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The Standard

Thanks for the Piss, Collins.

Written By: - Date published: 11:41 am, April 26th, 2014 - 108 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, drugs, Judith Collins - Tags: , , ,

So, Collins has bowed to the alcohol lobby and backed off from introducing minimum alcohol pricing legislation.

If such a policy was enacted in an intelligent fashion, it would have little or no effect on the back pocket of a majority of people who drink, or on the majority of products sold.

On the basis that minimum pricing would not come in the form of a tax, and would therefore merely bump up the sale price of very cheap and nasty alcoholic concoctions, I can’t really see why anyone (other than the alcohol lobby seeking cheap and fast profit from shit products) would object.

Alcohol sold through pubs is already priced at a level that would exceed any minimum price per unit level. Most wines, beers and spirits sold at retail are also already above any minimum pricing level.

So, off the top of my head, it would seem that some loss leader wine discounts at supermarkets and cheap, bad quality RTDs / beer would be hit by such legislation.

Is that such a bad thing?

On any other drug, we’d be railing against ‘cut’ or poor quality product and seeking a way to ensure a degree of quality/purity that’d prevent bastards from pushing bullshit.

So, why settle for piss in lieu of alcohol?

108 comments on “Thanks for the Piss, Collins.”

  1. karol 1

    Well said, Bill.

    My post was more focused on the Oradiva conflict of interest with an added point about the way Collins slipped the alcohol pricing non-decision under the radar.

    But, clearly some commenters are more focused on either getting cheap piss, or supporting the cheap piss industry.

    • Paul 1.1

      Supermarkets
      Corrupt politicians
      Sport

    • adam 1.2

      The conection is whey alchole. Whey, that bloody anoying byproduct the industry is stuck with, which is really quite expensive to clean up – unless – oh wait, add sugar and get the dumb public to drink it.

      Add lots of bad whey puns –
      whey to go
      whey better than dumping it
      who would thought of that whey

      I’ll stop now, but the corruption is more deep than the price of milk.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Cheap vodka worked very well for the Soviets Autocracy.

    Unlike the African AIDS epidemic, however, Russia’s demographic wounds were self-inflicted: the culmination of centuries of bad governance through vodka politics. The exhaustive 2009 study in The Lancet concluded that, were it not for vodka, Russia’s mortality figures would look more like those of Western Europe instead of resembling war-torn areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Were it not for vodka, Russia could have at least escaped the gut-wrenching post-communist transitions of the 1990s with a healthier population—more like the Hungarians with their wine or the Czechs with their beer—instead of being mired in demographic decay.

    Consider Poland: a neighboring hard-drinking Slavic nation with its own storied vodka traditions. Poland also suffered the pain of post-communist transition. Yet while Yeltsin and Putin ignored the vodka epidemic in the 1990s and 2000s, Poland consistently increased excise taxes on the far more potent vodka as part of a concerted effort to migrate to safer, fermented wines and beers. Partly as a consequence, Poland has not suffered the same demographic calamity that has befallen Russia.

  3. So, Collins has bowed to the alcohol lobby and backed off from introducing minimum alcohol pricing legislation.

    Or to put it another way, she hasn’t bowed to the wowser lobby.

    …some loss leader wine discounts at supermarkets and cheap, bad quality RTDs / beer would be hit by such legislation.

    Is that such a bad thing?

    No, that’s not how it works. If you want the government to dictate supermarket prices, you have to explain why it’s a good thing – and not only a good thing, but such an awesomely good thing that we should go with the on-the-face-of-it really crap idea of having the government dictate supermarket prices.

    So, why settle for piss in lieu of alcohol?

    Because we’re not all middle-class people with generous disposable incomes. It’s no skin off my nose if shit drinks cost more, because I don’t buy them – these days. Back when I was flat broke before the end of every week, I made sure to buy the most alcohol for the lowest price when I went shopping for it, and I would have loved supermarkets loss-leading with shit drinks. Do we not have any broke people these days?

    • karol 3.1

      So while loss leading on alcohol, how does keeping the cost of necessities higher help those on low incomes?

      • Disraeli Gladstone 3.1.1

        If alcohol’s given a minimum price, household necessities automatically become cheaper?

        I mean, I’m not sure I agree with Psycho Milt’s point, but your reply doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense.

        • Bill 3.1.1.1

          If I run a store and offer a loss leader, the idea is to get you in there and spending on other items that have been increased in price to cover my ‘loss’ on the bait.

          Bread used to be favourite. And always situated at the back of the shop so that you’d pass all the other tempters on your way to ‘saving’ money.

          • Disraeli Gladstone 3.1.1.1.1

            But would the increase in alcohol necessarily lead to a reduction in price of other necessities? Or would the supermarkets just operate at the same level?

            I’d suspect it’s the latter considering the lack of competition. That’s why I doubt there’s a strong connection between the costs of necessities and the price of alcohol.

            • Bill 3.1.1.1.1.1

              True enough that the focus for loss leaders would shift. But at least one source of distortion in pricing would have been removed aye?

              Anyway. The point was that cheap alcohol isn’t cheap if the discount is transferred to other products – not that ending loss leading alcohol would reduce other prices.

              late edit – Also loss leaders are always</i. on popular products…alcohol, dairy, bread etc….so at least the focus would be food

      • Psycho Milt 3.1.2

        So while loss leading on alcohol, how does keeping the cost of necessities higher help those on low incomes?

