Once again, the UK government shows the contempt with which poor people are viewed.
From today’s BBC news, the home affairs select committee have reported:
Pub happy hours should be banned and supermarkets stopped from selling alcohol at a loss in order to combat drink-fuelled disorder, MPs have said.
This has been on the news all day, with various organisations coming out in support of the idea that alcohol should cost more. Even the British Beer & Pub Association are in favour of the idea (but this is because the cheap beer promotions are costing them money, not because of any sense of civic duty).
Now, there is no doubt that drunken behaviour is a problem. I am not saying it doesn’t cause trouble within communities and within families. I am sceptical of the scale of the problem – I don’t think it is in any way worse now than it was when I was a teenager, when we had the same claims being made. However, given that large amounts of police resources are being thrown at the problem, you’d think it would have had some effect. Personally, despite what the tabloids claim, I have encountered a lot less drunken violence on a night out now, than I did 15 years ago, but this may be an deviation from the norm.
What does confuse me though, is how in Hel’s Kingdom making it more expensive is a solution?
People who get drunk in pubs and fight are the problem. People who have become alcoholics and steal to fund their addiction are the problem. How does making supermarket alcohol more expensive solve either one?
In reality, all it does is impact those less able to afford the drinks – arguably making theft increase – and like all stealth-taxation, it disproportionally impacts the poor. Even moderately wealthy people are going to be immune to an increase in the price of supermarket alcohol (I am biased, I rarely if ever drink so never buy it in a supermarket). Most people I know will buy a bottle of wine or two when they do their weekly shop. They are not causing the problems but will be most affected by the changed price and, in lots of cases will simply have to do without something they enjoy
The people who are causing problems – largely irrational youngsters – will remain unaffected. They will still have a disproportionate disposable income and still be willing to spend it all on a night out. They will still be immature and the most affected by the alcohol. They will still fight and cause public disorder.
The only people who will suffer are those who are already poor. Are they the only ones who cause trouble?
Sometimes I feel like we live in an odd parody of a medieval fiefdom. We have a wealthy class “Lording” it over the poor who are legislated like chattel. Poor people have the least say in how society treats them and are, generally, the ones blamed for the failings of society.
Rather than treat alcoholics, provide better outlets for the energy of youth and better health education, we regularly fall into the “make it cost” more trap. Rich people can pollute the planet, strain the health service, fight in the streets (etc), but Odin Forbid that the serf’s consider it.
I cant wait until we get the renaissance.