The double standards of a minimum alcohol price….

The government is set to introduce a minimum alcohol price of 40p per unit. I am open to persuasion either way about whether this will be in any way effective but I tend to think not. Pricing people out of a commodity tends not to address underlying causes of abuse and you have to think that if these aren’t addressed people will just move on to abuse other substances. After-all, illegal narcotics are on the pricy side but to the best of my knowledge that doesn’t seem to deter addiction and abuse. I tend to feel the government would be better advised spending its time dealing with these issues rather than pouring more molten financial pain onto people.

Having said all that, I am not actually against governments controlling prices. I would rather they used them to further economic outcomes, not social ones though, ie, promote equality and redistribution of wealth rather than stop people drinking etc but the principle that the government can and should set pricing parameters is actually a democratic one. It is accountable in a way the nebulous ‘market’ is not; patterns of consumption are not chains of democratic accountability and its to totally misunderstand democracy to insist that they are.

The government’s policy on alcohol begs the question why they are not tackling high prices in the energy market, on our railways or any of the other very numerous places they could take an interest in actively intervening on the side of the people they are supposed to represent. This is where the hypocrisy and double-standard comes into play, with all the ‘sin taxes’, why is it right to punish the ‘wicked’ but not assist the needy with, for example, their energy bills? Of course, it isn’t, but then again maybe alcohol producing companies do not put enough money into Conservative coffers.

I have no doubt Labour will support these measures but it would be wrong of it to do so when they do little to address the real problems that exist and it would be remiss of it not to point to the hypocrisy of the government in acting in one area and being noticeable by its failure to act in others.



About darrellgoodliffe


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