        Leaving aside the question of whether it’s a supermarket’s job to help those on low incomes, there’s the question of what “help” means. Like I said, when I was broke I would have loved supermarkets loss-leading with alcohol, because I bought alcohol every week and hardly ever bought fruit or veg. I would have considered that to be helping me.

        However, if by “help those on low incomes” we mean “help those on low incomes buy the things that we think they should buy instead of what they want to buy,” then the government can stay out of it – Judith Collins is a Minister of the Crown, not our mother.

    • Bill 3.2

      Pscho, I was brought up in a country where a six year old could walk into the local sweetie shop and buy a can of shandy. I checked and am a bit amazed that it’s still the case (0.5% alcohol). I’m sure you can extrapolate and compare with RTDs, the idea of providing ‘tasters’ and actual gateway arguments.

      I’m also an enthusiastic drinker and definitely not one of those “middle-class people with generous disposable incomes”. I’m one of those “broke people” (There you go. We exist) who fully gets and lives by the ‘bang for buck’ mindset. But that doesn’t mean I fill up on woeful shite. And it often is woeful shite. If I’m seeking ‘bang for buck’ on beer, I want to be drinking beer and not some cheap and nasty shit filled with corn sugar and fuck knows what in the way of additives alongside bugger all alcohol that has me pissing all night all for the sake of a hang-over from hell the next day.

      Put another way, when I did other drugs, there were some very cheap options that would most certainly have satisfied any measure of getting ‘bang for buck’…eg, solvents. Never went anywhere near them though.

      • NZFemme 3.2.1

        Hmmm. Using the minimum pricing of $1.20 per standard unit of alcohol as the benchmark (as per the MoJ Report as reported in the Stuff article) no RTDs that I could find advertised today fall under that pricing. Example, the current April Specials for Thirsty Liquor:

        http://www.thirstyliquor.co.nz/Home/LiquorSpecials.aspx

        The only items which would be affected were the Black Heart Rum (1 Litre 37%) and the Seagers Gin (1 Litre 37%) – Incidentally, both are Independent Liquor Products, makers of the majority of RTDs (Woodstock, KGB, Cruiser, Cindy’s, Cody’s and a bunch of others)

        Note: I’m using the following calculations:

        Amount of drink in litres (Vol) x Percent by volume of alcohol (%) x Density of ethanol at room temperature (0.789) multiplied by $1.20

        e.g: Black Heart Rum 1 x 37 x .789 = 29.19 standard drinks x $1.20 = $35.03 (currently on sale for $30.99)

        Using that same calculation for a bottle of wine, (say 12.5% ABV)

        .750 x 12.5 x .789 = 7.39 standard drinks x $1.20 = $8.87

        That’s still a really cheap bottle of wine even for a supermarket.

        A 12 pack of 330ml 4% ABV Beer:

        3.96 x 4 x .789 = 12.5 standard drinks x $1.20 = $14.99

        So yeah, honestly? Introducing minimum alcohol prices per unit/standard drink at the levels the report suggested is probably going to have SFA effect.

        I can really only see this affecting cask wine in supermarkets, and super cheap spirits. It won’t touch RTD’s (God I hate agreeing with Collins – prove me wrong eh )

        • Bill 3.2.1.1

          Not too sure about your formula. The one I’m aware of is Minimum Price per Unit (MPU) x strength of alcohol (S) x volume (V) x 100.

          Don’t have a calculator to hand, but that would make a 12.5% bottle of wine $11.25 (120 x 12.5 x 0.75 x 100) as opposed to your $8.87….a price difference of $2.38 or somewhere in the region of 20% (I think)

          Numbers aren’t my strong point, so maybe some smarty pants with a calculator could double check that calculation 😉

          • Bill 3.2.1.1.1

            The ‘2 x 4 packs for $20′ deal on Woodstock would be below the legal minimum of $11.26 per 4 pack.

            The ‘White Label’ and ‘Shingle Peak’ also appear to be below any proposed legal min ($9 and $11 respectively)

            I agree the increases aren’t so significant per se, but they do kill off some of the advertising that’s built around those ‘psychological feel good’ factors that rely on staying below certain $ sums. eg…2 for $22.60 just doesn’t quite work the same from an advertising angle as 2 for $20.

            And flooding the market with sub $15 bottles of wine just lacks the (for some) appeal present in sub $10 bottles. Suddenly it feels as though you’re paying for it

            • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.1.1.1

              I agree the increases aren’t so significant per se, but they do kill off some of the advertising that’s built around those ‘psychological feel good’ factors

              Well, there’s an idea, just kill off alcohol advertising, full stop.

        • karol 3.2.1.2

          NZFemme, the review that Collins ignored was more focused on the long term impact of cheap alcohol. It has to do with encouraging binge drinking – pre-loading by young people before heading to a social event, etc. It takes into account the addictive capability of alcohol.

          It is a pretty comprehensive review, and looked at various options, particularly the relative impacts of setting a minimum price compared with raising the exise/taxes on alcohol – and also the impact on society via harmful drinking practices, the impacts on consumers, the industry, retailers, etc. There are pros and cons all round, but, the review concluded that both excise and minimum pricing or a mix of both would result in benefits to society – especially the reduction of harmful drinking.

          It does depend on how much tax is imposed. But, generally the excise option produces more tax revenue and is thus considered more beneficial to society. And the excise option is considered to generally reduce harmful drinking practices more across the board.

          Andrew Little is critical of the government response to the report and says:

          “The Ministry’s report actually said there are net benefits with minimum pricing for alcohol whether it’s done by regulating a minimum price or increasing excise duties.

