Monday, July 09, 2007

Missing the target

It's been widely reported that the Tories are thinking of increasing tax on beer by up to 7p a pint to curb binge drinking.

I believe this is the wrong approach and will not make the slightest bit of difference to binge drinking. People who binge drink tend to be young and affluent. They have much disposable income and they dispose of by pouring booze down their throats and then pissing it up the wall.

A massive tax hike on beer will, however, have a huge impact on those for whom drinking beer is an occasional treat.

The pensioners.

These people have already been largely driven from their pubs who are keen to bring in the money of the wasteful youth - people who moan about the cost of housing, but drive £25,000 cars, take 3 foreign holidays a year in far off locations and will only wear clothing with the right "label" (why don't they try something really radical, like saving up).

Their quiet little retreats have been turned into noisy standup drinking dens full of drunken men and women and foul language shouted at high volume above the din of pumping dance beats.

They've seen their country pubs turned into gastropubs aimed at the middle classes who chatter incessantly about Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson. They've had the pleasure of drinking their one pint of bitter a week with the accompaniment of a cigarette or a puff on their pipe by the health nazis and now the one last thing left to them is about to taxed out of their price range.

Welcome to the brave new world. A playground for kidults. No jacket, tie or manners required. Over 65's not welcome.


youdontknowme said...

I agree. We should not be penalising those that drink moderately. I would lower the tax on alcohol during the day and during times when people binge drink (friday and saturday nights) I would raise it.

Stan said...

I think there needs to be a substantial change in youth culture. As I intimated in the post, the young have a huge amount of disposable income and they have a tendency to waste vast amounts of it on what I would consider frivolous pursuits - binge drinking being just a symptom of that.

I believe - although I haven't read it - that the IDS policy document does actually address some of those aspects, but the media (as usual) only look at the headline and thus "Tories to raise tax on booze" is a good headline for the institutionally left wing press.

Personally, I'm opposed to punitive taxation on individuals and believe that the establishments should be made to take their share of the responsibility - the pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, the brewers, distillers and manufacturers should be held to account.

Yes, this will raise prices - probably as much as taxation - but it would raise the prices on the products the binge drinkers buy - strong imported lagers, premixed cocktails and "shots".

I also think it would help to release the increasing stranglehold of the big brewers who would find it harder to compete, price wise, with the little micro breweries who produce their own beer for a few local pubs which remain largely untouched by the binge drink culture (for now at least).