Wednesday, 12 June 2013

I concur

After noting that Turkey's alcohol restrictions around bar and off-licence closing hours are pretty obviously religiously motivated, Bill Kaye-Blake makes a few observations about alcohol and policy:
Once you start working through the various economic analyses and the associated social and medical literature, a few things become clear:
  • people drink booze because they like to, or because it makes things less bad. Either way, it makes them happier than the baseline
  • alcohol is a ‘problem’ for a minority of people and/or on occasion. A few people are dipsos; the average adult occasionally gets blotto. Making the problem out to be more than that is disingenuous
  • price is a stupid way to deal with the externalities. First, by definition addicts are insensitive to price. Secondly, the behavioural response of binge drinkers to increased prices is to cut out the moderate drinking sessions, not the harmful ones
  • the research that shows otherwise is flawed. Crampton’s done the heavy lifting, so go see his work, but I’ll back him up. Poor assumptions, begging the questions, faulty parameters — embarrassing, really.
Just because the alcohol activists in New Zealand aren’t banner-waving members of the CWTU doesn’t make their desire to impose their preferences on the rest of the population any better. We can see it clearly on the other side of the world. Let’s be clear about it at home, too.
I'll only dissent only very slightly by way of clarification. Addicts are only relatively insensitive to price. They still respond to price, just less so than moderate drinkers. And so price-based policies have greater marginal effect on moderate drinkers than on heavy drinkers.

Meanwhile, and as expected, New Zealand's anti-alcohol brigade is using the very large weapon given them in the alcohol reform legislation to push for local teetotalitarianism.

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