          “There is no question increasing the price and preventing discounting and loss leading reduces consumption.

          “Doing this in a targeted way aimed at products intended for young people, such as RTDs, and outlets that just want to move stock quickly, it would be possible to reduce consumption in those parts of the market where the risk of damage is greatest.

          Little is saying that increasing taxes is an indirect way of implementing minimum pricing.

          • Psycho Milt 3.2.1.2.1

            There are pros and cons all round, but, the review concluded that both excise and minimum pricing or a mix of both would result in benefits to society – especially the reduction of harmful drinking.

            I don’t doubt it would result in benefits to society. So what? Discouraging participation in sports, or euthanasia of the infirm elderly and the disabled would benefit society, but that doesn’t mean we should do it. Whether someone else gets drunk or not is none of our business.

        • Thanks for doing the math, NZFemme. I just had a look in my recycling bin and I’ve been drinking Rekorderlig cider, approx 1.6 standard drinks, purchased on special for $4.99 at the supermarket – well over the suggested minimum. Yet we’re meant to be worried about the RTDs which are more expensive and can only be purchased at liquor stores?

          • karol 3.2.1.3.1

            Andrew Little reckons there are ways of targeting RTDs.

            • Stephanie Rodgers 3.2.1.3.1.1

              My question is why target RTDs? I’ve not seen any convincing arguments for RTDs being the scourge which creates/sustains our binge drinking culture. As NZFemme says below, young drinkers are far more likely to split a bottle of vodka between them. It really does read to me like RTDs get assumed to be ‘young people’s drinks’ or ‘not proper alcoholic drinks’ and thus get scapegoated.

              Another irony about RTDs is that they get talked about like they’re all Vodka Cruisers – brightly coloured and sugary. In fact the ones I’ve seen most often – including being confiscated from young adults at the doors of nightclubs – are the bourbon-and-cola variety, which taste utterly vile even if you’re into that kind of thing.

          • NZFemme 3.2.1.3.2

            Rekorderlig.. yum. (I like the elderflower and lime, heh)

            Actually, I think Bill’s formula might be the correct one. I was using an industry formula to ascertain the standard units of alcohol by volume of container, alcohol %, and density at room temp, and multiplying that by the minimum price discussed in the Stuff article.

            BUT – RTD’s, in my opinion, are kind’a being painted as the most problematic – for young people and binge drinkers and I actually don’t agree with that perspective. I’ve worked in the alcohol industry for a wee while, first as a visual merchandiser for Independent Liquor, and now, part time as a Duty Manager in a local liquor store while I’m studying.

            Sales of RTD’s are not simply the purvey of the young new drinker. We sell more RTD’s than any other drink, and the store I work in has an older customer base for the most part. (30 +) During O weeks etc when we do see more of the student base, I’ve noticed they are actually more inclined to purchase straight spirits – vodka or bourbon typically, and split the cost between them. They’re also Brand aware – their more likely to buy the same brand whether it’s on sale or not – unlike our older customer base.

            Yup RTD’s are sweet. (So is rekorderlig! :) )But so are NZ Wines in comparison to their European counterparts. It’s well known in the wine industry that NZers have a sweet tooth, and our winemakers have taken note and produce accordingly for the NZ market.

            And it’s easy to forget this in the indignition that swirls around RTD’s but your gonna get a whole lot more pissed on a 12.5% bottle of wine, than the equivilant volume of RTD’s of which the highest industry percentage is 7%.

            • Bill 3.2.1.3.2.1

              So, having a think about all of this because the minimum unit price doesn’t really seem to stack up. And raising the $1.20 to (say) $2 or even $3 would potentially create all manner of inequity in terms of access to the drug.

              I suspect that NZ may well have higher prices on its cheap drinks (on a lower wage rate) than (say) the UK, where a 50p ($1) minimum price per unit has the whisky assn up in arms.

              So I’m wondering whether the alcoholic beverages industry is simply gouging the NZ public due to a lack of cross border competition, or whether tax and excise is far too high. As an example of price difference, a pint (568 ml) of real ale in the UK costs about $6 at today’s conversion rate, and that’s substantially cheaper than my experience of NZ pubs.

              That aside, I detest the marketing of RTD’s and the enormous profits generated by them, regardless of who consumes them and how much they consume. My reasoning for that is the same as it is for any other drug. I want, and we deserve, honest, uncut and unadulterated product. (That includes Rekordilig btw, that just might be the only ‘cider’ in the world made from spring water instead of apples!) And sure, maybe that just makes me an odd-ball purist in some eyes. But I would no more relish having access to cheap coke that was cut through with fillers than I do distilled or brewed alcohol that’s awash with liquid fillers, or that has misleading labeling attached. (Why is Rekordilig, for example, allowed to be called cider when it ain’t made from apple juice?) I’d be mightily pissed if such cheaper faux brews and distillations pushed genuine brews and distillations into unaffordable niche markets due to their cheaper production costs.

              As I said before, I’m not exactly the kind of person who’s against alcohol consumption. I despair, for example, at the abstinence approach that comes from the 12 Step Programme for those with acute alcohol and/or drugs problems. That sets too many people up to fail in my opinion and would be better geared towards harm minimisation and helping drug users get back to social modes of use wherever possible.

              Meanwhile, if alcohol consumption habits are causing health problems for numbers of people in NZ, and taking the bottom end out of the market wouldn’t achieve anything for any of them, then….what? Or if the behaviour around alcohol is merely a symptom of a deeper malaise, then….what?

