer I can be. There isn’t much point asking me a question, me answering it and then you asking it over and over again because you don’t like the answer. ”

See above. This is the first time you’ve deigned to answer beyone airly assuring me that liberty was irrelevant. That’s not me not liking the answer, that’s you refusing to answer in the first place.

You’ve stated your case now, and all for the good, but don’t rewrite history to make it sound like I was the one being unreasonable.

“You think the issue is primarily ‘individual liberty’. I would suggest that you examine the actual political and social issues at play here rather than saying “I want to do whatever I like” over and over again, which is your argument boiled down to a sentence. Sorry to be blunt.”

Sigh. Yes, if you take all the complexity out of an argument, “boiling it down to a sentence” if you will, then of course it’s going to sound absurdly simplistic. It’s a bit like saying that football is “just a bunch of blokes chasing a ball about” and then acting as if that’s the end of the argument and football’s obviously shit.

“But if you are going to deliberately misrepresent what was an honest attempt to engage with an important issue then you can’t expect me to be endlessly polite.”

The problem with you lying is that all anyone needs to do is read upthread. I pointed out that you’d evaded an issue. In effect, you declared the main point against your position as being invalid, but refused to say why – even when I pointed this out to you. That’s a dishonest attempt to refuse to engage with an important issue. Your lack of intellectual honesty is just the icing on the cake.

“So you are in favour of restrictions on individual liberty then under certain circumstances? Of course, we all are.”

“Of course”… and yet you hit me with the straw man!

“The argument is about degree. Thats where we disagree.”

I’m glad you’ve finally worked that out. Now stop telling me what I already know.

“I’ve addressed your points, over and over. The issue is that you haven’t liked my answers and you have difficulty accepting that, for some reason. We’ll both survive.”

No, you kept refusing to answer and using straw man attacks instead… but like I say, the thread speaks for itself.

“The original article is fairly calm and lacking in hyperbole. I’ve ratcheted it up a notch in the comments as the response has been a bit disappointing and well, defensive to a degree.”

The original article, in terms of hyperbole, was doing fine till the last paragraph. You then threw a wobbler because we didn’t all bow down and say how right you were. If that disappoints you, that’s your problem.

“No I didn’t. There is a fine libertarian argument to be made for just doing what you like. It hasn’t been made on these pages yet. Again, we come back round to my prior point. I haven’t accepted your arguments as valid ones so you have reacted badly. I don’t know why.”

I already explained why. But if you keep lying, saying I reacted “badly” because you didn’t accept my arguments, then you’ll never work it out, will you?

“Neither of us will have any impact on the final decision and so it would be nice to think we could debate it calmly and rationally.”

I would have loved to have done so. I think it’s a shame that you’ve fucked up any hope of calm and rational debate with your behaviour. But you have.

“Mr Guevara. I’m a lovely man.”

Saying it don’t make it so. More to the point, coming onto LC and acting like a wanker straight off the bat rather demonstrates that you aren’t.

“I just don’t like being talked down to as I have had the temerity to try and question the prevailing left wing consensus on a subject with some facts, figures and different sort of arguments.”

Facts, figures, and different views, all good. Straw man attacks and patronising people, not so good. People are talking down to you because that’s how you decided to behave; you’re being treated the way you chose to treat others.

“I have no problem with you taking issue with me. Someone did earlier with some facts and figures, and they had a point. You haven’t.”

Actually, I do, and you’ve finally admitted it. You’ve also disagreed with it, which is fine. The sad thing is all you had to do was say “yes, liberty is affected, but I think this is less important because of X, Y, and Z”. You didn’t. You stated that it wasn’t an issue, then you made childish attacks, and then you admitted it WAS an issue – but lied and said you’d admitted it all along!

Like I said, you’re not a pleasant human being. Seriously, just read the last paragraph of your article again, then at your first post responding to other posters – not just your comment to me, but to Nikki too. You’ve straw-manned and sneered at every person who happens not to agree with you on the morality of this issue, to the point where I suspect you only wrote this article to inflate your ego (your general posturing as the embattled rebel who bravely says what needs to be said, regardless of how people see him, only supports this). Congratulations on starting a promising discussion and then poisoning it with your shitty behaviour.

41. Chaise Guevara

…*Breathes out*

Whew! Well, I think that might be an all-time record for how quickly an OP’s mask of reasonableness and moral highground can fall to the floor.

Sometimes I really wonder about the type of people who enter politics. We are told constantly that they really do join Party Politics to make the Country a better place and that when we see things that are abject stupidity, we should just put that down to a ‘misjudgement’ or some such.

This no longer holds water. I speak as an SNP voter, BTW, but I sometimes wonder why I bother with voting at all when you get arsehole policies so many times.

I have applauded the SNP’s quiet competency as they have driven Scotland on an even keel over the last half dozen years, or so. However, this policy has me spitting feathers, because it has the stamp of dogma and mindless stupidity all over it, it is even worse than the anti sectarian legislation, which is saying something.

Believe it or not ‘Scotland’ does not have a problem with binge drinking. Some people who live in some parts of Scotland have problems with binge drinking. However, Scotland has deep rooted social and cultural issues that are associated binge drinking. If the SNP wanted to tackle that, then they would have by support. They have made no attempt to tackle this problem and ignored them, instead plumping for a completely irrelevant ‘solution’ which will have little or no effect on the underlying problems. I am going to tell the SNP that there are thousands of people all over the Country who will spend a proportion of the next week (this happens to be the new year weekend) drunk, to the extent that it causes deep social problems: none of those people will be drunk because buckfast is cheaper than Irn Bru.

Now, we are given to understand that Cameron has bought into it. Christ words fail me. Okay we can cut Cameron some slack on this, slack that the morons of the SNP do not deserve. Cameron has the excuse that he has no clue of the social drivers of alcohol abuse and therefore cannot be expected to come up with a viable solution. However, surely there is at least one member of his cabinet who has some contact with the real World?

Politics are broken in this Country because these people are completely divorced from reality and completely divorced from the vast majority of ordinary people. When this clown was in the Bulingdon Club would the price of alcohol deterred him and his friends from drinking? Nope, so why would a binge drinker be put off? Say, if only smack was dearer, then there would be less heroin addicts.

The local yobs go to the local corner shop. ‘I say chaps, these bottles of white lighting are rather expensive, what?
‘My God! you are correct, but look, these fruit and vegetables are reasonably priced ’.
‘Hey! I have an idea. Instead of getting smashed out of our heads and wrecking bus stops and harassing pensioners, lets go and eat these great value kumquats and go for a bracing walk’

Sound plausible? Yes? Then you are a fucking moron.

43. Chaise Guevara

@ 23 Ross

“Per unit? So 24 500ml cans of Carling becomes 42 pound ”

It’d be about £24, at around two units per can and 40-50p per unit. Although I agree that’s a ridiculous price, and also gives the lie to the claim that minimum pricing is supposed to combat *cheap* booze.

I remember one advocate of the 50p-per-unit policy claiming that it wouldn’t affect anyone who didn’t drink Special Brew. Indicating that said advocate drinks nothing but good wine and £2-per-bottle seasonal microbrews, and has never met anyone who drinks normal products.

44. Trooper Thompson

Well done, team.

RTM @ 14

There is plenty suggest that increases in prices reduce consumption.

Fuck me! What is it with you fucking people????

The object of the exercise is not to ‘reduce consumption’ is it to reduce ‘binge drinking’. Reducing the aggregate number of units is not a success if the drinking reduced is the sensible level drinks, whilst having no discernable effect of the ‘problem drinking’. We are not trying to reduce the couple of dry whites drunk at the end of a hard weeks work or the half dozen bottles a guy buys for the football. We are ‘supposed’ to be stopping the bottle of Buckfast and a dozen cans that lead to domestic abuse or violent assault.

This drinking is caused not by the cheapness of units, but because there are deep rooted social problems among these families. Christ why are you cunts so opposed to doing some actual research for a fucking change? Why is it so difficult for people like you to go out and actually find out what the REAL problems are, rather than just a knee jerk reaction?

Reciting the number of murders caused by drunks does not constitute a justification of a useless law.

46. the a&e charge nurse

[45] “Reciting the number of murders caused by drunks does not constitute a justification of a useless law” – I disagree, Jim, or at least think it is impossible to disregard the relationship between hooch and all manner naughtiness.

Does a small infringement of personal liberty outweigh the reduced risk to a glass in the face – of course framing laws is hard to do in a way that pleases all of the people all of the time?

I don’t pretend to know what the answer is but nonetheless I still think that any changes in this area should be supported by evidence, and in order to do that we need to know how many murders, knifings, domestic assaults, etc involve the demon drink.

“If someone had come up with a killer argument against my central thesis, that would be being “shot down in flames.” I’d hold my hand up and say fine, you got me.”

I don’t believe you.

48. So Much For Subtlety

13. Chaise Guevara

Add this to the fact that the link between minimum pricing and lowering consumption doesn’t seem well-supported

A long time ago some daft Scot pointed out that where alcohol was cheaper, people drank less. He said that when French regiments moved from the North to the South, they initially drank more but then gradually stopped. It is not hard to explain this – young men want to show off how hard they are, how much they can drink is a way of measuring how tough they are, how much they can afford to spend and how much punishment they can take. Where alcohol is cheap, they just look stupid. Europe seems to show this is the case – southern Europe drinks a huge amount of alcohol. Cheaply. With meals and family. Northern Europe hardly drinks at all. But those who do drink drink a lot, by themselves and at huge cost. We want to reduce the cost of drinking. We want to actually increase the amount people drink. But we want them to do it responsibly, with food and family at meal times.

49. Chaise Guevara

@ 46 a&e

That’s not unreasonable, but I think what Jim meant is that reciting a list of murders by drunks does not, in itself, justify the existence of a law if there’s good reason to believe that the law would not change the number of murders by drunks. Apologies if I’m wrong, Jim.

By way of analogy, I for one find it very frustrating when you’re arguing that drugs should be legalised because you believe doing so would reduce the negative effects of drugs, and someone says “but drugs have all these negative effects, why would you want to legalise them?” It’s the assumption that a law that sounds harsh on a product will automatically improve the effect of said product on society.

I would like to see prohibition come here any takers Ooo?

A & E @ 46

I disagree, Jim, or at least think it is impossible to disregard the relationship between hooch and all manner naughtiness.

Read my quote again. I am not trying to be funny, but I said it did not justify a useless law. I agree that we could justify a ‘sensible’ law by looking at the cause and effect of binge drinking. Of course we would need to craft a ‘sensible’ law, whatever that means, but we cannot allow halfwits to suggest obviously stupid laws merely because ‘something must be done’.

I am sure you would agree with me that child prostitution was an unspeakable evil that we should act to eradicate, however I doubt that you would agree that:

In order to prevent child prostitution, we should prohibit the sale of BMWs.

I think most people here would scratch their heads at reading the above proposition and I doubt that they would be satisfied if I posted a link to a statistic that pointed out how many child prostitutes there were in the UK, either. I think most people would be looking for evidence rather than non-sequiturs.

A& E @ 46

Read my quote again. I am not trying to be funny, but I said it did not justify a useless law. I agree that we could justify a ‘sensible’ law by looking at the cause and effect of binge drinking. Of course we would need to craft a ‘sensible’ law, whatever that means, but we cannot allow halfwits to suggest obviously stupid laws merely because ‘something must be done’.

I am sure you would agree with me that child prostitution was an unspeakable evil that we should act to eradicate, however I doubt that you would agree that:

In order to prevent child prostitution, we should prohibit the sale of BMWs.

I think most people here would scratch their heads at reading the above proposition and I doubt that they would be satisfied if I posted a link to a statistic that pointed out how many child prostitutes there were in the UK, either. I think most people would be looking for evidence rather than non-sequiturs.

You you want to find out whether a policy does good or bad, you have to measure the good things and bad things that that policy might achieve. (Generally there are both; if there was no downside, the policy would already be in operation).

So this statistic “Deaths directly attributable to alcohol consumption are in the region of 9000 a year” is on its own meaningless, unless you are also measuring the happiness that consumption of alcohol causes, its use a social lubricant strengthening social bonds between people, etc.

If you’re not interested in measuring these things, but only care about the harm caused by alcohol, then you don’t care about the welfare of the people, you are merely a puritan.

Drinking and smoking are some of the few remaining working-class pleasures; naturally middle-class leftists who have never set foot in a pub in their lives (or at least, never in the ones that serve bitter rather than flat Staropramen) don’t like the idea of the proles enjoying themselves, so ban smoking in pubs to save the health of those who’ve never been in one and bump up the price of a pint of mild to go with it.

@54

“Drinking and smoking are some of the few remaining working-class pleasures; ”

John Reid…is that you?

If so, are you still a vile New Labour principle void (and, for pity’s sake now Baron Cardowan… you really couldn’t make it up….) masquerading as someone concerned with the working class….?

The link posted @8 doesn’t work – it’s probably yet another casualty of the redevelopment of the ONS website.

A statutory minimum price for alcohol won’t make much difference to me directly as I mustn’t touch the stuff for health reasons. But in the light of this report by the Office of National Statistics in May, I do have an indirect interest because of the effects on the NHS from treating excessive consumption of alcohol:

Men whose jobs are classified as “routine”, such as van drivers and labourers, face 3.5 times the risk of dying from an alcohol-related disease than those in higher managerial and professional jobs.

Women in “routine” jobs, such as cleaners and sewing machinists, face 5.7 times the chance of dying from an alcohol-related disease than women in higher professional jobs such as doctors and lawyers. . .

The analysis highlighted the fact that that the number of alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales doubled between 1991 and 2008, rising from 3,415 (6.4 per 100,000 population) in 1991 to 7,344 (12.4 per 100,000) in 2008. However the most recent data in 2009 indicated a drop in alcohol related deaths of 3.3 per cent, to 7,099. [24 May 2011]
http://www.ias.org.uk/resources/publications/alcoholalert/alert201102/al201102_p11.html

If I produce and sell alcohol and the government asks me to raise the price of the product, I’ll be happy about more profit. (Because all competitors have to raise the price as well, I won’t loose market share.)

