Err, yes?

The New Zealand Medical Association has called for a ban on selling alcohol in supermarkets, saying that having it next to groceries and food normalises a dangerous drug.

Wine and beer have been widely available in most supermarkets around the country since 1990, although spirits can be bought only in bars and off-licences.

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) said having alcohol in supermarkets normalised the drug, and made buying it cheap and easy – meaning people put a bottle of sauvignon blanc in their trolley alongside their bread, milk and toilet paper without a second thought.

Did New Zealand receive a particularly nasty boatload of Puritans at some point?

52 thoughts on “Err, yes?”

  1. A system is needed.

    Supposed pundits mouth -off then fine is two months wages (plus appropriate loss of pension etc). Second offence–gross misconduct–sacked sans compo and pension.

    That should do it.

  2. That streak has always been there. NZ is the home of the six o’clock swill, after all, and the drinking age was 20 until 1999.

  3. Even if they’re right, that putting it in supermarkets “normalises” it, that’s still two steps removed from (a) drinking it in ridiculous quantities, and (b) consequently behaving like a knob. Most of us are perfectly capable of buying alcohol from the supermarket without ever succumbing to (a), let alone (b).

  4. Oz doesn’t have booze in supermarkets. Growing up there, you had to go to separate liquor stores (many with drive in convenience), or to buy takeaways from the pub.

    These days, I think the big supermarket chains (Coles, Woolworths) have their own liquor stores, usually placed next to the supermarkets. I think there may need to be a separate entrance.

    Doubt it was ever a health or puritanical thing. Probably more to do with protectionism from the powerful pub lobby.

  5. Of course the really dangerous thing was the abolition of Resale Price Maintenance over here which put pricing policy in the hands of the supermarkets, destroying town centre shopping and, according to Helen Mercer , a great deal of British Industry.All done by Edward Heath to facilitate EEC entry.Now USA has relegalised RPM but Europe stubbornly sticks with the failed fad. It is having one shop per area and everybody driving to it that is not normal.

  6. I’m with the wowsers. The thought of people buying a bottle of wine at the same premises they buy the food they’re going to cook — and then drinking it with the meal? It is just horrifying! How can civilization survive once people consider quaffing a NZ sauvignon blanc alongside a nice piece of fish or pork normal behaviour?

    @MikeL – “Oz doesn’t have booze in supermarkets.” It varies from state to state, as it does in the US.

  7. I would like to ban every member of the New Zealand Medical Association from ever again drinking alcohol.

    It’s for their own benefit. Surely, these people can’t want to consume a dangerous drug.

    Not even on expenses.

  8. Wasn’t there a lot of Scots and Protestant Irish immigration to NZ in the nineteenth century? It was a long time ago but perhaps those Calvinist control instincts still survive?

  9. Yes- however:

    Unlike the UK, we have free speech. You won’t get a death sentence for telling Muslim filth to get the fuck out of our country.

    We also have relatively reasonable firearms laws, better than most first world countries.

    As much as it fucks me off that we have stupid shit like this, it’s still a lot better than the UK.

  10. Piss off Reedy and take your mixed economy with you.

    The state should have zero power over retail –ever. Never mind what Sailor Boy Heath abolished or didn’t.

  11. Professor Sally Casswell, a professor of public health and social research at Massey University said she supported a ban on alcohol in supermarkets.

    and a social scientist too….

    So a “public elf sociologist” is not a stretch….. quite a back catalogue of prod-nosery

  12. Note Violet Elizabeth Reed pins the blame of the decline of the high street on a former Conservative Prime Minister. That he was acting in order to meet requirements for EEC entry which has since morphed into the behemoth that is the EU is completely immaterial. It was done by a Tory and that’s that.

  13. DBC Reed

    ‘Of course the really dangerous thing was the abolition of Resale Price Maintenance over here which put pricing policy in the hands of the supermarkets, destroying town centre shopping and, according to Helen Mercer , a great deal of British Industry.All done by Edward Heath to facilitate EEC entry.Now USA has relegalised RPM but Europe stubbornly sticks with the failed fad. It is having one shop per area and everybody driving to it that is not normal.’

    Rare to see you post on something other than an LVT or Money Creation – but it’s a case of different topic, same bizarre conclusions. Are Wilcox and her ilk also advocating a return to RPM – for real? It’s like you’re awaiting the arrival of time travel so you can head to the 1960s or 70s for real. Just slightly bemused that there are still people harking back to that particular period of yesteryear….