              • karol

                Some good points in there, Bill.

                I’m going by the conclusions of the alcohol pricing review, which is mainly aimed at minimising harm caused by alcohol to individuals and society. The evidence does point to pricing and/or excise as a good way to minimise social harm.

                Meanwhile, if alcohol consumption habits are causing health problems for numbers of people in NZ, and taking the bottom end out of the market wouldn’t achieve anything for any of them, then….what? Or if the behaviour around alcohol is merely a symptom of a deeper malaise, then….what?

                And, in the wider society, there does seem to be resisitance to accepting problem drining does cause a lot of harm – in contrast to regualr moral panics about drugs.

                BTW, some claim that RTDs were intiially designed to target women, as they tended to drink less than men. This 2013 report claims:

                There is strong evidence about the appeal of ready-to-drinks (RTDs) for young people, particularly young women. Young people, both female and male,are the most common consumers of RTDs, and those who drink them are more likely to be heavier drinkers than those who do not. In one study RTDs made up 70% of the alcohol intake of 14–17-year-old girls45. RTD consumers typically drank more in a session, and more often in a year than those who drank other spirits, beer or wine
                […]
                Public disapproval of drunkenness is higher for women than for men. However, heavy drinking has become the social norm for many young women, with traditionally male drinking patterns setting the standard. Some young women perceive drinking as a sign and result of gender equality, as well as a way of resisting
                traditional constructions of femininity. RTDs and other products have been designed and marketed specifically to attract these female consumers

                However, this 2012 article claims that RTDs with higher alcohol content are most frequqntly consumed by male tradespeople.

                • Bill

                  The problem with a pricing solution in the form of higher taxes is that it absolutely limits access to the drug for those on given, lower incomes. And that’s a different outcome to merely lifting the price of ( and maybe killing off) the bottom (arguably skody) end of the market. Which is academic due to the already seemingly high cost of alcohol in NZ.

                  Raising prices across the board will, like with tobacco, merely hammer the poor and inflict all manner of further financial related stresses. I’m against that being applied to alcohol in the same way as I was, and remain, against it being applied to tobacco.

                  And alcohol…remembering a former teacher (now dead) who extracted alcohol from boot polish to satisfy his cravings…

                  Anyway, the question goes back to why we use alcohol and other drugs and why some of us use them excessively. Unless that is, we want to treat symptoms rather than the causes (assuming that there are underlying causes).

                  • karol

                    One of the underlying problems is to do with the logic of consumer society – the aim of businesses to encourage consumption via products that have addictive potential.

                    • Bill

                      Yeah, okay. But altered states betray a desire to escape reality, even just for a short while because, perhaps, it really is that bad. Now, what makes it so bad? And why do we accept or tolerate having a society that fucks so many of us up so much? Or, put another way, how do we get around the compulsion to conform to social norms that we know at some level to be damaging?

            • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.3.2.2

              And it’s easy to forget this in the indignition that swirls around RTD’s but your gonna get a whole lot more pissed on a 12.5% bottle of wine, than the equivilant volume of RTD’s of which the highest industry percentage is 7%.

              Except that the combination of synthetic flavours, high sugar and high caffeine content is designed to keep RTD drinkers going through 2L to 3L worth in a night. You can’t drink that much wine (usually) in one evening, but you can do so relatively easily with RTDs.

              The food technologists who formulate the RTDs know exactly what they are doing.

          • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.3.3

            One other thing about Rekorderlig “cider” – it’s not cider. It’s not fermented from fruit juice. It’s a flavoured RTD. And it is illegal for supermarkets to sell RTDs.

            • Melb 3.2.1.3.3.1

              I thought they already didn’t sell it.

            • Stephanie Rodgers 3.2.1.3.3.2

              Well you’d better start calling Crimestoppers then. :roll:

              • Colonial Viper

                Well you’d better start calling Crimestoppers then. :roll:

                I’m getting a feel for how seriously you take our alcohol laws.

                • You have no idea. But you are throwing around words like ‘illegal’ without backing up your statements, and despite a lot of evidence to the contrary.

                  (And no, before you even start, I’m not suggesting that supermarkets never break the law. I am however suggesting that when things are as readily available and prominently advertised as Rekorderlig cider is in supermarkets, it’s something the police would’ve caught on to a long time ago.)

                  • Colonial Viper

                    The product is an RTD. It is illegal for supermarkets to sell RTDs. Your casual attitude to this law breaking isn’t helping. Your assumption that ‘if it’s illegal surely someone else would have done something about it by now’ is problematic to say the least.

            • NZFemme 3.2.1.3.3.3

              And yet, it is sold in supermarkets. At least, some of the basic flavours are. (eg: pear, apple)

              One of the reasons RTD’s have been so heavily promoted in Liquor stores is because with beer, wine and cider being available so cheaply at supermarkets, Liquor stores couldn’t (and can’t) compete. RTD’s offer a point of difference to their consumers that allows the liquor stores to claw back some of their competitive advantage. Unless you live in Southland, in which case you can’t buy alcohol in supermarkets, and all the liquor stores are run buy community owned trusts. Profits get fed back in to the communities themselves.

              Incidentally, it’s interesting to note that the consumption amongst youth is actually decreasing according to the ministry of health.

              http://www.alcohol.org.nz/research-resources/nz-statistics/new-zealand-drinking-patterns

              The decrease was happening prior to liquor law changes over the past year.