The women who work there are being treated as sex objects. The money may be good for some of them but that doesn’t change the nature of whats going on in there. It is still exploitation. There is nothing prudish or reactionary in that statement. The way to sexual equality does not lie in treating people like comodities to be ogled over by sweaty, greasy sleazy male pigs.

There is plenty that is both prudish and reactionary in that statement.

It is more than arguable that that it is the male sex drive that is ruthlessly exploited in lap dancing clubs but, as the transaction is voluntary on both sides, it is really none of your business.

Just as it is none of your business how much I have had to drink tonight.

With annual alcohol-related deaths running at more than 7,000 for England and Wales, that is more than double the number of people killed as the result of road traffic accidents. We expect governments to act to maintain road safety so it’s quite reasonable to expect governments to act so as to reduce deaths from alcohol-related causes.

Bob B @ 59

We expect governments to act to maintain road safety so it’s quite reasonable to expect governments to act so as to reduce deaths from alcohol-related causes.

Yes, fair point on that, but what has introducing a minimum price for a unit of beer got to do with stopping thugs from drinking? Any evidence that you will stop a knife wielding thug from getting ripped to the tits by charging 50 pence for a single unit? You may stop the gauy and his wife from buying a couple of bottles of beer for a quiet night in, but if the local yobs are still out on a bender, have you actually achieved anything?

Pagar @ 58

It is more than arguable that that it is the male sex drive that is ruthlessly exploited in lap dancing clubs but, as the transaction is voluntary on both sides, it is really none of your business.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bloodhoundgang/alapdanceissomuchbetterwhenthestripperiscrying.html

I don’t think I have ever seen anyone cause while trouble drunk who didn’t pay over 50p a unit (i.e. in a pub).

This will stop me buying cheap red wine to make pasta sauces though. Result.

If people want to damage their health by drinking too much that’s their choice. The government should offer people help and advice about these things, but no more than that.

There are three separate arguments going on here.

1) is it reasonable to expect the government to take measures to reduce the harm that alcohol does to people who aren’t consenting adults?

Yes of course. Hence, tougher powers for councils to revoke the licenses of pubs and clubs associated with violent behaviour, tougher enforcement of bans on sales to minors, better treatment for domestically abusive alcoholics and support for their families, and so on are a good idea.

Nobody has come up with any evidence *at all* that minimum pricing would have any impact on this. Booze consumed in pubs and clubs is always going to be above any minimum price level that encompasses off-trade sales, because *that markup is what pays for the pub to exist*, so the town centre violence argument is nonsense; and bottle-a-day alkies are merely going to have less money to spend on other things.

2) is it reasonable to expect the government to impose restrictive measures on consenting adults, based on the probability of health risks in later life *to the person being considered*?

Not in my opinion. If people choose to lower their life expectancy from 80 to 60 but have a better time on the way, that’s entirely their lookout.

This is where the puritan wing (I love ‘teetotalitarian’ above) and the liberal wing of the left diverge: the puritans want to compel everyone else to live in the way that they view as most appropriate. Which, y’know, is pretty much exactly the same as religious fundamentalists compelling everyone else to live in the way that they view as most appropriate.

3) Even if you accept the puritan argument, is a minimum price a good way of achieving it?

Absolutely not, it’s a fucking terrible idea, because THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF THE POLICY GO TO THE BREWERS AND THE SUPERMARKETS. Suddenly, there’s a floor to price competition in the market, which means that everyone involved makes far more profit. This is what a cartel *is*.

If Cameron wasn’t in the industry’s pocket, he’d be suggesting that alcohol tax were raised to ensure that, based on the current lowest-cost production, all forms of booze cost at least 50p a unit (formal policy, actual rates reviewed every year based on what was available in the market). This would have the same impact as the current policy on drinking, but the money raised would go to schools’n’hospitals rather than to Mr Tesco and Mr Heineken.

(I’m also loving the “sponsored by Heineken” ad unit that’s coming up on this page for me – yay contextualised advertising!)

66. David Quoosp

Lord deliver me from middle class idiots.

I’m not wasting time on anything more than that.

.

67. Chaise Guevara

@ 48 SMFS

“We want to reduce the cost of drinking. We want to actually increase the amount people drink. But we want them to do it responsibly, with food and family at meal times.”

Agreed. I don’t think we should try to increase how much people drink, although I see the economic argument and it’s valid. I think we should give people the facts and then let them do whatever they decide is best. But I certainly agree that people drinking a few glasses of wine over a meal, or a few beers down the pub with friends, is not a terrifying spectre that needs to be fought. And we shouldn’t be using heavy-handed policies to strongarm people into not drinking.

68. Chaise Guevara

@ 58

Well said, pagar.

69. So Much For Subtlety

36. the a&e charge nurse

“The Police Superintendents have advised that alcohol is present in half of all crime.

Present. Such an interesting word. Look, we know the little liars lie about alcohol. Look at their recommended levels of alcohol consumption. So it is likely that they are lying about this too. Even then, their lies don’t amount to much. It is present. So if I murder the wife and there is a sherry decanter on the side board, is alcohol somehow to blame? It is present. Just not drunk.

A 1990 study for the Home Office found that growth in beer consumption was the single most important factor in explaining growth in crimes of violence against the person.

Because they wouldn’t want to admit they or any other person is to blame would they? So much easier to blame the alcohol.

Research also shows that high proportions of victims of violent crime are drinking or under the influence of alcohol at the time of their assault.

I am sure that is true. But it doesn’t mean the alcohol caused it.

* over one-third (37%) of offenders had a current problem with alcohol use

Although it is just as likely that the mentality of the offender causes the alcohol use as the other way around.

* 32% had violent behaviour related to their alcohol use

Related means whatever they want it to mean.

Research has found that alcohol had been consumed prior to the offence in nearly three-quarters (73%) of domestic violence cases and was a ‘feature’ in almost two-thirds (62%). Furthermore, almost half (48%) of these convicted domestic violence offenders were alcohol dependent.

Most domestic violence happens in the home. Where alcohol tends to be consumed. Again, if I come home after having a pint and my wife starts up, it does not follow that the latter is caused by the former. Although it might. And the term “alcohol dependent” is not only meaningless, it is doubly meaningless in this context – given a choice between blaming the demon drink or accepting some form of personal responsibility, what do you think they are going to choose?

An All Party Group of MPs investigating alcohol and crime was advised by the British Medical Association that alcohol is a factor in:

So the usual suspects of prodnoses with a track record for lying about alcohol.

* 60-70% of homicides
* 75% of stabbings
* 70% of beatings
* 50% of fights and domestic assaults

A factor. Again, meaningless.

The precise numbers may ebb and flow from one year to the next but the social cost of alcohol remains fairly impressive?

No it doesn’t. There is no social cost of alcohol here. Even if there was, the solution to crime is to punish the criminal. You don’t want young people to beat each other up, jail more of them. Don’t penalise the law abiding majority.

70. Chaise Guevara

@ 61 Jim

Honestly not sure: is that intended as a refutation of pagar’s point? Are you giving that as an example of a punter exploiting a dancer?

Because you can describe any transaction as “exploitation”. The strip-club punter exploits the lapdancer’s desire for money. The lapdancer exploits the strip-club punter’s desire for sexual contact. The corner-shop owner exploits his neighbour’s desire for a pint of milk and a newspaper. And so on. Businesses talk about exploiting market opportunities. I think we devalue the word “exploitation” by slapping it on every transaction that we dislike.

And the problem is that we use the same terminology to describe, for example, young women being hooked on heroin by people they trust, and then forced to work as hookers to get a fix. THAT’S exploitation. But we act as if that’s the same thing as a woman choosing to get paid to take her clothes off.

Full apologies if you were agreeing with pagar, or just referencing a song that you like. I only replied because I don’t think a song in which a guy describes acting like a dick in a self-deprecating way really lends much weight on the issue.

@69

“the solution to crime is to punish the criminal”

Can’t we instead try and stop the crime happening in the first place?

***

I’ve spent far too much time reading the hysteria from both sides in this thread. It makes me wish I could do this: http://xkcd.com/481/

72. Chaise Guevara

@ 69 SMFS

“Present. Such an interesting word.”

Yup. I always go on guard when people talk about things like “alcohol-related crime”. And while I accept that alcohol does lead to crime in many cases, it leads me to suspect that these statistics are jazzed-up attempts to condemn booze, so a crime is reported as “alcohol-related” if the criminal has had a drink, or if the VICTIM has had a drink, or if drink can possibly be mentioned in the conversation.

73. Chaise Guevara

@ 71 david

“Can’t we instead try and stop the crime happening in the first place?”

In principle, certainly. Prevention is better than cure. But it does depend on what you’re going to do in the name of prevention. The OP wants to charge most people more for something that’s already expensive, in such a fashion that hits the poorest hardest. As much as the OP pisses me off, I assume he has decent reasons for this. But it seems heavy-handed.

Putting prevention on a pedestal can lead to all sorts of nonsense, like throwing drug users in jail and giving them criminal records – quite possibly wrecking their lives more solidly than the drug ever would have – in the name of scaring other people off drugs. It’s hard to know what you’re arguing for based on your post.

I wasn’t arguing anything (apart from what I’d written after my ***s).

There’s far too much argumenting (sic) here to make me never want to read any ever again.

Let me end with a *sigh*.

56. Hmm, the link worked this afternoon, I swear the ONS website is the online embodiment of the Hogwarts staircase in Harry Potter.

OP…

“8 Lee Griffin
Hands up, I didn’t use the most recent statistics. I was just looking for a rough number of people who die every year, and the last few years it has been in and around the 9000 mark. It went down at the last count, and yes, you may have may made my point for me if deaths go down if the amount of money circulating in the economy goes down.”

That’s not your point, or if it is you’ve made it clumsily and you’re wrong. There’s a subtle difference between the effects of a reduction in economic activity on immediate alcohol related deaths, and the effect of minimum pricing on consumption. For a start, the former affects things like going out to the pub as frequently as you would in a different year, the latter does not (since minimum pricing doesn’t affect that area, and so there is no proof it would affect alcohol related death statistics to the same degree).

“I’d accept that there isn’t a direct correlation with the number of deaths now and current policies. Young people are less liekely to die as they are well, young and it will take probably a couple of decades to see if I was right or wrong in thinking it’s a ticking time bomb. I hope I’m wrong. We’ll see.”

But you’re using current statistics to talk about current actions as if they’re correlated. You can’t make the links you do in your OP and also accept a lack of correlation. :)

“Words hurt Lee. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that increased prices decreases consumption.”

No there isn’t. Consumption has risen since 1991 despite an increase in prices at the pubs that outstrips inflation by 350%. If pricing was relevant to consumption, we’d have seen a trend of consumption decreasing since 1991. We don’t.

http://spinwatch.org/-articles-by-category-mainmenu-8/45-food-industry/5420-englands-drinking-habit-is-a-problem-for-everybody-not-just-addicts

Again, note…there is a difference between general poverty levels and how “well off” we feel, and how expensive a unit of alcohol is.

“Let me turn the argument on its head. If reducing the price had no effect, then why are supermarkets advertising cut price booze, or reducing the price in the first place?”

I think someone else already cleared this up, people buy alcohol…they don’t think “hey I wouldn’t buy alcohol ever unless it went below £1 a can”. Alright…so maybe some do, but most know they’re out to buy alcohol, and they’re also savvy shoppers. Loss leaders in supermarkets help them capture share. During a BBQ season, for example, you’re not going to buy your food supplies without also your drink supplies. Now if the supermarket can loss lead on the 2 for 1 burgers, and the “3 cases for £10″ alcohol deals, and get to a state of being the cheapest…bang…they’re making their money on charcoal, crisps, bread, cheese, etc, etc and all the while helping their market share.

If you can prove to me that low supermarket pricing increases year on year consumption then please be my guest. I know it increases short term “consumption” since most sensible people will stock up while it’s cheap, even if it takes them months to use it…same way that you’ll find people stock up on nappies when they’re on sale. It doesn’t make the baby shit any more regularly, but “consumption” increases in the short term.

“A closer examination exposes them as ludicrous.”

I’ll accept that when you show me the evidence of your claims. :)

“And out comes the straw man……….. If there was a way of making the wealthy pay more for consumer goods I’d be all over it. Sadly there isn’t.”

So it’s not a strawman. You’re accepting a position which regressively hits the poor and doesn’t affect the rich. It’s only a straw man if the point is a fallacy and a misrepresentation. You’ve just said (again) that it is the case.

“And as for your food argument, the costs of food used to take up a rather greater share of peoples income didn’t it? And at the time they eat less and there was less of an obesity problem? So what your saying is that if you increase the price, then consumption goes down. Wait a minute……….”

No, because I wouldn’t actually make a ludicrous claim like “minimum pricing on food would help cure obesity” without actual evidence, and then support that affront to liberty because “it’s better than doing nothing”

“‘Letting everyone have the same footing, access to life’s luxuries, and protection from social divide is nothing to stand against.’

Another straw man…… where do I suggest otherwise?”

When you say this on the last paragraph of your original post here on LC….

“Obviously there are class issues and base political calculation at play and any minimum price would affect working class people disproportionately, but the solution is obvious. Drink less. The left shouldn’t be encouraging heavy alcohol consumption and siding with the drinks companies and their socially destructive agenda.”

It’s also interesting you missed out one of my more comparable points, the analogy of women in the armed forces….

“To analogise, I’d posit there are more female deaths in the armed forces right now, the way to tackle that is to help increase the safety of ALL armed forces personnel, not to try and revert back to a situation where women can’t join the army.”

Would you say it’s better than nothing to simply not let women perform active duties for the armed forces if it meant less deaths to army personnel per year?

76. Chaise Guevara

@ 74 dave

“I wasn’t arguing anything (apart from what I’d written after my ***s).

There’s far too much argumenting (sic) here to make me never want to read any ever again.

Let me end with a *sigh*.”

Hey, don’t do that! I liked the XKCD reference (even if I strongly suspect I’m one of the people being lampooned). But in any case, argumenting is one of the best ways that people get things sorted out. You can’t expect to address any contentious issues without arguments. Also, I believe most people on here are having more fun with the arguments than they let on. We wouldn’t hang around here if we didn’t.

