Private Vice and Public Virtue - Eric Crampton


Private vices are not the legitimate concern of public policy, except perhaps those that impose costs on others and incur a social cost. Alcohol abuse is a vice that costs Australia more than $15 billion every year, but does that justify across-the-board increases in alcohol excise taxes or minimum pricing regulation? Perhaps not when we consider that the $15 billion mostly consists of drinkers’ spending on alcohol, their reduced earnings, and heavy drinkers’ reduced life expectancy.

Dr Eric Crampton, Senior Lecturer in Economics and Visiting Fellow with the CIS New Zealand Policy Unit, will discuss the monetary and philosophical costs of such recent nanny-state initiatives that are building support for paternalistic policies by painting the private costs of private vices as social costs to be paid for by all of us.