              [B:- In response to Karol’s observation, I’ve taken the liberty of unilaterally deleting the identifying email address from your handle. Hope that’s okay by you.]

    • Bill 3.3

      Also in reply to psycho milt….bad product sometimes results from distilling and brewing. It’s just one of those hazards that comes with the territory. Funnily enough, with RTDs I can conceivably just pump shit product that would have been formally dumped because of its poor quality, in alongside a plethora of mixers that will mask the awfulness of the failed alcohol base and….potentially make more profit from the shit than what I would from good stuff. Then maybe, I’d be tempted to just focus on producing shit and ‘hiding’ it amongst a plethora of cheap flavourings. Now, that’s bang for buck, aye?

      • Psycho Milt 3.3.1

        Thing is, we’re still missing a step here: the one that bridges the gap between not liking liquor companies selling shit drinks or supermarkets loss-leading on alcohol, and a requirement for the government to act on your dislike. “I don’t like supermarkets loss-leading with shit drinks, therefore the government must do something to prevent it” is a non sequitur.

        • McFlock 3.3.1.1

          Not in a democracy, it’s not.

          Folk write articles like this, build popular support, and apply pressure to politicians to act. The fact that they want it is reason enough to consider it. Government serves the wishes ofthe people.

          You might bring up some unlikely counter-example to that principle, but I don’t think it really applies to the Hogarth-esque desires of supermarkets and booze barns.

          • Ergo Robertina 3.3.1.1.1

            Hogarth-esque desires? Hogarth was critiquing the harms of excessive drinking, not giving it his approbation.

            • McFlock 3.3.1.1.1.1

              Really? Wow. That negates my entire comm- never mind.

              • Ergo Robertina

                I agreed with your comment. It doesn’t negate your argument to clarify Hogarth’s intentions.

          • Psycho Milt 3.3.1.1.2

            Folk write articles like this, build popular support, and apply pressure to politicians to act. The fact that they want it is reason enough to consider it. Government serves the wishes ofthe people.

            The fact that it might succeed doesn’t alter the fact it’s a non-sequitur. If enough people decide they don’t like Muslims and the government should bar immigration from Muslim-majority countries, the government might well do it but that doesn’t necessarily mean anyone involved has a good, logical reason why the government should do it.

            • Ergo Robertina 3.3.1.1.2.1

              What then is the role of government? You’re conflating reducing social harms of alcohol with governments enacting racist immigration policy, a strawman argument.

            • McFlock 3.3.1.1.2.2

              But you said : “I don’t like supermarkets loss-leading with shit drinks, therefore the government must do something to prevent it” is a non sequitur.

              In a democracy, if enough people say “we don’t like X”, then it follows that the government must do X. Regardless of whether the principle is qualified with exceptions or moral imperatives, that is the main principle of democracy.

              And soma-piss isn’t in the same moral ballpark as religious equality.

              • RedLogix

                And soma-piss isn’t in the same moral ballpark as religious equality.

                Nicely put. While I am by nature a social liberal – I find this tendency to bundle all these disparate issues into one grey homogeneous ethical blob rather disturbing.

              • Populuxe1

                Only to a point. I’m with John Stewart Mill on rejecting arguments for strong paternalism, but soft paternalism – default laws for example – is ok. There’s also the matter of constitutional protections – if enough people say “we don’t like Jews”, “Homosexuality should be illegal”, “Women shouldn’t have the vote”, we exist within a framework of national and international principles and agreements that would hopefully prevent our government from acting on stupid populist bullshit.

                Leave my cheap booze alone thanks, life is shitty enough

                • “Women shouldn’t have the vote”

                  Reminds me – the eligible male voters of Switzerland rejected female suffrage in referenda until 1971. It was democracy as described by McFlock, but it wasn’t a good thing.

                  • McFlock

                    Yes, because a minimum price for alcohol is totes-like disenfranchising half the population… /sarc

                    Seriously, what’s the problem with government regulating prices of a substance in order to minimise social harm?

                  • Populuxe1

                    Indeed – but I think McFlock is talking about some airy fairy theoretical democracy rather than the nuts and bolds ad hocracy of the real world

                    • McFlock

                      I’m not the one equating prevention of using alcohol as a loss-leader with religious oppression.

              • You’re conflating reducing social harms of alcohol with governments enacting racist immigration policy, a strawman argument.

                I’m applying a principle. Principles are a good thing to have when you’re considering fucking with other people’s rights to enjoy their lives as they see fit.

                In a democracy, if enough people say “we don’t like X”, then it follows that the government must do X. Regardless of whether the principle is qualified with exceptions or moral imperatives, that is the main principle of democracy.

                So, if enough people decide they don’t like poofters, we make it illegal again and that’s democracy in action. Well, yes – but a democracy functioning merely as a tyranny of the majority is a pretty low-functioning one. In a less crap democracy, a government would look at requests for action against something people don’t like and say “tough shit” unless those people can come up with some logical, principled basis for that action. “I don’t like it” lacks either logic or principle.

                • McFlock

                  In a less crap democracy, a government would look at requests for action against something people don’t like and say “tough shit” unless those people can come up with some logical, principled basis for that action. “I don’t like it” lacks either logic or principle.

                  Other way around – in a less plummeting down an absurd slippery-slope argument because we’re talking about minimum prices for alcohol (not anything in the Human Rights Act) “crap” democracy, a government needs to find good reasons to not follow the will of the electorate.

