First they came for the smokers, then they came for the fast food junkies, but this time, it’s personal. While the Prick doesn’t eat Big Macs or smoke anything more than the odd Montecristo, he does buy wine. A lot of it. And this time, Big Nanny has gone too far. Reports the Sun-Herald:
PUBLIC health experts have called for a crackdown on websites that promote ”ridiculously cheap” alcohol, claiming they fuel Australia’s drinking problem and appeal to under-age drinkers…
Catch of the Day’s Vinomofo discounted wine site has been criticised for using a trade name that directly appeals to young people and for an ”irresponsible” competition in which entrants could win a Mini full of wine.
While Coles and Woolworths have come under fire for heavily discounting alcohol, health experts say online traders are selling it even more cheaply but are flying under the radar. ”The big retailers have to pay distribution costs, marketing costs and retail staff costs and that’s the thing that protects us from these ridiculously low prices on alcohol, but these costs don’t exist for online providers,” Sandra Jones, the director of the Centre for Health Initiatives at the University of Wollongong, said.
”If we had a minimum price for alcohol, it would address this problem because they wouldn’t be able to sell below a set cost.”
What a dreary bunch of Stalinist hacks. Professor Jones sounds about as much fun as our old friend anti-“drink walking” campaigner Mike Cockburn. Seriously, this is Soviet-level humourlessness: to object to Vinomofo simply on the basis of their slightly cheeky name is reminiscent of Orwell’s observation that the keepers of the old communist dictatorships didn’t like jokes because “every joke is a tiny revolution.” How could they make the name appeal only to old people? Rebrand as “Vinogetoffamylawn!”?
Likewise, a “Mini full of wine” is only irresponsible if they don’t get the booze out of the vehicle quick-smart, or at least park it under cover or someplace shady to keep the contents from cooking.
And discounted alcohol? Please. Maybe to Vinomofo’s target audience, which the site’s co-founder tells Fairfax is ‘more targeted towards the ”wine nerd” and its core demographic … the 35 to 55 age group’ (ahem!).
Teenagers are not likely to be looking for a “95 point single-vineyard Adelaide Hills chardonnay” or a 1999 boutique Clarendon Hills shiraz marked down to $45. (If they are looking for that sort of high, all credit to their parents for a job well done.) Even if the per-bottle price is cheap, you’re still generally buying by the case, and the Prick’s credit card has never sustained less than three figures worth of damage on a visit to the site: not exactly pocket money. This is wine that is laid down as often as it is drunk, to which the closet full of wine under the stairs at Stately Prick Manor stands in mute testimony.
(As an aside, one also has to wonder what role Coles and Woolworth’s play in funding this sort of thing: Both have huge liquor businesses, and it would not surprise a Prick to find out that, in the name of “corporate social responsibility” or some other faddish fraud, they have been funding research whose regulatory implications would make it easier to keep newcomers out of the market. It’s an untested assumption, but one which bears looking into.)
More broadly, the whole notion that mayhem increases in inverse proportion to the price of booze is simplistic and reductive. It is the sort of claim regularly made by bought and paid for social researchers whose livelihoods depend on churning out studies which in turn feed news reports by sympathetic journalists which in turn feed outraged tub-thumping by politicians who then hand out more money to keep the whole sorry thing going. Beer, wine, gin, what have you, are all about half the price and twice as accessible in New York City (when I was a youth a 6-pack of beer could be yours at any corner Korean deli for under a tenner). To whatever extent the city looks like something out of Hieronymous Bosch, this is the work of nature, not Natty Lite.
So to Big Nanny, the “Preventative Health Task Force”, Professor Sandra Jones, and the rest of you lot, piss off. Everybody else, go visit Vinomofo. Or any other such site. Because every time you buy cheap wine, God kills a kitten.