I read something in the papers recently that didn’t appear to be covered by the usual suspects in the minimum price debate. By usual suspects I mean pub industry commentators, alcohol charities and beardy pong drinkers. I saw a proposal for “bottle deposits”, intended not as a way of hiking up the price of my lovely dirt cheap lout but as a “green” measure to help the environment. Now you can’t argue with the “environment”, it is one of society’s sacred cows. We all must be in favour of “the environment” for sure. However the effect would be an increase in the retail price of off trade booze, at the point of sale. An increase of around 50% of current per unit prices (20p on a 40p can of lout?)
I have long recycled the bottles and cans my passion for cheap lout generates. Well before the council made it easy by giving me a special bin solely for the purpose. At least when I’ve not lived alone that is. I admit it, when I lived alone I recycled nothing. But with the house mate I lived with prior to my current squeeze & the current squeeze it is easier to recycle than be moaned at for not recycling. So stuff gets put in the right bin. It is good for the environment and it is good for a quiet life.
However can a “green” deposit really be argued with? Sure it will up the cost of my lout at the point of sale, but I’d get it back when I handed the empties back? Comedy right wing commentator, Richard Littlejohn, kind of a poor man’s Glen Beck, and proof that we in Blighty are not as good at producing nutters anywhere near to the standard of our American cousins makes quite a decent case for it here, painting a picture of enterprising children collecting litter for extra pocket money. Though I apologise for putting a link to the Daily Mail and promise to never do it again. I’ll put a link to the Daily Mash to say sorry. I promise I haven’t been reading too much of the Mail and suddenly think all the ills of society are created by immigrants, benefit scroungers & single mothers. Though I have my suspicions in regard to the death of Princess Diana.
Now I’m thinking there will be a cost that finds its way into my pocket. Asking supermarkets to process the bottles & cans will find its way into prices. However this would presumably be a cost removed from my local taxes as councils no longer collect my special “cans & bottles” bin? Is that naive? That a cost placed on my shop is removed from my tax burden?
One thing is clear. That 20p on a bottle or can will put £4.80 on my 24 pack of lovely lout. £4.80 I’ll get back when I bring back the empties? I’ve not decided whether I’m for or against. I know only this. My perspective comes from the absolute and unequivocal view that lager ought to be as cheap as humanly possible. That the market system delivers cheap lager to me. That hasn’t left me wedded to market economics. In the same (but opposite) way the beardies would like the market controlled to increase the price of my lout, I would be happy to see state subsidisation of lout. For the government to subsidise cheap lager to make it even cheaper. I guess it is the politics of pragmatism rather than ideology. Let the cheap lager flow.