                  The electorate could decide to rename “Monday” “Fuckmylifeday” for no reason other than most people hate mondays – government should follow that, unless it can find a decent reason not to.

                  • Populuxe1

                    And again you’d be wrong – I refer you to the petition in the US to have Justin Bieber’s greencard revoked. No democratic government is actually under any obligation to act on something frivilous. Similarly the Death Star petition. The government is only obliged to consider the request. If, for example, it would only be a waste of resources or cause diplomatic problems or whatever, they are perfectly right to say no.

                    • McFlock

                      indeed.

                      But the principle is that unless there’s a good reason to not do it, it should be done.

                      Unlike milt, who argues that the electorate needs to justify itself to the government before anything gets done. Which is a funny idea of democracy, theoretical or otherwise.

                    • Populuxe1

                      I have yet to see any evidence of a democratic mandate for this in the first place. There hasn’t been a referendum.

                    • McFlock

                      yeah, we’ve moved on from here into milt’s assertion that even if it had demonstrated majority support, the government should ignore it unless the majority comes up with a good reason to do it. In principle.

                      Basically, the diversion away from the fact that eliminating alcohol as a loss-leader would be a good idea. See article for reasons.

                  • It’s not a slippery-slope argument, it’s a basic principle – if you want your demands for government action against some group to be taken seriously, you should have an argument for that action that consists of something more than stamping your foot and declaring you don’t like it. That principle applies, regardless of whether the action under discussion is as trivial as depriving young Munter of a discount a business wants to offer him, or as serious as rounding up all the Jews and gassing them.

                    • McFlock

                      Not when the government answers to you. Which, in a democracy, is the people. In that case, the government needs a good reason to say “no”.

                      And it’s not a demand for action against any group. At the very least, it’s removing the privilege that supermarkets have over on-licences, who already have minimum price restraints to stop excessive consumption (try 50c shot promotions in a bar and see if you don’t get a visit).

                    • Not when the government answers to you. Which, in a democracy, is the people. In that case, the government needs a good reason to say “no”.

                      In the case under discussion, “supermarkets shouldn’t be allowed to loss-lead with product x,” the government has a choice of good reasons to say “no,” said reasons being, as the case may be, “what the supermarket charges for a product you’re not buying comes under the heading of None of Your Fucking Business Matey,” or “‘The supermarket isn’t charging me enough’ is not a legitimate complaint, Sunshine.” What’s missing is the reason the government might say say “yes.”

                    • McFlock

                      the government has a choice of good reasons to say “no,” said reasons being, as the case may be, “what the supermarket charges for a product you’re not buying comes under the heading of None of Your Fucking Business Matey,” or “‘The supermarket isn’t charging me enough’ is not a legitimate complaint, Sunshine.” What’s missing is the reason the government might say say “yes.”

                      Um – those reasons are bullshit.

                      And the reason the government might say “yes” – reduction in alcohol-ralted harm – has been explained to you repeatedly.

                • Ergo Robertina

                  ‘I’m applying a principle. Principles are a good thing to have when you’re considering fucking with other people’s rights to enjoy their lives as they see fit.’

                  You’re confusing freedom for individuals with freedom for corporate interests.
                  And the freedom of the former has to be constrained to a certain degree as the price of living in a civilised society.

                  • You’re confusing freedom for individuals with freedom for corporate interests.

                    Confusing them in what way? The proposal is that shoppers should be deprived of a discount that might otherwise be offered to them – the freedom of the individual is directly in play here.

                    And the freedom of the [individual] has to be constrained to a certain degree as the price of living in a civilised society.

                    That is a completely meaningless statement. The phrase “to a certain degree” is a blank canvas onto which you could chuck anything.

                    • Ergo Robertina

                      Because it gives freedom to corporate interests to profit from binge drinking.
                      Corporates have narrow objectives and motives, whereas individual freedom is a more nuanced and troubled concept.
                      The freedom to shop is only one freedom.
                      What about the freedom of taxpayers, road users, and others who are forced to pay for the resultant harms?
                      The drunks who smash themselves and others on the roads, or randomly attack people in the street?

                    • Because it gives freedom to corporate interests to profit from binge drinking.

                      I’m not sure if anyone’s told you this, but alcohol is a legal drug in this country. Profiting the from making and selling of alcoholic drinks is not a crime, or even an offence.

                      What about the freedom of taxpayers, road users, and others who are forced to pay for the resultant harms?

                      What about them? Are you saying it’s wrong to have a no-fault, public health system and emergency services? Should it all be user pays? After all, what about the freedom of those of us who aren’t fat who are forced to pay for diabetes treatment and stomach-stapling operations?

                    • Ergo Robertina

                      The public health system has to serve other needs as well, and patients attending an emergency department would probably prefer to do so with fewer drunk patients and shorter waits for their own treatment.
                      And with some harm minimisation and fewer victims, the public health system will be better able to rehabilitate those who continue to have car crashes/head injuries etc as a result of excessive drinking.
                      Also, why are you privileging the freedom of supermarkets to cross subsidise and distort the market, which impinges on the viability of bars and clubs?

                    • RedLogix

                      I think you are confusing the ‘right to shop’ with ‘human rights’ Psycho.

                    • The public health system has to serve other needs as well, and patients attending an emergency department would probably prefer to do so with fewer drunk patients and shorter waits for their own treatment.

                      Sure. And there may well be patients who’d prefer the shorter wait for treatment they’d get if the ED didn’t have all these darkies, sportspeople, careless home handymen or bad drivers in it, but the health system doesn’t give a shit what a patient thinks about that and nor should it.

