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In the news today:

The Leveson Report may lead to state regulation of the press, although apparently the coalition is split over this. (The Liberal Democrats want it, most Conservatives don't supposedly, which makes me think that someone needs to explain what 'liberal' actually means to Mr Clegg. I have heard that the SNP will not introduce state regulation of the press - and since this is one of the powers devolved to Edinburgh, they wouldn't have to - in which case, kudos Mr Salmond, kudos. Oh, and I've also seen a leader from the editor of the Spectator saying that he'll go to prison rather than surrender the principle of a free press.)

The government is to change the law to allow restrictions to be imposed on the interest rates charged for so-called "payday loans". (I mean yes, these interest rates are astonishingly high, but so what? The loan companies never force people to take out these loans, and if they didn't exist, then people desperate or stupid enough to take out loans at 4000% interest rates would only end up going to dodgy loan sharks.)

Ministers are proposing to set a minimum price of 45p a unit for the sale of alcohol in England and Wales as part of a drive to tackle problem drinking. (How closeted a politician do you have to be to think that making booze more expensive for the working classes is a vote-winner? I remember a 'Married with Children' episode in which Al mocks the Bush slogan 'Read my lips: No New Taxes" by saying "Read my lips: Don't Tax Beer". The response from many people on facebook was much the same today. Since demand for booze will be very price-inelastic for poor alcoholics, won't this just mean that they'll spend more of their money on booze? And even if you did think more expensive booze was a good idea, why do it in such a way that passes the extra money to the supermarkets and brewers rather than directly to the Exchequer in the way that a duty rise would? Since I don't drink at all, I'm not arguing out of self-interest here. (Well, except that no doubt chocolate will be next...))

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
andrewducker
Nov. 29th, 2012 11:13 am (UTC)
Yup. There are simple (more liberal) answers to all of these:
1)Enforce the law as it stands. If spying on people and phone hacking are illegal (as they are) then the people concerned (all the way up the chain) should be punished for it. That's what's happening - the problem was that they got away with it for so long - and that was because of police collusion.

2)Have methods in place to help people who get into awful situations where they have to take out larger and larger loans in order to cope, and advice available to them to help them out.

3)(a)Tax alcohol usage to the level where it pays for the societal costs (hospital care and suchlike) (b)find out _why_ some people are drinking so much, and fix the cause, rather than the effect.
igmansfield.co.uk
Nov. 29th, 2012 08:33 pm (UTC)
None of those alternative answers (other than 3a) are simple.

I am not saying they may not be better, but they are not simpler. Changing how people behave people or the way the system which produces a problem works, without changing the law, is usually both hard and complex.

knirirr
Nov. 30th, 2012 11:37 am (UTC)
I wonder whether minimum pricing has been proposed so the EU can strike it down, thereby appearing to save the electorate and taking the wind out of UKIP's sails.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )