tl;dr: Here’s a link to the form letter to Suzanne Anton if you’d rather not read my blatherings.
As a general rule of thumb, you don’t do a lot for your political livelihood if you raise taxes. It’s unpopular, to say the least, and might eventually cost you the election. However, in terms of removing you from office as fast as possible, raising taxes has absolutely nothing on fucking around with the price of beer.
Yet the BC Liberals did just that recently, slipping a new minimum price for all forms of liquor into their so-called Happy Hour, perhaps with the hope that no one would notice.
Well, we noticed. People are hopping mad about a “Happy Hour” that comes with an “All Hours” minimum price so high that many bars now have to raise their prices to meet them, effectively negating the whole point of the legislation for vast swarms of beer drinkers Province wide. (Old minimum was roughly $0.11/oz; new is $0.25/oz)
Note that I didn’t include myself in that list. “Happy Hour” doesn’t hurt me much, at all. The new pre-tax minimum of $5.00 per 20oz pint is frankly a lot less than the regular prices at pubs I frequent (where prices range from $8 to $15+ per pint). I guess I might actually save some money, but likely not.
You see, I don’t order beer by price. I’m fortunate enough to have a high paying job, and to be honest its been literally years since I’ve seriously weighed the price of a beer as part of my purchase decision. A beer on special is not likely to attract my attention. A special beer is.
This reminds me of an actual conversation I had at a local LRS a few years back during the release of a hot new local beer.
Me: “Hey, Beer X has no price. How much does it cost?”
Them: “Do you care?”
Me: <quiet clinking as I put beer in basket>
Bear with me; I’m making a point here. Despite not being affected, I still care about this new law, and it upsets me. Why? It’s a shitty, poorly thought out law that clearly doesn’t have the best interest of the electorate in mind. I’m the one most likely to benefit from it, but I’m also the one who frankly doesn’t give a crap how much my beer costs.
Other people, with less income (or more mouths to feed and/or more desire to retire some day) care a bit more about their beer prices, and the 43% at-till jump some are seeing from $3.50 (incl tax) to $5.00 (or more, plus tax) is a Big Freaking Deal to them. These folks have entirely different concerns, budgets and desires when it comes to beer, yet they’re being saddled with the exact same cross-the-board minimum price that is so beneficial to people like me.
And that, my friends, is a Shitty Law. It benefits the select few who are fortunate enough to not need the benefit, while it harms the many who either care very deeply about beer prices, or simply cannot afford an increase.
My beer prices aren’t going up, and it wouldn’t make a difference if they did. For a sizeable chunk of people, their beer prices are going up dramatically and now they have to have fewer pints in the pub, less often, or not at all.
Less people ordering less pints means less people serving pints and cooking food, and the individuals who make their daily bread performing those same tasks should be very concerned about this policy, indeed.
So, dear Suzanne Anton, can you honestly say that you made this change with the belief that the majority of British Columbians truly wanted it? Who stood up and said “You know what? Raising minimum pricing by over 100%, establishing the highest minimums in the entire country, by a wide margin, is just a rutting grand idea! Let’s do that! Why? Why not? Sometimes you just have to innovate, dammit!”
Is this change that >2.4 million people in our province truly want? I’m not talking about “in their best interest” or “for the greater good” but rather “Do >50% of British Columbians want a minimum $5 pint?”
If the answer is “yes” I’d love to see the data. If the answer is “no” and/or “political side-step” then I would gently remind you that representing the will of the people is YOUR FUCKING JOB. You’d best start doing it.
If you’d like to voice your own displeasure about this change, but lack a convenient blogging soapbox on which to do so, click here for a form letter. Alter it. Sign it. Click send. Feedback is the only way to let them know they’ve gone too far.
Or, if you want to get fancy (and fancy gets more attention), Paddy Treavor has a great post listing the various people in the government you can yell at, including a link to all BC’s MLAs. If your MLA is in The Opposition, they might even listen to you.
Note: The email link might not work so hot for all folks. If it doesn’t, here’s the email template so you can copy/paste:
Subject: Opposition to LCLB Policy Directive No. 14-07
The Honourable Suzanne Anton, M.L.A.
Minister of Justice
I write to express my displeasure with the British Columbia Liquor Control and Licensing Branch’s recent Policy Directive No. 14-07, which implements “happy hours.”
While the implementation of variable pricing itself is a welcome change, the government’s inexplicable decision to tie this improvement with a massive increase in minimum liquor pricing is a decision that I simply cannot support.
The result of the Policy Directive is to increase, by more than 100%, the minimum price a licensee may charge for beer. To comply with this new minimum, many establishments in low income or rural parts of British Columbia have actually had to increase their regular beer pricing.
The notion of variable pricing–the very intent of recommendation #16 of the Liquor Policy Review Report–cannot and will not enter into the picture in such establishments. The new minimum pricing is now the only pricing. As such, many areas of the Province will never see a happy hour, and many patrons will simply forgo having a beer in a restaurant and pubs.
This policy is bad for restaurants; it is bad for service industry employees; it is bad for British Columbians as a whole, and I urge the British Columbia Provincial Government to reconsider this decision, and to fulfill their mandate: to implement policy that represents the best interests of all British Columbians.