There’s much to be said about – and therefore against – the idea of minimum pricing on alcohol. The most important of which is hinted at here by the IFS:
Putting a minimum price of 50p per unit on alcohol would cost the taxpayer £390 million in lost revenue and hand a windfall to the drinks industry, the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned.
Start by conceding much of the argument. Booze kills, it’s cheap booze that does, increase the price and less will be drunk and lives will be saved.
Gloss over all of the interim bits there – or go read Chris Snowdon for why we shouldn’t – and just take that as our starting point.
So, we’ve two ways of making elixir more expensive. We can increase the amount of tax we charge upon it. We have the system to charge already extant. We have that bottomless pit of the welfare state that can use the extra cash.
Hmm, well, that’s a plan then.
We could also just insist upon booze costing more. Pass a law that no one may charge less than x for it. Everyone who does make the cheap stuff now will lose some sales. For why not trade up to better pickle if it’s all the same price? But on what they do still sell they’ll be making wider profits. Makers of cheap cider will make out like bandits in fact because it’s alarmingly cheap stuff to make.
That lacks a certain something as a plan really. We don;t gain any revenue from booze being more expensive, we just increase the profits of those whose sales we’re trying to restrict. Umm, why?
So, of our two options it’s obvious which we should use. The tax one. So, what actually is it that the political system spits out as the solution to be implemented? The minimum price one.
Yep, these people are insane. Which is, of course, why we see so many problems when we look around. The polity is run by politics.