Minimum alcohol pricing
What a piece ay nonsense.
Sentences you’ll never hear: “Shit, this White Lightening is beyond the reach of my limited exchequer. Enough! I’m getting a job.” Which is to say that enshrining a minimum price for booze won’t solve any of society’s problems. Rather, the government is attempting to remedy a symptom, not a cause: alcoholism is a social problem, and exists because people are bastard miserable. Making a can of Misery Alleviator more expensive isn’t going to alter that.
Dependency on alcohol is nothing new – Hogarth printed ‘Beer Street’ and ‘Gin Lane’ in 1751, for fuck’s sake – but, eventually, working and economic conditions for the poorest in society improved. And yet, here we are again, spiteful, pernicious government inventing a modern variety of the same, while those who simply enjoy a drink suffer the expropriation of one of the few remaining cheap, traditional working class pleasures; theatre, football and cinema are already long gone.
If the problem is the burden on the tax payer – well, perhaps making a few more rich folk pay their dues might help more. If the problem is the concept of people drinking – well, that’s up to them, and perhaps if they had less reason to, then they might do less of it. And if the problem is to protect them from premature death – well, helping to alleviate poverty might work better.
Similarly, the government might acknowledge that attempting to save the NHS money with one hand, while seeking to dismantle it with the other, is like wiping your arse whilst taking a shit.
And of course, there is, as there always is, a won’t someone please think of the children angle. Please.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, the Royal College of Physicians’ special adviser on alcohol and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “The evidence shows us that heavy drinkers and young drinkers are more affected by higher alcohol prices than moderate drinkers.”
As a former ‘young drinker’ – who isn’t? - I’m confident in predicting that kids will still find a way to slake their thirst. Stuff in your parents’ cabinet is free, for example, and so is stuff repatriated from shops – and failing that, there’s hardly a dearth of other cheap state-altering options available.
In fact the notion that more expensive alcohol is all it takes to stop young people enjoying themselves is indicative of an attitude towards them held by those in authority that’s not at all pretty – they’re significantly more resourceful than they’re given credit for, and it’s insulting for the government to think otherwise. Instituting a tax to prevent kids drinking also reinforces in their minds the negative expectations society continually reminds them it has, to which they feel obligated to live up, but the problem is not the drinking to excess: rather, the alienation and disenfranchisement that prompts anti-social behaviour.
Or in other words, teenagers, and people, like booze. The issue oughtn’t to be stopping them indulging, but discovering why, when they do or even when they don’t, they behave badly and are unhappy. This is the fundamental question facing society, and not one that will be solved by a purported solution that not only does not get to the root of the problem, but fails even to acknowledge the existence of that root. If, for example, children were better taught, in better schools, with facilities that allowed them to pursue enjoyable activities outside of school hours, then they might just grow up into happier, more productive non-alcoholics able to contribute to the system, rather than take from it. If.