According to the news this morning there are plans afoot to ban "happy Hour" in pubs and also crack down on sueprmarkets selling multibuy options on booze. The argument goes, and I'm sure it would please the Portman Group greatly, that traders are not being "responsible", and that essentially we're all turning into a nation of alcoholics.
It's all in the name of our health because we are not responsible enough to make the 'right' decision (ergo what they want us to do) ourselves. We're all victims of the evil suppliers of alcohol who tempt us away from the path of light straightheadedness.
Yet it seems that no one in Government has a grip on the market driven reason for the rise in cheap booze and happy hours. Nor do they have a grip on the unitended consequence of their own actions having a direct role in creating the thing that they now see as a problem to be tackled.
Think about this for a minute. Why are pubs increasingly using Happy Hours to attract customers? It's pretty obvious that you do not start selling off your stock on the cheap unless you have a business issue where you are not making enough money. If you can get them in they might stay or they might eat etc.
So why are the pubs needing to do this though? Well, over 1300 public houses have closed in the last year since the smoking ban was introduced. Smokers leaving the pubs has had a detrimental effect on business in many parts so they need to lure people back.
The Happy Hour; doubles for the price of singles and other offers becomes ever more popular. At the same time, all the people that have left the pubs beacuse they cannot smoke have started drinking at home.
This shifts the competition in the market to the likes of Teso, Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury, who are all competing for those people to come and spend there money with them. So they all start offering crazy offers on booze.
What is the Government's repsonse to a situation that it has created? Easy. Ban Happy Hours and legislate to stop supermarkets selling cheap booze. You know what that is in reality? Price control by proxy, yet another parallel between Brown's Government and the 1970s.