Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Yet more ‘calls’ for increased UK stealth taxation on alcohol

The BBC Reports that an ‘Alliance’ has been formed by ‘medical organisations’ and ‘charities’ to increase pressure on the government to curb excessive drinking and provide more ‘resources’ for alcohol-related health problems and increasing tax.

An ‘alliance’ coincidentally makes it difficult to follow the money, but normally when an individual pressure group/charity sticks it’s head above the parapet individually, they have a strong vested interest in talking up funding for themselves, and/or they are directly, or indirectly, funded by the state - so have a strong vested interest in promoting more taxation for their paymasters. Alcohol Concern for instance is largely funded by UK Department of Health.

It is interesting to note that many groups that regularly call on the Government to raise taxation levels for various reasons are part of a set of Russian dolls, that if you follow the money, through various sources eventually turn out to be State funded.

These groups justify their claims by inflating the statistics on their particular bête noire to include not only examples of their particular ‘problem behaviour’ but by stretching the goal mouth a significant proportion of the general population. Alcohol being a particular case in point.

'Hazardous' drinking for instance - The way that is classified would effectively make the entire French nation, who are held up both as both healthy and as sensible continental drinkers, hazardous drinkers, according to the state-funded NWPHO. I am sure the French will be pleased to hear that.

The BBC report contains uncritically reported claims about under age drinking yet their own recent reporting points out that fewer underage teenagers are drinking regularly, due, according to a Trading Standards survey, at least in part, to more effective enforcement of the perfectly adequate existing sales regulations.

Is it not time the public stood up to these people and told them where to stick their dubious reports, authoritarian ways and continuous demands for higher stealth taxes?

5 comments:

Wolfie said...

I'm also puzzled by the logic that Britains only limit their alcohol intake according to budgetary constraints. Like a dog left at home for the weekend eating all its food in the first ten minutes.

Has it not occurred to anyone that we drink to handle the stress of managing a normal existence on the meagre amount of money left from our wages after paying all those stealth taxes?

MJW said...

I think there is an immaturity in British attitudes to alcohol that was created by a combination of archaic licensing laws that encouraged bingeing, high taxation which undermines social drinking and moralistic, paternalistic posturing which won’t allow people to take responsibility for themselves. The campaigners don’t want mature attitudes to drink, because they have an interest in perpetuating the problems regardless of what they may say.

Phil A said...

Wolfie, Yes it is simplistic to suppose that the additional taxation will have a credible impact on alcohol consumption. Typical of those who call for such things and of the current Government who seek to control our behaviour.

MJW, You do have a good point generally - and in particular concerning an element of UK attitudes to alcohol being engendered by the effects of previous state efforts at social engineering.

It appears to me that much of the so-called drink related problems in UK town centres are directly attributable to changes in the licensing laws brought in by New Labour. In addition to other things they have impacted on how the system was managed and the systems of local feedback/control that helped moderate the impact on areas where there were concentrations of clubs and pubs.

In effect helping to concentrate, or even create problems where they were managed before.

However part of the thrust of my argument is that much of the so-called problem is actually an illusion, manufactured by reports and inflated statistics that lump normal relatively moderate usage of alcohol in with, what most would see as more problematical behaviour - and stigmatise it, to present the problem as much more significant.

In effect to talk it up out of nothing.

Having manufactured a problem they then promote increases in taxation as a solution.

You can see the same thought process involved with the so called ‘obesity epidemic’ that could well be significantly attributable to the normal padding acquired with age, in the baby boomer population hump.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, why is it always "tax the thing" rather than "educate about it"?

Phil A said...

Welshcakes, It could be because they are effectively a puritanical authoritarian elite, with very limited imagination, who automatically and naturally reach for that sort of solution, to control the ‘lower orders’ who they see as incapable of managing themselves to any significant degree.

Or it could be that the increased revenue is the whole point, behind the scenes, and the so-called problem just their cynical excuse and justification.

Or maybe some combination of the two.