  14. So a “public elf sociologist” is not a stretch….. quite a back catalogue of prod-nosery

    I reckon 90% of “public health” are sociologists or assorted disguised variations. Barely an actual doctor among them.

    This makes sense when you realise that it doesn’t involve treating actual people but extending State control over them. It’s a natural Entryist target.

  15. DBC,
    How on earth do you leap from Retail Price Maintenance destroying town-centre shopping (there’s some truth in that), to it destroying British industry?

    In your parallel world, did the noble high street shoe shop owners refuse to stock cheap Chinese-made shoes, thereby protecting the British shoe industry? That seems most unlikely.

  16. You can have RPM if you want in your retail business. Consumers will pay higher prices and you may find buyers choose other businesses to buy from rather than you.
    But you can do it yourself.

    Over in the US it helps retailers. It doesn’t help consumers.

  17. Retail Price Maintenance is little more than protection for existing producers by creating barriers to entry. If you stop the little guy selling his new chocolate bar at half the price of a Mars bar than you’ve reduced competition to those already in the marketplace.

    The whole point about market economics is to empower the consumer, giving the best quality goods at the lowest possible price. Genuine market economics doesn’t give a flying fuck about producers, only consumers.

  18. John, I was under the impression that RPM was intended to prevent retailers selling an item at less than the manufacturer’s recommended price, not to set a bottom limit for an entire class of items. On that basis “little guy” manufacturer can set the recommended retail of his Mars Bar equivalent at whatever price he deems fit and/or profitable.

  19. From the NZMA website:

    The NZMA is a strong advocate on medico-political issues, with a strategic programme of advocacy with politicians and officials at the highest levels.

    And:

    The NZMA aims to provide leadership of the medical profession, and promote: professional unity and values, and the health of all New Zealanders.

    Just another professional association that’s been highjacked by fascistic busybodies. Happens everywhere. The real job of any professional association is to tend to member needs… The minute they stray from that you know someone with totalitarian leanings has too much time on their hands.

  20. The usual attribution of all the ideas (about Resale Price Maintenance this time) to myself . As I make clear, with this and other topics I am utterly unoriginal and rely on established facts and respectable opinions, in RPM’s case those of Helen Mercer (then of LSE) and others emanating from the American Supreme Court that found in favour of Resale Price Maintenance in the Leegin Creative Leather Case.
    I am actually arguing that manufacturers of branded goods be able to set their own prices and not have them decided for them by half arsed supermarket cartels.( I would actually be prepared to see laissez faire given a try-out if it were backed by a prudential Land Value Tax as proposed by Adam Smith Riccardo, JS Mill etc.. You lot call for more laissez faire in the full knowledge of 2007 when cheap money set off a catastrophic house price boom and bust, that still hasn’t been remedied.)

  21. Why should manufacturers be able to dictate their sale prices to retailers? They can set the price st which they sell to the trade, and then they can fuck off. Their job is to make shit, not sell it. If they want to make stuff AND sell it they should open a factory shop.

  22. DBC,

    The Leegin Creative Leather case is American, where different rules apply. In the UK at least, manufacturers can simply choose to not sell to supermarkets.

    Levi-Strauss doesn’t sell to supermarkets. A few years ago Tesco started selling grey imports; Levi complained to the EU courts, and won. Now Tesco sells its own-brand jeans instead.

    Still not sure where it connects to British manufacturing though. Did the Chinese / Koreans / etc. maintain RPM, thereby indirectly subsidising their manufacturers via domestic consumers? Even if we still had RPM, the surplus would accrue to the retailer, not to the manufacturer.

  23. For a change, I have to say that DBC Reed is partially right. Ted Heath *did* abolish RPM, thereby *reducing* state interference in retail trade.
    OTOH, this did not destroy Town Centre retailing – what it did was to hit the “corner shop” as the Town Centre retailers with their higher footfall cut their prices and frugal housewives bought more on their visits to the town centre, stocking up, instead of popping round to the corner shop when they needed an item.
    Secondly, the way to allow manufacturers to set their own price would be to abolish state interference that forced them to sell to retailers who refused to abide by manufacturers terms of sale. Microsoft can get away with it, so why not Nestle or Pork Farms?
    Added value in agriculture produces less than 5% of GDP, so a tax on the unimproved value of land cannot produce 5% of GDP per annum; the government spends more than 40% of GDP. So LVT can only ever be an insignificant part of modern taxation unless and until we abolish the Welfare State.