                      Also, why are you privileging the freedom of supermarkets to cross subsidise and distort the market, which impinges on the viability of bars and clubs?

                      My argument “privileges” nothing. If bars and clubs want to use one thing they sell to cross-subsidise another thing they sell, good luck to them – anyone in a live band knows bars and clubs cross-subsidise.

                    • Ergo Robertina

                      ‘And there may well be patients who’d prefer … but the health system doesn’t give a shit what a patient thinks about that and nor should it.’

                      Yes, in direct on the ground service provision the system will triage according to need. However, just like citizens in a democracy, patients have the right to be attended by a health system that is not swamped by excess numbers of patients with alcohol related presentations when sensible harm minimisation measures could alleviate some of the pressure. And these calls often come from health professionals.

                      On the question of cross subsidisation, every business does this in some form, but it’s a question of market power, and unfair advantage.
                      That is why we have a commerce commission, or do you believe it to be a big-state draconian imposition too?

      • finbar 3.3.2

        RTDs are the equivalent of the much discussed man made Psyco drugs,Man made in chemical factories.Not in traditional old school breweries.Even the mix of cola or whatever are chemical concoctions.

        • Bill 3.3.2.1

          I’d be more than happy to see actual standards applied so that if you are selling (say) bourbon, gin or vodka, then it must be a container of bourbon, gin or vodka with no adulteration…bye bye RTDs :-)

          And legislate on ingredients so that gin is actually gin, and bourbon is actually bourbon etc.

          • Stephanie Rodgers 3.3.2.1.1

            Because the answer to young people (allegedly) buying pre-mixed bourbon-and-cola in a sixpack is to make them buy bourbon and cola separately … and mix them themselves, meaning the drinks are probably far stronger? What problem exactly are we fixing here, Bill? Because it sounds like the problem is ‘young people are drinking in ways I don’t find normal’.

            (I’ve looked online for ingredient lists for common RTDs and have failed. If you or finbar have any evidence of these drinks being ‘man made in chemical factories’ I’d be very interested to see it.)

            • Colonial Viper 3.3.2.1.1.1

              If you or finbar have any evidence of these drinks being ‘man made in chemical factories’ I’d be very interested to see it.)

              Please ask any qualified food technologist.

              The next question you should pose to said food technologist is – where is the food grade alcohol in these RTDs sourced from?

              What problem exactly are we fixing here, Bill? Because it sounds like the problem is ‘young people are drinking in ways I don’t find normal’.

              Where ‘not normal’ is drinking 10-20 standard drinks in a sitting.

              • Populuxe1

                Ethyl alcohol is ethyl alcohol – it’s just a molecule. Provided it’s dileted with something it’s all food grade

                • Colonial Viper

                  Ethyl alcohol is ethyl alcohol – it’s just a molecule. Provided it’s dileted with something it’s all food grade

                  Uh, no. Manufacturers do not buy these materials molecule by molecule.

                  In industrial quantities, you can’t get the levels of purity that you can with lab reagents, so your assumption is incorrect to start off with.

                  Ethyl alcohol can be purchased in bulk in various industrial grades, food grades and also pharmaceutical/lab reagent grades.

                • David H

                  “Provided it’s dileted with something it’s all food grade”

                  Diluted with Something? Really? Something? Some of this, some of that, some of the other.

                  Did you even read, what you had written?

              • I’m not the person making claims about the contents of these beverages, and despite this I’ve already tried to find evidence for them.

                And your assumptions about what’s a ‘normal’ level of drinking are assumptions which don’t even match your own statements upthread.

                10 standard drinks is just over 1 sixpack of, for example, Vodka Cruisers – and by your own unsubstantiated comment above, people are commonly drinking 2-3L a night, which is about 2 sixpacks … or 20 standard drinks.

                So is drinking 2-3L of RTDs a blight ravaging our young people, or is it ‘not normal’?

                • Colonial Viper

                  10 standard drinks is just over 1 sixpack of, for example, Vodka Cruisers – and by your own unsubstantiated comment above, people are commonly drinking 2-3L a night, which is about 2 sixpacks … or 20 standard drinks.

                  A vodka cruiser comes in at just 1.0 or 1.1 standard drinks because each bottle is only 275mL. I think you made the assumption that they are 330mL. So your statement that “10 standard drinks is just over 1 sixpack of, for example, Vodka Cruisers” is, politely, shite.

                  When was the last time you even had a Vodka cruiser FFS. Redo your math according to the facts and you’ll find out that my estimate is fairly spot on.

                  • Please don’t assume anything about me, Viper, it’s inevitably incorrect.

                    I googled “vodka cruiser standard drinks”. The statistic I found must have been for a different jurisdiction.

                    And the last time I had a Vodka Cruiser was last May, at a friend’s birthday party. How about you? Or are you too pure to sully your lips with the vile liquid?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      OK, so next time you have a drink, pause for a sec and take note of what it says on the bottle, the number of standard drinks is printed right there.

                  • NZFemme

                    Depends whether you’re buying cans or bottles. 7% (250ml) & 5 % (275ml)respectively.

                    12 Pack of cans would be 16.5 standard drinks. (1.38 units of alcohol per can at 7%)

                    6 pack would be 8 standard drinks.