Jim

You are, of course, wrong in your suggestion that minimum pricing is the only policy the SNP has in relation to alcohol. I don’t know what else the Tories may or may not plan but minimum pricing is only one of the policies including education and tackling offences where alcohol is often a contributing factor.

In Scotland the SNP don’t have the power to raise excise duty, so minimum pricing and ruling against cheap booze offers are the only mechanisms they can use that relates to the easy availability of booze.

But it is far from the only thing they are doing. They see this as one of the ways to try and slow down the slide into easy alcohol use by young people. Minimum pricing won’t affect bar drinkers.

I’ll grant you that although the worker’s movement had a lot of the same backgrund as the temperence movements, times have changed, but the notion that the poor should be encouraged to wreck their health with cheap booze and fags, at the youngest age possible as a matter of ‘Liberty’ sounds more like right wing American bullshit than socialism

78. So Much For Subtlety

71. david

Can’t we instead try and stop the crime happening in the first place?

I am not sure that is a good idea. If someone hasn’t committed a crime yet what grounds are there for punishing him? I mean, sometimes we do – going prepared for a crime can be a crime. Incitement. But let’s put it this way, one of the strongest predictors of being a criminal is having a criminal for a father. We could simply lock all the children of criminals up. That would reduce crime a lot. Do we want to? I don’t think so. Or rather I should say even I don’t think so.

The trend by the government, the police and the academics who advise them is to punish the law abiding. To harass the middle class. They don’t fight back. They obey the law. So much nicer to deal with than the feral yoof that live in Britain’s inner cities. But the problem is not with the law abiding middle class. It is with the criminals. They need to be punished. Not the rest of us.

79. Frances_coppola

We can, perhaps, all agree that too many people are getting drunk and beating each other up, and too many people are drinking enough on a regular basis to cause them long-term health problems. The question is firstly, whether a minimum price will be at all effective as a deterrent to this behaviour, and secondly, whether setting a minimum price is an unwarranted interference with people’s right to go to hell in whatever way they choose. It seems likely to me that the sort of minimum price quoted on this thread will be pretty ineffective as a deterrent – as many other people have pointed out. So on that basis alone, this is a pointless initiative. Is it an unwarranted interference with civil liberties? Well, a bit – but no more so, really, than the ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants, or the ban on using mobile phones while driving, or forcing people to use seat belts in cars and crash helmets on motorbikes, or a thousand other petty restrictions on civil liberties. If, despite my previous comment, it can be shown that the benefits of imposing a minimum price would outweigh the inconvenience of no longer having cheap booze, this would possibly be a worthwhile initiative. I don’t think the OP has really demonstrated that.

With respect to those who have kindly provided figures on the (possible) effect of alcohol consumption on rates of violent crime and hospital admissions, what exactly is the point you are trying to make? Is your intention to draw attention to the cost to the state of bandaging the wounded, banging up the violent and providing liver transplants for alcoholics? But that’s old news. We already know that the cost of picking up the pieces when alkies have gone on a bender is borne by everyone else. If the comments on this thread are a fair sample of the opinions of everyone else, they regard that cost as a reasonable price to pay for the maintenance of civil liberties. There really isn’t anything more to discuss.

80. the a&e charge nurse

[69] “A factor. Again, meaningless” – not to the person glassed, or worse.

81. So Much For Subtlety

79. Frances_coppola

Is it an unwarranted interference with civil liberties? Well, a bit – but no more so, really, than the ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants, or the ban on using mobile phones while driving, or forcing people to use seat belts in cars and crash helmets on motorbikes, or a thousand other petty restrictions on civil liberties.

They are not petty. Not so much because of themselves, but because of the mind set they reveal and the relationship they establish between the governed and the government. They are our servants. They have no right to berate us about our health. So, yes, no more so than the ban on smoking. Which is not a justification but a condemnation.

If, despite my previous comment, it can be shown that the benefits of imposing a minimum price would outweigh the inconvenience of no longer having cheap booze, this would possibly be a worthwhile initiative. I don’t think the OP has really demonstrated that.

He shouldn’t be asked to do so either. Because limiting our freedoms for our own good is not a good reason to do anything. I reject John Stuart Mill’s views on freedom and liberty as stupid, but even he said that the only justification for government action was preventing harm to others – not to ourselves. Smoking, seat belts, crash helmets, all of these infringe our rights with no appreciable harm to others when we ignore them. They have no right passing such laws. The ban on cheap alcohol seems to be in the same class.

Simply put, you’re asking the wrong question. Given they have no basis for this law, they should not be making it. No matter what we are doing to our livers.

Erichie @ 77

The total number of policies a Government is not relevant. It isn’t even the number effective policies they have. Nothing negates an arsehole policy, does it? That seems rather hard work, doesn’t it? Every time we get round a table, we have to think of:

1) A list of effective policies.
2) Throw in a policy to appease the Party fuckwits.
3) A policy to mitigate the worse consequences of the second policy.

Surely the obvious solution is to simply bypass the crap and concentrate on getting the correct set of policies in the first place?

You cannot sneak a trainwreck policy through by simply having other, better policies as well. Crap, useless policies are crap and useless no matter how many other policies you have, even if they are successfull.

They see this as one of the ways to try and slow down the slide into easy alcohol use by young people.

The other being providing better environments in which to grow up in? Tackling the root causes of addiction? Banning street drinking and general loitering around street corners? Providing a better alternative to the gang culture?

None of things? Yet, there we go. We have a collective group of children and young adults surrounded by huge social problems, utterly depressing environments, little hope, zero future and a political vacuum. The best way to stop these youngsters from drinking is to put up the price of a bottle of Buckfast? You don’t think that maybe, just maybe the reason drinking is ingrained into the culture of these groups, is because there are deep cultural issues at work here? You don’t think it is possible that drinking to excess may be a symptom of a far greater malaise than merely the accessibility to ‘cheap’ alcohol?

You don’t think if these kids had anything better to do, they wouldn’t go round to the local shop and get hammered every night?

What do you actually think will happen? What is your goal here? You think that North Lanarkshire’s sprawling villages are going to be cleaned up by a hike in cheap booze? You have not allowed for the fact that the reason they drink is because they actually WANT to drink? Is it possible that youngster will simply steal for the money to buy booze rather than turn to the lord?

but the notion that the poor should be encouraged to wreck their health with cheap booze and fags

Jesus Christ almighty, what is with you cunts? Not one single person has suggested that we want young people to start drinking as early as possible. That is not on the agenda. What we want you to do is go and find a way to stop them. Simply putting up the price will not stop them, because these people drink specifically to get drunk. They do not drink merely because they enjoy the taste and getting drunk is an wanted side effect and they would switch to soft drinks if they where cheaper. These people, for whatever reason, choose to drink to fill a void in their lives. We need to fill that void, not do something completely useless to give the appearence that we are doing something.

This is nothing to do with liberty, American or otherwise. This is to do with a complete lack of understanding what the underlying problems are and insteadfocussing on the wrong end of the stick.

IF it was possible that raising the price of booze was likely to be effective, you may have a point, but the problem with drinking are deep rooted.

You want a better solution? Ban the selling of Buckfast, starting Monday. Ban off licences selling buckfast, mad dog and Kings head.

83. Frances_coppola

SMFS,

Dear oh dear, ideology again. When are you going to stop imposing your beliefs on others?

@78 SMFS
I meant “stop the likelihood of crime occurring”. You’re the one suggesting punishment. I’d maybe suggest better education, better housing, more equality. Utopian, of course, but better to me than just saying “we’ll punish people who do wrong”.

I learned a new word recently: “salutogenesis”. I’ll muddle the definition: “creating an environment for good health as opposed to dealing with ill-health after it occurs.” Replace “health” with “citizenliness” and we’re on our way. I’m too dim to know if this actually has a name.

@76 Chaise
Oh, but it can be tedious to read – I know, I read it all. And argumenting on a comment thread on some blog on the internet is *never* going to sort anything out. Every time I look at a scrollbar and see it’s only half way down a little part of me dies. And yet I feel compelled to read on. Then another little part goes. (As an aside: I wonder how much longer we have with blogs and comment threads… Remember when people said chat rooms were the future?)

And here I am pressing “submit” again…

85. Frances_coppola

SMFS

Now to address your misunderstanding of what I said.

The second half of my comment, which you obviously didn’t bother to read, was concerned with the cost to OTHERS of binge drinking and alcoholism. This has been raised by people on this thread in a number of forms – the effect on the NHS, prisons, police, family members and innocent bystanders. The fundamental question I was addressing was whether minimum pricing reduced the cost to others sufficiently to justify restriction of individual liberties. I concluded, firstly, that the OP had not proved that there would be a cost reduction, and secondly, that even if the OP had demonstrated a cost benefit, the responses on this thread suggest that people regard individual liberties as of greater worth.

Unfortunately it seems the elected representative of the majority doesn’t have such regard for individual liberty. So either the people on this thread are not representative of the majority, in which case doing what they want is undemocratic, or the elected representative of the majority doesn’t actually represent them – which is a whole new issue.

Well…

there are so many comments on here I can’t begin to read through all of them – but from a quick cursory read I can’t see any reference to the beneficial effect a minimum price might have on the pub industry (if it has been mentioned, then I apologise).

Obviously pubs cannot compete with supermarkets on price at the moment – a minumum price would level the playing field. Surely it’s better that people drink in a socialised, supervised environment rather than, as is the case now far too often, fill up on cheap, supermarket booze at home before *then* going out and drinking more? To that extent I think the proposals are a good idea – but not if they’re being pushed in a puritanical or “people shouldn’t be wasting NHS time like this” way.

87. A Lidl Bottle a Vodka

Minimum price on alcohol? Stop buying bread, potatos, pasta etc and get your carbs and sugars out of a bottle instead.

You still get pissed, and you might even lose some weight too.

Simples.

88. Chaise Guevara

@ 86 mapman

“Obviously pubs cannot compete with supermarkets on price at the moment – a minumum price would level the playing field. Surely it’s better that people drink in a socialised, supervised environment rather than, as is the case now far too often, fill up on cheap, supermarket booze at home before *then* going out and drinking more?”

That kinda presumes that people drinking at home are “pre-loading” to go out drinking in bars afterwards. How often is this the case, and how often do people drink at home INSTEAD of drinking in bars?

I also wonder about the effect atmosphere has. If I drink down the pub, I tend to get (or at least feel) noticeably drunker than I would having drunk the same amount at home. Not only does the ability of booze to improve my mood increase; so does its negative effect on the clarity of my speech and the accuracy of my movements. I tentatively put this down to the lively atmosphere.

I’m certainly under the impression that on-trade drinking leads to more crime than off-trade drinking, especially if you count people getting into trouble on their way home from the pub. There’s just more opportunity for mischief and fights. You talk about it being “supervised”, but in my experience pubs won’t kick you out until you’ve actually already thrown up or hit someone. And there’s nobody to supervise you on the way home. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to get an idea of how much alcohol-fueled crime happens behind closed doors. I’ve never lived in a violent household, for example; if I had, I might have the opposite impression.

@88

That kinda presumes that people drinking at home are “pre-loading” to go out drinking in bars afterwards. How often is this the case, and how often do people drink at home INSTEAD of drinking in bars?

Being a social drinker, I don’t really see the point of getting drunk at home instead of at a bar, unless one is smashing it up large at a house party!

Minimum alcohol pricing is eminently sensible and wise. It is the best way to counter problem drinking without punishing the vast majority of drinkers.

Let’s get this straight. Done in a reasonable manner minimum pricing will not affect almost anyone who is just a social drinker because these people by drinks they like, all of which will already cost more than the minimum price.

The only people affected are those by as much alcohol as possible as cheaply as possible, because they don’t care how crap it is they are just trying to get as drunk as possible as cheaply as possible.

The comments about addiction on here are ridiculous. It will cut consumption because people regularly getting trashed are already spending as much of their money as possible on alcohol. They have no space to increase the amount they spend. If you increase the price they will spend just as much but be able to afford less drink and as such do less damage to themselves and others.

The net benefit of this for society has the potential to be dramatic.

Supermarkets and off-licences pushing crap, strong heavily discounted alcohol onto people are the equivilent of the drug pushers building dependency and addiction and thus hooking people to come back for more. Increasing the price will remove their ability to do that from the start. It will help stop people going down the route of binging, dependency and addiction in the first place. And make it more difficult for those already teetering on the edges. Yes, it will not stop those who will spend whatever they have to to get utterly trashed. But quite frankly those people are probably already spending all their money on alcohol. Raising the price will make them able to buy less. Helping them considerably.

The only group it doesn’t help are those whoa re seriously dependent but could spend more money on alcohol. They might just spend more. But the considerable savings made on helping all those other groups, and on the extra VAT from increasing the price, will free up a whole load of extra money to help those in that state, thus improving their lives as well.

It is a win, win where nobody really loses apart from those retailers helping push people into dependency and most of the win goes to both those people who are most likely to become problem drinkers and to society as a whole. It is one of the most sensible policies since the minimum wage and the government should be applauded for supporting it.

@ Chaise

in my experience pubs won’t kick you out until you’ve actually already thrown up or hit someone.

Which do you usually do first? :)

Stephen @ 91

It will help stop people going down the route of binging, dependency and addiction in the first place.

How, where is your evidence for that?

And make it more difficult for those already teetering on the edges.

Again, where is the evidence for that?

But quite frankly those people are probably already spending all their money on alcohol. Raising the price will make them able to buy less. Helping them considerably.

And what if they turn to shoplifting, mugging housebreaking?

The only group it doesn’t help are those whoa re seriously dependent but could spend more money on alcohol.

Which is exactly the whole point of the policy!!!!!!! Fuck me, you people are simply without a clue. The whole point of this so called policy is to prevent problem drinkers becoming worse and you reckon this will not even help these people.

But the considerable savings made on helping all those other groups

You haven’t saved a single and the revenue you have raised has come from the very people you are trying to help. All you have done is make them worse off and now you are trying to improve their lives back to the position they were in ‘before’ you attempted to ‘help’ them in the first place.

Have you ever played chess with yourself? Ever noticed that you can always anticipate your ‘opponents’ move? Just because you think you know how people should react does not mean that you know that they will react that way.