  24. @ Andrew M
    I think Levi Strauss won on “grey imports”. IIRC some UK manufacturers lost when they tried to refuse to sell to price-cutting supermarkets.

  25. And as usual, DBCR displays his inability to understand the Scotus judgment. He never acknowledges it although I must have pointed it out to him about 50 times. Try reading the judgment, DBCR, and the rather more convincing adverse position.

  26. Just for clarity, RPM has NOT been re-legalised in the USA. (sighs in disbelief that this has to be pointed out to DBCR yet a-fucki g-gain!)

  27. DBCR, you should visit Southampton or Watford or Milton Keynes or any other fucking town in the UK to understand the amazing stupidity of your opinion that there is only 1 shop, to which you have to drive, per area. Have you ever set foot outside your dog kennel? Your ignorance is simply extraordinary

  28. John77,
    Curious to know more. Are suppliers in the UK obliged to sell to anyone and everyone, without price restrictions? It’s odd to see e.g. the same model of Apple Macbook for sale at the same price everywhere.

  29. “You won’t get a death sentence for telling Muslim filth to get the fuck out of our country”

    Wait until a few more of them come

  30. DBC Reed

    I knew he couldn’t get through the thread without mentioning this –

    ‘ I would actually be prepared to see laissez faire given a try-out if it were backed by a prudential Land Value Tax as proposed by Adam Smith Riccardo, JS Mill etc.. ‘ and of course the ‘good-humoured’ Carol Wilcox

    Thanks for that – in the meantime, echo what Diogenes said. Is visual observation beyond your capability?

  31. @Rob

    as I understand it in the UK – NHS clinicians got terminally tired of the public elves busybody sociology crew and they got tupe’d into local councils and PHE where they continue to spout prohibitionist kerrapp.

  32. Mr Ecks wrote:
    “Piss off Reedy and take your mixed economy with you.

    The state should have zero power over retail –ever.”

    You do realise, don’t you, that the various resale price Acts were, indeed, state power over retail?

  33. Interested wrote:
    “Why should manufacturers be able to dictate their sale prices to retailers?”

    As part of a contract enabling the retailers to buy their products, why shouldn’t they?

    Surely the proper question is: why should the state interfere with contracts between parties in order to bring benefit to other parties?

    (btw, this is from a free markets angle, not DBCRism)

  34. PJF, the best source is the dissenting opinion in the Leegin case that DBCR makes a habit of misunderstanding:

    “On the one hand, agreements setting minimum resale prices may have serious anticompetitive consequences in respect to dealers: Resale price maintenance agreements, rather like horizontal price agreements, can diminish or eliminate price competition among dealers of a single brand or (if practiced generally by manufacturers) among multibrand dealers. In doing so, they can prevent dealers from offering customers the lower prices that many customers prefer; they can prevent dealers from responding to changes in demand, say falling demand, by cutting prices; they can encourage dealers to substitute service, for price, competition, thereby threatening wastefully to attract too many resources into that portion of the industry; they can inhibit expansion by more efficient dealers whose lower prices might otherwise attract more customers, stifling the development of new, more efficient modes of retailing; and so forth. See, e.g., 8 Areeda & Hovenkamp ¶1632c, at
    319–321; Steiner, The Evolution and Applications of DualStage Thinking, 49 The Antitrust Bulletin 877, 899–900
    (2004); Comanor, Vertical Price-Fixing, Vertical Market
    Restrictions, and the New Antitrust Policy, 98 Harv.
    L. Rev. 983, 990–1000 (1985).
    In respect to producers: Resale price maintenance agreements can help to reinforce the competition-inhibiting
    behavior of firms in concentrated industries. In such
    industries firms may tacitly collude, i.e., observe each
    other’s pricing behavior, each understanding that price
    cutting by one firm is likely to trigger price competition by
    all.

  35. Bloke in North Dorset

    When we had RPM could the retailer send the product back for a full refund if it didn’t sell? And maybe a bit of interest for having the capital tied up?

  36. Bind, I believe there were agreements like that but probably mostly in publishing and the distribution of newspapers.

