I like many other wiser people have been banging on about the Puritans slippery slope for ages now. Many people think we’re wearing our tinfoil hats too tightly and that we’re all a bit paranoid, after all it’s all about health and nothing wrong with encouraging people to try to be more healthy, right? Well smoking went from only smoke in one carriage, to bans on smoking in your own car, bans on smoking on the beach and cigarettes being put in plan wrappers behind closed doors. The smokers warned the drinkers that we’d be next, and so it came to pass that alcohol got increasing health warnings, the amount we were “allowed” to drink decreased till now there’s no “safe” limit on drinking, whilst taxes go up, drinking is banned on public transport and in parks and plan packaging and minimum pricing is considered. Some of the actions can maybe seem reasonable at first glance after all who “really” needs to drink whilst on a bus, but they are slices off freedom and restrictions imposed on what we can do that grease the slippery slope. These days the goal isn’t really prohibition but to maintain the smallest possible “problem” population that keeps the funding flowing to the charities and pressure groups dedicated to tackling the problem, after all what would Alcohol concern do if we all just stopped drinking?
The puritans are though insatiable and if you’re not yet convinced of that and the reality of the slippery slope consider their latest wheeze a tax on sugar. Following the same template as ever they make up a crisis, get a high profile smug sanctimonious hypocrite to spear head a campaign for the sake of the cheeeldren and start with a small seemingly reasonable change. Who after all could object to taxing the big companies that make very sugary drinks to encourage them to reduce the amount of sugar? Except that tax will be passed on to the rest of us either in higher prices, more miserable drinks or the increased use of cheap ingredients. Yet again as with so many of the puritans schemes the poorer amongst us will be hit hardest, those proposing the tax won’t notice an extra 20p on their favourite artisanal organic traditional fizzy drink. Though the less well off will notice the “as much as 80%” price increase on their budget pop. In due course it will turn out, with some moving of goal posts if needed, that this tax hasn’t done enough to “fix” the “problem” so Jamie Smug Git will (ignoring his own recipes) call for more action to be taken – separate counters, health warnings, minimum pricing all of the tried and tested methods they’ve used before.
The puritans calling for all of this aren’t elected, aren’t accountable and won’t feel the impact of the damage they’ve done. Our glorious leaders will hide behind the defence of “independent” (state funded) advise and responding to “health concerns”, and after all who could possibly object to actions taken to help the “nations health”? Having learnt to avoid total prohibition (at least not too soon) the puritans have made ever larger gains, with luck they’re getting over confident and will over play their hand. Meanwhile lets encourage our glorious leaders to consider their actions by bringing the consequences closer to home.