Prohibitionists on the march

The cost of alcohol to British society is currently estimated at over £25bn per annum. This is not just the health costs, but also costs relating to crime and disorder, including domestic violence and fights and accidents on the streets. Health workers see the personal costs; we see the fractured families, the individual tragedies of wholly preventable death and disability. And we want action, now, to start to address this complex problem.

Before we do this, can we have a look at the benefits of alcohol consumption please? As I\’ve said before, there must be some or people wouldn\’t booze, would they?

In a free market, one where people partake of voluntary transactions, the perceived benefit to those handing over their money for a particular good or service must be higher than the amount of cash they hand over for that good or service.

This is something that you implicitly acknowledge when you say that higher prices will lead to less boozing: some will conclude that the pleasure they get from drinking will not be worth the extra cost.

So, we have an easy way of estimating what the drinkers of this country think drinking is worth: more than they pay for it.

They pay of the order of £50 billion for booze. Thus, even if we believe your kitchen sink estimation of the costs, booze makes us colletively, at minimum, £25 billion richer.

At which point you and your fellow prodnoses can bugger off, can\’t they?

12 thoughts on “Prohibitionists on the march”

  1. Here’s Ms Nathanson boasting about how “public health lobbying” gets them into Ministers’ offices to lobby as a trade union for more pay etc (about 2:50 in).

    This by the way is the woman who, on one of those ghastly “discussion” programmes, followed up Chris (Devil’s Kitchen) Mounsey with, “I’m a libertarian too, but in this case…”

    Nasty, smug old bag.

  2. Completely made up figure from the prohibitionist, like the one about the ‘cost’ to the NHS of smoking which mysteriously trebled overnight.

  3. This is only true until booze gets so expensive that people will learn how to make hooch from sugar and tins of fruit and finds that actually, it’s just as nice if not better than the £5 bottle of industrial plonk from Tescos.

    10 tins of fruit and 5kg of sugar make 5 gallon of 14% hooch in 4 weeks(about 30p a bottle), which tastes very much like white wine and it’s tax-free and, *we* instead of the taxman get to keep those luvely bn’s in our pocket.

    TPTB want to be very careful not to destroy their license to print money here by forcing their peasants to educate themselves, because their stuff clearly isn’t 16 times better, just 16 times more expensive.

  4. View from the Solent

    You forgot to mention the health benefits of alcohol consumption. Both for the individual’s well-being, and the avoidance of sickness costs.

    Here, El Reg, BMJ, et al.

  5. beyond a certain point, all this measure will do is stimulate home-brew, as you can see in much Scandinavia. People get tanked up on home-brew before they head out to reduce the overall cost…

  6. Bear in mind that if everyone actually does stop drinking, these fanatics are out of a job. Ideally for them, there’ll be an epidemic of people going blind from drinking bathtub gin, and they can then push the State further to fight the even worse “epidemic”.

    It’s a bit like snobbery; well, it is snobbery really. The last thing a snob wants is for everyone to stop watching The X Factor and start going to the opera in droves, because then there’s nobody vulgar to sneer at.

  7. How much money is raised by alcohol duty? If it is more than the social cost then there is nothing that needs to be done, the cost to society is internal to the price and getting sloshed out of your skull is a perfectly good answer of how to raise human happiness. If it is not then raise it to that value, and no more. Then we can tell the prohibitionists to try living out their Al Capone fantisies in a more constructive manner, 1920s theme bars for example.

  8. We used to make our own wine: I can recommend elderberry as very decent – we could even taste the difference between using two Boots yeasts – Burgundy and Bordeaux.

    Warning: everything in your house is then liable to ferment – even jars of dill pickle in your fridge.

  9. Chris Strange – total booze duties are about £9 billion – 36% of the (probably inflated) supposed loss to the economy of booze.

    In other words the State gets its cut whether we follow the Protestant Work Ethic and go out to make money, or take the Catholic Idler’s approach and get pissed.

  10. The 25bn quid figure for the “costs” of alcohol must be offset by the cost of prohibiting alcohol, which readers of Dan Okrent’s book “Last Call” would know would be considerable, if not more than the putative savings.

  11. “benefits”? How do you measure those? Who decides what is a benefit and what is not?

    This is the whole point of a market and the whole of the communist/socialist failure: The objective measure of value (benefits) is impossible.

    I like 1 beer and 2 glasses of wine every night with and after dinner. I refuse to drink at all during the day. My brother has 1 beer at lunch and 2 more at about 9PM. My other brother drinks only on week-ends.

    Who “benefits” the most? Why, we all 3 benefit exactly equally because we all 3 get exactly what we want.

    You can tell an alcoholic a million times that what he is doing is bad, that he does not benefit from it, but you are wrong, because he knows differently. Who are you to criticize his choice of drunkenness now for longevity later? Have all of your choices been perfect, or at least in accord with the pecksniffs? What decisions have you made that do not lead to “beneficial’ results?

    The only real question in this issue is whether or not it is time for violent revolution against these people. I think it is time that we draw our swords and “cut the throat of those round-headed dogs that bawled against bishops”.

  12. Fred Z:

    There’s some data published recently (maybe here) in which those at the high point on the more-or-less normal (as I remember) curve of life expectancy imbibed, on average, about 6-7 beers (or alcoholic equivalent) daily, with teetotallers way out on the low end equalling the falling-down drunkards.

    Sounds like you et freres got some serious catchin’-up to do.

    I think that the above-cited science must have, long ago, been internalized by a friend of mine, a 92-yr.-old (and still active) building contractor. Recently, he confided to me that he knew he was “getting near the end” because his beer consumption had fallen off so markedly (down to just a bit over the above-cited “ideal”).

    With reasonable people, “yer pays yer money an’ takes yer cherces.” But the “liberals” want you to continue “payin’ yer money” (or increase it) while they take over “makin’ yer cherces.”

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