You have no evidence that the problem/binge drinker will react to a price hike. You have no idea why they should react the way that you think they should.

Here is the inside scoop. People who set out to drink themselves into a State of a complete drunken stupor are not the most rational of people. You may be surprised to learn this but those people who buy cheap booze in as much quantity as they can are not performing a cost/benefit analysis on the virtues of getting bladdered beyond redemption.

It has been said that computer games make people act irrationally and I wonder if that is true. Not so much Gears of War or whatever, what about Sim city? I like a nice game of Sim City/Civilization type games as much as the next guy, but reality doesn’t work like that. It would be great if you could cut crime, merely by building a police Station or make sad faces into happy ones via an ‘Elvis’ or a temple, but real life is not like that. Things are not as simple as that and no amount of idiotic pleading is changing our society. Instead of ‘wining’ internal monologues about what drinkers should do, why not find out what actually motivates them?

94. Chaise Guevara

@ 90 Stephen

“The only people affected are those by as much alcohol as possible as cheaply as possible, because they don’t care how crap it is they are just trying to get as drunk as possible as cheaply as possible.”

This is flat-out false. I usually drink branded medium-strength lager, which is on the cheaper end as far as alcohol goes, but it’s hardly White Lightning or white-label vodka, either.

My local offy charges £7 for eight 500ml cans. Under the minimum pricing suggested above, this would be closer to £10. Supermarkets tend to be better value than this, so the change in price at Tesco would be even higher.

Beers like Carlsberg and Foster’s are perfectly routine things to drink, not the preserve of alcoholics. This attempt to convince people that the law won’t affect “normal” people isn’t only morally objectionable (“don’t worry, you won’t personally be affected!”), it’s a great big fib. The numbers are there for anyone to look at.

If you seriously think the suggested policy would make no difference to anyone who isn’t a piss-head, you must be someone who only ever buys fairly pricey drinks. More power to you, but you ought to check how other people live before blithely assuring them that they won’t be affected because you assume everyone can afford the things you can afford.

95. Chaise Guevara

@ 92 pagar

“Which do you usually do first?”

It’s the dancing on tables that usually does for me! Nah, I’m a good lad.

96. So Much For Subtlety

83. Frances_coppola

Dear oh dear, ideology again. When are you going to stop imposing your beliefs on others?

As I was abundantly clear, not my ideology at all. But the only possible basis I can see for common agreement – the State has no right to stop me harming myself.

david

I meant “stop the likelihood of crime occurring”. You’re the one suggesting punishment. I’d maybe suggest better education, better housing, more equality. Utopian, of course, but better to me than just saying “we’ll punish people who do wrong”.

I understood what you said and I responded appropriately. We already spend a vast amount of yoofs that are too smart to learn in school. Why do you think that spending more will work? Given that we spend more per student in some inner city schools than it would cost to send them to Eton. Better housing? British housing has improved enormously since the 1950s but crime has exploded. There is nothing that would suggest more equality would do anything other than increase crime. It is not Utopian. It is pointless. The best solution – the only morally defensible solution – is to concentrate on criminals and punish them.

I learned a new word recently: “salutogenesis”. I’ll muddle the definition: “creating an environment for good health as opposed to dealing with ill-health after it occurs.” Replace “health” with “citizenliness” and we’re on our way. I’m too dim to know if this actually has a name.

By all means, encourage sociopaths that the rest of us are human and have feelings. That would work if only it worked. But I don’t see it working. We could, for instance, make divorce much harder. That might bring down the crime rate. We could make single parenting less attractive. That certainly would. But do you really want to go down these paths? The problem with working towards good health is that in no time you have some woman barking at you through the tele-screen, telling you to touch your toes. Where do you draw the line?

Frances_coppola

The second half of my comment, which you obviously didn’t bother to read, was concerned with the cost to OTHERS of binge drinking and alcoholism.

I read it. I understood it. But you were not confining your comments to the costs of others. The comparison you made was with wearing seat belts and helmets and to passive smoking. None of which pose any danger to anyone else. Nor does cheap alcohol. It is true that violence does, but that is a crime. It is true that drink driving does. But that is a crime as well. We need to punish the crime, not the alcohol.

This has been raised by people on this thread in a number of forms – the effect on the NHS, prisons, police, family members and innocent bystanders.

But spuriously in each and every case. If I go out tonight and get drunk, as I probably shall, I impose no costs on anyone else whatsoever. The NHS does not have a significant cost from cheap alcohol. Alcohol taxes probably pay for it anyway. Nor do prisons or the police. Family members can deal with their own problems. We need to stop using the “Won’t someone think of the children” as an excuse for any old authoritarian policy.

The fundamental question I was addressing was whether minimum pricing reduced the cost to others sufficiently to justify restriction of individual liberties. I concluded, firstly, that the OP had not proved that there would be a cost reduction, and secondly, that even if the OP had demonstrated a cost benefit, the responses on this thread suggest that people regard individual liberties as of greater worth.

And I continue to point out that the fundamental basis of your claim is wrong. Cheap alcohol imposes no costs on anyone except the drinker. It is wrong to even begin from where you did. Regardless of what the OP argued. We need to start from the position that what I do with my body is none of his business.

Unfortunately it seems the elected representative of the majority doesn’t have such regard for individual liberty.

And are in the pockets of powerful interests, mainly NGOs. But then no one else here has much regard for individual liberty as they have sold the pass already when they say any restriction on freedom is acceptable if it is cost effective.

“This attempt to convince people that the law won’t affect “normal” people isn’t only morally objectionable (“don’t worry, you won’t personally be affected!”), it’s a great big fib. The numbers are there for anyone to look at.”

Exactly the case with the financial transaction tax haha – Solving problems is a good call how ever I really do not know how much longer society is going to tolerate a bunch of fuck wits who miss the point by a mile every single time forcing there solutions upon them.

As an aside, in my local paper (Blackpool) a while back a representative of the local bars claimed that “In order to help combat drunkenness and alcohol related crime in the area, all the major bar and nightclub owners have made a gentleman’s agreement to not undercut one another on alcohol prices at the weekend.”

I can’t help but think the minimum pricing gig was suggested by the alcohol lobby to Mr Cameron as a ‘pro-active’ way of ‘combating’ the social problems relating to their product, and most certainly not a cunning wheeze to rig the market in their favour.

99. Chaise Guevara

@ 98 Cylux

I’m not making an accusation against the bars concerned – I have no specific reason to doubt their motives and I doubt they’d announce it if it were illegal – but that gentleman’s agreement sounds a lot like price-fixing. I don’t know the law on price-fixing, so maybe it doesn’t apply when customers have plenty of other places to buy alcohol, like shops.

Minimum pricing on alcohol is a nonsense idea. A kind of Prohibition-lite that seems to be spawned by an unholy alliance of moralisers (teetotalitarians, very apropos) on the one hand and failing pub business on the other.

You cannot browbeat and coerce people into being moral, or happy, or healthy. People will over-eat sugary and fatty foods, drink and take other drugs to excess, shag whoever is up for it and so on. It’s just the way humans are made – read the book “Mean Genes” for example.

Trying to repress these natural activities proves largely more damaging than the activities themselves, and counterproductive. Obviously wherever other parties not involved are injured then that is wrong, and the wrongdoer should rightly be punished, but otherwise let people be.

All that will be achieved by coercion over food, drugs and sex is the creation of ever bigger underground black markets run by organised criminals and feeding gangsters with even more profits. A couple of recent examples with alcohol:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/31/fake-vodka-health-warning

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2014522/Boston-explosion-kills-5-Broadfield-Lane-Industrial-Estate-used-illegally-distil-vodka.html

@98. Cylux: “As an aside, in my local paper (Blackpool) a while back a representative of the local bars claimed that “In order to help combat drunkenness and alcohol related crime in the area, all the major bar and nightclub owners have made a gentleman’s agreement to not undercut one another on alcohol prices at the weekend.””

Aah, the wonderful Blackpool Gazette… I think that the informal agreement would, under other circumstances, be regarded as a cartel. But a blind eye was turned because it is/was convenient. Whether the exercise is/was effective (ie reducing drunkenness) depends on price elasticity of alcohol. Are holidaymakers in Blackpool less likely to go on a bender if the booze costs more?

If you look at a few editions of the Gazette, you learn that alcohol related crime in Blackpool isn’t just about holidaymakers. The town (and much of the Fylde) has an exceptional rate of unemployment and a culture, in some areas, of worklessness. And all of the associated social problems.


On the general point of price elasticity of alcohol, consider the incidental consequences. Illegal distillation of vodka (and counterfeiting of legal brands) is already a problem in the UK. Is it likely that some consumers will deliberately purchase illegally distilled spirits?

Look at what happened in prisons when drug tests for cannabis improved in accuracy — prisoners switched to heroin which is more difficult to detect. Incidental consequences can no longer be described as unforeseen consequences, because we know that every attempt at social engineering generates logical responses.

I like cheap booze and drinking at home. I never commit any crimes when drunk. And kids if they can’t afford booze will buy drugs. Drug dealer couldn’t care less about how old you are.

@99 Well, it’s complicated. Outside the weekend they all set whatever prices they like, come the weekend, when they expect to be busiest, they up their prices. From what I can gather the bar-owners & mangers all tend to be on somewhat cordial terms, which means they ain’t exactly competing in a Randian fashion for customers, so as Charlieman says – pretty much a cartel. Add to this mix a council that neither likes the damage or fallout from the bars but does rather like the cash they bring in, and you can see why they wouldn’t be overly-zealous in following the rules when it comes to price-fixing harming boozer’s wallets.

@101 Re: Incidental consequences – I fully agree, create the space for illegal booze in the market, and it won’t be long till some shifty characters have filled that space with their questionable produce.

104. Frances_coppola

SMFS

YOU may consider that going through your car windscreen because you aren’t wearing a seat belt, or getting aggressively drunk and glassing someone whose face annoys you, harms nobody but yourself, but people who pay through their taxes for you, or the person you glassed, to be patched up by the NHS may have a different view. As some do who have expressed their view on this thread, and I was addressing their concerns. It apparently escaped your notice that I did not agree with them. Please try to pay more attention to what I actually SAY, and to whom I am saying it!

104. Frances_coppola

A person who goes through a windscreen also pays there taxes.

Why should my taxes go to pay for NHS healthcare treatment to those who choose to consume excessive amounts of alcohol? If we have an official war on drugs to curb drug addiction because of the social costs that generates, surely exactly the same public policy considerations apply to the consumption of alcohol. I can’t see why the one is any different in principle from the other.

107. Frances_coppola

105

Not necessarily. They could be a passenger, and on benefits.

108. So Much For Subtlety

104. Frances_coppola

YOU may consider that going through your car windscreen because you aren’t wearing a seat belt, or getting aggressively drunk and glassing someone whose face annoys you, harms nobody but yourself,

Notice the co-joining of two very different events. Going through a windscreen does, in fact, cost no one anything. Except the person doing it. Glassing some other person, on the other hand, is not caused by cheap alcohol, it is caused by being a tool, and it is already illegal. Punish the glassing if you don’t like it. Not the perfectly harmless cheap alcohol.

but people who pay through their taxes for you, or the person you glassed, to be patched up by the NHS may have a different view.

They may. But that kind of makes me point doesn’t it? Once you go down this path, everyone else has an interest in what you had for breakfast. Have to make sure you eat your fibre and do your daily exercise or the rest of us will have to pay for your coronary care. It is profoundly illiberal and morally wrong from the start. It is the wrong mentality to have.

Bob B

Why should my taxes go to pay for NHS healthcare treatment to those who choose to consume excessive amounts of alcohol?

Why indeed. And why the fat? Or the lazy? Or those who come to this country with HIV? Or anyone with HIV really? Start down this route and you will simply abolish the NHS.

If we have an official war on drugs to curb drug addiction because of the social costs that generates, surely exactly the same public policy considerations apply to the consumption of alcohol. I can’t see why the one is any different in principle from the other.

Because drugs are illegal. Alcohol is not. The government is our servant, not our master or owner. It is not their job to bully their livestock into prime condition for the market. It is their job to do what we want and no more. I have never heard anyone who wants to be pushed around over their diet by some pimply teen in a lab coat. It is none of their damned business what we drink, where we drink, when we drink or who with, until some actual social harm is caused to other people. Then we need to address that harm. Alcohol hurts no one.

@108 You do realise the only reason drugs are illegal and alcohol isn’t, is because of an arbitrary, largely evidence-free decision by the government several decades ago.

110. So Much For Subtlety

109. Cylux

You do realise the only reason drugs are illegal and alcohol isn’t, is because of an arbitrary, largely evidence-free decision by the government several decades ago.

Ummm, no. Because it isn’t true. Even if you accept that criminalisation was largely driven by racism and so targeted those drugs White people did not take, that would not be arbitrary or even evidence-free.

It is also more like a hundred years ago now.

@110 Interesting, you think racism was the main driver. I just assumed it was due to the standard moral panics we see from time to time, that was certainly the main driver in the states.

On a related note, one of the first actions that American women got behind on gaining the vote was the campaign for alcohol prohibition, eliminating the ‘demon drink’ that apparently so blighted men’s and by extension women’s lives (due to them getting beaten up by drunken spouses, or watching their husband piss all their earnings away down the pub, before it became socially acceptable to divorce the worthless tosspots) and thus created a situation not all that dissimilar to the war on drugs, but with beer instead. I can’t help but wonder that if prohibition had occurred in the 60s/70s instead we’d all (not just the states) still be lumbered with it now. Because it’s illegal innit?

112. Dan Factor

“The left shouldn’t be encouraging heavy alcohol consumption and siding with the drinks companies and their socially destructive agenda.”

So disagree with penalising people for buying/consuming alcohol is encouraging heavy alcohol consumption and siding with with the drinks companies.

Because I disagree with making people pay more for alcohol that means I am ok with people drinking until their livers explode!

@108 smft: “Why indeed. And why the fat? Or the lazy? Or those who come to this country with HIV? Or anyone with HIV really? Start down this route and you will simply abolish the NHS.”

You evidently can’t resist being daft, can you?

