However it is dressed up, minimum unit pricing is a financial penalty on the poor (Shona Reid, 10 January
). It is not even a tax which would transfer money from the poor to the taxation pot for the benefit of their less impecunious neighbours. The beneficiaries will be retailers and their shareholders. The 'evidence' upon which this is based is a computer model, which, pace Ronald Coase, may well be another form of torturing the data until it confesses to anything. Has it passed the 'garbage in, garbage out' test and been validated by disinterested experts, or is it only supported by those with axes to grind? I think we should be told.
The supposed health benefits are, at the very least, speculative. To pick on the poor is not what a progressive society would do. Some would say it is shameful. Those who have little will pay an even more disproportionate amount of their meagre income. Many will simply be priced out of the market. Were I a politician, I'm not sure I would want to campaign under the slogan 'Prohibition for the Poor!' But that is what it is.
Allan Shiach's piece (ambit, January
) about the destruction of a maze is haunting. But one sentence in it struck me for a slightly different reason:
I am sad because of the wasted time, expense and affection which over the years went into creating something utterly unique.
Reproducing it, I see it was just one word, actually: 'wasted'. This to characterise 30 years of cultivation, and of watching one's children and grandchildren play in the hedges and the fountain. Is it insufferably Panglossian to suggest the time should not be written off?
As Daniel Kahneman points out in 'Thinking fast and slow,' listening raptly to a long recording of a symphony which turns out to be scratched near the end does not constitute a ruined (or wasted) experience. To assign a 'fail' grade because it ended badly is to ignore 40 minutes of musical bliss. 'What we learn from the past is to maximise the quality of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience.' Can that help?
To be frank with you there is a fundamental flaw in all arguments to do with Donald Trump (Alan McIntyre, 24 January
). He's not a politician, he's a businessman. What he's doing in office is how a successful businessman goes about his business. He stirs the pot and puts all the pressure he can to get his way. Almost all political commentators are not business people and thus simply don't understand him.
The Russian situation is to my mind ridiculous. It's clear that he saw opportunities in dealing with Russia but this investigation has got in his way. You might also want to read the biography of Nixon by Conrad Black as it appears he was actually a very successful president. Political correctness is getting to the point where to disagree with anything means you are not towing the party line. Yet Trump has actually done what he promised in his presidential campaign. How many presidents have done that? I foresee Trump being exonerated in 2018 and even re-elected for another four-year term.
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