Cheap booze! Gotta love it, because it's booze and it's cheap.
However, there is something wrong with cheap booze; no, it's not the gangs of feral youths, pissed off their head from half a shandy who will undoubtably rape your mum given half the chance, or the £3b/year cost to the NHS.
No, it's worse: it's tax evasion, on a rampant scale, being aided-and-abetted by Tescos (and other supermarkets), those cheeky bastards!
How much is £1 worth?
See, most people would answer the above 'a quid'. And thats why most of us are poor.
Rich people would say 'it depends': on how much it costs to get that quid, how many quids you already have, how many pounds you need, when you're going to get the pound, and various other factors, one of which is how much tax you're going to have to pay on it.
For an example, lets change the tax rate to something less confusing than 17.5%: lets say that everything has a VAT of 10%, except booze, which has a duty of 50% instead.
Now, you earn £1 on bread, or clothes, or newspapers or bogroll or anything other than booze, and (ignoring production costs etc) that £1 is worth 90p to you, as 10% of it is tax actually, something that cost 90p before tax and that then takes a 10% tax would come to 99p, and to cost £1 after tax it's original value would have had to have been 91ish-pence, but fuck it I'm going to ignore that for the sake of simplicity
But, you earn £1 on booze, and it's only worth 50p to you, 'cos that's how much you get to keep after tax.
Obviously, then, a quid made on bread is worth more to you than a quid made on booze; it's less efficient to earn money on booze...
E.g., imagine you spend £3 on cider, and £3 on bog roll (cos cider gives me the squits): thats £1.50 Tesco keeps on cider, and £2.70 it keeps on bog roll, for a total of £6 received and an after-tax net income of £4.20.
"Bingo!" say the execs at Tescos, "we'll lower the price of booze and subsideze it with an increase across the board on other products".
So this is what happens: you're pleasantly suprized to find that you only have to spend £1 on the cider, then slightly miffed to have to spend £5.70 on bog roll, but you can't be arsed to buy your cider from one supermarket and your loo-roll from another, and anyway the total bill is still £6, so fuck it.
Tesco gets to keep 50p of that money spent on cider (after 50% duty) and £4.43 from the bogroll (after 10% VAT) for a total after-tax net income of £4.93, which is more than £4.20, so a win for Tescos by effectively transferring pounds from products where they would have to pay 50% tax to other products where they only have to pay 10% tax.
Those clever gits!
In fact, if you spread the increase thinly across products no-one will really notice that they're a bit more expensive, especially if Tescos shares some of this goodness with it's customers: e.g., for every pound lost due to cheapening the alcohol (that pound was only worth 50p to Tescos, remember), only 70p extra will be made on other goods (that's worth 63p to Tescos after 10% VAT), resulting in us customers paying 70p more on other goods for every £1 less spent on booze, for a net saving to us of 30p for every pound we would have spent on booze whilst Tescos make 13p more per pound-we-would-have-spent-on-booze.
OK, the end result is cheaper overall prices for us customers, and higher net income for Tescos, with the added benifit that they can attract customers with the promise of lower booze. Everybody wins!
Except the government; because this scheme works by avoiding (or, you could say, evading) the duty (also known as tax) on alcohol, the government misses out on some tax revenue at a time when it reeeeeeeally needs money and probably isn't in a mood to tolerate what amounts to large-scale tax-evasion being co-ordinated by the supermarkets.
No, counter-intuitively enough, you DON'T like cheap booze (this statement sanctioned by the government)
Of course, this is a sticky situation for the government. Times are tough, and we want to save money and quite like the option of getting pissed every now and again with our mates on the cheap. The government are being blamed for times being tough and don't want to piss us off. Yet, the government effectively has to tell us that either taxes are going up to compensate for this new, exciting, world in which Tescos helps us evade tax, or we're going to have to lose our only-recently-aquired cheap booze. "Boo!" either way.
So, here's what I think is going to happen.
The government are going to approach newspapers and say that they will grant interviews with high-level figures, invite the reporters to all their meetings, and give them sound-bites from the PM, BUT only if they tow the 'cheap booze is bad' line. Any newspapers caught trying to point out that 'mostly drunk teens don't rape peoples mothers' or 'if you increase the price of booze beyond the point where youths can afford, some of them might get jobs ohwaittheyarentallowedto they might start nicking stuff to buy booze' won't get invited to the press conferences or granted interviews with Officer Highup, and therefore will have a harder time actually writing articles.
So, furnished with Official Figures given to them in interviews with Important People, we get articles like the one I linked to earlier, bemoaning the cost of alcohol to the NHS whilst carefully avoiding mentioning that the £3 billion/year cost is easily off-set by the in excess of £7 billion/year claimed in alcohol duty so that the government will keep talking to them and giving them a hand writing their articles
(btw, that source: download the XL spreadsheet, and it's in tab A2, 7.278 UOM in the period 04-05 from alcohol where UOM = Units Of Mystery, which are only refered to as being 'in real terms'; from tab A1b, which is measured in £millions, a quick addition confirms a total from-alcohol-duty income of somewhat in excess of £7billion)
So, my prediction is:
- an increase in newspaper articles mentioning:
- The total cost of alcohol to the NHS and thus taxpayer, and how this could be avoided if only alcohol cost less, thus discouraging 'binge drinking'
- emotive examples of a small number of crimes committed by people who had binge-drunk, followed by figures of total number and/or cost of alcohol-related crimes, subtly implying that all alcohol-related crimes were committed by people pissed out of their heads because they'd binge-drunk cheap booze from Tescos
- shocking stories, with emotive details, or how Johhny Teen raped someones cat 'because he was pissed', probably with Wild Speculation as to how many feral youths might rape our cats if they can afford a bottle of scrumpy (answer: ALL OF THEM!)
- Expert Opinion from Experts in the Alcohol Business (i.e., landlords) who's completely unbiased opinion which they're offering for free as a service to society is that Tescos selling cheap booze is a Bad Thing
- whilst religiously avoiding mentioning
- the fact that, according to the government, alcohol duty is more than alcohol's cost to society, effectively admitting that duty isn't an exercise in internalization so that we don't blithely overspend, but rather an exercise in taxing us a lot on our hobbies because we won't exactly stop doing it and therefore because they can, the cunts
- suggesting that if someone goes out and gets pissed and beats someone up, they're probably just an arsehole who likes both beating people up and getting pissed, and if he couldn't afford to drink he'd probably just beat someone up, steal their money, buy booze, and then beat someone else up for fun
- finishing the stories that a nice police representative helped you write by answering all your questions with 'but then he got pissed in a pub, not off of cheap supermarket booze, so it's kind of irrelevent', or with anything other than 'therefore cheap booze is bad boo!'
- mentioning inconvenient facts about the crime stats, such as 'the person who binge-drinks 27 pints and is still capable of beating someone up is an exception, not a representative example of people who commit crime whilst drunk
- suggesting that some, let alone most, underage drinkers don't commit crimes (except underage drinking)'
- sarcastically focusing on 'unintended consequences', such as people who are too young to legally work stealing to buy expensive alcohol, or a likely increase in illegally imported booze in response to it's rise in price
- pointing out that the landlords probably are biased by a cheap stay-at-home-where-you-can-smoke competitor
- relatedly: interviewing the brewers to see what they think
- Culminating in a Sun/Express 'campaign' to 'save us from the horrors of cheap booze'
- A compliant government, democratically bowing to our demands and passing minimum-price laws
- but not on spirits, that's what they drink
So, in summary, the government will manipulate the media into manufacturing a demand for less cheap booze, and then pass minimum-price laws so that they can carry on taxing us for something that they know we won't give up. The bastards.