Unlike the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption, personal culpability in those other cases, if any, would be contentious so the NHS would be involved in lots of litigation.

114. Chaise Guevara

@ 112

Short answer: the OP is EXACTLY the sort of pillock who thinks it’s clever to pretend that his opponents actively WANT to see the potential negative consequences of their beliefs, rather than accepting them as necessary evils. Pointlessly abravise and annoyingly stupid: a kind of lefty Michael Gove.

I was gonna respond by accusing him of actively wanting to take money away from the poor, on account of hating the poor so much, but then I decided not to be dragged down to his level any more than I already had been.

From the news on New Year’s day:

Emergency services were inundated with 600 calls an hour last night as revellers up and down Britain drank in 2012.

Paramedics were stretched to the limit and in Cambridge a Territorial Army field hospital was set-up to deal with drunk partygoers.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2080921/999-calls-treble-New-Year-revellers-2012-old-trouble.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

116. Chaise Guevara

@ 113 Bob B

“Unlike the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption, personal culpability in those other cases, if any, would be contentious so the NHS would be involved in lots of litigation.”

Agreed in the case of laziness and HIV, but not in the case of fatness. You could, for example, refuse to fund treatment for any adult over a certain BMI (or other, more accurate index) score if the treatment is for an obesity-related illness. Making an exception for anyone with a condition beyond their control that makes them fat – I believe certain hormonal problems have this effect. I don’t agree with this any more than I agree with cutting smokers and drinkers out of the loop, but it’s hard to see how you can argue for one and not the other.

I’ll put my cards on the table and admit I emotionally dislike the idea of refusing NHS treatment based on lifestyle choice (although a certain amount of triage is necessary), but there are good arguments against doing so. For one, booze, fags and fattening treats bring in a lot of tax revenue, thus bolstering the NHS. For another, if you go down this road, you end up with the NHS only offering treatment to those who “deserve it”. And you’d have enough people angry about being put in the “undeserving” category to make the NHS as a whole lose considerable public support, possibly enough to make it fall and be replaced with private insurance.

Charlieman: “For another, if you go down this road, you end up with the NHS only offering treatment to those who ‘deserve it’. ”

We are already down that road with social care for the aged with different local authorities charging different prices – an inevitable outcome of Chum Pickles’ policy for more Localism.

We could probably do with some Localism over whether regular drunks are charged for healthcare treatment.

Btw on personal culpability for health conditions, a recognised incidental side effect of some medical treatments is that patients put on weight.

107. Frances_coppola

Not necessarily. They could be a passenger, and on benefits.”

Even on benefits, even as a passenger one pays there taxes – take your discrimination and shove it up your ass then pay your taxes and shut up.

119. Chaise Guevara

@ 117 Bob B

“We are already down that road with social care for the aged with different local authorities charging different prices – an inevitable outcome of Chum Pickles’ policy for more Localism.

We could probably do with some Localism over whether regular drunks are charged for healthcare treatment.”

Localism doesn’t resolve the problem, it just moves it. And creates other problems where people move house to get access to services.

How would it work, exactly? If you’re talking about drunks getting treated for immediate problems, like injuring themselves after falling through a window while pissed, it’s really hard to determine whether or not the drunkeness is to blame at the point of service. If someone comes into A&E with injuries from broken glass, obviously drunk, but claims a thug pushed them into a window, how do you know if they’re telling the truth? Do you send some cops out to investigate the scene while the prospective patient bleeds out on the waiting room floor? Even with this problem resolved, localism means that the drunk’s friends, quite possibly drunk themselves, will drive to the next county to try to get them fixed.

If you mean long-term treatment, similar problems occur. A person develops liver problems in County A, which is not tolerant of drinking, so they move to County B, which is tolerant, to get treated. Which unfairly pushes up County B’s costs, as it has to cover healthcare for all the surrounding non-tolerant counties, and probably leads to County B being forced to withdraw the service. Plus some healthcare is centralised. What if your local authority doesn’t charge for alcohol-induced treatment, but you need specialist services in London, and that borough of London does charge? Or vice versa? You just get inefficiencies and intra-UK healthcare tourism.

“Btw on personal culpability for health conditions, a recognised incidental side effect of some medical treatments is that patients put on weight.”

I’m using the principle of charity here, which means I’m assuming that a system designed to keep the “undeserving” out of healthcare would at least be rational. So I’m working on the assumption that side-effects of medical treatment would fall into the category of “not the patient’s fault” unless that treatment was itself for something the patient could have avoided. This still indicates needless complexity, though.

My main point stands: if you penalise some “undeserving” types (e.g. heavy drinkers) but not others (e.g. people who eat too much and don’t exercise), you’re creating an arbitrary and hypocritical dividing line, where obese teetotallers self-righteously keep drinkers out of healthcare while simultaneously using up healthcare funds themselves on avoidable treatment. If you apply the policy consistently, you start a ball rolling that will probably end up destroying the NHS.

114 Chaise Guevara

3 days after the original post appeared you are still ranting and calling me names. Someone just let me know you are still banging on about this.

Do the words “methinks thou doth protest too much” mean anything to you?

Chaise: “If you mean long-term treatment, similar problems occur. A person develops liver problems in County A, which is not tolerant of drinking, so they move to County B, which is tolerant, to get treated.”

Elizabethan poor laws were truly innovative and provided for Parish administration units to levy local poor rates on local property to provide for the care of the poor and needy – by comparison with 19th century provision after the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, Elizabethan provision was probably relatively benign:
http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/elizpl.html

Btw notice the distinction made in legislation between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. By accounts from those times there was a recognised practice to encourage persistent “victims” of poverty to move into a neighbouring parish. Apparently, even the Elizabethans were inclined towards creeping socialism while recognising the potential pitfalls of state charity.

I trust we can agree on one issue – we cannot passively continue to accept a situation where more than twice as many people are now dying every year from excessive alcohol consumption as are killed in traffic accidents.

122. Chaise Guevara

@ 120

“3 days after the original post appeared you are still ranting and calling me names. Someone just let me know you are still banging on about this.

Do the words “methinks thou doth protest too much” mean anything to you?”

I thought you’d decided this topic was boring once you realised most people on here disagree with you and/or don’t like the way you present yourself. In any case, the thread has shockingly managed to continue without you. And a good deal more reasonably too!

123. Chaise Guevara

@ 121 Bob B

I find that last bit surprising. Have you got stats for it? Either way, we should always try to deal with avoidable deaths.

@ Chaise: “I find that last bit surprising. Have you got stats for it? Either way, we should always try to deal with avoidable deaths.”

Try the quote @56 from the ONS and the link there for the official figures on annual deaths attributed to alcohol-related causes in England and Wales – figures for Scotland are reported separately and by the account of the Scottish government are worse.

Annual fatalities from traffic accidents for Britain (that’s England, Scotland and Wales) are around 3,000 a year as compared with over 7,000 from alcohol-related causes for England and Wales. For OECD countries, Britain is bottom or nearly bottom of the league for per capita traffic accident fatalities – the only other serious contenders for that low slot are Sweden and the Netherlands.

It used to be a simple matter to dig out the links for such figures but not since they redeveloped the ONS website.

125. Frances_coppola

118 Ross

I refer you to my comment in 85. I was addressing the concerns of people on this thread who object to their taxes being used to patch up alcohol-related injuries, health problems and crimes. I don’t agree with them, actually – but at least I addressed their concerns from their viewpoint, rather than dismissing their opinions as of no consequence.

Being offensive doesn’t help you win your argument. It just makes you look silly.

Rather than being tough on drinking, why not address the reasons for alcohol abuse? (if you define being absolutely hammered as abuse, which I probably do)

Merely making booze more expensive is one more top down Screw You from the hyper-privileged dickheads running the country to the ordinary people. I’m fast reaching the conclusion that Cameron isn’t actually the worst prime minister since Thatcher, he actually just really, really, hates poor people. If his first agenda is kicking people while they are down, as opposed to running the country well, then he’s actually doing rather well.

127. Chaise Guevara

@ 124 Bob B

“Annual fatalities from traffic accidents for Britain (that’s England, Scotland and Wales) are around 3,000 a year as compared with over 7,000 from alcohol-related causes for England and Wales. ”

Bob, you’ve switched from deaths due to excessive alcohol consumption to deaths from alcohol-related causes. These are very different statistics. The latter doesn’t show that a) the alcohol was the cause of death (it might not even show that alcohol was involved at all) or b) that if alcohol was the cause of death, that its consumption was “excessive” (a term that is admittedly vague).

Your stats still suggest, mildly, that excessive alcohol consumption may be more lethal than driving accidents. But it IS a very weak connection.

128. Leon Wolfeson

@114 – And you’re precisely the sort of namby-pamby who refuses to stand up for his beliefs, whining that evil done in the name of a belief isn’t really evil, it’s just another sort of principle.

Screw that, you’re nearly as much of a problem as they are. Evil is evil.

What would I do? Make it standard for the police to toss anyone caught out drunk into the cells for the night.

129. Chaise Guevara

@ 128 Leon

” And you’re precisely the sort of namby-pamby who refuses to stand up for his beliefs, whining that evil done in the name of a belief isn’t really evil, it’s just another sort of principle.

Screw that, you’re nearly as much of a problem as they are. Evil is evil.”

Sorry? What belief am I failing to stand up for here? I don’t have a belief against drunkeness. Getting drunk is fine with me, as long as you don’t hurt anyone. Ditto the long-term effects of drinking, as long as people know what the dangers are and aren’t being lured in with any of that “Guiness is good for you” bullshit.

I also don’t know what you’re thinking about when you say “evil”. The major companies that sell booze, like Tesco and JD Wetherspoon? I don’t like them, but that’s not relevant to my feelings on whether or not people should be penalised for drinking.

It’s not in any way clear what about my post @114 you object to.

“What would I do? Make it standard for the police to toss anyone caught out drunk into the cells for the night.”

Pretty heavy-handed. On a normal friday night, I encounter any number of people out drunk, including myself. Most are behaving fine, some are being antisocial at the level of singing loudly on their way home when people are trying to sleep. Some occasional people will end up commiting assault or vandalism due to the booze, but that sounds like a poor reason for throwing half the population in the cells every week.

130. Leon Wolfeson

@129 – The point is that you have to stand up for a policy.

People getting drunk in public is NOT good for them, not good for society and not good because of the crimes they go on to commit while drunk.

If you come to the police’s attention while drunk, they you should sleep it off in the cells. No further repercussions (and no records), but do that a few times and people will start realising there are consequences to getting legless and belting out metal songs at the top of the voice as they stagger home.

131. Chaise Guevara

@ 130 Leon

“The point is that you have to stand up for a policy.

People getting drunk in public is NOT good for them, not good for society and not good because of the crimes they go on to commit while drunk.”

I agree you should stand up for a policy. But I don’t think that should mean punishing people who do things that are bad for themselves. I drink, smoke, and eat pizza. I wish I didn’t smoke, but I’m happy to go on drinking and eating pizza, even though I know this to be bad for me, because I enjoy it. You want me to suffer for doing this? Did you ever consider that happiness might be a positive thing to factor into your assessments? Or that people should be free to choose their own lives?

As for drunken crimes… agreed, but you should punish the crime, not the drunkeness, which in itself is normally harmless. The crimes I’ve committed due to drunkeness have been extremely rare, and along the lines of stealing traffic cones as a teenager. Do you honestly think I should be punished for the 99.95% of times I’ve gotten drunk without harming anyone else? Or that people who have never committed a crime while drunk should suffer for the actions of louts?

“If you come to the police’s attention while drunk, they you should sleep it off in the cells. No further repercussions (and no records), but do that a few times and people will start realising there are consequences to getting legless and belting out metal songs at the top of the voice as they stagger home.”

I respect your position more now you’ve said there should be no records. But what do you mean by “come to the police’s attention”? That sounds like giving a LOT of power to the cops: “His face pissed me off and he failed a breath test, so in the cell he goes.” I seem to remember you having a lot less faith in the police than that. I don’t mind the police, but I don’t want to give them that kind of power to fuck with people they dislike.

As for noisy singing: I live on a very major road in Manchester (Wilmslow Road, if you know it; the one that most of South Manchester’s human traffic goes through on a night out. Magic Bus and all that), and drunken revellers piss me off when I’m trying to sleep. At the time I may have fantasised about them getting nicked for noise pollution, but in the cold light of day I feel I’m being harsh. And I’ve occasionaly sung on my way home, too. There’s such a thing as live and let live.

132. Leon Wolfeson

I lived on (one of the roads facing onto) Broad Street in Salford. Experienced the same.

I don’t believe in live and let live, though. I believe in shaping people’s behaviour through policy. If you want to cut down on public drunkenness and associated crime, then a few sleeps on a cell bench…

(Also, I support alcohol being an exacerbating factor in sentencing)

There’s a public health issue here, or I wouldn’t get the state involved. Equally, I’m all for the state limiting very unhealthy food additives (like HFCS, it IS strictly limited in the EU) and requiring nutritional labelling of food.

And I do want to replace the police force wholesale, chasing drunks is about all the current lot are good for.

133. Anon E Mouse

@132 – Leon Wolfson

You say: “I don’t believe in live and let live, though. I believe in shaping people’s behaviour through policy”

Finally we have it – the truth from Leon Wolfson – must be a New Year’s resolution you have there.

Did that “Shaping people’s behaviour” apply to the people the Labour government got our armed forces to bomb from the skies over Afghanistan and Iraq in support of a right wing republican US president?

The problem with people who share your control freak tendencies is they seem to think that they know best.

Next you’ll be making a case for ID Cards. Frightening,,,,

134. Leon Wolfeson

@133 – I don’t believe in punishing people for existing, as you do. I believe in punishing people for anti-social and criminal CHOICES.

You just spit on the poor. Which I’d have you fined for, every time you did it.

(And the government should be providing identity authentication services, yes. Of course, you want this to be – badly – handled by private providers ensuring that only people with money can get these services…)

Since I’ve forgotten, can someone remind me how exactly ID cards would have been a threat to civil liberties? I can only recall that the whole scheme was being overly expensive.

136. Chaise Guevara

@ 134 Leon

“I believe in punishing people for anti-social and criminal CHOICES.”

