Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Anyone would think that there was a problem with freedom

I'm intrigued by all the talk from the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee of banning the sale of cheap alcohol.

Admittedly, I have come to expect such an attitude from Labour, and it is entirely consistent with their philosophy that government knows what is best for us. However, the Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves. Why?
  1. They claim to believe in the free market. So why do they think that it is right to tell retail outlets what price they should set for their product?
  2. They claim to believe in a smaller state. So why are they creating extra regulation, leading to an increase in the need for people to police it? Or are they suggesting that police and/or trading standards officers should give up other work to deal with it?
  3. They claim to believe in personal responsibility. So why don't they trust us to regulate our own behaviour - or face the consequences?
Now I don't claim that I am a libertarian, but I do think that we should punish an act that is illegal, not an act that isn't. There is no evidence to suggest that just because I have a few beers, I am likely to go out and punch someone, and I like to think that the people I choose to spend my time with are similarly unlikely to do so. However, if they do commit a crime, I expect them to be punished in a manner which satisfies our definition of justice.

On the other hand, it seems somewhat suspect to claim that you are a libertarian yet call for a ban of the sale of cheap booze by supermarkets. At least I can safely assume that Liberal Vision will be considering such stances when judging our MPs on their liberalism next time. That said, given that it's gone awfully quiet over there since Bournemouth, one wonders if there'll be a next time...

1 comment:

Jennie said...

I'd like to stop supermarkets selling alcohol as a loss leader for purely selfish reasons - I'd like to still have a job after Christmas. Nothing to do with liberalism, and everything to do with my own, personal, fiscal survival.