J B White was billed as a Philosopher turned management consultant (one of several with a book to sell at this event) but his session was more pop science than anything else. He was making the legitimate point that a lot of what is called evidence in government is nonsense but there are a lot better targets that the unit price of alcohol. The one good thing he brought out was the substitution issue, but his wider argument of the right to enjoy was based on a primitive concept of exchange and rational decision making which to be honest was pathetic. He really was not interested in any idea which challenged his thinking and managed his questioning accordingly.
There is a lot of nonsense in so called evidence based policy but it will be be countered by libertarian (my judgement) nonsense in response. Becoming a duck is not the way to stop quacking.
Looking at one piece of evidence based policy. The phrase means if you argue with it you are a bigot which he disputes. Minimum alcohol pricing is considered as a perfect example of evidence based policy. Will use it as an example of where tings are wrong. All tend to go wrong in the same way.
Scary slide - The English drink a lot
British politicians want people to drink less, would mean less absenteeism etc, etc
A 2008 scientific study claimed that a minimum price of 50p a unit would benefit society by £7.5bn
Government went with 45p. Sheffield group assumed that alchol price goes up then demand goes down. They worked out the price elasticity by dividing the drinking population into different groups worked consumption down and then worked out relationship toi different types of harm. Work out how harm goes down then attach monetary value to those harms. This is standard practice in social welfare research. Its done by asking how much people would pay to avoid those harms or to avoid the risk. They looked at benefits from 10p up
What is wrong?
It shows the benefits but ignores the costs. 'The public sector focus of NICE ecomoic evaluation excludes consideration of welfare losses (fun) arising from reduced consumption. Hence consumer welfare analysis has not be a part of this studfy' quoting the study here. If we had a party focus then we would subsidise alcohol but ignore the costs. So whole thing is a fraud/joke
Rugby injuries are OK, R V Brown 1993 gay men sadomasochism and were charged with GBH, defneded on the basis that they volunteered so Rugby and surgery would be GBH as well. THe Judge rejected the argument on the basis that rugby and surgery have a worthy purpose you don't
Is there no place for morality based policy?
Says yes, for example murder where most of the internal cost is born by you. Need to go way beyond an eye for a eye to get the external cost up
Asked about licensing hours
would not do that to protect people in the pub but possibly local residents
Good question, if you put the price up people want more of something
If something is a consumption good you want the price to decline, but a house you want it to go up. So have to distinguish between the good. There is also the luxury good effect.
Were the Sheffield people contrained by government policy?
He should have asked but didnt and did does not care