Thursday, November 11, 2010

New booze rules

The Scottish Parliament passed a number of new restrictions on the sale of alcohol but stopped short of approving a minimum price.

It's a typically Parliamentary compromise - and one that's unlikely to satisfy anyone. What stood out for me was that they implicitly accepted that it is a legitimate function of government to limit alcohol consumption by rationing it through the price mechanism - hence the ban on discounted deals - but had not the courage to follow this to its logical conclusion.

This is not to say I'm in favour. I feel about alcohol prices in much the same way as I do about companies charging people for the use of plastic bags: producers are trying to pre-empt taxes by introducing price increases all on their own. A more honest way for society to raise the price of these 'bads' would be a simple increase - or in the case of plastic bags, an introduction - of taxation to choke off consumption.

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