Friday, December 17, 2010

Woolly Headed Academics

As both an economist and an Alumni of the University of Victoria I was appalled by a recent study that suggested that already sky high taxes on alcohol here in British Columbia should be increased further. That prompted me to write a letter, not to the editor, but the academic Tim Stock who came up with this drivel. I have posted my letter below but first a timely editorial on the subject from my good friend Mike Smyth courtesy of CKNW

Hello Michael,

You often hear people complain that liquor prices are too high in British Columbia. WAY too high. Just go into any grocery store in Washington state and check their prices on beer and wine for proof.

But could it be that B.C. booze prices are actually too low? That's what University of Victoria researcher Tim Stockwell argued in a study this week. The addictions specialist says the B.C. government should raise liquor prices to stop people from drinking so much and turning into alcoholics.

To which I say: You're kidding, right? Please tell me this is a joke!

British Columbia already has some of the highest booze prices in North America, yet our rates of alcoholism are roughly the same as lower-priced jurisdictions. Consider Washington state again: Their booze is way cheaper, and you can buy their cut-rate grog in corner stores to boot. But is everyone from Seattle to Bellingham walking around in a constant drunken stupor? No, their rates of alcoholism are roughly the same as ours.

We talked about this issue on The Mike Smyth Show this week, and it sure provoked a lively discussion. I just hope this doesn't give the government any bright ideas to jack up our already sky-high liquor prices. That would be truly Grinch-like.

Merry Christmas everybody! See you on the radio.
Mike Smyth

And now for my letter sent to ....

Dear Tim:

Locked in your ivory tower do you have any concept of the real world? Are you aware that here in BC we pay with taxes and mark ups amongst the highest prices for wine anywhere in North America?

The long suffering middle class and working poor struggle to make ends meet in a province where substandard housing costs a fortune and you think it would be a good idea to jack taxes up even further on alcohol. God forbid a couple in Surrey might want a bottle of wine with dinner in order to soothe their nerves after a hard days work, a hellish commute and narrowly avoiding another murderous gang shoot out.

But according to your study we should all pay more money for alcohol for the sake of our kids. So instead of parents teaching their children how to drink responsibly, those kids will increasingly turn to marijuana and other illegal drugs which will be supplied to them by the aforementioned drug gangs.

Bravo for upholding the stereotype of the woolly headed academic who wastes our tax dollars on social engineering shenanigans. If you love high taxes on alcohol so much then move to Sweden. Then you can see first hand the waves of young Swedes who travel to other European countries and instead of drinking responsibly indulge in insane bouts of binge drinking before they return home puking drunk to their high tax homeland.

Michael Geoghegan