coalition government, which like all governments talks a good deal about
individual liberties, has recently produced a clever new plan to curb
It is going to stop supermarkets, stores and pubs
from selling alcohol below a certain price. The minimum price will still
be quite low, but it is a first step -- and we are promised
more price rises will follow. The government hopes to stop the young and down
and out from drinking too much alcohol by simply making it too
expensive for them.
The arguments seem compelling -- you might even cut
crime and improve the nation's health. The only real criticism of the
government has been from those who say the minimum price should be set far
higher if it is have a real impact. The health argument is also used
every time the government pushes up the price of cigarettes.
governments of both right and left now see it as their duty not just to
encourage us to do the right thing, but if necessary to force us to do
so. To wear a helmet on a bike, to eat low fat foods, to inoculate
against disease -- even to encourage marriage.
It all began of course in
this country with what they called the clunk click law -- a law to
force you to wear a seat belt in your automobile. And why
was that law so important? Because for the first time I found
myself obliged to do something not for the good of other people, but for my own
safety. And once the principle had been established, then further action on
making us preserve our own health and life was inevitable.
I have no
objection to laws such as speed limits which prevent me from hurting other
people -- well, I do object sometimes, but at least I concede the law is
legitimate. But I have every objection to being told what to do for
my own good.
Logically if you follow this path then the government has the
right not just to control your drinking, but your diet, and your
lifestyle. It's old fashioned, I know. But I feel I can make
up my own mind. My advice to government is -- butt out.