It is now possible to by poison cheaper than water, this poisons not only shortens the life spans of those who consume it but cause them to harm others around them and to harm the society in which they live and this poison is not only legal, it is culturally entranced and defended. Indeed so culturally entranced is its consumption that some parties (UKIP) seek to defend the public houses in which it was traditionally served.
There are those who believe that somehow the free market will solve this issue, I have no further idea how the free market is supposed to do this as the cost of the consequences of this poison are not born by its makers nor by those who sell it. There are moves to force late night venues to incur the cost of policing there cliental, which is ironic as these purveyors, though hardly helping matters, are not the prime cheap poison distribution agents.
No the root cause of this sickness is not public houses; it is a society that tolerates public drunkenness and a society that allows the selling of a poison below cost price. We allow these sellers to make a profit whilst are health service, police service and society bear the cost. For those who do not believe this is an issue maybe they should see the raise in live damage deaths in the UK as an indicator. Or maybe they should explain it to the dean of Saint Mary’s (a church in the centre of my home town) who is forced to use bouncers to keep out drunks so he can hold midnight mass.
So what is there to be done? Well firstly something, doing nothing is uneconomical, wider society bears the cost of discount booze. Secondly we must accept a limit to our actions effectiveness. We can increase and increase pricing but the addict will sacrifice anything to buy his poison and we must not take away accesses to prudent amounts of this substance to those who want it. We must also recognise we are not people’s mother or father.
Minimum pricing and the end of bulk buy discounts is a step forward, it will of course reduce consumption and it send out a message that this poison is harmful. Alongside this the harsher punishments and monitoring of repeat offenders of darkness is of course welcome but we must do more. We must make the sellers pay for the harm they cause and to this end we must increase the fee levied on discount booze sellers. We should set a secondary minimum, allowing organisations to sell below that but hitting their pockets for doing so.