Friday 23 October 2009

Morning roundup

  • Germany's push for renewable energies comes at a cost: carbon abatement costs from home based photovoltaics is $1000/ton, heavily subsidised

  • Bootleggers, Baptists and climate

  • South African land reforms driving productive farmers to the Congo as a hedge.

  • The healthists advance (pt 1): Doug Sellman claims he doesn't want to return to prohibition but wants a "middle ground" between extremes; of course, alcohol is already heavily regulated. If every year we move to the midpoint between the "extreme" of the status quo and the "extreme" of prohibition, in how many years do we reach prohibition? Ok, it asymptotes, but you get the picture.

  • The healthists advance (pt 2): Christchurch City Council advocates:
    • minimum drinking age of 16 (not unreasonable)
    • split purchase age limit of 18/20 for on and off license purchase (will make the hospitality industry very happy; they've been lobbying for it to knock out the "drink at home" competition)
    • A national closing time for bars of 2 am that councils can adjust (ugh)
    • Health warning labels on alcohol (ugh, and serves as a non tariff barrier against imported drinks just as the "standard drink" labeling requirement did.)
    • "Powers to force bars to offer standard measures of wine, beer and spirits" -- a standard drink has 10 grams alcohol. Will bars have to have different sized glasses for different strengths of beer? Double ugh.
    • Higher taxes on alcohol -- but the McLeod Tax Review, Barker's Treasury analysis, and my work all show no case for increasing the excise tax
    • Restricting discounting by supermarkets (cartel price fixing)
    • Controls on liquor advertising, zero blood alcohol limit for under-20s.
    The article goes on to quote a Christchurch bar owner upset at the 2 am limit while most alcohol sales remain off-license. My impression is that the hospitality industry association has been pushing hard for a split age limit that would mean 18-19 year olds could only drink in bars; a cynic might think they're doing this to restrict competition for that age group. And a cynic might have a lot less sympathy for bar owners who lobby for restrictions that hurt their competitors and then complain when restrictions also are imposed on them.

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