We can now buy more booze, not that booze is cheaper

The wowsers over at the Institute for Alcohol (note, this translates as the Institute Against Alcohol) claim that supermarket booze has halved in price over the past three decades. This is not true, it’s not even what they themselves say. Instead, what they are saying is that wages, as measured in booze, have doubled over the 30 years. Given that this is actually a major aim of any economic policy, in fact of the very idea of having an economy, that we should all become richer over time this is a good thing, not a problem that needs to be solved.

Their own evidence thus shows that they should go boil their heads.

Supermarket booze is more than twice as cheap as it was in the 1980s: Experts warn that the low price of beer and wine has fuelled a health crisis

As Chris Snowdon continually points out there is no booze driven health crisis and alcohol consumption is actually down over time. But even then the prodnoses are wrong:

Supermarket alcohol is more than twice as affordable now as it was 30 years ago, researchers have found.

The price of beer, wine and spirits have risen far more slowly than wages since 1987, according to analysis by the Institute of Alcohol Studies.

Experts assessed alcohol prices against wages and inflation, and found supermarket beer is 188 per cent more affordable than it was three decades ago.

“Cheaper” and “more affordable” are not synonyms. Cheaper means that the price has fallen. More affordable means that wages have risen more than alcohol prices. These really are not the same thing at all.

Consider the larger issue here. If we can buy more food for an hour’s work then we are better off. It we can buy a better car with the same number of hours of work then we are better off, we’re richer. Both could and should be described as a rise in real wages.

We are now able to buy more booze from an hour’s work. We can also buy, now that both Double Diamond and Watney’s Starlight have bitten the dust, better booze with the proceeds of that labour. We’re richer.

At which point we’ve got this combination of the Provisional Methodists and the 32 County Wee Frees insisting that this is a problem, that we as individuals and a nation are richer. Go boil yer heids folks, you’re arguing against the very purpose of human striving itself, that our children should be better off than we are, that we ourselves become richer over time.

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  1. Just wait until they discover how little people are paying for food! There was a time maybe half of most people’s income went to put food on the table. We should act now to halt obesity.

    I have no problem with this. Except I think that there are two broad approaches to alcohol. One is commonly found in much of the Third World where the point is to drink something that tastes like paint stripper in order to get as drunk as possible, as fast as possible, for the minimum cost. See vodka, Japanese sake, tequila etc etc. The other is to pretend that you are doing something more refined and elegant. Like pretending you know what year your claret was grown from tasting it alone.

    My Inner Logician tells me that the first approach is sensible and the second pretentious. However my Inner Wee Free tells me that the first is morally and socially unacceptable. So I compromise by quietly assuming the purpose of drinking is to get drunk, or at least a buzz, but publicly insisting that we don’t spend enough on good alcohol. We should spend more!

    So splash out for a proper Scotch. Don’t buy some coloured industrial alcohol in the supermarket. Then you can get your bag on in good conscience.

  2. More evidence from Tim that the Republican mantra that “wages stagnated under Obama” doesn’t explain everything, and maybe doesn’t explain anything, surely the biggest jolt I have gotten in my months of reading him. The point of this study is to advocate that government set the prices of things wrong to control personal decision-making, a “gentler” alternative to Sweden’s erstwhile approach of having state stores track how much each customer buys.

    PS – Affordable means more than the price in terms of the pay for your work. It means you can afford the thing. This not only depends on price but on all the other choices you make. Is the “affordability” of health care to be measured before or after you buy the week’s 30-pack of Bud?