That’s the thing – drunkeness is not inherently antisocial. If someone goes down the pub with their friends, gets drunk, has fun, and then heads back home without any fuss, they’re not causing any harm except to their own liver. If they DO get into a fight or vandalise something or try to drive a car, then punishment is reasonable.

You seem to be trying to bring some kind of genuine guilt into play by talking about people “coming to the attention” of the police. But you haven’t codified what that actually would mean in practice, so it’s coming over as an endorsement for police officers to jail people they don’t like, or because they’re bored, with a failed breath test as an excuse. Given the millions of people who can be found drunk in public on any weekend, the rule allows for absolutely arbitrary picking and choosing.

Maybe one thing the police should do is crack down on pubs and bars that sell drinks to people who are obviously already very drunk. That’s technically illegal, but the law seems to be ignored. Where pubs do deny service you get the impression that it’s more about avoiding vomit on their floors.

I also tentatively support measures to prevent pricing policies that mean people get a better deal for buying more drinks that they HAVE to consume in one sitting, such as BOGOF deals on pints of lager and “free bars” where you pay a set amount to get unlimited drinks. This wouldn’t include deals on multipacks of beer in supermarkets (because you could consume the beers at a rate of one per week) or reduced prices on wine in pubs if you buy a whole bottle (as long as the bottle comes with a screw-top so you can take the rest home to drink later).

As for punishing the poor… if you support the policy suggested by the OP (and I’m getting the impression that you do), then you’re backing a policy that penalises the poor more than anyone else. I’m not going to pretend that this is the intention behind the policy, because that would be a straw man. But minimum pricing WOULD, in practice, restrict the ability of the poor to engage in a practice that is available to everyone else.

As long as people aren’t harming other people, I don’t think you build a better world by making people’s choices for them.

But minimum pricing WOULD, in practice, restrict the ability of the poor to engage in a practice that is available to everyone else.

Heh, renting/buying a home already falls into this category, though I doubt the government will be keen to set ‘boozing benefits’ to help protect the profits of pub landlords, rather than slum landlords.

138. Leon Wolfeson

@136 – Alcohol is a cause of a significant proportion of crime and ill health. People who are drunk DO engage in violence far more easily. It’s a public health issue.

(I also support Portugal’s public health approach to drugs, as well)

And no, I don’t support pricing controls per-se, it’s the type of choosing business models which Governments do very badly.

Also – frankly – either the current crop of police are hauling drunk people to cells or they’re doing far more damaging shit.

139. Chaise Guevara

@ 137 Cylux

Loads of stuff falls into that category. If a policy makes the problem worse, we should count that as a mark against the policy.

140. Chaise Guevara

@ 138 Leon

“Alcohol is a cause of a significant proportion of crime and ill health. People who are drunk DO engage in violence far more easily. It’s a public health issue.”

So? This still doesn’t add up to an excuse to punish the considerate and law-abiding.

“Also – frankly – either the current crop of police are hauling drunk people to cells or they’re doing far more damaging shit.”

Like preventing crime, solving murders, that sort of thing?

I really don’t think the solution to abuse of police power is to give the police an extra power that is just begging to be abused.

141. Leon Wolfeson

@140 – Beating people, causing crime, causing more problems with communities. Also, to be clear, they CAN already do this. I’d just push it up their priorities.

The other alternative is to push the costs it causes, direct and indirect, onto alcohol as a “sin tax”, but taking it out the price range of 90% of the population would cause more problems than it would solve.

142. Chaise Guevara

@ 141 Leon

“Beating people, causing crime, causing more problems with communities.”

Mmm. You realise that police also prevent and solve crimes, yes? So your claim that police either 1) lock up drunks or 2) do more “damaging shit” simply isn’t true. It’s a massive false dichotomy. In the time it takes for a copper to arrest one or two harmless drunks and drag them back to the cells, they could be dealing with, or preventing, a violent altercation.

I know from past experience that you hate the police, and to justify this you make accusations against them that have nothing to do with any actual evidence. However, I can’t deny that police brutality and corruption are real problems that need to be fixed. I just can’t see why you think you’d solve that by actively encouraging them to bully members of the public (you haven’t clarified your policy despite me asking, so I’m gonna have to assume you honestly do want the police to lock up any drunk person they feel like).

Imagine you’re a cop. Arresting harmless drunks has been made a major priority for you, which means someone higher up is going to be checking that you’re doing plenty of it. You need two more arrests tonight to make sure your figures are ok. In front of you is Piccadilly Gardens, with 50 drunk people passing through, all of whom you could arrest (but you’re only going to arrest two or three, because arresting all 50 is impossible). With nothing else to go own, who do you decide to bust? Oh look, a couple of people from that demographic you dislike (students, Asians, rich-looking people, Man U fans, whoever)! Get ‘em!

The BEST-case scenario here is that the police carefully avoid following their personal prejudices, and instead arrest two people at random. Where’s the logic there? Or do you literally want the police to arrest every drunk they notice? How much will that cost, in terms of extra cops and new holding tanks?

“Also, to be clear, they CAN already do this. I’d just push it up their priorities.”

True, although it seems to be one of those laws that’s routinely ignored. Regardless of which of us is right about whether people who get drunk deserve to be thrown in the cells, this needs to be sorted out – it should be clear whether or not it’s acceptable to be drunk in public.

“The other alternative is to push the costs it causes, direct and indirect, onto alcohol as a “sin tax”, but taking it out the price range of 90% of the population would cause more problems than it would solve.”

I’d be highly surprised if a sin tax on booze would make it unaffordable for 90% of the population, assuming you’re assigning costs fairly. What’s your basis for this claim?

143. Leon Wolfeson

@142 – I’m aware they claim to do so. I don’t believe them, given their free reign to lie about anything at any time.

I know you’ll defend them beating innocent people, so keep on doing it. After all, crippling people is only the price of progress! Sending them to jail afterwards is a refinement even the Chinese usually don’t bother with, mind you.

“What’s your basis for this claim?”

Think of every single piece of crime and anti-social disorder caused by alcohol. The social costs. The healthcare costs. ALL of that suddenly gets lumped into the price of alcohol.

144. Chaise Guevara

@ 143 Leon

“I’m aware they claim to do so. I don’t believe them, given their free reign to lie about anything at any time.”

You honestly don’t believe that police EVER prevent or solve crimes. So if I can find one instance of the cops solving something, that disproves your theory, right?

“I know you’ll defend them beating innocent people, so keep on doing it.”

Ah, you’re back in “nasty little liar” mode, I see. Of course, if you could point to an example of me defending the practice of beating innocents…

“Think of every single piece of crime and anti-social disorder caused by alcohol. The social costs. The healthcare costs. ALL of that suddenly gets lumped into the price of alcohol.”

No data then? What a surprise.

145. Leon Wolfeson

@144 – I don’t have any reliable evidence for them doing so, no, given the police statistics are de-facto useless.

And no, you ARE advocating beating innocent people. Period. BEAT EM ALL, it’s your motto apparently. Don’t worry, I’ll just bring this up all the time given you want me to do that rather than have a rational conversation.

I’m sure you’ll think of people deserving of a good kicking and find an excuse to call thugs out on them, it’s your level.

146. Chaise Guevara

@ 145 Leon Wolfson

“I don’t have any reliable evidence for them doing so, no, given the police statistics are de-facto useless.”

You don’t need police statistics. All you need is one news story where the police either solved a case or caught someone in the act of committing a crime. Do you not read the news?

“And no, you ARE advocating beating innocent people. Period. BEAT EM ALL, it’s your motto apparently.”

So you’ll have no trouble giving me an example of me doing this, then? Oh wait, you will. Because it’s a total lie made up by a lying little shit.

“Don’t worry, I’ll just bring this up all the time given you want me to do that rather than have a rational conversation.”

Look up “rational”. It doesn’t include making hysterical, evidence-free accusation against the other person in the conversation. Lies in general don’t fit well with rational debate.

“I’m sure you’ll think of people deserving of a good kicking and find an excuse to call thugs out on them, it’s your level.”

Blah blah blah another random and slanderous lie blah blah blah.

Seriously, Leon, either provide an example of me doing this, or admit that you’re a pathetic little liar. God, you’re loathsome.

147. Leon Wolfeson

@146 – Excuses for thug brutality. You’re doing it every post.

Move along, Tory prole. Go back to ConHome.

148. Chaise Guevara

@ Leon

I’ll take your refusal to present evidence as a tacit admission that you’re a pathetic liar. Cheers.

149. Leon Wolfeson

@149 – And I’m taking your use of SMFS’s tactics as a outright admission you’re a sockpuppet of his.

150. Chaise Guevara

@ 149

Does SMFS demand evidence when people make up random lies about him too??? The cad!

151. Leon Wolfeson

@150 – …And you then defend SMFS. Thanks for the evidence for everyone else.

You’re here to disrupt the conversation. Go away, Tory Troll.

152. So Much For Subtlety

111. Cylux

Interesting, you think racism was the main driver. I just assumed it was due to the standard moral panics we see from time to time, that was certainly the main driver in the states.

Well the usual accusation on the internet is that in the United States it was due to racism. Which is why it targeted drugs used by minorities – they even called Marijuana by its Mexican name, not its good old fashioned English one – hemp.

There may have been an element of moral panic. But guilt over China’s opium problem was probably a larger driver. America started internationally and made banning opium in all its forms a key stone of their diplomacy.

On a related note, one of the first actions that American women got behind on gaining the vote was the campaign for alcohol prohibition, eliminating the ‘demon drink’ that apparently so blighted men’s and by extension women’s lives

And so …. giving women the vote was a mistake? Surely not.

I can’t help but wonder that if prohibition had occurred in the 60s/70s instead we’d all (not just the states) still be lumbered with it now. Because it’s illegal innit?

Laws against racism and sexism start in that period. Also driven by moral panic. We’re still stuck with them now.

113. Bob B

You evidently can’t resist being daft, can you?

As long as you continue to make it easy for me.

Unlike the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption, personal culpability in those other cases, if any, would be contentious so the NHS would be involved in lots of litigation.

That is absurd. With HIV it is almost always easy to spot the cause and it is invariably a life-style choice. HIV is virtually 100% avoidable. Don’t have passive anal intercourse. Don’t shoot up. Don’t have unprotected sex with people who have spent a lot of time in Africa or having been doing the previous two. It is easier to avoid than most alcohol-related diseases. Fatness is even easier to avoid – eat less and exercise more.

As for litigation, sure it would. But then so would banning people with alcohol related diseases. Notice they include hepatitis in their definition of an alcohol related disease. I like the odd drink. I like holidays in Bali. If I get hepatitis, on what grounds could they claim that was alcohol related? A joy for all lawyers.

117. Bob B

We are already down that road with social care for the aged with different local authorities charging different prices – an inevitable outcome of Chum Pickles’ policy for more Localism.

Sorry Bob but you are a joy. In what sense is one council deciding it will fund different services proof that they have decided that some people are less deserving? Localism implies no such thing. You just made a silly comment. Accept it and move on.

Btw on personal culpability for health conditions, a recognised incidental side effect of some medical treatments is that patients put on weight.

As is liver failure. A problem isn’t it Bob?

SMFS: “As is liver failure. A problem isn’t it Bob?”

Liver failure as a result of excessive alcohol consumption is self-inflicted and foreseeable, not least because of wide publicity about the hazards to health from heavy drinking. Weight gain as the result of prescribed medication isn’t self-inflicted, not least because the side-effects of medication are: (a) often not discussed with patients, and (b) side-effects of medication affect some patients more than others.

That shouldn’t be too difficult for you to grasp, Dumbo.

154. So Much For Subtlety

153. Bob B

Liver failure as a result of excessive alcohol consumption is self-inflicted and foreseeable, not least because of wide publicity about the hazards to health from heavy drinking. Weight gain as the result of prescribed medication isn’t self-inflicted, not least because the side-effects of medication are: (a) often not discussed with patients, and (b) side-effects of medication affect some patients more than others.

I am sorry but perhaps I was not clear enough. Weight gain is hard to ascertain. You don’t know if it is as a result of medication in any one case or not. As it is impossible to tell if liver failure is the result of alcohol use in any one case or not. It is only when you look at large statistically valid samples and compare them with a control group that you can say much at all. I am sure that anyone who has become fat will claim it was the medication in the face of social disapproval. No matter how much they eat and how little they exercise. Just as anyone who drinks like a fish, faced with being denied NHS treatment, will blame it on that single panadol they took in 1996. It will be impossible for any doctor to tell and denial of service will result in law suits. So your proposal won’t work.

As is obvious to anyone who thought about it for two minutes.

That shouldn’t be too difficult for you to grasp, Dumbo.

And yet weight gain is an odd side effect. Hardly ever known to afflict people who don’t eat too much and exercise too little.

However you did manage to miss the point so would you like to try again but this time without the insults and adhering to the comments policy?

Why assume that the status quo is necessarily the optimal public policy?

If it’s politically unacceptable to enforce a minimum price for alcohol to discourage those who can’t otherwise refrain from excessive consumption, how about cutting the taxes on alcohol to promote excessive consumption and so hasten the foreseeable outcome in order to reduce the costs to the NHS for healthcare of excessive consumers and shorten the payout of state pensions?

If there are no grounds for public concern over 7000 deaths a year in England and Wales attributable to alcohol related causes – which is more than twice the number killed by traffic accidents a year – why not aim to increase the mortality rate from alcohol consumption to boost the process of natural selection? Recap the evidence that the incidence of excessive consumption is not evenly distributed across professions:

Men whose jobs are classified as “routine”, such as van drivers and labourers, face 3.5 times the risk of dying from an alcohol-related disease than those in higher managerial and professional jobs.

Women in “routine” jobs, such as cleaners and sewing machinists, face 5.7 times the chance of dying from an alcohol-related disease than women in higher professional jobs such as doctors and lawyers. . .

156. Chaise Guevara

Leon says “You’re here to disrupt the conversation.”

This, as we all know, means “You disagree with me! Waaah!” However, Leon will fight back with rational debate, such as making up ad hom accusations out of thin air! And then refusing to justify them! Every rationalist knows that claims don’t require evidence, right?