  37. In the days of the Net Book Agreement (RPM for booksellers) it was indeed the practice to buy Sale or Return. It broke down in the 1970s when the high inflation forced publishers to think about the costs of holding stock for years. Books stopped being slow-moving consumer goods. Remaindering the stock after a year or so became the norm, and hence trying to maintain a fixed price when almost any book would either be discounted as a remainder or appear as a cheap paperback in a year rather pointless.

  38. @ Andrew M
    I can’t remember – it was over 40 years ago. I think it’s something to do with “actions in restraint of trade” that has specific exemptions for Trade Unions acting in accordance with rules (but not for Arthur Scargill calling a strike in defiance of the rules of the NUM).

  39. Diogenes, I understand the possible (likely -> inevitable) negative consequences of resale price maintenance. My point is that if we accept the only way to avoid those consequences is state laws, then we admit that free markets cannot work for the public good and thus justify state intervention for all sorts of other “market failures”.

    This isn’t some “externality” problem like pollution, this is a basic and fundamental aspect of free markets: free individuals and groups entering into agreements with each other. If competing free individuals and groups can’t offset the harm resale price agreements cause, then free markets don’t work.

    And if free markets don’t work, then why shouldn’t governments decide if wine cannot be sold next to cheese? For the public good, of course.

  40. Pjf isn’t it about complexity? If the supplier contracts directly with the end user then we have a nice, simple economic model. Supplier to retailer to customer adds a potential level of profit gouging. Supplier to wholesaler to retailer to customer adds another level. Free markets is a term of art. If it involves more than 1 level then there is a need for regulation. The owners of Leegin could well have had majority shares in the retailers their company preferentially sold to,with the trade clauses. Which is probably why RPM in the US is still subject to tests, unlike the bullshit that DBCR has imbibed with his horlicks and scotch

  41. “Free markets is a term of art. If it involves more than 1 level then there is a need for regulation.”

    Good grief. Wine from the offie it is, then.

  42. I guess it depends on what you mean by the term “free market”. For me, producers colluding is not a free market, hence the need for regulation. You seem very confused:

    “If competing free individuals and groups can’t offset the harm resale price agreements cause, then free markets don’t work.”

    That is because collusion is different from competition. In the absence of competition, a market is not free.

  43. “That is because collusion is different from competition. In the absence of competition, a market is not free.”

    Both sentences are true, but unrelated.

    Collusion is inevitable (we’re greedy little humans). The question is: how do we best combat collusion? Market regulation fans, such as yourself, offer restrictive laws. Free market absolutists (to whom I am closer) would say the best solution is competition from other colluders.

    Resale price maintenance is just a natural business model. And as Andrew M observes above re the price of Apple products, one quite successfully active despite longstanding restrictive laws. Apple’s real struggle comes from competing business models from sneaky, colluding bastards like Alphabet Inc.

  44. Andrew M, John77

    Turns out Tesco grey import case started in 1998-ish, and was the ECJ applying the first buyer doctrine.

    From memory, the software industry had a similar-ish problem with grey imports about 10 years, but obviously not with a buyer with the scale of Tesco. The software publishers ended up taking the view that a UK buyer of, say Microsoft Word, imported from the US, would have to get support from MS in the States, not MS-UK. ISTR people being told to contact the States when ringing up the UK arm for replacement disks and upgrades and stuff. There was a similar thing with buying and importing cars from Europe, that were intended for sale to BFO members, and trying to get them serviced by the UK dealer network.

    Now, I’ve got the vague idea that what really pissed Levi’s off was, apart from the aggressive scale of the discounting, was that Tesco tried to force Levi Strauss UK to handle the warranty/guarantee issues.

    Anyway, my understanding is that no, you are not obliged to sell to any old nerk, as long as the terms of the contract are agreed, but consumer protection laws are intended to remove or hide an awful lot of that potential friction.

    I think that what Apple appear to have done, is to use the ECJ judgement on trademark/IP exhaustion in the Levi case, such that the Apple Store experience (and other stuff) is part of the IP/brand experience, and thus retain a large chunk of control over the pricing. It’s a bit of a neat trick, if I’m right.

  45. “…meaning people put a bottle of sauvignon blanc in their trolley..”

    Sorry, is the NZMA calling for a prohibition on growing and selling the stuff as well or just on consuming it?

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