Chris Snowdon on demands for the banning of alcohol adverts and sponsorship:
The headline of the [British Medical Journal] editorial refers to the drinks industry “grooming the next generation” - a distasteful attempt to draw a parallel with paedophilia - and much of the text is devoted to online marketing. The internet has, of course, created new regulatory challenges as well as new commercial opportunities, but there is no evidence that online marketing has led to a surge in underage drinking. Quite the reverse. Regular alcohol consumption by 11 to 15 year olds has fallen by two-thirds in the last decade - from 20% to 7% - and the proportion of these children who had ever drunk alcohol fell from 61% to 45% in the same period. The BMJ’s call for a total advertising ban is manifestly not a response to a growing crisis; rather it is the “next logical step” in a campaign to apply the anti-smoking blueprint to alcohol. It is no coincidence that one of the editorial’s authors, Gerard Hastings… holds the view, often espoused by left-wing environmentalists, that consumption is primarily caused by advertising rather than by wants, and he is already looking beyond tobacco and alcohol as industries to clamp down on, asking last year “should not all advertising be much more circumscribed because the consumption it engenders harms the planet?”
And speaking of left-wing environmentalists and their views on advertising, let’s not forget the deep, deep wisdom of Mr George Monbiot.
Topher Field offers a short history of terrible taxes and the cost of government:
The ancient Egyptians taxed ordinary cooking oil and you could actually be punished if you didn’t use enough of it. In Russia in the 1700s, you were taxed for having a beard… The English invented a hearth or chimney tax, where you were taxed on the number of fireplaces your house had. In the late 1600s, the English bureaucracy had a brainwave. Why not tax people’s windows? In order to avoid this daylight robbery, the British began bricking up their own windows to save on tax… And when they taxed bricks, people made bigger bricks.
Of course we’re much more sensible now, right? As Field says, “Your own government shouldn’t be the reason you struggle to make ends meet.”
Professor Sunstein is undoubtedly correct that “people make a lot of mistakes.” Most of us can look back over our own lives and see many mistakes, including some that were very damaging. What Cass Sunstein does not tell us is what sort of creatures, other than people, are going to override our mistaken decisions for us. That is the key flaw in the theory and agenda of the left. Implicit in the wide range of efforts on the left to get government to take over more of our decisions for us is the assumption that there is some superior class of people who are either wiser or nobler than the rest of us.
Ah, those would be our egalitarian overlords, making life fairer from high above the herd. Lovely people, obviously.
As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.