Short answer: I don’t disrupt the conversation, that’s the self-appointed “job” of trolls like Leon.

“Alcohol is a cause of a significant proportion of crime and ill health. People who are drunk DO engage in violence far more easily. It’s a public health issue.”

@138 – Yes and in London street robberies are commited by more black people than white. Is this reasonable grounds to suggest some policy change.

@ Leon

I don’t believe in live and let live, though. I believe in shaping people’s behaviour through policy.

There we have it. The rationale of the totalitarian left in two sentences, voluntarily uttered.

I think you’d be more at home in North Korea.

Pagar: “There we have it. The rationale of the totalitarian left in two sentences, voluntarily uttered. ”

C’mon. Governments of many colours – and in many liberal democracies – have had rafts of policies to influence personal behaviour, such as tax incentives to promote marriage and home buying rather than renting, and to encourage personal saving.

There’s the loan guarantee scheme to help with small business start-ups and expansions. The Department for Transport quietly boasts that Britain has among the lowest per capita rates of traffic accident fatalities among OECD countries. What of “Enterprise Zones” to influence the location of businesses which Geoffrey Howe claims as a credit?

I doubt that many of us regard such policies as “totalitarian”.

What of street lighting? No one seems to have figured out a way to charge motorists and pedestrians for the amount of street lighting they individually consume so we continue to provide for it collectively. Isn’t that terrible?

@ Bob B,

‘I doubt that many of us regard such policies as “totalitarian”.’

No, such policies are more accurately described as interventionist.But beware! As Mises, the great liberal praxeologist explained ‘middle-of-the-road leads to socialism’.

In other words, your fannying around trying to help leads on to Leon’s jackboot crushing the flower of liberty.

161. Leon Wolfeson

@156 – Nope, perfectly willing to have rational conversations with rational people, but you are a viper and a tory. Go back to conhome.

@158 – EVERY society does this. Unless you want to argue for murder and child rape. I don’t bother dressing it up with fancy words, and I do insist on a rational, unlike the tory Moralists.

Or you can raise the Somali flag. Your choice.

@160 – Oh yes, because you want people to be free to starve.

162. So Much For Subtlety

155. Bob B

Why assume that the status quo is necessarily the optimal public policy?

Because we are not cattle owned by the government. It is not our job to bend to their whims. It is their job to enforce the laws and policies that we want. But somehow, somewhere along the way, they have lost sight of this and think their job is to boost their self esteem at being ignored at school by all the pretty girls and popular boys by bullying the rest of us. They are our servants. It matters not one little bit of the status quo is optimal or not. We are free. The status quo is what we choose. And if we choose less than optimally, they can take a flying f**k if they don’t like it. It is none of their goddamn business what we do.

If there are no grounds for public concern over 7000 deaths a year in England and Wales attributable to alcohol related causes – which is more than twice the number killed by traffic accidents a year – why not aim to increase the mortality rate from alcohol consumption to boost the process of natural selection?

Because, and I repeat myself, it is not their job to interfere in the freely chosen decisions of the British public. We are not their cattle. It is not their job to fatten us for market. It is their job to enable us to do whatever we want to the best of our abilities and without conflict with anyone else.

Women in “routine” jobs, such as cleaners and sewing machinists, face 5.7 times the chance of dying from an alcohol-related disease than women in higher professional jobs such as doctors and lawyers. . .

And they need to stop lying about alcohol too.

159. Bob B

There’s the loan guarantee scheme to help with small business start-ups and expansions.

Which is probably a mistake and needs to end.

The Department for Transport quietly boasts that Britain has among the lowest per capita rates of traffic accident fatalities among OECD countries.

And which appears to have nothing whatsoever to do with the government or its policies at all, but reflects the basically decent, polite, and law abiding nature of the British population. Although in decline, it still exists.

I doubt that many of us regard such policies as “totalitarian”.

But are they the thin edge of the wedge? Probably. The history of the 20th century has been the decline in freedom for virtually everyone and the increase in government interference and meddling in vast areas of life that had up to now been regarded as none of the government’s business. We are well down the slope, it is just that they are too incompetent to use the tools in their hands.

What of street lighting? No one seems to have figured out a way to charge motorists and pedestrians for the amount of street lighting they individually consume so we continue to provide for it collectively. Isn’t that terrible?

I think they have, it is just that no one can be bothered to implement it. Road toll with higher night-time rates would work fine.

163. Chaise Guevara

@ 161 Leon

“Nope, perfectly willing to have rational conversations with rational people, but you are a viper and a tory”

You have no concept of what “rational” means, Leon. It involves providing EVIDENCE for your CLAIMS. What you’re doing is called “making shit up as you go along”. You know, like the creationists and the astrologers do. That’s your level.

*Awaits another content-free post full of offensive lies*

@ Leon

Unless you want to argue for murder and child rape….. you can raise the Somali flag.

I am not suggesting that there be no rule of law, but that laws should be clear and simple and based on natural rights and non-aggression.

However, if the choice you offer is between living in a country like Somalia or the kind of totalitarian state which is the logical extension of “people’s behaviour being shaped by Government policy”, I’ll take Somalia any time.

You can do the 8.00am press ups without me.

Pagar: “However, if the choice you offer is between living in a country like Somalia or the kind of totalitarian state which is the logical extension of “people’s behaviour being shaped by Government policy”, I’ll take Somalia any time.”

Really? Parliament got into the practice of legislating to shape people’s behaviour centuries ago.

Try the Statute of Labourers of 1351, the Elizabethan poor laws, the succession of factory acts through the 19th century to curb the exploitation of women and children in employment, the 1870 Education Act for universal primary schooling up to the age of 12, which was made compulsory in 1880, not to mention the ban on the slave trade in 1807, the abolition of slavery in the British empire in 1833, Churchill’s trade boards act of 1909 to set enforceable minimum wages and legislation empowering local highway authorites to provide street lighting paid for collectively. All terrible, oppressive stuff.

Now that these stark, unpleasant facts have been brought to your attention, I assume you will be leaving shortly to settle in Somalia.

@ Bob

All terrible, oppressive stuff.

With the exception of the prohibition of the slave trade, a law devised to prevent the coercion of one person by another, I agree with you.

Pagar @ 164

However, if the choice you offer is between living in a country like Somalia or the kind of totalitarian state which is the logical extension of “people’s behaviour being shaped by Government policy”, I’ll take Somalia any time.

I am going to stick my neck out, here. I bet you did not post this from anywhere near Somilia, so if you would rather live there, what is stopping you moving there?

I have come full circle on this – originally opposing but have been bought round http://stevehynd.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/i-was-wrong-why-we-need-a-legally-binding-minimum-price-for-alcohol/

The idea that Somalia is a libertarian paradise is a bit of a red herring. Somalia has a string of overlapping and competing governing regimes – all of which are authoritarian to a greater or lesser extent. It’s about as libertarian as the Green Party.

In fact, the ‘argument’ that “you are a libertarian, go and live in Somalia” is as reliable an indicator that the proposer is an idiot as “you are left-wing, go and live in North Korea”.

170. Leon Wolfeson

@163 – No, it starts with not being a white supremacist, SMFS

Keep arguing for starving people, though,

@169 – Quite. So why do you want to bring that to other countries, again?

171. Chaise Guevara

@ 170

So, according to the wisdom of Leon…

*Rationality doesn’t start with basing claims on evidence.

*Thinking that cops at least occasionally solve crimes makes me pro-police-brutality, pro-starvation, and a white supremacist.

*I’m the same person as SMFS, who’s diametrically opposed to me on many issues and who I spend a lot of time arguing with.

How to reconcile these ideas with reality. A solution occurs: you’re fucking mental.

@ Jim

I am going to stick my neck out, here. I bet you did not post this from anywhere near Somilia, so if you would rather live there, what is stopping you moving there?

You win your bet but, in fairness to me, go back and read what I said.

I was not proposing Somalia as some kind of libertarian paradise- if it were I would go and live there. What I said was that given a choice between the dangerous anarchy of Somalia and a country where Leon’s doctrine of having the state control its population is taken to its logical conclusion (Mao’s China, Stalin’s USSR or Pol Pot’s Cambodia) I would rather take my chances there.

Minimum pricing of alcohol is a step (admittedly a very early step) along a totalitarian path and I think you actually agree with me on this.

173. Leon Wolfeson

@171 – Rationality per you – Being a white supremacist and a fascist.

Keep on with the social darwinist slurs though, SMFS. Don’t you have blackies to beat?

@172 – Logical conclusion? Nope, the logical conclusion of what I’m arguing for is the Nordic Model. You’re creating a straw man, and then setting YOURSELF alight.

Typical far-right behavior.

Tim J @169

The idea that Somalia is a libertarian paradise is a bit of a red herring. Somalia has a string of overlapping and competing governing regimes – all of which are authoritarian to a greater or lesser extent.

Do you ever wonder why that is, though? Since the collapse of the Government we have seen, not workers co-operatives, mutual societies, kibbutz and individualism. Instead we have seen a complete breakdown of the society and bandits filling power vacuums.

Here we had an almost perfect ground for the Libertarian movement to take over and yet, far from being this independent State flourishing without the dead hand of the State to keep its eager but cowed populace down, the rule of law has been replaced by the rule of AK47 and the person holding most ammo wins the argument.

Funny that, eh? Funny how when you remove the tools of a civil society, that the entire system collapses to a constant State of barbarism?

I wonder how many ‘Libertarians’ would last more than ten minutes in a de facto ‘Libertarian State’ rather than the figments of their imaginations.

Pagar @ 172

I was not proposing Somalia as some kind of libertarian paradise- if it were I would go and live there

No, Pagar, if it were a Libertarian paradise it would look nothing like the Utopia you would imagine it be. You would look at the non existence of all you have come to love and enjoy in Europe then argue it was not ‘Libertarian’.

What I said was that given a choice between the dangerous anarchy of Somalia and a country where Leon’s doctrine of having the state control its population is taken to its logical conclusion (Mao’s China, Stalin’s USSR or Pol Pot’s Cambodia) I would rather take my chances there.

The trick is knowing were to stop though. No one has suggested a Moaist approach to life. Let me put forward my position here. I am absolutely against the minimum price on alcohol. I am a pub drinker and I am not affected by this stuff, I would love to be able to buy a pint of beer at 50 pence a unit. However, my objection to this policy is it will simply not address the issues it is targeted.

I do support the smoking ban, however.

@175,

“No, Pagar, if it were a Libertarian paradise it would look nothing like the Utopia you would imagine it be. You would look at the non existence of all you have come to love and enjoy in Europe then argue it was not ‘Libertarian’. ”

Would you like to give a few examples of what you are referring to? If I think of all the things I love and enjoy, I’m at a loss to find anything in that list that was created by the state. Taxed by the state; yes. Created; no.

TT @ 176

Would you like to give a few examples of what you are referring to? If I think of all the things I love and enjoy, I’m at a loss to find anything in that list that was created by the state. Taxed by the state; yes. Created; no.

Nothing in your list (whatever is on it) was created in a vacuum. It is extremely difficult to imagine what kind of society we would live in if the State had never existed. Of course, when we see what happens when the State ceases to exist, like in Somalia we all baulk at the idea. Even places with brutal regimes have plenty of Western people kidding themselves they are living without State aid. How British many people living in Libya would have called themselves ‘Libertarians’, for example?

I bet many Libertarians would have described such people as living in a Libertarian fashion, minimal State intervention, little or no State aid, people buying services out of their own pocket in return for minimal taxation. However, when the regime that propped up their lifestyle was removed, guess what? These people became ‘Big State interventionists and expected airlifted from their little ‘Libertarian freedom enclave’ out in the dessert.

Jim @ 177:

Erm, libertarianism isn’t the belief that there should be no State at all. Pretty much every libertarian I’ve come across agrees that there needs to be a government to, e.g., prevent crime and protect their citizens from marauding armies, so I’m not sure what your examples are supposed to prove.

@166: “With the exception of the prohibition of the slave trade, a law devised to prevent the coercion of one person by another, I agree with you.”

I was being ironic. The Statute of Labourers of 1351 didn’t work as intended but the Elizabethan poor laws did, more or less, and so did the factory acts and Churchill’s trade boards act of 1909.

As for the education act, look at that pragmatically: why do so many affluent countries provide primary and secondary schooling free at the point of delivery and why is schooling made compulsory? Are all those countries totalitarian and oppressive?

Street lighting is also delivered free at the point of delivery in affluent countries – one persuasive reason being that the social costs of crime and traffic accidents are lower as a result. I doubt that a government which ordered street lighting to be permanently switched off would survive long.

@177

“Nothing in your list (whatever is on it) was created in a vacuum. It is extremely difficult to imagine what kind of society we would live in if the State had never existed.”

Yes, but what came first; society or the ‘State? Is not the state’s justification that it serves society? You say above (@ 175)

“The trick is knowing were to stop though. No one has suggested a Moaist approach to life.”

Then the point to stop is when the state ceases to serve society, for if it is not serving society it imay be serving other interests, including its own, or oppressing and preying upon society, i.e., the rest of us. The question is; do you want to be a subject or a citizen?

Society is made up of individuals, living, breathing, thinking, acting individuals, without whom society does not exist. It is the connection and co-operation between these individuals which is the raison d’etre of society, the metaphorical ‘social contract’ which binds us together in peace and mutual defence, that we may each benefit.

The state comes into being as the mechanism to defend the peace and uphold the law – powers delegated from society, i.e., the individuals who comprise the latter

This is speaking theoretically, of course. There is another side which is shown throughout history, that of the violent domination of one group of people over another. Therefore (in all such cases), any theoretical justification for a state’s existence must be imposed ex post facto.

As Joseph Stromberg wrote:

“Established states resort to fairly small amounts of internal violence precisely because they already killed, burned, and pillaged enough to make their point one or two centuries ago. This is what is called “legitimacy.”

“Of course, when we see what happens when the State ceases to exist, like in Somalia we all baulk at the idea.”

Yeah, until you consider the state that did exist in Somalia prior to its collapse. Nothing to mourn there.

“How many British people living in Libya would have called themselves ‘Libertarians’, for example?”

I have no idea. Do you?

“However, when the regime that propped up their lifestyle was removed, guess what? These people became ‘Big State interventionists and expected airlifted from their little ‘Libertarian freedom enclave’ out in the dessert.”

That’s a strawman, unless you want to point to some evidence of a large ex-patriat libertarian community living it up in Gaddafi’s Libya to back it up. Even so, it would hardly be fair to accuse them of choosing ‘big state interventionism’, when this very thing was pounding everything around them to rubble.

@179 Bob B,

“I doubt that a government which ordered street lighting to be permanently switched off would survive long.”

You seem to see this question as: should the state mandate street lighting everywhere, or should the state prohibit street lighting everywhere?

“look at that pragmatically: why do so many affluent countries provide primary and secondary schooling free at the point of delivery and why is schooling made compulsory? Are all those countries totalitarian and oppressive?”

No, let’s look at it historically; where did the practice of mandatory state schooling originate? That would be Prussia. What kind of country was Prussia? Totalitarian? To an extent. Oppressive? Certainly.

Selon Bastiat:

“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

182. Leon Wolfeson

@181 – The poor can’t afford those things. So you are opposing them for the poor. You ARE trying to starve and freeze them. This is quite clear.

You’ve just called state education oppressive and totalitarian. Of course, the poor can use it, so it’s the enemy. As usual. Reintroducing slavery by the back door is still slavery.

@181: “You seem to see this question as: should the state mandate street lighting everywhere, or should the state prohibit street lighting everywhere?”

Not so. National and local highway authorities make street lighting decisions based on Department for Transport criteria probably based on cost-benefit analysis. There is no suggestion that street lighting has to be everywhere or no where. The important economic aspect is that street lighting is paid for collectively because it isn’t feasible to individually charge motorists and pedestrians for the illumination that they benefit from.

In short, the market system for allocating resources doesn’t work in this case and most of us are quite content about that. From long experience of online debating, I’ve learned that a few folk of libertarian persuasion become greatly troubled by the thought that street lighting is provided and financed collectively, contrary to their their deepest principles. I find that amusing.

TT @ 180

Yes, but what came first; society or the ‘State?

Well, I suppose it depends on how you define both, I suppose.

Then the point to stop is when the state ceases to serve society, for if it is not serving society it imay be serving other interests, including its own, or oppressing and preying upon society, i.e., the rest of us. The question is; do you want to be a subject or a citizen?

Ah, but there is the problem, though isn’t it? When does that happen and how do we judge it? There are plenty things the ‘State’ does that harms my liberty, but I recognise that in so doing it protects ‘society’. Every time I come out of the pub, the ‘State’ withdraws my right to drive home, even though I think I am a good driver and can guess the limit I can drink without causing harm, the State ‘thinks’ it knows best. If the State is wrong I am paying a tenner fo a taxi home I don’t need or I lose my license if I am caught over that limit. However we will never know how many times my life has been saved by me not driving home, or indeed the other halfwit knocking me down when he is drunk.

The fact that I may not see the good it has done me, it could be argued that I owe my life to State and the drink driving laws.

Yeah, until you consider the state that did exist in Somalia prior to its collapse. Nothing to mourn there.

Oh, I agree with you on that. I am not saying that Somalia was a great Country before the State went tits up but it is a whole heap worse now. The power vacuum did not default into a trading community with local informal agreements. It turned into a hell hole that spawned pirates because the huge multinationals hoovered up the fish stocks for their own greed. No suggestion that ‘the market’ would self regulate and a lack of Government would mean a default to an equilibrium. These large factory ships fucked the whole coast for everybody else, leaving the empty the sea for the poor guys who lost everything.

If you want to prevent pirates, you should have shelled those cunts in the factory ships and left the dhows well alone.

Even so, it would hardly be fair to accuse them of choosing ‘big state interventionism’, when this very thing was pounding everything around them to rubble.

The point being that many of these people living in the Middle East would have told you they had no need for ‘the State’ as they were paying for everything themselves. They had no need to pay tax (although some of them did, of course) because they felt that they had no need of the State.

However, they lived in their little enclaves at the sufferance of the State and when they State withdrew the protection, their little enclave imploded. Then, rather than rely on self reliance, they came running to the State (our State this time) for help.

No, let’s look at it historically; where did the practice of mandatory state schooling originate? That would be Prussia. What kind of country was Prussia? Totalitarian? To an extent. Oppressive? Certainly.

Does it matter though? Prussia may have been the first and it may have been all the things you say and more. The point still stands, ‘society’ was improved by mandatory state schooling. Great Britian became a far stronger Country because of having an educated populace. People working today in the UK owe the wealth of this Nation in no small part to the educational standards we have enjoyed for a couple of generations.

@ Bob B

“From long experience of online debating, I’ve learned that a few folk of libertarian persuasion become greatly troubled by the thought that street lighting is provided and financed collectively, contrary to their their deepest principles. I find that amusing.”

My dear fellow, most libertarians come to the conclusion that there are bigger issues at stake. What would you have us argue: “never mind the Straights of Hormuz, how about municipal illumination?”

“the market system for allocating resources doesn’t work in this case”

The market system provides the copper, the steel, the tools, the engineers and the rest to put the lamps in the street.

@ Jim 184

“Well, I suppose it depends on how you define both, I suppose.”

Yes. I did both above. You have done neither.

“The fact that I may not see the good it has done me, it could be argued that I owe my life to State and the drink driving laws.

It could be argued, yes, but what does it prove? That your fear of punishment is greater than your sense of responsibility for your own actions?

“The point being that many of these people living in the Middle East would have told you they had no need for ‘the State’ as they were paying for everything themselves. They had no need to pay tax (although some of them did, of course) because they felt that they had no need of the State.”

I don’t know who these people are. If you’re telling me that there’s been a flood of libertarian israelites driven out of Egypt, I’ve yet to meet any, but they’re very welcome amongst us.

“Does it matter though? Prussia may have been the first and it may have been all the things you say and more.”

It’s relevant to the issue. Mandatory state schooling was introduced in conscious imitation of Prussia, and bears this stamp to this day.

“The point still stands, ‘society’ was improved by mandatory state schooling.”

That is an opinion, not a provable fact. All you can claim for your mandatory state schooling is the part which would not happen anyway, i.e., children or the parents of children who see no value in education. These people still exist, and these kids are still barely able to scratch their own names.

And I note you write society in inverted commas. Why is this? Are you not comfortable with the concept?

@ 182 Leon,

the quote is from Bastiat, a true liberal who struggled for peace and harmony. He certainly did not wish the poor to starve.

188. Leon Wolfeson

@187 – I don’t really care who you abuse the quotes of to push your anti-poor views.

@187 No, liberals never do want the poor to starve. Course after implementation of the liberal’s desires, and the poor begin to starve, liberals can at least hold their heads high that that wasn’t their intention.
One need only look at the Liberal Democrat crowing about “lifting the poorest out of tax”, when they’ve a) done no such thing, VAT and other taxes still hold, b) those who were already earning below the old threshold (and thus are by definition ‘the poorest’) saw no benefit whatsoever, whereas the middle – upper middle classes saw maximum benefit, c) those now under the new threshold can expect no further help as all the liberal talk is on raising the tax threshold higher, thus further benefiting the middle classes and also reducing tax income which would have gone to services the poorest would be more likely to use.
I for one accept that liberals truly believe they are helping the poorest out with their measures, and that is what makes a liberal damn well dangerous.

Since the collapse of the Government we have seen, not workers co-operatives, mutual societies, kibbutz and individualism. Instead we have seen a complete breakdown of the society and bandits filling power vacuums.

Somalia is just a monumentally shit example of any political system. The authoritarian dictatorship of Siad Barre collapsed into civil war (as authoritarian dictatorships have a tendency of doing) and was replaced by a patchwork of essentially feudal statelets, led by authoritarian and competing warlords. An ineffective Transitional Government was announced, but its writ never ran beyond Mogadishu, and hardly even there.

On top of this you now have the emergence of Islamic political fundamentalism (the Islamic Courts), invasion by Ethiopia, the piracy-led economy of Puntland and the secession of Somaliland. It’s not a model of anything. The closest you’d get to would be as a refutation of anarchism as a political model – but even that is a stretch.

And how on earth I am supposed to be working towards recreating Somalia here (pace our very own moron-in-residence @170) is truly beyond me. I’m a Conservative. I believe in strong, limited central Government, and, like Burke, am opposed to revolution.

@ 188 Leon,

neither do you seem to care how you abuse my quotes to push your ante-diluvian views.

TT @ 186

That is an opinion, not a provable fact. All you can claim for your mandatory state schooling is the part which would not happen anyway, i.e., children or the parents of children who see no value in education. These people still exist, and these kids are still barely able to scratch their own names.

You cannot simply rewrite history just because it doesn’t fit in with your ideology. Mandatory Schooling has changed the fortunes of Europe for the better Europe’s wealth has grown over the decades thanks directly to State intervention. It is easy to say ‘I would be richer, if I didn’t have to pay for the State education, the welfare state or the minimum wage’.

Sure, it is easy if you own a chip shop and someone says would you like to pay your staff two quid a hour less to see the advantages of that, but what if your customers lose a third of their wages too? What if the people who have lost all their benefits stop using your shop? What if the local Old people’s home dumps our aged granny in your lap?

I suppose it is easy for Libertarians. Freedom means never having to think things through to their logical conclusions. You ‘want’ the benefits of society, whether or not you can measure them, you just cannot be bothered with the nuts and bolts.

So, even if you never use the welfare State? You personally never get a giro through the door, but do you benefit from it? How much has the Welfare State expanded the economy? How many private sector jobs are created and maintained via the Welfare State? How many jobs in run down areas are kept alive via the unemployed not begging in the streets? What about the State employees, hated so much by the Right? These jobs for life and cast iron pensions? Yep, you all hate them, but by the Christ no-one ever bans them from their shops. No-one ever refused to sell a job for lifer a house or a car or anything else that you require a long term assurance of employment, for that matter. How do you factor in what that effect the civil service has had on the economy?

193. Chaise Guevara

@ 173 Leon

” Rationality per you – Being a white supremacist and a fascist.”

Rationality for me – evidence-based claims. Rationality for you – throwing your toys out of the pram and spamming libellous slurs.

“Keep on with the social darwinist slurs though, SMFS. Don’t you have blackies to beat?”

Slurs like that! Right, once again: please show some evidence of my racist, fascist, and darwinist tendencies. I’m betting you can’t, because they don’t exist and you’re (time for a rousing chorus!) a lying little shit.

This site seriously needs a report button, if only to combat your one-man trolling campaign. Preferably that report button would automatically send you a link to Wikipedia’s “rationality” page and a list of psychiatrists who may be able to help you address your paranoid delusions and your abusive personality. Although there’s probably no cure for being a stupid twat.

@189 Cylux,

“@187 No, liberals never do want the poor to starve. Course after implementation of the liberal’s desires, and the poor begin to starve, liberals can at least hold their heads high that that wasn’t their intention.”

What is this ahistorical remark? I think you’ll find the poor had it tougher before rather than during or after the rise of liberalism.

“I for one accept that liberals truly believe they are helping the poorest out with their measures, and that is what makes a liberal damn well dangerous.”

Indeed the liberal is dangerous to your socialistic mindset, just as reason is dangerous to superstition and soap is dangerous to dirt.

@ 192,

“You cannot simply rewrite history just because it doesn’t fit in with your ideology.”

I have not done this at all. The rest of your post is merely a diatribe on the theme of a fallacy – ie., post hoc ergo propter hoc.

This site seriously needs a report button, if only to combat your one-man trolling campaign.

What this site needs is slightly more attention paid to moderation. If there’s going to be a moderation policy then it ought to be applied a little more even-handedly. Because there comes a point where the quality of debate is sufficiently lowered that it properly reduces the value of the site, and I think that point was reached a while back, with one commenter in particular.

197. Chaise Guevara

@ 196 Tim

Him or me? In any case, I agree. In my experience deletions and bans on this site have some justification behind them, but whether they happen in the first place depends on whether you’re trolling for Sunny or trolling against him.

Mandatory Schooling has changed the fortunes of Europe for the better Europe’s wealth has grown over the decades thanks directly to State intervention. It is easy to say ‘I would be richer, if I didn’t have to pay for the State education, the welfare state or the minimum wage’.

Sorry, but that is not a provable assertion.

We have been able to educate our children much better over the last few hundred years because we have become greatly wealthier in that period, not because the state has said we must do so.

As with healthcare, it is impossible to say, with certainty, how our system of education would have developed had the state not got involved in running it, but the numbers of people who, even now, seem to feel it is worth paying extra to opt out of the state system suggests that a private system would, almost certainly, have produced a much better outcome.

And we would all be much richer without the minimum wage!!!!

On the broader, libertarian state question, most libertarians do not propose the abolition of nation states or anarchic nation states- they don’t want an absence of the rule of law.

What they do want is a minarchist state with strong, simple government whose laws, based on natural individual rights, set the framework in which society can freely prosper.

If you want practical examples, the closest we have are Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore.

@ Tim J

What this site needs is slightly more attention paid to moderation. If there’s going to be a moderation policy then it ought to be applied a little more even-handedly. Because there comes a point where the quality of debate is sufficiently lowered that it properly reduces the value of the site, and I think that point was reached a while back, with one commenter in particular.

Can’t agree.

The general standard of debate on this site is excellent and moderation is not required at all in my opinion.

Indeed, if those who chose to swear, abuse and argue incoherently were prevented from doing so by moderation, how would we be able to judge their idiocy? If they were stopped from articulating their bilious monsense, we might be fooled into thinking that Leon, Sally et al were reasonable, intelligent people with a valid point of view worth debating.

Anyway, they’re not so bad. I still remember a certain Daniel Hoffman Gill…..

Can’t agree.

The general standard of debate on this site is excellent and moderation is not required at all in my opinion.

I did say if there’s going to be a moderation policy. Since there apparently is one, it’s probably for the best that it’s applied. If it’s not going to be applied, remove the policy.

Anyway, they’re not so bad. I still remember a certain Daniel Hoffman Gill…

For God’s sake don’t say the name! If you say it three times…


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