Minimum prices for alcoholic drinks would be set by the Government under radical plans being drawn up to cut Britain’s growing binge-drinking problem.
OK, well, we\’ve been told that this is illegal under EU laws for a start. Greece tried the same thing with tobacco and got slapped down.
But given a minimum price then of course the manufacturing of cheap alcohol is about to become hugely profitable, isn\’t it?
A levy could also be imposed on the drinks industry to stop them making windfall profits from the higher prices introduced under the scheme. The money raised would be earmarked for public health campaigns warning of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.
Sigh. So why not just increase the duty payable on booze in the first place? That wouldn\’t be in breach of EU law.
And the other thing is that hypothecation of taxes is a very bad idea indeed. We may or may not want to spend £100 million on public health campaigns about booze. We may or may not wish to raise the tax on booze. But there\’s absolutely no connection whatsoever between the amount we can raise by taxing booze and the amount we want to spend on public health campaigns.
Essentially what this amounts to is an untouchable revenue stream for the likes of Alcohol Concern and all the other puritans. No longer do they have to argue their case for getting money ahead of freezing pensioners or the starving in the third world. They get their money as of right.
And of course, the last thing any such bureaucracy will even try to do is solve the problem: the incentive is to keep exisiting on ever larger budgets, not actually do anything.
No, it\’s not just the cretinism of raising alcohol prices (looking across Europe there are countries with lower prices and less drunkenness, places with higher and just as many problems with binge drinking), they\’ve also managed to come up with the worst possible method of doing it. Illegal and creating an independent bureaucracy with no financial oversight.