Yet again increased taxes are being suggested on alcohol to curb binge drinking, of course this will never really help unless it is a ludicrous tax, but seems more like a way to make a bit more cash for the government.
I like the fact that the BBC (A company that is controlled by the government) pulled out a very good quote confirming that this would be a good idea.
"Professor Martin McKee, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Today programme that there was a clear problem with alcohol in the UK and welcomed the moves.
"One of the most important strategies is to limit the ease with which you can purchase alcohol and that has been done in a number of Scandinavian countries where there have been restrictions on the number of outlets and the number of hours that they are opened. "
"Another way is to increase the cost of alcohol by increasing taxes, so we can anticipate that this will have a beneficial effect on health."
Let me be the first to point out that is a professor of hygiene and tropical medicine really qualified to give a view on an economical solution to binge drinking?
Not only that but she clearly has her facts ever so slightly screwed, since in many of the Scandinavian countries these drinking laws were removed sharpish, take the following quote from a body who were charged with monitoring the effects of the laws.
"The problem: the threat of alcohol abuse The closer they are to the Arctic Circle, it seems, the greater the tendency for national governments to intervene to limit people's freedom to buy alcoholic drinks. But bans and rigid controls tend to encourage abuse and binge drinking. Applying for licenses is also a time-consuming, expensive, and anti-competitive process - often, indeed, a corrupt one too. "
Further on in this report it confirms that the most successful treatments for binge drinking have been 24 hour licensing laws to bars, clubs pubs eateries and transportation, as a good meal and the ability to get home greatly removes any rush for the last train.
This technique has been incredibly successful in the Netherlands and Scotland, creating a much more European culture.
Of course England too has relaxed its laws, pubs and clubs can open their doors for 24 hours too... but ONLY if they get the appropriate license, and what if about 4amish somebody feels peckish? especially on a Sunday it will be impossible to find somewhere to eat.
The problem here is simple, the licenses granted for 24 hour opening have not yet been granted to more than a couple of dozen pubs or clubs. This means that your average drinker is still nearly completely constrained by the last orders bell, not really in keep with the European culture we are trying to adopt.
The licenses can only be given out by the local authorities, many of whom do not wish to do this because they only look at the short term picture, which will be more binge drinking, accidents etc
Even then though, less rival groups will be thrown into confrontation at 11, meaning less violence on the streets, it is more than likely that there will be more alcohol related accidents as people adjust to the new regimes.
Long term I would expect a much more relaxed drinking atmosphere, a greater abundance in eateries, and in term a much greater revenue for British business and more taxes income for our government.
Unfortunately this will not happen until all UK businesses including pubs bars and clubs are given a nearly unrestricted ability to open 24 hours if they wish.
Also on the subject of increased taxation reducing alcohol consumption, as the good professor of tropical diseases likes to claim, It is a well proven fact that increased restrictions and taxation increase the amount of liquor imported AND increase the number of illegal home stills, that can produce alcohol that is not only incredibly high in percentage but can also be harmful and indeed cause death.
Also any major increase in alcohol tax, in any country in the world has always caused in direct correlation a hike in crime, this comes two fold as the labour classes have a tendency to turn both to crime and hard drugs when alcohol is removed.
The final point the government makes is that it will tax alcopops more heavily as those are popular with younger people.
To this I say "Well done Retards"
Lets tax the the low alcohol content drinks, that way the kids will move onto the other cheap options, coz if they all get hammered on Vodka that will solve the problem =D
All in all I would say that any increase on alcohol tax is an incredibly bad idea, and not just because it costs me more for a pint.
27 October 2006
Rambled About by Oli at 8:14 am