                    • NZFemme

                      Meant to say too CV, during uni parties like the Hyde St Party here in Dunedin, glass isn’t allowed – so cans, casks, and kegs are the default. Cruisers, Cindy’s and KGB’s are the highest sellers, and the cans always run at 7% at 250ml – 2% higher than their glass counterparts.

            • Bill 3.3.2.1.1.2

              erm…I’m reckoning young people are drinking in much the same way I did when I was younger. I don’t really see that as a problem per se.

              As for the ingredients of RTD’s being ‘man made in chemical factories’ well, I didn’t make that claim. I think the closest I came to saying anything like that was in pointing out that cheap beers are often full of corn sugar (bad hangover city) and various additives, be they colourings or whatever.

              I think the answer to the rest of your comment is in the one I typed above before seeing this (3.2.1.3.2.1) @ 5.29

              • Naki Man

                The ethanol is made in a dairy factory not a chemical factory

                • Colonial Viper

                  A dairy factory IS a chemical factory. Unless you want to tell me which part of a dairy cow makes purified alcohol.

                  • Naki Man

                    It is just a bit misleading to say ethanol is made in a chemical factory when Fonterra call it a dairy factory.

                    • felix

                      Is it a factory that produces chemicals? I think it’s acceptable to call that a chemical factory.

                    • RedLogix

                      Over a decade ago Fonterra had more than 1000 different specified products it could make from milk.

                      Milk has been called ‘white crude’ – a modern dairy factory can be best thought of as very analogous to an oil refinery. Both use intensive process technologies to variously split the raw milk into it’s many components and then either further refine or re-combine into different products.

                      But it’s not wholly accurate to characterise either an oil refinery or a dairy refinery ‘chemical factories’. While some portion of those 1000 different milk derived products will involve gross chemical reactions – that is not what is at the core of what happens inside a typical Fonterra factory.

                      What goes on is more in the nature of separating, recombining, heating, evaporating, filtering, centrifuging, culturing and packaging – and while these do imply important changes to the structure of the milk – no-one in the industry thinks of them as a ‘chemical process’.

                      There isn’t a black and white line here – and I’m not sure of the details of exactly how Fonterra finally derive ethanol. At that point it might well be fairly termed a ‘chemical process’ – but that can’t be generalised back to everything happening inside a dairy factory.

                    • felix

                      Thanks RL.

            • David H 3.3.2.1.1.3

              @ Stephanie Try to break the problem down. Ie: to Bourbon: Alcohol, grains, sugars,the usual. And then Cola, and here is a link with enough ingredients to keep you happy for more than a while.

              https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=ingredient+list+cola&client=opera&hs=AIg&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=XoFbU7j-OYzKlAXM74CQAw&ved=0CG4QsAQ&biw=1093&bih=536&dpr=1.25

              • Colonial Viper

                People who aren’t knowledgeable about food and beverage formulation and manufacturing usually have a hard time understanding that many of the “ingredients” in these products are not foods of any kind and are frequently completely synthetic or highly artificially processed. Caramel colour for instance, a key agent in drinks like colas, has absolutely nothing to do with caramel that you might make in a saucepan.

        • NZFemme 3.3.2.2

          Umm, Finbar, you do realize that all ethanol is a neurotoxin right? Regardless of where it’s made – 18th copper still or 21st Century stainless steel?

  4. Bearded Git 4

    High taxes on alcohol have helped keep consumption low in Sweden. The taxes have been less effective than they might have been because of cross-border sales from other EU countries (see incredibly long link address below).

    Cross-border sales would not be an issue in NZ. It follows that raising alcohol taxes significantly is likely to be effective.

    https://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CDkQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fgul.gu.se%2Fpublic%2Fpp%2Fpublic_courses%2Fcourse44889%2Fpublished%2F1302796242835%2FresourceId%2F16917418%2Fcontent%2F1a120e0f-4aab-4ab9-926f-930ba025555f%2FAlcohol%2520Tax%2520Sweden.pdf&ei=Mg9bU6WcEMSlkQX6yoDgCw&usg=AFQjCNFeKbx3VQ138iO8LJtXf-kgu99nng&sig2=ommXjvjkMydqVVLH1SCDog&bvm=bv.65397613,d.dGI

  5. Once was Tim 5

    “So, why settle for piss in lieu of alcohol?”
    We’re talking about Judith Collins right?
    The answer should be obvious – it’s to do with what the Frogs refer to as ‘nouveau riche’.
    It encompasses most of the modern-day Neshnool Pardy these days.
    The good thing is its destined for self-destruction. The only problem is WHEN – but watch them squeal like stuffed pigs when it does all come to grief

  6. captain hook 6

    anybody with a face like that would like as much cheap booze as they could get!
    tee hee.

  7. Melb 7

    I’ve seen everything now. Standard posters and commenters advocate for improving the bottom line of alcohol producers through enabling them all to charge a minimum price.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Newsflash: driving down volumes sold is not conducive to alcohol industry profits.

      • McFlock 7.1.1

        especially when it’s the supermarket that takes the loss of lower prices (“loss leader”), not the wholesaler.

      • Melb 7.1.2

        Newsflash: The Ministy of Justice reported stated that enacting the minimum pricing proposal would have added $130 million in profit for the alcohol industry.

        The volume sold would be lower, yes, but the prices sold at would be higher – with all of that price increase being pure margin directed to the bottom line of booze companies. Try thinking an idea through to it’s conclusion next time.

    • David H 7.2

      No Fuck Knuckle. Unlike you, we don’t like seeing what cheap booze is doing to our young and not so young.

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