SOLO-NZ Op-Ed: Driven to Drink

PhilipD's picture
Submitted by PhilipD on Fri, 2010-10-15 12:14

SOLO-NZ Op-Ed: Driven to Drink

Philip Duck
October 16, 2010

Break out the champagne and crack open a beer; with a new study revealing that in New Zealand alcohol is cheaper than bottled water, it’s time for a rip-roaring party.

Authors of the report, Dr Fiona Gunasekara and Associate Professor Nick Wilson, of Otago University, found that a glass of wine could be had for just 62 cents, a glass of beer for 64 cents and spirit-lovers could indulge for a mere 78 cents. Excellent! Better yet, Gunasekara and Wilson found that with rising wages and lower booze costs, workers spend less time working to fund a well-earned ‘cold one.’

With continuing economic woes, earthquakes and a pitiful Commonwealth Games performance, you would think that the researchers and the government would be celebrating the good news that all New Zealand citizens are able to relax with a now very affordable, pleasant drink, or two.

They aren't though, are they? "The fact that this study has found that alcohol is cheaper than bottled water is of concern," bleated Justice Minister Simon Power. Wilson and Gunasekara, predictably, want higher taxes on alcohol and suggest that both offering alcohol products as loss-leaders and alcohol advertising should be banned. And of course someone from one of New Zealand’s many finger-wagging groups continued the whine: “… a $2 minimum price per standard drink would reduce binge-drinking without affecting social drinkers," Professor Peter Sellman of the Alcohol Action Group sniveled.

These folk need to be told that it’s not the cheap alcohol that promotes binge-drinking—well at least not mine. Rather, it’s the constant hectoring of assorted busybodies such as Sellman, the wails of state-funded dullards like Wilson and Gunasekara, and control freaks such as Power who drive me to drink.

Philip Duck:

SOLO (Sense of Life Objectivists):

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Thanks, Richard.

PhilipD's picture

Thanks, Richard.


Richard Goode's picture

Congratulations, Philip.

You made it to the front page of Google News. Smiling


Solo-NZ: Driven To Drink
Voxy - ‎22 hours ago‎ - all 129 articles »

Solo-NZ: Driven To Drink
Voxy - ‎22 hours ago‎
Break out the champagne and crack open a beer; with a new study revealing that in New Zealand alcohol is cheaper than bottled water, it's time for a rip-roaring party.
Pubs quicker to boost prices New Zealand Herald
Supermarkets 'driving alcohol affordability'
Times of India - TVNZ - TopNews New Zealand - AFP
all 129 news articles » Email this story

Haha, fair point about your

Oscar's picture

Smiling Haha, fair point about your intuition. As per Kasper's and my first post, it is expensive because people will pay for it - a triumph of marketing. Good on them I say - but the government shouldn't increase the (tax) cost of my grog because of an invalid comparison.

Auckland University Technology

Kasper's picture

I sat in the seats of the lecture theatres in AUT whilst hearing not an ounce of protest to the suggestion of removing junk food, alcohol and cigarettes from New Zealand's retail market. In the name of the utilitarian ethic of whats best for "our" future. Go the collectivists! Eye


Kasper's picture

as Oscar is saying, bottled-water is a fad at the moment. The consumer demand for bottled water allows bottled water to be charged at its higher price. Well done to those who can market the extrapolation of water from the main supply, put it through filters, bottle it and then charge 100+ times its cost.

Those stupid socialists in the Health Promotion fields, whom I alluded to in my Maori thread, have been wanting to curb alcohol excessibility for ages. They're going to do it too. You can say good bye to bottle stores on every corner, cheap alcohol and high accessibility. Binge drinking is "our problem" remember? Individuals cannot be trusted to make their own decisions which is why nanny state will force us into believing their argument irrespective of all the contortions they have to make.

Drinking is poor for your health, "we" want a healthy society and one of the key strategies in the Ministry of Health is to deliver on this, therefore alcohol ought to be taxed and made inaccessible. All those who agree board this train.

Alcohol, an unhealthy product, is cheaper than water, a healthy product which is a grave social injustice. All those against social injustices jump on this train and promote our cause.

Binge drinking is "our problem" not the problem of sovereign inviduals whose lives the business of government is to get involved in, is none. All those who want to join in the almighty brother-hood of "our society" jump on this band wagon and save "our families". All those who care about families board this train.


It is not counter-intuitive

Rick Giles's picture

It is not counter-intuitive at all - you are comparing apples with pears

I think we've had a misunderstanding. When it comes to having the finger on the pulse of *my* intuition you're going to have to bow to me, I'm afraid. I'm admitting to a feeling I'm having and you can't quibble with that. Nor, that many people find this newsworthy and a bit odd.

If you're not one of those people then you're in a unique position to give us the benifit of your understanding. Why is the final product on the shelf more expensive when it's water than when it's water-plus?

Rick It is not

Oscar's picture


It is not counter-intuitive at all - you are comparing apples with pears. No brewery in the world would buy bottled water from a retailer in order to make beer to be sold at a cheaper rate. They buy water from their local Water Supply Authority (usually the Council), where the rate will be in the order of $1-2 per cubic metre (i.e. per 1,000 litres) - check with your local Council what the metered water rate is. Some brewers may even extract and treat their own, which may be cheaper again (?).

Bottled water is expensive because it is 'in' and appeals to people with little between their ears. In some cases it is literally tap water. Penn and Teller did a thing on this in their 'Bullshit' series ( You are paying for the image and clever marketing.

For all the work I've done to

Rick Giles's picture

For all the work I've done to fix my abused mind it remains counter-intuitive to me as to why a final product like beer is less expensive than one of its inputs!

I've made the point myself in the SOLO water podcast. It still amazes me that we can get oil refined and delivered around the world and to the Australian Outback for $2L and less but not water. It must be because of state control and rationing. And if it's like that in New Zealand then maybe our farmers will be swearing and throwing things at their political masters the way the South Australians were on Nightline last night.

So help me out here, what are the people in your story saying about this counter-intuitive price disparity in terms of cause?

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